Should you buy an Airstream?
August 12, 2020
Lets chat about the Pros and Cons of buying and owning an Airstream travel trailer.
Pros of Airstreams
#1 – Quality
The number 1 pro is quality and longevity. Although here are plenty of newer Airstreams on the road, there are indications that something like 70% of all Airstreams ever built are still on their axles! Given that Airstream production started in full in the early 1950s, this is an incredible statistic showing how resilient these trailers really are. For more information and a fun story about number of Airstreams still on the road – see this article on the Airstream website –
#2 – Easy to Tow
Airstreams are easy to tow! The shape and low center of gravity make these trailers more aerodynamic and help air flow around them easier. The aerodynamics also helps with sway, which, if you have ever seen a trailer swaying behind the tow vehicle (TV), you know how scary that can be.
#3 – Size Matters
Every has different RV requirements which means manufacturers will try to cram as much into each model as possible. Airstream is no different. Each trailer is carefully designed to provide the most utility as possible while maintaining comfort and a sense of space. We decided on a 23 foot trailer. The 23 foot Airstream is the shortest with a double axle and full, dry bath. It’s big enough to afford the space we need right now and small enough to get into any camp site or space pretty much anywhere.
#4 – Resale Value
Most travel trailers lose about half of their value within the first two to three years. Airstreams tend to lose about 20% the first year and generally level off at 60 – 70% for the next 8 – 9 years, depending on how well the trailer was maintained.
#5 – Cuteness Factor
Okay, lets be honest. Even if you never thought about buying an Airstream, you have to admit, the 23 foot Airstream is really darned cute!
Cons of Airstreams
#1 – Storage Space
RVers covet their storage space. They want more and more. More storage is not always a good thing. The trailer still have a weight limit so more storage can create a situation where you are overloading the trailer capacity just by fill-in up all of your compartments with stuff.
Airstreams have plenty of storage inside, much like any other trailer. Outside storage is limited to spaces under the beds, lounge spaces, or dinette, and depend on the flow plan. One of the most common complaints is that Airstreams don’t have enough storage. We have yet to have a storage issue. Most of the time, all of the space under the beds is left unused and the closets only partially filled. We store most of our gear in labeled bins in the bed of the truck and only store stuff int he trailer that is used inside the trailer. Our outside bins have our camp chairs, sway control, camp rug, camp games, and other odds and ends. So, for us, storage is not an issue but we certainly understand that full timers would want ample space to stow all of their stuff.
#2 – Skin Damage
All RVs can be get superficial damage to the exterior. Chips in the paint, dents, and scratches can can be expensive to repair. Airstreams are not immune. As a matter of fact, damage to the “skin” can be very pricy to repair. The end caps are rounded and can be dented fairly easily which necessitates replacement of this panels. Live most RVers, Airstream owners are very careful about making sure they don’w get into a situation where their rig may be subject to falling tree limbs, or super tight spaces, risking side scratches or dents.
#3 – No Slides
Airstreams don’t have slides (any more). This means, what you see is what you get. That is the limit of your interior space. RVs with slides offer additional space when expanded. Airstream did produce slide models from 1998 – 2009 (as far as I can determine). The slide was an option on 28, 30, and 34 for units. The slide units worked well but it was expensive and wasn’t really a feature the average Airstream consumer was looking for. Slide models are highly sought after as a bit of an Airstream unicorn.
#4 – Expensive
Airstreams are expensive in relation to other brands of travel trailers. That’s pretty much it about that. However, I will refer you to Pro #4 – Resale Value.
#5 – Keeping it Shiny
Everyone wants to keep their RV looking good. Airstreams look so pretty when they are shiny and clean. Older Airstreams, prior to the clear coat, require polishing to keep the mirror finish. Newer Airstreams have a clear coat applied by the aluminum panel manufacturer that protects the panels and produces more of a semi-matte or satin finish. The clear coated Airstreams require polishing at least once per year and most use a product called Walbermize. Regardless, keeping it shiny and clean is a good idea for any RV.
If you have an RV, what did you buy? Why did you choose that particular RV? What features would you change? What are your favorite features? Commend below!
Check out our video where we chat more about pros and cons of Airstream travel trailers.
As always, stay with us while we research RVs, and cool (and necessary) equipment we discover along the way. We’ll share with you how we figured out what works for us and our travels in our RV. Of course we will give unbiased reviews of RVs, equipment, places we visit, and the best way to travel comfortably with only the necessities.
Thanks for being our guest. We’ll see you soon.
Sharon, Barry, and Sami