When I was a kid, we had a little 14′ travel trailer. The thing was cute as a button, and it suited our family of four’s needs just fine. Actually, my parents still own that little trailer. They’ve since renovated it, top to bottom, and use it frequently. They love it because of the memories it holds, but my mom often talks about how she always wished it were a little bigger. “If I could change anything, it’d have a bathroom in it. Nothing fancy, but a little privacy would be nice.”
“If I could change anything, it’d have a bathroom in it. Nothing fancy, but a little privacy would be nice.”
I took that to heart when we began searching for our own trailer. Honestly, I never thought we’d end up in an Airstream. We spent about a year searching for trailers in our price range (very low) and always ended up disappointed.
It wasn’t until we saw an Airstream Argosy on the side of the road that we had finally honed in on the style and size trailer we wanted. We lucked out just a few months later when we found our own Argosy. 26′ might be larger than we need, but our Airstream is going to be multipurpose – a guest house, an office, a weekend getaway, and maybe someday it will be even more. A summer traveler? A lifetime traveler? More? The sky is the limit.
So, how do you determine what size Airstream is for you?
What is the towing capacity of your vehicle?
Honestly, this is a big one that might get overlooked in your beautiful, wanderlusty eyes. I understand. It’s easy to fall in love at first sight with an Airstream, but don’t forget practicality.
An Airstream that has been renovated will invariably not weigh the same as one that has an all-original interior.
To determine your vehicle’s towing capacity, review your owner’s manual, or search for your year, make, and model and “towing capacity” in Google.
How much does the Airstream weigh?
Once you’ve figured out the towing capacity of your vehicle, you can get an estimate of the weight of Airstreams with this useful PDF compiled by Airstream.
What is your budget? Are you willing to restore a vintage Airstream to acquire the size you want?
Our Airstream was listed as a “handyman’s special.” Truthfully, we didn’t need another project in our lives (we’ve restored three boats and are have been renovating our house for almost three years, but we knew that we specifically wanted an Argosy and it was a really great deal.
I didn’t really expect to enjoy the renovation process, but I ended up realizing that Airstreams are more fun to renovate than boats because nothing you do will make it sink.
How do you plan to use your Airstream?
Will you be driving cross-country? Do you plan to park your Airstream in a campground and leave it there all summer long? Will you be using it as a food truck? A full-time home? a Bambi will provide a much different experience than a Flying Cloud.
How large is your family? Do you have kids? Pets?
Kids grow. Fast. Determine how long you plan to keep your Airstream and consider the space requirements of your children as they grow. Do you want your children to have their own bunks or share with each other? Are you willing to sleep in the same room as your kids?
What kind of pets do you have? Will they be traveling with you?
We have two kids and a medium-sized dog.
If you plan to live on your Airstream full-time, will you have a place to store your possessions?
Airstreams are equipped with some incredible storage solutions, but if you’re going to be living on it full-time, you have to decide a) how much stuff you own, b) how much stuff you need, c) how much stuff you need to get rid of, and d) if you need to get a storage unit.
Be honest with yourself. How minimal are you willing to go?
And not just with possessions. Think about the size of the fridge. Consider the bathroom. Do you want a separate shower stall? A bathtub? Do you really want to sleep with your significant other in a twin-size bed? Are you willing to drop the table down to make additional sleeping space every night?
Talk to other Airstream owners.
What would they have done differently?
Get out there and step into some Airstreams.
Start with YouTube to get a few virtual tours of Airstreams. This may help you get a better feel for the size you’re wanting and is the easiest way to window shop. Scope out the Craigslist ads. Be willing to travel a little to get a feel for the size differences. Go to an Airstream dealer. An Airstream is an investment of your money and time, so above all:
It may take awhile to find just the right Airstream. We totally lucked out in that it only took a few weeks for us to find the one we wanted. That said, we still had to tear ours completely apart because the floor was rotted, so we’re still being patient while we fix it up!