There are plenty of different kinds of RVs and travel trailers out there, and a common brand is the Airstream trailer. The Airstream can be pretty neat and pretty fun to own, but it can also be pretty expensive. The question you need to be asking yourself, though, is if the Airstream trailer is actually worth the cost.
An Airstream trailer will roughly have any of the common flaws that you might find in any other RV, but it does boast its longer-lasting value, solidity, and aerodynamic properties that do make it worth the cost.
Honestly, though, it really depends on your budget, preferences, and camping style. I’ll try to give you some things to consider about the Airstream trailer, so you can decide for yourself if the Airstream trailer is really worth the cost.
What is the Typical Cost?
A new Airstream trailer can cost anywhere between $36,900-$149,900 depending on the size, the quality, and where you get it from. I know. It’s a big number, and it looks a little scary if you think about it too much, but I promise that once you consider all of the pros of the Airstream trailer, you’ll understand why it’s so worth it.
That is if you can afford it. Perhaps you currently have an uncomfortably tight budget and don’t really have room for an expensive Airstream, but it’s nice to dream.
I definitely recommend saving up for one of these fancy Airstream trailers, but just in case, we’ll discuss cheaper options later.
What Makes it Different from other RVs?
We know that an Airstream trailer is pretty expensive, but don’t you at least want to know why? It’s definitely not just because the manufacturers just randomly picked a price with a larger random number generator and went with it. There are definitely some pretty good reasons.
The Value and Quality Lasts Forever
The first Airstream trailer was made in the 1920s by Wally Bynum before the company was taken over by Thor Industries in 1931. It is said that 65% of those original Airstream models from 1931 are still happily on the road today.
Some Airstream owners will even tell you that their bought used Airstream trailers have better quality and look newer even after a few years than some of their brand new Class A RVs.
“When we bought the Winnebago I thought it was so much better than the previous two quality wise. And it was. But after 10 years, it just looked old…Our Airstream was nicer from day one.”M.W. Kersh
Basically, as long as you take good care of your Airstream trailer, you could use it all the way through your camping years until you’re ready to retire, and then pass it on to your children and even grandchildren without having to watch it fade or go down in quality or value.
Talk about family legacy and heirlooms. And then, once you’ve decided that you’re completely done with your Airstream trailer and are ready to sell it and move on, it will still most likely sell at a pretty good value, even if it older.
An Aluminum Exterior and Light Weight Structure
Another quality that makes the Airstream trailer great is the aluminum exterior and its lightweight structure.
Sure, reading that it has an aluminum exterior might make you think of the flimsy aluminum cans and a long strand of yarn that you used to use for playing telephone back in the day. Or am I the only one who used to do that when I was a kid?
That’s okay, you could think of playing “kick the can” instead or even just a nice can of Cambell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Anyways, the point is that aluminum cans are notorious for being flimsy and easily crushed.
I assure this is not the case with Airstream trailers. Sure, they might get a ding here or there on the exterior that you might need to fix out, but Airstreams are actually known for their solidity.
I mean, how else do you think some have them have been around since the 1930s and still in the condition to drive around on the road?
Anyways, the aluminum exterior tends to make them look pretty sleek and easy to care for. Some people might think that they have a pretty odd shape and structure, but it actually makes the Airstream trailer more aerodynamic, significantly lighter, and therefore easier to tow around and easier on the gas.
Really, instead of thinking of a cheap aluminum can, you should think of the durability of an airplane when considering the aluminum exterior of the Airstream trailer. In fact, the manufacturer of Airstream trailers, Thor Industries, boasts that the exterior is made out of “aircraft quality” aluminum held together with rivets on a sturdy steel frame.
Much Easier to Tow
Okay, I know I already mentioned this with the lightweight structure of the Airstream trailer, but there are other factors that go into the Airstream’s towability.
It has a lower center of gravity. What does this mean? Well, if you think about it, most other travel trailers are built on top of the wheels, right? And it can be kind of scary when you need to make really sharp turns or fast lane changes because it feels like they could be wobbling all over the place.
Well, the Airstream trailer is different. It is actually built in between the wheels. This means that the floor is relatively lower, the frame is relatively lower, and therefore the center of gravity is also lower.
In other words, you can take those sharp turns and make those emergency lane changes before you miss your exit without feeling your trailer wobble all over the place and fearing that it might even fall over. In simpler terms, the Airstream trailer tends to be more stable than other travel trailer options.
And Then There Were the Cons
Alright, if I am to give you all of the completely honest facts about the Airstream trailer to help you decide on whether or not it’s worth the price, I should probably list a few of the major cons that people will mention about the Airstream trailer as well.
Bear with me.
Oh So Narrow
I’ve found that one thing that people will complain about for the Airstream trailer is how narrow it is on the inside. Of course, this is more of a problem for the older models and they have been adding a bit more space to the newer models, but it used to be that there was only room for two people to move around comfortably inside the Airstream trailer.
Even still with all of the updates on the newer models, people will still argue that there’s significantly less maneuvering space in the Airstream trailer than some of its other travel trailer and RV competitors.
There’s also the issue with the interior height. Some models will have ceilings that are an entire six inches lower than your average travel trailer. That, unfortunately, could mean that most tall people will have to duck through the doorways and be wary of possibly even bumping their heads on the ceiling.
I’m sorry to say this, but sometimes it really pays to be short.
Unfortunately, as hard as I argued for the Airstream trailer not being a flimsy aluminum can, the aluminum exterior is still prone to denting.
Especially since the edges are sort of rounded, it can make it easier to run into different things like trees that could make small dents in the exterior. It’s almost as if the rounded exterior is asking to cause some sort of miscalculation and to have a minor collision with even a curb.
Sure, this might be a downside to the Airstream trailer and take away from the shiny sleekness of the exterior, but ideally, you should be able to bang out some of the dents. Also, it won’t be so much of a problem if you’re pretty careful when towing your Airstream trailer.
I was just joking about the rounded exterior “asking” for collisions and dents. It isn’t actually that hard to avoid such miscalculations.
The Weight Distribution
Okay. Perhaps, I should change that to mis-distribution. Though the lower center of gravity makes the Airstream easier to tow and relatively more stable than other trailers, it does not have its weight evenly distributed throughout the trailer.
What does this mean for you? Well, just don’t plan on having two or more people crowd into the back of the trailer before you have put down the stabilizer jacks unless you want to feel the entire trailer tip to one side.
Remember the old see-saws that used to be at old playgrounds back in the day? Well, not that I have experience with nearly tipping an Airstream trailer, but that’s what I would assume it would feel like–but ten times scarier.
As that is, the weight distribution is only a problem when the Airstream trailer is unhitched. As long as you remember to put down those stabilizer jacks immediately, you shouldn’t really have any problems with the unequal weight distribution.
It Also Depends on Your Camping Style
While it’s important to consider the pros and cons of the Airstream trailer when deciding whether or not the cost is worth it, it’s also important to consider your own camping style.
Will you want more space in your travel trailer, or is the space not too important? Or perhaps you really don’t like the super shiny exterior and want something a little more camper-esque.
Or maybe you just really want something just a little bit more fancy that will feel like you’re bringing your entire home camping with you.
That’s completely fine. It’s just important to know exactly what kind of camping style you plan to do as well as how long you want to keep your RV or travel trailer.
As you now know, the Airstream trailer lasts nearly three times longer than the average travel trailer, and the value endures with it. But maybe you’re not planning on needing your RV or travel trailer to last that long, and it doesn’t really matter to you.
Overall, if you need something that is very durable, lightweight, relatively easy to tow, not too big, sleek exterior, and long-lasting quality and value; then the Airstream trailer is for you. If you need something either a little less pricey or much fancier, then perhaps you should consider any other types of RVs or travel trailers.
Consider Buying it Used Instead
Now that you have (hopefully) worked it out in your mind as to whether or not the Airstream trailer is really worth the high cost, I’m going to give you a few hints on how to avoid those super high costs and still get a high-quality Airstream trailer.
It can be pretty exciting to buy a brand new RV or travel trailer, or a brand new anything, really. I mean, it has the new vehicle smell, the shiny untouched exterior, and all new furniture and finishing on the interior. What’s not exciting about any of that?
But… the price. As I mentioned earlier, you can get a brand new Airstream trailer for up to $149,900. If you ask me, you might as well be shopping for a Mercedes Benz.
If you have sufficient funds for that, then, by all means, go ahead and buy a brand new Airstream trailer and enjoy, but if not, I highly recommend buying it used. It could be more cost efficient to buy your Airstream trailer used and possibly even in not-so-great condition and just fix it up yourself.
One Airstream trailer owner records buying a pre-owned Airstream trailer for just $5,000 and then fixing it up for only $1,500. However, the buying poor quality and fixing it up may not be for everyone.
There are still used Airstream trailers out there that will not be poor quality at all. Buying the common travel trailer used is typically a gamble because they don’t always have such a long lifespan, but when you buy an Airstream trailer used, they’ll usually have at least two-thirds of their lifespan left ahead of them.
A used Airstream trailer in good condition can cost as low as $23,000. Sure, the price is still up there, but you have to agree that it’s a lot lower than the starting price of $36,900 for new Airstream trailers. A good site to use for searching for good quality used Airstream trailers is RVtrader.com.
It’s also not a bad idea to consider looking nationally on places like eBay and Craigslist, but those sights can’t always promise the best quality from private sellers. Doing a nationwide search could result in finding better pricing and more options to choose from though.
Things to Keep in Mind if You’re Buying It Used
Like I said, buying anything used or pre-owned can be quite the gamble, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re going to buy a used Airstream trailer, be sure to do your research.
Know exactly what a quality Airstream trailer should look like, drive like, and include. Also, research the seller. Do people trust them, or have they been involved in some tricky business before?
Honestly, you most likely won’t have to deal with that, but you always want to be sure when you’re getting ready to make such a big and important purchase.
Also, be sure to keep your eyes open. It’s easy to let the excitement of getting a new (to you) Airstream trailer override every bit of sense in your mind, and you completely skip over any flaws that there might be in the used Airstream trailer that you’re looking to buy.
Try really hard not to let this happen. Yes, it’s sleek and shiny, but you still need to focus and do a full inspection.
Look at the condition of both the exterior and interior; is there anything that seems to have been hastily covered up? Is there any structural damage? Are there any wiring issues?
You should also be sure to ask the seller questions to make sure that you are getting only the best quality, and there aren’t any hidden issues.
After that, you should feel completely reassured that you are getting a great-quality used Airstream trailer that will feel like new without having to deal with all of that extra cost.