How to Find the Right Airstream for Full Time RV Living

How to Find the Right Airstream for Full Time RV Living

Before we start, a few caveats and assumptions:

  • This guide mainly covers Airstreams and travel trailers, but the same considerations should apply to most any RV you would choose for full time RV Living (Motorhome, Travel Trailer, or Fifth Wheel).
  • You’ve done the necessary soul searching required of anyone thinking about living in an RV full time.
  • Words like “right” and “best” are subjective. I’ll give you the same tips we used to find the best RV for us – but come up with your own list of criteria for what’s important to you.

Now on with the show.

The Virgin Radio Airstream

1. Size

First off, size matters. That’s what she said.

On the outside, longer RVs are often heavier and require more capacity out of your towing vehicle. That said, we find longer trailers “feel” more stable on the road.

Weaselmouth tip – We find the 27′ Airstream easier to back into spots than our 22′. I unscientifically attribute this to a wider turning radius and generally slower reaction to my truck’s steering changes.

Smaller RVs, on the other hand, are more maneuverable and often more widely accepted at RV parks and in storage situations.

On the Inside, you won’t notice the size as much as how it’s used. That’s ALSO what she said. Keep in mind that the manufacturer’s stated length is usually from the tip of the tongue to the rear bumper – it is typically NOT the livable space alone. While this may be a little misleading, it allows you to technically not lie when you pull a 27′ Airstream into an RV Park that prohibits RVs larger than 25′ (ok, you might want to check the fine print on this one, but we’ve gotten away with it so far).

2. Floorplan

Floor Plan for 27 foot Airstream

Floorplan for our 27 foot Airstream Travel Trailer, ~200 square feet

For us, and probably most people, choosing the right floorplan is THE most important consideration when finding the best Airstream for full time RV living. In future articles, we’ll go into each Airstream floor plan in more detail, and discuss why we chose the 27FB. For now, here are the top 5 factors we wanted out of our floorplan

  • A walkaround queen size bed
  • Full, separate shower and lavatory
  • Plenty of inside storage
  • Some outside storage
  • A separate couch and dining area
Tiffani in the Lounge

Tiffani in the Lounge, aka our lowered dinette

3. Necessities

Necessities cover the things in life you NEED – you know, water, air, shelter, food, and clothing (beer optional). All RVs that you’re likely to consider living in full time will cover you on these needs, unless you’re considering living in a car, in which case, bring a cooler.

basecamp with snow

The point i’m making is that RVs, like houses, should stand up to the most basic need tests. Covering these will keep you safe, sound, healthy and happy through all but the most extreme cases. Here are the questions we asked ourselves:
Can the RV you’ve chosen for full time RV living provide you with adequate:

  • Shelter from the elements?
  • Clean water?
  • Pure air?
  • Means of storing and cooking food safely?
  • Room for clothing?

4. Amenities

Sweet Ride

Finally, the “want” category. This is last on our list (although size and floorplan could be classified as an amenity), but it is still important. Living in a small space gives you much more exposure to everything around you, so its important that you “like” things as much as you need them. Quality is also important for a similar reason – more exposure means you’ll use things more often, so they should last.
During our search, we found it difficult to keep our wants in check. We either gave them too much consideration, or not enough. So,  we wrote our own lists down, and then agreed on which items we could or could not compromise. Our lists looked like this:

  • Deke - Enough AC to compete with Texas Summers, HDMI ready TV, enough power to run all of our gadgets
  • Tiffani - Room to sew, an outdoor shower, night stand / bedside area, closet space

This became a vital part of our final shopping list. When we found a size and floorplan we liked, we simply rated how well each of these items would work.

These are the main criteria we used to choose the Big Weaz. What criteria did you use to pick out your RV? Or, if you’re shopping now, what else would you add to this list? Leave a comment!

3 Comments

  1. I came across an airstream site that had ALL specifications, floor plans with options and model names since their first one. I kept the link and 3 days later went back and now they are only showing the brand new models. All info on previous models is gone. We are looking for the wide body with rear queen bed, shower, toilet and sink, table and sitting area across the very front in a 29 ft to 31 ft model that is 1969 or newer but not brand new. I come across floor plans when I search but no model names of years. Do you have a site that you use for reference? ~Nancvy

    Reply
    • Hi Nancy,

      Apologies for our delay in answering your request. If I were looking for specific info on older models, I would first start with a search through the docs on Airstream’s own site - http://www.airstream.com/service/document-archive/ – or call them and ask.

      If that turned up nothing, I would go to Airforums.com next and post my question. There are many folks there who can help you with ridiculously specific questions. Hope that helps, and if not, let me know and I can probably put you in touch with some contacts who can!

    • Thank you Weaselmouth. That link was exactly what I needed! You are awesome! ~Nancy

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