Top 5 Regrets of Owning an Airstream

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A woman leans against the outside of her Airstream with a sad look on her face.

We all watch in wonder when one of those sleek, silver bullets glides down the highway. After all, Airstreams stand out in their shiny beauty and stature.

It’s no surprise that many RVers want one. Their beauty has attracted a growing throng of loyal admirers, giving rise to a niche community.

But despite all their glory, Airstreams come at a cost. Part of that cost is monetary; part of it is sacrifice. People want to own one for several reasons, but we’re here to point out the top regrets. Here are some things to consider before purchasing.

What to know BEFORE buying an Airstream

Airstreams Are Iconic, But Far From Perfect

Some consider Airstreams a staple of the American landscape. That iconic silver style has been wandering the country’s highways and byways for the better part of a century. A cult-like following has emerged from the decades of fandom.

But like any icon, not everything about Airstreams is perfect. These beautiful, alluring status symbols in the RV world have drawbacks; let’s look at five.

A shiny silver Airstream travel trailer heading down a two lane highway towards mountains in the distance.

Top 5 Regrets of Owning an Airstream

Any RV has its downfalls — some more than others. Even the iconic Airstream has several cons to choose from, but here, we’re focusing on what we consider the top five regrets of owning one.

1. They’re So Expensive

One of the biggest drawbacks for Airstreams is the cost. New Airstreams start at around $45,000, with the cost quickly rising upward to $175,000 or more. 

Even a used Airstream isn’t cheap. A simple Airstream shell in good condition runs about $10,000. Then you have to build it out. Depending on the build, restoring the shell can cost anywhere from $20,000 on the low end to $100,000 or more.

2. No Slide-Outs

Airstreams are notorious for their tightly spaced layouts. This compounds the fact that they don’t have slide-outs.

The narrow build can make it difficult for more than a couple of people to move around in the RV at a time. They also have less headroom, being somewhat short in height. Taller people may want to consider this to avoid bumping their heads all the time.

Keep In Mind: Airstream released a new RV with a built-in office space in 2021. Check out the floor plan perfect for working on the road.

The interior of an Airstream travel trailer with white walls, grey flooring, and a table with benches on either side.

3. No Fifth Wheel Towing Option

The Airstream has no option to pull as a fifth wheel. They’re all travel trailers, which means you pull it from the bumper.

The longest ones, which reach up to 33 ft long, are still bumper-pull travel trailers. Older Airstreams were as long as 40 ft. Still, you can pull them with the right vehicle. However, fifth-wheel towing can be a safer way to pull long rigs.

4. Virtually Non-Existent Exterior Storage Space

If you are carrying any outdoor gear or tools when you travel, an Airstream might be a poor choice. They are notorious for lack of exterior storage space. In fact, most Airstreams have almost no outside accessible storage. This can cause a massive inconvenience if you have outdoor chairs, a grill, tools, or other items.

Exterior access is primarily limited to appliances, such as the back of a refrigerator or water heater. Additionally, they have limited interior storage in most floorplans, meaning you would have to use your tow vehicle for most of your storage.

5. Delicate Exterior and Expensive Maintenance

The exterior appearance and aerodynamics of Airstream trailers are standout features. Plus, the space-age look draws everyone’s eyes to them.

However, this can also become a major negative to owning an Airstream. That beautiful silver skin is made of aluminum, which is rather delicate. Little bumps and nicks that frequently happen when traveling in an RV stand out on that shiny exterior.

Like anything made of metal, Airstreams are particularly susceptible to corrosion. The most significant cause comes from the magnesium chloride often used on roads across the United States. It keeps roads from icing in colder climates and on dirt roads to keep dust in check. All of this provides ample opportunity for magnesium chloride to attack that shiny exterior.

Dented aluminum exterior of an Airstream.

Pro Tip: In the market for an RV? Here’s how to know which one is best for you.

What’s the Allure of an Airstream Travel Trailer? 

As we’ve mentioned several times, Airstreams are sleek and shiny. These features tend to make them highly attractive. But that’s not all there is to their allure.

In addition to their stylish looks, they have good aerodynamics. The payoff for this is two-fold. Though Airstream doesn’t offer a fifth-wheel towing option, the aerodynamic build makes them easier to pull than a box travel trailer. Additionally, towing an Airstream can save as much as 20 percent on fuel costs compared to pulling a typical travel trailer.

They also have a supportive community that’s much like a family. After all, Airstream is the oldest brand in the industry, having been around since the 1930s. You can find major rallies, events, websites, and forums solely dedicated to Airstreamers.

Two people relaxing in chairs outside their aluminum travel trailer at dusk.

Is an Airstream Worth It?

Whether an Airstream is worth it or not is a loaded question.

Though we pointed out several regrets of Airstream owners, it is up to you to determine if they will dissuade you from purchasing one.

The looks alone are enough for many people to hold their noses when considering the price tag. And not everyone worries about a lot of storage space.

If these are important considerations, an Airstream may not be worth it for you. But to others, it can be a small price to pay for the cache of owning one.

Just make sure that the positives outweigh the negatives in any RV purchase you make, employ a solid maintenance routine, and enjoy your travels.

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