Good and Bad

The Following information was last updated in 2008:

Airstream Travel Trailer vs Safari Motorhome

It has been some time since we made the change from the Airstream travel trailer and the Ford Club Wagon to the Safari Motorhome and PT Cruiser. Several people have asked if we are happy with the change, what has improved and what we miss.

What we missed:

Space Efficiency: The Airstream is probably one of the most space efficient vehicles made. Everywhere you look there are storage compartments and bins. An example is the storage compartment behind the kitchen cabinets specifically designed to hold the Zip Dee chairs. Our Airstream provided more interior storage than the Safari even though the Safari’s inside dimensions are over two feet longer and 8 inches wider. Some of the items that we carried inside the Airstream have been relegated to the bays under the Safari.

Handling: After modifying the suspension on the Club Wagon and adding the Hensley Arrow hitch, the Club Wagon and Airstream was less affected by wind and passing trucks than most of the trailers and motorhomes on the road. With ipd suspension, air springs and the Hensley hitch, the Airstream was a dream to tow. In all fairness, the stock Club Wagon was affected by passing trucks and cross winds as much as the motorhome. The Hensley Arrow hitch eliminated the potential for the long Airstream to start swaying.

Attention to Detail: The curved surfaces of the Airstream not only make it a delight to tow, it gives the feel of being in a private jet when you are inside the Airstream. The woodwork is top quality and the entire design shows that Airstreams are built for extended use. Airstream has been modifying their coaches based on the suggestions of their customers for over 70 years and the attention to details shows. No other manufacture has the experience with providing traveling comfort of Airstream and of making the small design improvements that comes from decades of an owner who literally traveled the world in his products, taking caravans of Airstreamers to Russia, Africa, and even around the world tours in their trailers, especially during the 1950. This was a tremendous achievement and really showed the quality of construction.

Camaraderie: The Airstream family is very close. As you drive down the road in an Airstream who will typically find other Airstream owners waving. If you stop or park near another Airstream, you will typically find the owner coming over to introduce themselves. I virtually never heard negative comments made by Airstream owners about their “Silver Twinkie”.

Easy of Access: The Airstream sits very low to the ground. This improves the aerodynamics and also makes it very easy to enter and exit. Since many of the owners of Airstreams are retired, minimizing the number of steps necessary to climb in and out of an Airstream is a strong design criteria. It also made the Airstream feel very stable when parked. Strong crosswinds have limited affect on you as you live in your trailer.

What we gained:

Improved Access to our “stuff”: The storage bays of the motorhome are much easier to access and organized than digging through the thousand pounds of items jammed into the rear of the extended length Club Wagon. The Super Club Wagon was FILLED above the level of the top of the seats with “stuff” such as extension cords, tools, file boxes, extra water hoses and other items that would not fit in the Airstream. The motorhome bays are carpeted, heated and watertight.

Open space: The box shape of the interior, combined with large windows makes the Safari feel much larger inside than the Airstream. The large number of interior light fixtures further enhances the feeling of openness.

Lights, lights, lights: The use of 120 volt lighting provides a residential quality to RV living. The large inverter allows use of 120 volts lights even when dry camping. There are numerous 12 volt lights in each area, including ceiling and under counter fluorescent lights, reading and spot lights, and vanity mirror lights. These are augmented by 120 volt lights in the following areas: kitchen- large 120 volt ceiling fluorescent light, dining room fixture (with dimmer), living room-three shell lights (with dimmers), bedroom-two shell lights (with dimmers).

Washer/Dryer: The washer/dryer has worked out very well. There are limits on the amount of clothes that can be washed at one time and towels take hours to wash and dry. However, the convenience of being able to do a load or two of laundry a day without interfering with our schedule has been wonderful. Since Patrick likes things soft, we use large area rugs. These are the only thing that will not fit in washer/dryer.

Increased Weight Carry Capacity: The additional weight carrying capacity has been consumed by “stuff” without overloading the Safari. We have to watch the front to rear weight distribution.

PT Cruiser: Having a car to drive has proved beneficial to our marriage. While I enjoyed driving the extended length Club Wagon, Georgia didn’t. I found that many parking structures were off limits to the van due to height restrictions. Certainly compact car parking spaces were out of the question with the one-ton extended van. Since we tow the PT with all four wheels on the ground, we do not have to worry about finding a place to put a tow dolly or a trailer. Hook up is fast and easy, even for one person with the RoadMaster Falcon II tow bar and single, 6 wire connecting cable that powers the Remco Transmission Lube Pump and the lights on the PT. Other than the extra weight, you would never know that the PT was behind the Safari.

Desk: One of our most significant gains was room for a real desk. Trying to work at a make shift desk is less than desirable. By removing the swivel chair and side table, we were able to fit a 62″ desk with three file drawers, two desk drawers and a keyboard drawer into the coach without any modification to the coach.

Ice Maker: We go through a great deal of ice. We have bought packaged ice as often as twice a day. The separate icemaker keeps up with our ice demands and frees up valuable freezer space.

After 3-1/2 years in the Safari, we decided to go to a still larger motorhome. After a great deal of research, we chose a 43.5′ Newell.