Find Yourself Pining for Adorable, Instagramable Travel in an Airstream?

They're cute. They're iconic. And they fill your retro-modern dreams of being off the grid but comfortable. Here's what you need to know about life in an Airstream trailer.

The Airstream Basecamp was super cute. Photo: Jill Robbins

Here’s What You Need to Know About Owning, or Renting or Vacationing in an Airstream trailer.

Airstream trailers are visually unique modes of travel. The brand is iconic, and whether or not you’ve ever had in-depth thoughts about what it would be like to travel in one, someone only has to say the word “Airstream” and a vision of a sleek, rounded, gleaming aluminum travel trailer pops into your head.

I remember getting into camping circa 2020 and being surprised to discover the Airstream brand was alive and well and continuing to crank out the traditional aluminum travel trailers you may spot on the road. I always assumed that the Airstreams I spotted in the wild were older, vintage models and that’s not always the case.

The Airstream trailer’s aesthetic is so retro, but new Airstreams are still being rolled out in Jackson Center, OH, which is affectionately referred to in the Airstream community as “The Mothership.” The cool thing is that the exterior appearance of the Airstream has changed very little over the years.

I recently spent a weekend with the folks from Airstream at an Airstream and vintage travel trailer resort in Ennis, TX. It was a full immersion into the world of Airstream trailers and the people who love them, and I came away wanting one of my own. Here’s everything I learned during my two-day crash course on all the Airstream things.

Related: Towing 101: What You Need to Know to Tow with Confidence

A Girls Guide To Cars | Find Yourself Pining For Adorable, Instagramable Travel In An Airstream? - Trade Wind Travel Trailer At Campground

The Airstream Trade Wind Travel Trailer at The Range Vintage Trailer Resort. Photo: Jill Robbins

First Things First – How Much do These Beauties Cost?

There are a wide variety of price points because there are a wide variety of Airstreams. In addition to the bubble-shaped travel trailer we’re all probably most familiar with, Airstream makes a smaller towable camper, the Basecamp, which I’m seriously crushing on right now. If the camper van life is calling to you, Airstream wants to be part of your story. There are Airstream camper vans built on Mercedes and RAM chassis that are perfect for adventuring.

Airstreams range from about $50,000 to about $200,000, depending on what you choose and how loaded up you want to go. Like cars, Airstream travel trailers and adventure vans have different options and packages you can order from the manufacturer. You can also further customize your Airstream with after-market updates and add-ons, just like you can with your everyday ride.

Related: Love Our National Parks? Your Summer Road Trip Can Save Them 


Airstream’s Interstate 19x Touring Coach has a small footprint for adventure. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Airstream Origin Story

The Airstream story is a true American story. Wally Byam, born on the fourth of July, built his first Airstream “contraption” to accommodate his wife, who didn’t like to sleep on the ground when they went camping. The Airstream name grew through word of mouth, and people saw Byam’s camper on the road and wanted their own. Initially, the plans for the Torpedo model were advertised for sale in Popular Mechanics for $3.

The first riveted model was The Clipper in 1936, borrowing technology from the aviation industry. Byam not only traveled around the United States in an Airstream but organized caravans to Mexico and Central America, and even to Europe and Africa. Today, Airstream is one of the most iconic, recognizable American brands, joining the ranks of Levi Strauss and the Coca-Cola Company.

Related: You Got This: Everything You Need to Know about Towing


The Airstream Basecamp with Trade Wind in the back. Photo: Jill Robbins

Buying Used

You can save money by purchasing a used Airstream, but be a savvy buyer. The same general rules you’d use when buying a used car apply.

  • Do your research online and know what type of trailer will suit your needs and lifestyle.
  • Ask the seller questions. Find out if there were other owners and how far and often the Airstream was driven. It might also be helpful to talk with someone who owns the model you are interested in, as they can help you craft your questions.
  • Buy from a reputable dealer. While you can get a good deal buying from an individual, buying from an authorized dealer offers more protection if something goes wrong.

The Airstream community is warm and inviting. Photo: Jill Robbins

What Makes Airstream Special?

In addition to being instantly recognizable – we don’t pass a travel trailer on the road and know instantly who manufactured it, but when we see an Airstream, we know it is an Airstream – the brand is known for durability, quality workmanship, and a product that holds its value often twice as long as other RV brands. Add low maintenance costs and higher resale value and it is not hard to see why Airstreams are so popular.

But, most Airstreamers will tell you that Airstreams are special because of the people and community surrounding the brand. Owning an Airstream means you’re part of an instant circle of friends. I witnessed this camaraderie firsthand during my weekend spent with a lovely group of Airstreamers. From families to empty nesters to solo travelers, I got to see how people used their Airstreams to explore and connect.  Although the phrase “Something for everyone” might be trite and overused, there really is room for all people and all interests within the Airstream community. It’s a very welcoming space.


Airstream trailers are built for boondocking, Photo: Airstream

Built for Off the Grid

One of the things that struck me as special about Airstreams is that they are built to go off the grid. While there’s nothing wrong with rolling up to a state park and renting a campsite that is close enough to the next campsite to where you can smell what your neighbors are cooking for dinner, if you seek a less crowded outdoor experience, an Airstream can help you comfortably boondock.

Boondocking is camping outside of developed campgrounds, whether on Bureau of Land Management lands, at a winery or a farm using Harvest Hosts, or other remote terrain. Newer Airstreams’ solar panels, larger water tanks, and efficient water systems make it possible to get out and enjoy nature without rubbing elbows with other humans. Sometimes, we crave community when we’re camping. Other times, we don’t want to see any other two-legged creatures.

Also, the rugged features of the Airstream camper vans make getting to the more remote, backcountry campsites easier. Whether you’re using standard and factory add-on features to make your Airstream more boondocking capable or adding after-market updates, campers can move away from established campgrounds for longer periods and camp comfortably.


All solo female travelers are made to feel welcome in the Airstream community. Photo: Airstream

Airstream Embraces Solo Female Travel

While the idea of traveling alone might seem daunting, traveling alone while towing a 3,000-pound trailer, including safely hitching and unhitching said trailer from your truck or SUV, might illicit the response of “Oh, I could never do that.”

Or maybe not. Because you can, and there are plenty of solo female travelers who do, as well as women who travel with partners and assume the bulk of the responsibility for driving and towing. The Airstream community has embraced and encouraged solo females to travel faster and in a more welcoming way than the other RV communities.

There’s an Airstream Intra-Club, Stella’s Sisters, dedicated to supporting women Airstreamers. Named for Wally Byam’s wife, Stella, the club provides social and educational opportunities on topics such as travel safety and trailer maintenance.

The Airstream Club International is a 16,000-member organization that offers rallies, events, and niche groups for every demographic and area of interest within the Airstream community. Stella’s Sisters is an Intra-Club that provides a community for Airstreamers based on niche interests.


Millie O’Donnell hitching her Airstream Basecamp to her truck, Photo: Jill Robbins

Learning to Trailer and Tow

Not gonna lie; I found the idea of trailering and towing way more daunting than the act of staying in a trailer alone. I’m not afraid to be alone or travel alone, but the task of hooking thousands of pounds of metal and household goods to a car, zipping down the road, and arriving with everything intact pushes the envelope of what I think I’m good at.

But, they say practice makes perfect. I sat down and talked with Millie O’Donnell, a veteran solo Airstreamer and one of the founding members of Stella’s Sisters, and talked about her experience traveling solo and managing her rig on her own.

“[When it comes to trailering] take your time,” advises O’Donnell, who is currently traveling in an Airstream Basecamp. “Stuff like learning to back up takes time to learn. Also, ask questions of other (Airstream) owners. Learn to listen and don’t get in your own way.”


It was a pleasure to tow the Airstream Basecamp Trailer after we got a lesson. Photo: Jill Robbins

O’Donnell was gracious enough to give a small group of women journalists a hands-on demonstration of how to hitch and unhitch a trailer – we even got a driving lesson. We took turns towing the Basecamp around The Range, the campground near Ennis, Texas, where we were staying. It was a baby step toward being responsible for towing and setting up a travel trailer, but enough to realize that, yes, I could do this. So can you.

Other basic towing advice to be aware of is to know how to do the proper towing math and make sure you’re using a vehicle that is capable of towing the weight of your trailer, do several practice runs with hitching and unhitching your chains and other towing equipment, and to take it slow when driving. If you are new to the world of Airstream, this is where the Airstream Club comes in handy. If you are a new or prospective Airstream owner, just know you have a whole community eager to help you learn the ropes.


The Barn and Airstream Bar at The Range Vintage Trailer Resort. Photo: Jill Robbins

Airstream Resorts

If you’re not ready to plunge into buying an Airstream, you can stay at an Airstream resort to get a taste of what it’s like to camp in one and be a part of the Airstream community. I spent the weekend at The Range Vintage Trailer Resort, which is an all-Airsteam + vintage travel trailer outdoor resort.

The Range is a short drive – about 30 minutes – from downtown Dallas and has 22 campsites. There are nine rental sites with Airstreams and vintage travel trailers and 13 open sites where campers can bring their Airstream or vintage travel trailer and camp. The resort is operated by Sarah Beauregard and her family, who live onsite.

Beauregard fell in love with Airstreams when she and her husband took on the restoration of a 1975 Airstream. Sarah and her family took their Airstream on the road for a year. They found they had difficulty getting into campgrounds with an older trailer, often having to send pictures of their trailer to prove that it had been restored before they’d be granted a camping reservation. That’s when her dream of creating an all-Airstream resort was born.

“Our heart is repurposing,” explains Beauregard. Not only does the range have seven fully restored vintage – circa 1953 through 1967 – trailers, but they’ve built their in-camp roads with an aggregate of crushed gravel, and the furniture and dishware used in the barn, the Range’s central gathering spot, are all repurposed. She tries to be as sustainable and local business-conscious as she can – all the food scraps are donated to the neighboring farm to feed the animals, and the beers and spirits served in the oh-so-cute Airstream bar are Texas brewed and distilled.


An interior View of the 1953 Boles Aero that I stayed in at The Range Vintage Trailer Resort. Photo: Jill Robbins

I spent the weekend in a fully restored 1953 Boles Aero travel trailer. I was very comfortable and cozy, and the compact interior was perfect for a solo traveler – or a couple who is really into sleeping super snuggled up. I had bathroom facilities, a tiny kitchen with a fridge, a microwave, and an eating area that converted into a bed. What I loved best about the Boles Aero was the deck with a propane fire pit and a hammock. I had neighbors on either side – I could see the trailers in the distance through the trees, but I couldn’t hear noises from the other camps, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was piled on top of anyone else.

Airstreams For Rent At Campground

Airstreams are available for rent at The Range Vintage Trailer Resort. Photo: Jill Robbins

Get a Taste of the Airstream Life

The Range is a great place to come to get a taste of Airstream life and enjoy whatever combination of solitude and socializing works for you. There’s food service on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday is burger night, and the Saturday menu is an eight-course pizza dinner, which includes a salad, dessert, and six slices of wood-fired pizza.

“It’s no menu, no stress, and no decisions,” says Beauregard. “It’s just like having people over to our house for dinner, and we feed them.”

Other Airstream and vintage trailer resorts are scattered around the United States. AutoCamp is a great source for finding camping and glamping spots that cater to Airstreamers. Other notable Airstream and vintage resorts are located in Marfa, TX, Dayton, OR, and Escalante, UT.


Rear view of the Airstream Trade Wind Travel Trailer. Photo: Jill Robbins

Renting an Airstream

Several companies rent Airstreams. Go RV Rentals and Outdoorsy both allow owners to list Airstreams for rent. Renters can search based on location and type of Airstream they’re interested in. Most sites will also have filters that allow you to select whether or not you need your rental to be pet-friendly and the rental profile will show a bit about the trailer’s amenities and owner’s policies.  Some owners will deliver your Airstream rental to a campsite and set it up for you. Airstream rental sites look a bit like Airbnb or Vrbo listings.

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Jill is the oldest mom with the youngest kids pretty much everywhere she goes. She has a 29-year-old daughter... More about Jill Robbins