When you’re shopping for a new Airstream travel trailer, the experience can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. With so many choices in lengths, floor plans, weights, and styles, it’s easy to get anxious by analysis paralysis. Where do I find Airstreams for sale? Are there camper dealers near me? What’s an Airstream cost? How do I decide the right length? Are Airstream travel trailers lightweight? What’s the difference between a Flying Cloud, Globetrotter, and International?
The questions can pile up quickly. Luckily, Airstream has a variety of tools to help you make the right decision, including this handy guide to one of the most mysterious concepts to those just starting to shop for an Airstream: How does Airstream name their models?
Airstream’s Floor Plan Naming Convention
Let’s start with the basics. The names given to each Airstream travel trailer include four important pieces of information. Once you understand what those pieces are and what they tell you, it’s easy to understand the inherent differences between every option available.
[MODEL NAME + LENGTH + BED PLACEMENT + BED SIZE]
That’s the convention, but let’s break down each of the pieces in more detail.
Year to year, Airstream’s offering of towable travel trailers changes. New models are introduced, and sometimes models are retired. Currently, Airstream offers eight lines of towable travel trailers – from 33-foot residential-style double-axle travel trailers to lightweight, single-axle travel trailers. While the exterior design of the iconic “silver bullet” riveted aluminum Airstream doesn’t change much from model to model, the interior of each Airstream reflects unique choices about décor, layout, and amenities.
At the top is the Classic Travel Trailer. The longest and heaviest of Airstream’s towable offerings, Classic’s interior features hardwood cabinetry, a residential-style kitchen, and luxurious bedroom and bathroom areas. No expense is spared, and Classic includes every comfort of home – and then some.
Globetrotter was first introduced in the 1960s and eventually retired. When it was reintroduced several years ago, it quickly became one of Airstream’s most popular models. Featuring clean, modern, European-inspired design, Globetrotter is a work of art on wheels.
The International Serenity earns its name in the soothing design choices that balance a spacious, open, airy interior with the flexibility for great adventure.
Flying Cloud has long been the most popular, versatile, and family-friendly travel trailer in Airstream’s fleet. With 16 different floor plans (more than any other in the lineup) and ample storage, modern technology, and the option for a rear-hatch on the 27', Flying Cloud is a showstopper.
Caravel and Bambi are relative newcomers to the fleet, but draw inspiration from two classic models of yesteryear. Single-axle, lightweight travel trailers, Bambi is a great way for new Airstreamers to start their adventure, while Caravel takes the experience to new heights.
While Nest and Basecamp depart from the iconic silver bullet Airstream shape, they are no less versatile and stunning. Nest by Airstream is the company’s first production-ready fiberglass travel trailer and features crisp, marine-esque features that make it a design-enthusiast’s dream, while Basecamp is ready for any adventure – both on and off the road.
Things to consider when choosing an Airstream model:
- What’s your preferred interior style?
- What kind of amenities are you looking for?
- Do you want a rear hatch?
- What’s your vehicle's maximum towing capacity or what vehicle do you need to safely tow the Airstream?
- Where and when are you looking to travel?
After the model name comes the travel trailer’s length. Airstream offers towable travel trailers at lengths ranging from 33 feet to 16 feet. While length is often a matter of personal preference and budget, the length also contributes to the overall weight of the travel trailer, the number of axles, the amount of storage offered, and the amenities you’ll find inside. The four single-axle travel trailers built by Airstream – Nest, Basecamp, Bambi, and Caravel – have lengths ranging from 16 to 22 feet. They are easy to tow with a variety of vehicles, including most SUVs. At 23 feet and above, Airstream travel trailers feature double axle designs to help distribute weight for a smooth towing experience. Flying Cloud has the most length options, with 23-, 25-, 26-, 27-, 28-, and 30-foot lengths.
In general, the shortest Airstream travel trailers have wet baths which combine toilet and shower facilities. Moving up in length, you’ll start to see separate bathroom and shower facilities, more storage, and more kitchen counter space. With double-axle RVs, the amenities increase exponentially with length. In the 23- to 27-foot range, you’ll find more areas to lounge, spacious bathrooms, and increasingly large pantry areas. And in Airstream’s longest travel trailers, there are often separate eating, lounging, and sleeping areas, as well as residential-style bathrooms that wouldn’t be out of place in an urban apartment.
Things to consider when choosing a length:
- What’s your budget?
- What are your space needs, and will they change in the coming years?
- What’s your comfort level in towing?
- How much storage do you need?
- How many people do you anticipate sleeping in the Airstream?
- What are your off-season storage options?
- Are you ok with a wet bath, or do you want dedicated shower and bathroom facilities?
- Length correlates to weight.
After the model name and length, you’ll find a two-letter code designating the placement of the bed. Each layout is defined by where the bed is located – near the front, in the back, or in the corner. These locations are designated by the codes FB (front bed), RB (rear bed), or CB (corner bed). While the location of the bed may not seem important at first, as you research which travel trailer is right for you, you’ll find many subtle differences that begin with where the bed is located.
When it comes to Nest, the options are for a dedicated queen-sized front bed (16FB), or a U-dinette option (16U) that converts to a queen bed. Basecamp has one 16-foot floor plan with a convertible bed in the rear, but there is the option for the Basecamp X package which provides more clearance and off-road capabilities.
Things to consider when choosing bed placement:
- How important are lounging areas?
- Where do you want your bedroom window facing when you’ve parked at a campsite? Many campsites require you to back into the parking spot and a lot of Airstreamers prefer the bedroom windows to be facing away from the main road – and toward a better view of nature and the surrounding scenery. This also gives you more privacy, facing away from busy roadways and passerby's.
- Bed placement also determines where the main entry door is on the exterior of the travel trailer. In most cases, beds and doors are opposite of each other.
Finally, Airstream’s naming conventions may or may not include a bed size option. If no bed size is listed (i.e., Flying Cloud 25FB) then the bed is a queen-sized bed. Some Airstream models offer twin bed options (i.e., Globetrotter 25FB Twin), and others offer bunk options (currently Flying Cloud 23CB Bunk and Flying Cloud 30FB Bunk). As with other options, bed size is a question of personal preference. But the bunk options on Flying Cloud are popular for families who want extra bed space for kids and guests.
Things to consider about bed size:
- Are you traveling solo or with a partner?
- Do you need bed space for kids or guests?
- The Classic Travel Trailer has powered bed options: Both the twin bed and queen bed option are powered.
- Do you want a bunk for extra sleeping space?
- It may seem socially awkward at first if you travel with a partner, but choosing a twin bed option has a 3 major benefits (depending on your travel use cases, of course). First, twin bed configurations extend the floor space that is available which makes the travel trailer appear longer and opens up walking and preparation space. Twin bed floor plans also create an addition lounging or working space during the day when you don't necessarily want to lay in bed or if you want to create your own space while your partner is set up at the main dinette. Lastly, you can make trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night without disturbing your partner.
There's no shortage of options when shopping for the right travel trailer model and floor plan. Continue learning about what makes each model special or connect with your preferred dealer to scheduled a personal walk-around.