Extravagant Airstreams: What Makes It Expensive

The world-renowned travel trailer is not only famous for being recognized as “the most luxurious travel trailer,” but also known for its worth of money. Airstream is a world-famous product since 1929, which serves various purposes depending on its owner. It could be for camping, unwinding, traveling, or some may stay and dwell in it. As it is said, “airstream is a lifetime investment in happiness”. 

Airstreams are highly expensive because of the aluminum materials and meticulous labor for construction. These trailers come with class, luxurious looks, and great features. You can get the same comfort you find at a residential home, and it is undeniably durable.

Airstreams are so expensive that even the cheapest is worth thousands of dollars. Still, many people would buy an airstream despite its value since it offers comfort as you travel around the places you want to go. In this article, I will talk about the different reasons why Airstreams are expensive. I will also discuss the different pros and cons when it comes to buying an Airstream.

Airstream Design: It’s Indeed a Total Stunner 

One of the unique features of the airstream is the body made from aluminum which is primarily why they are so expensive. The aluminum body serves several purposes, which also adds to the airstreams’ value. Know more about the Airstream design in the following section.

Airstream’s Grand Design: The Highlights You Should Know

The body of the Airstream is made from aluminum and this is the 2024T3 alclad aluminum which is used in making them as well as restoring vintage models. Airstreams will have a stunning, silver, and shiny look through this aluminum. 

The body of the airstream has a streamlined shape inspired by its ability to withstand the great depression due to World War II while other travel trailers fall out. 

The Concept: The Seamless Airstream Design

The streamlined shape is not just for show but also has aerodynamic reasons. It decreases drag so that the travel trailer is easily towed by a car or a truck. This is much likely appreciated when you travel because it offers more manageable and safer driving since it will slip through the wind.

Its lightweight provided by the aluminum body also contributed to the easy towing of the travel trailer. Its design offers each airstream travel trailer long-lasting durability even though they weigh less.

The aluminum material of the airstream’s body is a legend of toughness since it was used in WWII aircraft. Since airstreams were built with aluminum and fastened by rivets, they will not rot like any other trailers, RVs, or recreational vehicles because the only plywood in their body is the subfloor.

The constructed subfloor in the airstreams can also provide anchor points to the appliances installed inside and to the floorplans.

Meticulous Construction: An Outcome of a Detailed Output 

Airstreams do not just take a lot of work but also require several people to complete. This is why the construction process of this RV contributes to the worth of the Airstream. The Airstream construction is not finished by simply needing machines to do the work but also uses more meticulous hands-on processes, which means a detailed structure. 

Construction Process: A Glimpse of the Process

It takes a thorough construction process to complete an Airstream. It is crafted by hands to ensure the durability of the Airstream. These are riveting the aluminum to the steel frame so that it will have its shell. Then insulation is added, and another aluminum is riveted inside to create the inner shell.

Every riveting, a team of two works on the outside of the airstream while the other one exerts inside the Airstream trailer with a bucking bar. Each Airstream is crafted by hand, not only the rivets as well as walls and furniture. The brand of aluminum is more expensive than the other types on the market.

The Painstaking Building Process: Another Factor that Raises the Price

The riveting is done by hand to make sure it is perfectly sealed and avoid damage to the steel frame. The process of riveting flattens the stem end and pinch the two pieces of aluminum together. Rivets also ensure a permanent and robust attachment of the aluminum, especially the hard-to-weld one. 

Rivet is one of the most robust methods to fasten and join complex objects like aluminum in the aircraft’s body. These rivets do not lose even when there is vibration. That being the case, they are perfect for creating Airstream travel trailers.

The Airstream building process requires more workers to do the labor like carrying every appliance inside to install them hand by hand. It takes an average of 350 hours to create the typical Airstream travel trailer. 

Due to Airstream construction’s labor demand, several workers are also another factor for its high price. The detailed construction process results in a timeless, luxurious trailer and classic modern style. 

The External and Interior Features: Making You Want More

The American Airstream is created with luxury because of its fabulous aluminum body and exceptional features. These features consisted of luxurious appliances for extravagant stays which makes them stand out from the rest of recreational vehicles. These luxurious features of the airstreams are also one of the major factors why they are expensive.

Airstream’s Aluminum Body And Quality Rivets: Durability for the Win

Airstream has used aluminum shells from the 1930s up to the present. Each sheet of aluminum in the airstream is treated with metal. A double aluminum shell is designed in the airstream’s body to wrap around its steel frame. This double shell is made from an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy which is very high in quality. 

The aluminum used in their body is costly, like the 2024T3 alclad that costs $16.75 per linear foot in every .03248” wide x any length of every Airstream travel trailer. There are 4000 average rivets that hold the entire body of an airstream. These are the buck rivets, Olympic rivets, open-end blind rivets, closed-end blind rivets, and the huck rivets. 

The buck rivets require two-sided access for installation. In this, solid rivets are installed with a pneumatic gun to assemble the airstream shell. The Olympic rivets can be installed with one side access of one person. The same with the buck rivets, and huck rivets that require two-sided access of one person. 

Furniture and Accessories: Highest Quality

Airstream creates its cabinetry and chooses furniture that is made with high-quality materials. This furniture is selected according to the style of the Airstream. Airstream sets luxury appliances from trusted brands to ensure high-quality products.

Airstream travel trailers have a lot of big windows that use tempered glass. The big tempered glass windows allow the airstream owner to access beautiful views of nature. This is one of the main reasons why people prefer airstream because of how one can get close to nature.

It has a highly reputable brand of on-the-road components such as axles, brakes, and wheels. The inside feature of the airstream has a modern style compared to the other RVs. Another factor contributing to the airstream’s expensiveness is the clean lines and the curved surfaces because they are costly to manufacture.

A Well-Thought Of Interior Build: Great for Every Type of Family

You can find a bedroom space in the airstream with a capacity of two to eight people, depending upon its model. Of course, the kitchen is always found in any airstream model because it is an essential part of a  “mobile home” and a camping adventure.

The kitchen is equipped with modern appliances with high-quality from the trusted luxurious brand. Sofa or sitting accessories that are sometimes convertible into bed are also features and highlights of the Airstreams. These sofas are made with ultra-leather, which makes them more fabulous, luxurious and is durable, and long-lasting at the same time.

Needless to say, Airstreams are often built with bathrooms for the comfort of travelers or campers. For smart living, Airstreams are equipped with USB and outlets and wifi in some modern models. These rigs are constructed with a lot of storage for your camping tools and home appliances you can carry anywhere. 

Longevity and Durability: Not Even a Question

When we buy things, quality and durability are necessary to select an item or a product. Since any kind of good is buyable when it is built with high quality to last for years, this marketing concept is relevant when choosing high-priced products like getting an airstream. 

What Makes the Airstream Last

Each airstream trailer is created with a lightweight aluminum shell superstructure which is a significant factor for its durability to last about 40 years or more. Its strength and rigidity came from the hand-riveted design, which was inspired by the aircraft’s construction. 

Every airstream contains a semi-monocoque shell that absorbs energy when they are exposed to stress. When the aluminum is already treated with metal, it will become resistant to UV rays,  discoloration, mold, flaking, cracking, and pulverization. Airstreams will last for 40 years and with the proper care and maintenance, they will last more than that. 

Airstream: A Major Part of the History

Airstream played a significant role in some important historical events that gained a legendary reputation which in turn they can raise prices for that reason. The “pop culture” reputation is one of the examples where Airstream became part of it. 

Legendary Role In The Hardest Times

During World War II, Airstream was the only travel trailer to hold out from that great depression. The airstreams travel trailers were used as cargo planes to transport the officials of the Air Force. Another most outstanding achievement in human history was the flight of Apollo 11 to the moon, where an airstream trailer was used as a quarantine facility when they had returned to Earth.

It Never Goes Out Of Pop Culture

Airstream trailer has been featured in different iconic movies and famous television series. It was part of the favorite Jurassic World movie in 2018 and Armageddon movie in 1988. 

Airstream And Recreational Vehicles: What You Should Know

Airstream is one of the leading recreational vehicle manufacturers which includes travel trailers, vans, etc. Several companies that also manufacture recreational vehicles serve as main competitors of the airstream company. However, there are advantages of one over the other.

Airstream VS. Fifth Wheel: Similarities

Airstream and Fifth Wheel are both exceptional travel trailers that consist of comfort at home. These are the kitchen installed with essential modern appliances, bathroom, bedroom, sofa, outlet, storage like cabinetry, TV, and a solar panel.

Like the Airstream, the recreational vehicle owner can also live in the Fifth Wheel as their permanent home. The recreational vehicle owner of the Airstream and Fifth Wheel can hit the road anytime as they go for adventure, camping, unwinding, being close to nature, etc. 

The two of them cost so much money that Airstream’s worth is $36, 900 to $221,000, while the Fifth Wheel’s price is $25,000 to $100,000. The Airstream trailer or the Fifth Wheel trailer are hauled by vehicles since they do not move independently.

Airstream VS. Fifth Wheel: Differences

Airstreams are smaller than most of the Fifth Wheel which mean a better travel trailer when you have been staying on the road. A vintage silver look is only found in Airstream. Abundant big windows that are often tempered glass are on the airstreams and not in the Fifth Wheel.

Fifth Wheel trailer is the best when you hit the road for adventure, camping, or a getaway vacation with your family, especially those with large numbers of members. Simultaneously, the Airstream is not-so-good when carrying many passengers due to its hauling or towing reason.

The Fifth Wheel is towed by large pickup trucks or any large vehicles. Since they are large trailers, such length is often 45 to 55 feet. This can often be a disadvantage to the Fifth wheel, especially when it is already on the road because it will not fit such streets the most of the countryside.

The Airstream trailers are hitched to the vehicle’s bumper while the Fifth Wheel trailers are mounted to the truck bed. They are lighter than the Fifth Wheel, which means easy towing by any vehicle like an SUV. The usual weight of the Airstream weighs 7,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds, whereas Fifth Wheel trailers usually weigh 20,000 pounds. 

Airstream will last longer at about 40 or more with regular maintenance, while the Fifth Wheel has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Airstream will still look shining, stunning, and fabulous as always, even for years, but Fifth Wheel will not have that “new look” for an RV at ten years.

Owning Airstream Trailers: The Good and the Bad

Airstream trailers are not perfect though they cost so much money. They also have disadvantages that people need to know before purchasing one. Nevertheless, its durability and aesthetic value of both the exterior and interior features are undeniably one of the very reasons why many had purchased the Airstream. 

Pros: You Get What You Pay For

The bathroom and shower room to some airstream trailers (notably the International Serenity) are separated. The sofa and dinette are separated, and their vintage design is timeless so they will not be outdated in style.

It can be easily hauled and has massive big windows, especially the longer trailer, where you can feel the outdoors’ ambiance.

Cons: The Trade-Offs 

Airstream travel trailers are more costly than the other RVs. Like any other recreational vehicle, airstreams have quality issues too. The exterior part of the airstreams has an almost non-existent storage space. Airstream floor material will quickly be damaged, and some people would say that an airstream cabinet is poorly designed.

Its storage and inside area are minimal, and installing solar is difficult due to the curved roof design. Other trailers are typically made from fiberglass, which is much easier to repair and cheaper to fix. 

Also, airstream trailers require a lot of maintenance since their aluminum skin is flimsy and can easily scratch and be dented if not correctly cared for. Its roof is prone to leakage, and repairing airstreams is also expensive. 

Getting The Most Out Of An Airstream 

Spending a lot of money is no joke which is why getting the most out of what you invest is important. Like other trailers, the Airstream also needs maintenance and regular care which will make it withstand the test of time.

Keeping A Good Condition For A Money Worthily Spent

Since Airstreams are so expensive, keeping them running in excellent condition and as tidy or clean as possible is vital. This is why an airstream owner must be equipped with knowledge regarding trailer maintenance. Cleaning an Airstream both includes the exterior and interior parts of the trailer. 

In cleaning interior and exterior airstream parts, make sure to use appropriate cleaning materials. Clean your kitchen countertops, sink, faucets, cabinet handles, bathroom counters, and interior as well as exterior door handles.

Do not forget tabletops by wiping with a surface cleaner, microfiber cloth, or sanitizing wipes with 60% alcohol. Also, wipe off the appliances countertop, small electronics, airstream decors, etc. Clean the toilet with the typical cleaners then add some water so that the cleaners will go down to the black water tank. 

Avoid build-up in the shower by simply wiping its wall. If you have long hairs that will possibly cause clogs, a drain cover is highly recommended. For the aluminum interior, clean it with the same sanitizer you used in your kitchen and appliances counterparts. Then, polish to shine by using a pledge and a microfiber cloth.

If it has an ultra-suede fiber on the interior walls, you can keep them clean with baby wipes and air dry. A  broom or Swiffer and warm soapy water can keep the floor clean. Cleaning the exterior part needs auto products with clear coats. In the cleaning procedure, remember to always work with grain from front to back horizontally. 

Proper Maintenance: Ensures a Longer Running Life

Airstream maintenance must be every two months or every 1000 miles and it usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Yet, there is another maintenance every three months and annually. If you have a wet-cell or lead-acid battery, it is recommended to check the battery water level every 60 days or every 1,000 miles.

Check the escape window if the latches and upper hinge can be opened quickly but if not, drop one to two silicone lubricants on it. Press and hold the alarm button until it starts beeping to check the smoke-co alarm. Failure to alarm means replacement of the battery or the smoke alarm itself. Remember to check your tire pressure.

Never forget to check the hitch which connects the trailer to the vehicle. Look for loose bolts or unusual wear and check if it needs grease. You can grease the hitch with Molybdenum grease and a grease gun. Also, take a look at the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI that monitors the electricity flowing in a circuit. You may refer to the airstream manual to test its receptacle.


Airstreams are expensive because they are made to last for decades more than other recreational vehicles. The history, culture, and building that come with it are also factors for this extravagant price. Airstreams are simply just expensive that you have to think about many times before buying them. Since airstreams are thereby very expensive, you should make the most of what you invest. If you want to know the best vehicle to tow your Airstream, here is an article that I have written for you.


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