All About Airstreams: The History and Why you Should Rent One

What’s a camper’s favorite hand-crafted piece of metal?

No, it’s not a charm bracelet or wedding ring, or even one of those fancy copper mule mugs.

It’s the Airstream brand of RVs, motorhomes, and travel trailers. And if you’ve spent any time on the road, chances are you’ve seen one or more of them out in the wild.

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Airstream trailers have a devoted fan following, as evidenced by the appearance of the “land yacht” on accessories from tee-shirts to throw pillows to wind chimes. There’s even an Airstream-specific camping group called The Wally Byam Caravan Club, as well as Airstream-only private owners’ campgrounds.

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So what’s all the fuss about? And more importantly, how can you rent one?

Airstream Trailers

Airstream trailers are easily identified by their shiny metal exterior and distinctive body shape — which, according to the Airstream Wikipedia page, actually “dates back to the 1930s and is based on designs created by Hawley Bowlus, who had earlier overseen construction of Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.”

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They’re also well-known for their very high material and construction quality, which is why you can find models from the ’60s and ’70s that are still in good, working order. Both inside and out, Airstream trailers are handcrafted and customized to ensure passenger safety, comfort, and convenience.

One main difference between Airstreams and other types of motorhomes and travel trailers is that the interior components are each brought in through the trailer’s door by hand, as opposed to being mechanically dropped in from above. This helps technicians ensure each appliance and furnishing is perfectly sized and situated for the trailer, and also allows Airstream to create leak-resistant, high-quality exterior shells. Here’s a short video highlighting the process:

The custom-crafted nature of Airstream trailers is backed up with a constant eye toward innovation. According to its website, Airstream was responsible for a huge range of RV firsts: “The first workable hot water system. The first flushable toilet with a waste holding tank. The first ladder frame. The first pressurized water system. The first fully self-contained travel trailer. All these innovations appeared first in Airstream trailers.”

Read more here.

Airstream History

Aside from their high build quality and attention to detail, Airstream motorhomes and travel trailers also have a long and storied history — a fascinating tale which is, for many Airstream devotees, part of the allure.

The Airstream project started all the way back in the late 1920s, when a young lawyer by the name of Wally Byam started building trailers in his backyard in Los Angeles. From sailing to camping, Byam had always had a strong thirst for adventure, so it only made sense that he’d create a way to see the world in comfort and style.

After trying several models and recruiting some design help, Byam began manufacturing trailers for the wider public in the 1930s. The company survived the Great Depression and World War Two before moving to its current headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio, where it still produces the iconic RVs today.

You can read more about the history and innovation of Airstream here, at its website.

Airstream Trailers for Rent

So now that you know what all the excitement’s about, let’s get down to the fun part: How to take your next RV vacation in an Airstream camper rental!

Although they’re of exceptional quality, it can be difficult to find Airstream trailers on a traditional rental dealership floor. After all, that custom work comes at a price; Airstreams are notoriously expensive. That can be a hard cost for a large business to justify, even if it does mean the vehicles are well built.

That’s why the peer-to-peer market is the perfect place to turn if you’re looking for an Airstream rental. Private owners of vintage Airstream trailers and motorhomes might list their rigs for rent when they’re not using them for vacation, which gives you the opportunity to have the Airstream camping experience without shelling out for a “land yacht” of your very own just yet.

Although there’s not a specific Airstream filter at RVshare, you can narrow down your search result by clicking “Travel Trailer” under the “Types of RV” heading on the left sidebar. Because even old Airstreams are often in great traveling condition and are well-loved by many RV campers, it’s usually not too hard to find one available as an RV rental in your area!

Airstream Rental Camping

Once you find the Airstream rental of your dreams, it’s time to plan your camping trip. If you’re renting a travel trailer (as opposed to a self-powered motorcoach), your first priority will be to ensure that you have a capable tow vehicle to get your rig where it’s going. In some cases, renters might also be willing to deliver and set up the RV for you.

A great way to save money on your camping trip, no matter what kind of RV you’re traveling in, is to sign up for (and use!) a Passport America membership. This special discount camping club gets you half price campsites at almost 1900 campgrounds across the country, including several locations in Mexico and Canada. At less than $50 per calendar year, the service easily pays for itself in just one camping trip.

You may also want to bring along some camping accessories that can help make your trip more convenient and comfortable, such as folding camp chairs, portable LED lights, or a large exterior cooler. Always double-check with your renter to see which accessories have already been provided for your Airstream trailer rental!

Once you have your itinerary set and all your gear ready, you can pick up your rig and set off to find out first hand just why so many people are in love with Airstream travel. Reading about the history and quality is one thing, but experiencing it is another — and we’re sure you’ll soon count yourself among the company’s roster of fans.

For even more about Airstream as a company, as well as the Airstream lifestyle, check out the following books:

And, for when you inevitably cave and buy one of your own:

Happy camping!

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