When thinking about camping, many conjure up the image of a shiny, curved, trailer parked alongside a river or deep in the woods.
For many campers, the Airstream trailer is the peak of camping.
Airstream has been around for decades.
It’s the oldest RV manufacturer and still produces trailers to this day.
However, if you’re in the market for an Airstream trailer, then you may be in for a bit of a shock when you see the price tag.
The average Airstream trailer costs anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000.
Since it’s essentially the same price as a house, you may wonder what makes the trailer as expensive as it is.
Here are 10 reasons Airstream trailers are expensive.
Why Are Airstreams So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Aluminum Body
You can tell the difference between an Airstream trailer and a standard trailer.
Airstream trailers use an aluminum shell to make the cabin of their trailer.
Most other camper trailers and RVs use plastic.
The reason that Airstream trailers are more expensive than other trailers is the aluminum body.
Aluminum has several advantages over plastic.
It’s a lot easier to water seal which is ideal when camping out in the wild.
Sudden bouts of rain can completely ruin the trailer and its interior if it leaks.
Aluminum trailers have fewer places for water seepage.
They’re also stronger than plastic in many ways.
However, they are prone to dents.
You can always use a dent-remover to pull the dents out, but it’s always best to avoid denting the trailer in the first place.
Aluminum is more costly to manufacture because it comes from a mine.
Plastic shells are cheap since they’re made in the factory.
They use synthetic materials which are also made in a factory or lab.
Aluminum has to come from a mine that includes a labor force, then it’s transported to a factory where it’s built into a shell for the trailer.
It requires melting and molding to form the curves.
It also requires a lot of aluminum.
Since aluminum is a finite resource, anytime it’s used, there’s less of it in the world.
That growing scarcity makes it expensive.
Airstreams are expensive because their entire body uses aluminum.
2. Long Production
Producing Airstream trailers takes a longer amount of time than most other camper trailers and RVs.
The construction of the shell is part of the reason.
Workers have to fit the shell together, then rivet them together.
They construct the shell in a way similar to how they make airplanes.
Airstream got this idea during the 1930s when they had to mass-produce warplanes for the war effort.
Besides the shell, the interior part of the trailer also takes a long time to make.
That’s because construction can’t begin until after the shell is in place.
However, once the shell is in place, the only way that they can start installing shelves and cupboards is by walking through the door.
This means you have a lot of laborers walking in and out of the trailer to perform their tasks.
It slows up the process.
It also means they make everything by hand.
In other cases, because they’re able to build the interior before the walls come up, they can rely on factory machinery to do most of the work for them.
That isn’t the case with Airstream trailers.
Practically everything is by hand.
This makes the production of Airstream trailers longer and costlier.
As a result, it costs more to make Airstream trailers than it does other types of RVs and trailers.
To make up for the cost, Airstream has to put a higher price on its products.
Larger Airstream models, thus, are more expensive than smaller Airstream models.
It takes more time and money to build bigger trailers than it does smaller ones.
Airstream trailers are expensive because it takes a long time to produce one compared to other types of trailers.
3. Interior Materials
Although aluminum is, in itself, an expensive material to use, it isn’t the only expensive material used in the construction of Airstream trailers.
Airstreams have a reputation for being luxurious trailers.
That’s part of the reason they sell for expensive prices.
The brand also knows this.
They’re aware that if they’re going to sell their trailers at an expensive price, then they need to make it worth the price.
They do this by using high-quality and luxurious materials inside of the trailer.
It’s not uncommon to find marble, quartz, and other expensive materials inside of the trailer.
Even rich woods make up cupboards and cabinets.
The interior design of an Airstream gets a lot of attention.
Walking inside of one, you don’t find yourself in an interior that looks bland or typical.
Instead, you’re in a modern luxury interior.
Clean lines, modern aesthetics, and a bright interior are the hallmarks of an Airstream.
It’s a stark difference from the cheap materials you find in other RVs and trailers.
Because Airstream spends a lot of money on making their interiors look incredible, you can also expect the price of one to be expensive.
Airstream trailers are expensive because of the materials and design used in their interiors.
Because the company invests a lot of money into the exterior and interior of the trailer, you can expect Airstreams to last a long time.
Aluminum isn’t corrosive like iron or steel.
As a result, even if you find yourself in several downpours, you don’t have to worry about the trailer rusting.
The way it’s built also helps it last longer.
Since they put a lot of time and money into making the trailer the best it can be, the materials take longer to deteriorate.
Some won’t deteriorate ever as long as they’re given proper maintenance over the years.
Because of this longevity, it makes Airstreams even more popular.
They’re often considered generational.
Families will hand down their trailers to their kids who will one day hand it down to their kids.
Airstream claims that almost 70% of its original trailers are still in use today.
Considering those trailers are almost 100 years old, that’s quite the feat.
Its longevity increases the price of an Airstream for a few different reasons.
For one, it means that buyers know they’re making a solid investment.
They’ll likely only need to buy one Airstream in their lifetime.
By buying one, their children won’t need to buy one, nor will their children.
Because it’s a solid investment, they’re okay with paying a higher price for the trailer.
Airstream also knows what their trailers are worth.
Since they know that most customers won’t come back for another purchase, they have to make it worth the initial purchase.
That’s why they sell their trailers at a high price.
It’s a one-off purchase that allows them to pay their laborers and for materials for next year’s production.
Finally, because of its longevity, it also means there’s a lot of demand for Airstream trailers.
Since they can only produce so many a year, thanks to the length of time it takes to finish one, there are only so many available to buy.
With more demand than supply, this also makes the price of Airstream trailers high.
Airstream trailers are expensive because they last a long time.
5. Limited Supply
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons Airstream trailers are expensive is that there’s a limited number of them available each year.
Airstream used to produce only 85 trailers a week.
Part of that is because the size of their factory only allowed them to produce that many.
Recently, however, they acquired a new factory that allowed them to hire more workers and produce more trailers.
They’re now able to produce 160 trailers a week.
That’s still a small number of trailers compared to other brands that use a lot of automation in their production.
Since they produce a small number of trailers, then that means they’re unable to meet demand.
There’s a lot of demand for Airstream trailers due to their appearance, reputation, and luxury interiors.
Since supply can’t hope to reach demand, the price for Airstream trailers will always be higher than other types of trailers and RVs.
This is likely a calculated decision on Airstream’s part.
They know that their trailers last a long time.
They know that once they’ve sold a trailer to everyone, no one will need to buy another.
By reducing their supply, they can drive up the price of the trailer while still making a tidy profit.
Airstream trailers are expensive because they have a limited supply produced every year.
Like some types of cars, Airstream trailers are also collectible.
They’re a recognizable type of vehicle that many want to get their hands on.
Some want to use them as campers and others simply want to collect them.
Each year, Airstream comes out with a different model.
Some of the signature trademarks are the same.
For example, buyers can always expect their Airstream model to have an aluminum shell and a modern interior.
However, the style and materials used in the interior differ from year to year.
As interior design trends, Airstream takes on those changes and implements them in its own trailers.
Because each year is different, it leaves collectors always looking for more.
When you buy an Airstream, you’ll notice that it says it’s Model 23.
It doesn’t tell you how many other trailers it’s out of, but you have a clear collector’s number right there.
The right collector might want to buy it from you if it fits into their collection.
Your trailer may have a specific bonus feature that not all models do.
Collectors will want that, too.
Any time something becomes a collectible, it immediately becomes more expensive.
That’s because there’s a whole market among collectors who buy and sell between themselves.
Like any auction, the price to obtain that particular item can skyrocket.
Airstream knows this and it adds to the price they choose for certain models.
Airstream trailers are expensive because they’re collector’s items.
7. Increased Interest In Nomadic Lifestyle
Whether it’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic or the increase of internet coverage, more people are ditching buying homes or renting apartments and choosing to live a nomadic lifestyle instead.
Owning an RV or trailer opens up the road to you.
You can always find a camping site or parking lot where you can sleep for the night.
In the meantime, you can travel and find incredible places that help you recharge and live your life as a nomad.
As more people take on this type of lifestyle, there’s also an increase in trailer purchases.
Because nomads don’t plan on buying a home or renting an apartment, at least not any time soon, they’re happy to make a big investment on the right trailer.
That means many of them end up choosing Airstream trailers.
They enjoy the durability and longevity that Airstream claims to have.
The problem with more people becoming interested in a nomadic lifestyle is that there’s more demand for Airstream trailers.
With few trailers to begin with, this new part of society only makes the prices for the trailers increase.
Airstream finds itself needing to produce more trailers to accommodate the interest in living as a nomad.
However, there are only so many trailers they can produce in a week.
Since supply can’t meet the increased demand, the price for Airstream trailers continues to rise.
Airstream trailers are expensive because of an increased interest in nomadic lifestyles.
8. Business Opportunities
Because there’s a lot of love for Airstream trailers, some people see the trailer as a business opportunity.
Thanks to sites like Airbnb, people can rent out all sorts of places for tourists.
Recently, there’s been a lot of interest in renting out trailers like Airstream.
Those looking to rent out the trailer will buy an Airstream, then they’ll place them in a campsite or an area with an incredible view.
It may even have some amenities.
They’re bound to have a lot of interested parties who are looking to camp without having to tow the trailer around themselves.
These renters want to experience camping inside of an Airstream without paying to buy one.
Meanwhile, the person who owns the Airstream is able to make a decent amount of money renting the trailer out.
Airstreams provide a possible way for people to make a passive income.
They rely on the reputation of the company to promote their business.
This further increases the interest in buying Airstream trailers so they can set up their own Airbnb campsites, too.
With demand ever-increasing, the price of the trailers also increases.
Airstreams are expensive because they present business opportunities to certain people.
9. Resell Value
Along with using Airstream trailers as Airbnb opportunities, some people also buy Airstreams to sell them again later.
They may use the trailer for a few years before their family finishes camping.
At that point, they might resell them.
The resale market for Airstream trailers is also expensive.
That’s because the trailer holds onto its value over the years.
It doesn’t depreciate the same way that other trailers do.
Buyers know this and they often sell their trailer at top dollar after enjoying it for a few years.
Some trailers even come with additional modifications that improve the experience of owning the Airstream even more.
When buying an Airstream trailer, you’ll quickly discover that used Airstream trailers are as expensive as new ones.
Because buyers know that they can get most of their money back by selling it later, it means more people have an interest in buying an Airstream.
They’re expensive because they have a high resale value.
A final reason Airstreams are expensive is its brand.
Airstream, itself, has a reputation for providing high-quality products.
They rarely have releases that don’t go over well with their buyer base.
They also know that their buyers are looking for a specific type of experience when buying their trailers.
They make sure to deliver that experience every time.
Because they put a lot of emphasis on their production, even though they’d likely make more money by going a different route, the brand has earned a lot of respect among campers.
It’s because of this respect and reputation that buyers are more willing to pay for an expensive product from them than they are from other brands.
Airstream’s brand also coincides with a luxury brand.
Compared to other types of trailers, the experience it provides is more high-end.
As with any luxury label, it carries the luxury price.
Airstreams are expensive because of their brand.
How To Save Money On Airstreams
If you want to experience the best that Airstreams have to offer, then you might first balk at the price tag.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can buy an Airstream trailer at a reduced price.
1. Buy Retro Trailers
Although used trailers tend to still be expensive, you can find some retro ones that aren’t quite as expensive as buying a brand-new trailer.
It can save you a few thousand dollars, which might make the difference depending on your budget.
Because Airstreams hold onto their value, you’ll want to check and see if anything is wrong with the trailer that warrants its reduced price.
The easiest way to save money on an Airstream trailer is to rent one rather than buy one.
Renting an Airstream can save you a lot of money in the long run, too.
You don’t have to worry about maintenance or storage costs.
You can rent the trailer whenever your family is ready to camp for only a few hundred dollars instead of paying several thousand to buy the trailer.
Unless your family camps a lot, renting is the cheapest option.
3. Make It A Family Investment
A final way that you can make buying a new Airstream affordable is to have the entire family contribute.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, even cousins can band together to chip in for the trailer.
You can hammer down your camping schedules later and who gets it when.
By making it a family affair, you can make buying the trailer a lot easier.
Airstreams are expensive because of their reputation for longevity and high-quality materials.
With more and more interest in living in a trailer rather than a home or apartment, it means there’s more demand for the limited number of trailers available for sale.
That said, there are a few ways that people can still save money on Airstreams.