Matilda III: Our 30′ Airstream International

by Sydney Ryanczak

It’s been about a year since we took ownership of our newest Airstream: a 2023 International 30′. I thought I’d go into why we decided to upgrade from the 25′ Flying Cloud and how we’ve liked the 30′ so far.

Why did we do this?!

Like a lot of people, we camped quite a bit during 2020-2023 because it was a safe way to travel and get out of the house during the COVID-19 pandemic. The more time we spent in our 25′ Flying Cloud, the more our wishlist grew. Specifically around storage and having places to sit. There are sometimes 5 humans and 2 pups camping at a single time and there was a lack of space for all of us to sleep. We also wanted hanging closet space and a place to lounge around and watch TV without having to turn our heads sideways or having to put the table down.

We explored the 28′ Potterybarn but the fabric sofa made me nervous (dogs! kids! Georiga red clay! ack!) and we really disliked the bathroom size and the flooring choice (white fake tile!?). We loved the 25′ bathroom space with the window and the 28′ lounge and double closet space so that led us to the 30′ which has “all the things”. As for which model, we knew we wanted the International. The aesthetic of the International is perfect for us. We love the herringbone wood-looking flooring, the sea-shell greige cushions, and all the upgraded finishes like the solid surface counters and upgraded fixtures. It’s a very clean classic look.

So we put an order in the fall of 2021 and a short year and a half later it was ready (ha!). We were caught off guard when Southland RV called us and said it was ready for pickup. We weren’t even sure if we wanted it anymore because it had been so long since we had ordered it. But once we went and did the tour, we were “sold”.

We did slightly panic about having 2 Airstreams at once…but Matilda II sold quickly to a lovely couple in North Carolina. She went to a great home and is experiencing some great boondocking adventures!

So what do we think after a year?

The pros are still pros: extra storage, lounge space, and aesthetics. It’s a beautiful sanctuary and a place I love to be in. The lounge area is so nice…Scott and I can snuggle up with pups and watch TV. Plenty of storage for all of our stuff and now we can put our vacuum and coats in the closet. There were a few “surprise” pros that we discovered after spending some time in it:

  • Space at end of the beds – our 25′ didn’t have this and it makes it so much easier to make the beds. Plus there’s a place to put shoes or hang items on the wall.
  • Fridge – since the fridge is now electric only there is so much more space! And they finally made the door magnetic so we can decorate it with all our travel magnets.
  • Tons of windows throughout and so much light.
  • Lighted upper cabinets – we like how it gives a nice indirect light and creates a mood.
  • Electric awning – for me being 5’2″ I couldn’t operate the manual awning so I really like the electric one.
  • Battery stays charged because of the solar panels
  • Less cushions make up the seating so when we drop the table to make bed, we don’t have to stow the extra cushions in the car.
  • The dinette doesn’t have an upper cabinet about it which makes the whole space feel more open.
  • The stove top is level with the counter and just all around more attractive.
  • The trashcan under the sink is actually accessible and we use it all the time now.
  • Convection Microwave – I’m pleasantly surprised by the combo microwave/convection oven. I thought I was really going to miss my propane oven but so far so good.
  • Cold/water low line drainage is accessible inside which makes it easier to winterize

The cons is it’s HUGE! Scott is the one who pulls it, I still haven’t worked up the nerve to do it yet. He said its taken some time to get used to and he can definitely tell there’s “something behind him” where as the 25′ just went where the truck went. The flooring is great but does show dog hair easier because it’s dark. I still love it better than any of flooring that Airstream offers right now. Like the pros, there are a few surprises that we don’t love:

  • Hot water heater – this one is love/hate. We love that the water is hot for a long time but if anything…and I mean anything interrupts the flow you get SHOCKED with cold water. Do not flush the toilet at the same time someone is in the shower!
  • Hitch – we have had so many problems with the hitch not releasing from the ball.
  • 1 fantastic fan – we really liked having 2. But we also really like having 2 AC units now so it evens out.
  • Electric awning – This is on the cons list too. We can’t hang lights and it doesn’t feel as rugged as the manual one
  • Hooks near the door are too big to hang keys on. We’re not sure what you hang on them. Hats and coats are in the way there so this was a miss for us.

Upgrades we did:

  • Took out 12v TV and put in Smart TV.
  • Replaced 12v wiring for the TV with a USB plug to charge things.
  • Tire Pressure monitoring system connects directly with the truck’s system
  • We added a backup camera that works with the truck’s system
  • We added the lift kit and for us, this was a must. We wouldn’t be able to get Matilda’s big ole booty into places without scraping without it.
  • We added a propane monitor so we can see the levels from our phones. This was a requirement after we ran out of propane in 25-degree weather.
  • We changed out the swivel mirror in the bathroom with one that has LEDs around the rim. It’s rechargeable and lasts a long time on a charge.

What’s gone wrong?

With any new camper, some things break or don’t work properly. We’ve already had warranty work done and have another appointment to take care of more items. On our drive home from our Maiden Voyage, the drawer between the beds flew out and tore a hole in our flooring. The drawer hardware had been installed incorrectly. We also had a missing screw in the Microwave. As the year has gone by our list has grown: One of our ACs broke, the shower door seal gets torn off when the door opens and closes (this happened in our 25′ too), the battery shutoff button light just randomly turns off and on, the range vent lost its little closure flaps, the rear window leaks a little when it rains, and the light above the gray/black tank lever just randomly comes on. We will most likely plan a trip to the Mothership in 2025 to get our punch list fixed. The AC we will have fixed at our local dealer.

Final Thoughts

We have no regrets about upgrading to the International 30′ from the Flying Cloud 25′. Both are great campers and ultimately get us out into nature and places we love. We’ve loved Airstream since our 16′ and this is no exception.

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