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What Does RV Stand For? The Most Popular RV Types

What Does RV Stand For? The Most Popular RV Types

The term “RV” is becoming increasingly popular these days. It’s no longer a term reserved for retirees or families taking summer vacations. RVing is a lifestyle that more and more people from all walks of life are taking part in. So, what does RV stand for? Keep reading to find out!

What Does “RV” Stand For?

In short, RV stands for “Recreational Vehicle.” This can mean an actual vehicle with living space inside or simply a trailer designed for living in. As the name implies, recreational vehicles are made for recreational living. 

RVs date back over 100 years to around 1904 when individuals started retrofitting their vehicles with bunks and iceboxes. By 1910, the RV had been commercialized and Pierce-Arrow introduced their Touring Landau as the first production RV.

This original RV would have been similar to what we call a camper van today. It was equipped with a bed, sink, chamber pot (toilet), and even a phone! It sold for around $8,000, a hefty price in the early 20th century. 

Over the years, recreational vehicles have taken on many shapes and sizes – from the historic Ford Model A House Car to today’s Class A Motorhome. But despite their differences, all RVs have one thing in common: each one is a home away from home – a place to sleep, eat or wash-up out on the open road. 

The RV Lifestyle

Originally, RVs were designed for temporary travel, but it didn’t take long for full-time RVing to catch on. Sadly, in the 1930s the RV lifestyle became a matter of necessity due to the Great Depression. RV no longer stood for recreation, it stood for survival.

These vehicles allowed struggling families to cut their expenses and to search for work in other cities. Today, people are choosing the RV lifestyle, not always out of necessity, but out of a desire for a different way of life. 

The modern-day RV lifestyle provides freedom and flexibility you just don’t get from renting an apartment or owning a house. It allows full-time RVers to work from home – and “home” can literally be “wherever you park it!” The RV lifestyle is also great for minimalists who prefer the simplicity of owning less. Plus, it can be an overall more cost-effective way to live.

Read one of our most popular articles: How Much Does It Cost to Full-Time RV?

And even if you don’t RV full-time, there are still plenty of benefits to owning one. An RV provides the freedom to travel and explore the great outdoors whenever you want. It connects you to a wonderful community of other RVers who share your passion for recreational activities.

If you enjoy camping, an RV is more comfortable than staying in a tent. Not to mention, no matter where you are, you’ll have your own accommodations on the road. And you can save money on lodging when you travel as many campgrounds have cheaper nightly rates than hotels, or you can boondock for free!

Types of RVs

Sure, RV stands for recreational vehicle, but what actually classifies as one? Here, we’re going to explain the ten most popular RV types:

Motorhomes

Motorhomes fall into the category of “drivable” RVs. Meaning, you drive the RV itself rather than tow it behind a separate vehicle. In motorhomes, passengers can access the living space directly from the cab without exiting the RV. 

Class A Motorhomes: Class A stands for luxury. These RVs are usually built on commercial bus or truck chassis, making them the largest and most expensive recreational vehicles. But with their size comes all the accommodations you’d hope for in a home on wheels.

They offer spacious living and sleeping areas, large kitchens and bathrooms, and ample storage space. Driving and parking a Class A, though, takes a lot of practice. 

Class B Motorhomes: Class B RVs are the miniature version of a Class A motorhome. Usually built on a cargo van chassis, these small RVs have a kitchenette, a living/sleeping area, and a wet bath.

While Class B RVs are small enough to fit in just about any garage or parking space, their small size also means they lack interior storage space. 

Class C Motorhomes: The Class C motorhome is a happy medium between Class A and Class B RVs. Class Cs provide a more spacious interior than their Class B counterparts. Yet, they are still easier to drive and park than a Class A.

These medium-sized motorhomes have kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and seating areas. Plus, they offer the benefit of additional sleeping or storage space over the vehicle cabin. 

Campers

A camper is simply an RV designed for the camping lifestyle. In other words, campers often allow for a more rustic RV experience. These RVs stand for practicality, not luxury, and give you up-close-and-personal experiences with nature. 

Truck Campers: Truck campers are great for off-road camping experiences because they are mounted on the bed of a pickup truck. These campers come in various sizes – from very compact with minimal amenities inside to large interiors with extra seating.

Most truck campers, however, will have a bed, bathroom, and small kitchen area. The camper itself can also be detached from the pickup truck. This gives you plenty of flexibility with your vehicle.

Pop-Up Camper: A pop-up camper is a collapsable camper. These RVs resemble small cargo trailers and have hard roofs that raise and lower. The sides of the pop-up camper are often made of canvas material. Although, some do have hard sides like a traditional RV.

When the roof is raised, the sides pop up and out, creating a spacious interior. In a pop-up camper, you get a tent-like feel with the comforts of a bed, table, kitchenette, and possibly a toilet and shower, depending on the model. 

Camper Vans: A camper van is a van that has been converted into a recreational vehicle. However, unlike the Class B motorhomes, camper vans usually do not have bathrooms or water tanks (although many builders will add in something for these necessities).

Built for true camping, most will only have a bed, a kitchenette, and some storage cubbies inside.

Trailers

Trailers fall into the category of “towable” RVs. Generally cheaper than a drivable, these RVs are towed behind a separate vehicle. This has its benefits as trailer owners can unhook their RV and use the tow vehicle for normal driving. On the other hand, passengers in the vehicle do not have direct access to the RV’s living space from the cab, like in a motorhome. 

Fifth Wheels: A fifth wheel is a trailer that attaches to a pick-up truck via a special hitch mounted in the bed. This means there is a raised area inside the fifth wheel that sits over the bed of the truck. This raised area is often a bedroom. Although, some fifth wheels have front kitchens in this space.

The fifth wheel RV has all the comforts of home, including a spacious kitchen and living area, and at least one bathroom but sometimes two!

Travel Trailers: This classic RV is the most popular type. Travel trailers come in a variety of sizes, ordinarily in the range of about 15ft to over 40ft. The trailer mounts to a ball hitch, and depending on the size can be towed by a truck, SUV, or crossover vehicle.

Like other RVs, travel trailers customarily have a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and a living and/or dining area. Some even have a bunkhouse with bunk beds for extra sleeping space. This bunkhouse feature is great for large families. 

Toy Haulers: If RV stands for recreational vehicle, the toy hauler stands for recreational vehicle storage. Toy haulers have a built-in garage for ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, bicycles, or just about anything you might want to store.

They come in both travel trailer and fifth wheel styles and include similar interior creature comforts to those RV types.

Compact Trailers

Teardrop Trailers: This tiny RV stands for convenience…and sleep! Teardrops are lightweight, inexpensive sleeping trailers. They typically have a bed that sleeps 1-2 people and some storage cabinets inside.

While some of the larger teardrop trailers may have interior kitchenettes, many have an outdoor kitchen in a compartment that opens up on the back of the trailer. Additionally, you likely won’t find a toilet or shower in most teardrop trailers. 

RV Stands For Adventure

Of course, the recreational vehicle you choose will depend on how you plan to use it and how many people (and pets!) are traveling with you. But we’re certain, no matter the RV, an adventure like no other awaits you out on the open road. 

What makes the RV lifestyle appealing to you? Which type of RV would you like to own or do you own? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Dalton Bourne

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

RV really stands for adventure. It offers the flexibility and freedom to enjoy life's greatest pleasures that only Mother Nature can provide. I was able to take my family, including my beloved pets, on adventures and create many wonderful memories along the way.

Mark W

Sunday 24th of October 2021

YES, it stands for all of the things you stated above when things are running fine, but, when you're broken down on the road or experience significant equipment failure far from home... RV stands for "ruined vacation"....

Don't assume that it won't happen to you despite all of your efforts to have everything serviced.

Meg Magruder

Monday 9th of August 2021

I grew up with a Colman 79 Popup, it was where I got a love for camping. After both parents passed in the same month, I decided to use a bit of the funds to buy an RV. My hubby and I started the search looking at the [email protected] Teardrop, but decided it was just too much for an AirConditioned King Sized bed on wheels. Queue the RV show, We kept getting bigger and bigger. By the end of the show, we ended up at the Retro and [email protected] /[email protected] A few weeks later, after seeing a [email protected] in person again, we were placing our order for a custom painted Aggie Maroon [email protected] We got all the "tour" requests at the A&M Football games. We loved it until, we were done with the set up after 5 years. This year we bought a Intech Horizon. We are loving it. Loving having our composting toilet in the unit vs a tent. Love being able to cook breakfast still in jammies in the AC. Love not needing to schlep shower items to the camp shower. Love the room to set a "remote" work station to extend trips. Love pulling in and extending the Awning, rolling out the rug, pulling out chairs, putting the stabilizers down and being DONE!!! or being able to pack up to leave in 2 hours and that includes getting dressed, coffee and feeding the pups.

Football Season is about to begin, and so looking forward to this year's tailgating!!!

Scott Bratt

Sunday 8th of August 2021

We have had Shell campers on the back of a pickup, pop up tent trailers, and teardrop campers. Teardrops include [email protected] 6 wide, a Mini MAX, and now a Rustic Trails Polar Bear. This one seem to fit our needs and style the best so far.

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