The logistics and technicality of RV ownership and maintenance require a realm of words and phrases that may not be familiar to new RVers. In fact, some would even say that RVers have their very own language. If you are new to the world of RVs and are confused about some of the lingo, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, you will find a complete guide to the most commonly-used phrases surrounding the vast world of RVing and RV camping. Continue on to learn all the jargon you’ll need to set you up for success on the road.
Types of camping
Among all the specific words thrown around between RVers, some of the most important terms refer to different styles of camping. This is your go-to guide to all the different ways to stay in your RV.
Boondocking: The definition of this word varies, depending on who you talk to. It typically refers to free camping without any hookups (water, sewer or electric). Some RVers think that boondocking requires camping in the wilderness, away from civilization, but this is up for debate.
Dry camping: refers to camping without hookups. This could be at a Harvest Hosts location, a state park, a national park, a parking lot, etc.
Full hookups (FHU): camping at an RV park or campground with hookups to fresh water electric, and sewer (gray and black water disposal).
Partial Hookups: camping with some hookups. This is typically electric and water or electric only.
Moochdocking: a type of camping where one stays for free on a family members property, often in the driveway. Hookups may or may not be included.
Primitive camping: For some people, this term is synonymous with boondocking. It involves camping far away from civilization and others. This goes without saying, but hookups are not included.
Wallydocking: refers to dry camping in a Walmart parking lot. Many Walmarts allow RVs to park overnight for free, and many full-timers love to take advantage of this perk.
Workamping: a type of exchange where RVers receive a free place to park (often with utilities) in exchange for completing tasks at the campground. A small amount of pay may also be included.
Parts of an RV
There are many parts of an RV, and some are self-explanatory. Below are the most common ones that you might not know going into RV ownership.
Basement: the storage area below the main area of the RV. This houses all of your tank supplies, outdoor gear and supplies, etc. Also commonly referred to as understorage or bays.
Batwing: a TV antenna that resembles a pair of wings. Typically located on the roof of the RV.
Black water tank: the tank that holds waste (liquids and solids)
Cabin: the front driving area of a motorhome, which includes the drivers and passengers chair, the steering wheel, and the dashboard. Also known as the cockpit.
Chassis: the framework from which your RV was built. Typically refers to the engine, transmission, and other mechanical parts.
Cockpit: the front driving area of a motorhome, which includes the drivers and passengers chair, the steering wheel, and the dashboard. Also known as the cabin.
Fresh water tank: the holding tank that stores fresh water
Gray water: waste water from the sinks and shower.
Gray water tank: the holding tank that houses your gray water.
Holding tanks: the tanks that hold your black water, gray water, and fresh water.
Leveling jacks: refers to the stabilizer device that extends from the bottom of the RV and keeps the RV in a level position while it is parked.
LP: liquid petroleum, better known to RVers as propane. This typically powers your fridge, stove top, oven, and heater.
Slideout: a feature that allows an RV to expand its living space when parked. Different RVs can have anywhere from one to five slideouts.
Undercarriage: refers to everything underneath the RV, including mechanical parts, pipes, holding tanks, and more.
Types of RVers
In the RVing community, there are many different types of owners and travelers. Here, you will find a list of most of the different people you can find in a campground.
Full timer: an RVer who lives in their RV year-round. They may be stationary or traveling.
Newbie: a brand new RVer.
Part-timer: an RVer who may travel a few months out of the year but who also owns and lives for some of the year in a sticks-and-bricks home.
Snowbird: an RVer that typically lives in their stationary home during the summer and travels to a warmer location in their RV in the winter.
Types of RVs
There are three main types of RV’s, listed as follows.
Fifth wheel: a type of travel trailer that attaches inside a truckbed. Characterized by its “gooseneck.”
Motorhome: a type of RV that is driven, instead of towed.
Travel Trailer: a type of RV towed by a truck or SUV. Typically, this includes any towable RV besides a fifth wheel.
Within the three main categories of RVs, there are several sub-categories, listed below.
Airstream: a popular type of travel trailer characterized by its shiny aluminum exterior.
Camper: another name for RV. Some people use the term camper to refer only to certain types of RVs, but it technically refers to any vehicle that can be camped in.
Class A Motorhome: the largest type of motorhome. It is similar to a bus in shape and size.
Class B Motorhome: the smallest of the three types of motorhomes. Also called camper vans.
Class C Motorhome: a medium-sized type of motorhome with a bed over the cockpit.
Diesel Puller: refers to a type of diesel motorhome that places the engine in the front of the RV.
Diesel Pusher: refers to a type of diesel motorhome that places the engine in the back of the RV.
Fiver/5er: a slang term referring to fifth wheels.
Pop-up Camper: a type of travel trailer made from canvas that pops up and expands. Also known as a PUP.
Truck Camper: a type of RV that attaches to and sits over the truck bed.
Vintage Camper: any type of RV (motorhome, trailer, etc.) that is twenty-five years old or older. Many of these have been restored to like-new condition.
There are so many different types of supplies associated with RVs. Those listed below are some of the most basic of these.
Dinghy: the vehicle towed behind a motorhome. Also known as the toad.
Dually: a type of pick-up truck with four tires on the rear axl (six tires total). These typically pull fifth wheels or large travel trailers.
Honeywagon: a truck or trailer that pumps out black and gray tanks. You can find these at campsites without a sewer hook-up.
Pull-through site: a type of campsite that allows you to pull in without having to disconnect. This is especially convenient for those towing trailers.
Rig: a slang term for RV. This could refer to a fifth wheel, motorhome, camper, or travel trailer.
Toad: this refers to the vehicle towed by a motorhome. Also known as a dinghy.
Tow dolly: this is the platform used to tow vehicles that cannot be flat-towed.
Wheel chocks: blocks used to keep the RV wheels in place and prevent it from rolling when parked.
This category contains various miscellaneous terms that you will occasionally hear amongst RVers.
Brick-and-Mortar: refers to a stationery business that resides at one specific location.
Coach: a slang term for a class A motorhome.
Dump station: the only place you can legally dump your black and gray water tank.
Sani-Dump: another term for dump station, where RVers can legally empty their black and gray tanks.
Shore power: electricity that is received from electrical hook-ups.
Sticks and Bricks (S&B): refers to stationary home, literally made of sticks and bricks. This can be a house or an apartment, or basically a dwelling that is not an RV.
Triple tow: this refers to towing two different vessels at once. This could include a truck towing a fifth wheel and a boat or another trailer, a motorhome towing a trailer and a toad, or even a motorhome towing a vehicle and a boat. This looks dangerous and is illegal in some states.
Wheelbase: this refers to the distance between your RV’s wheels. Basically, this is the width of the RV.
There are many, many other RVing terms out there, but these are the ones you will hear the most often. Next time you hear any of these words around the campfire, be sure to refer to your RVers glossary to stay in-the-know.
Were you confused by some of the lingo when you began RVing? Is there anything you’d like us to include? Feel free to drop a comment below!
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