I remember the first time we made a reservation at a campground. It was right after we bought our first RV and drove off the lot with our new home-on-wheels.
They asked us what kind of campsite we wanted – back-in, pull-thru, full hook-up, electric only… Huh?!
We had no idea what they were talking about and were completely lost with the RV lingo. We had done tons of research on the RV we bought but not on actually RVing.
It can be overwhelming when you’re a first-time RVers and new to the RV life. So I put together this handy cheat sheet with some common RV terms in alphabetical order.
You can also download this cheat sheet as a PDF to take along with you on the road for easy reference!
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A type of expandable RV that unfolds into the shape of an “A” with a vaulted ceiling.
A campground site that must be backed into with the RV rather than driven through.
3. Bays / Basement
The storage cabinets (“bays”) on the underside of an RV, usually accessed from the exterior.
4. Black Water Tank
The tank that holds the wastewater from the RV’s toilet (ew!).
Free dry camping – camping with no hook-ups (no water, sewer, or electricity connections at the campsite) without having to pay any fees for the campsite, can be in the wilderness, on free public lands, on someone else’s land, or even in a parking lot.
An RV floor plan with bunk beds, sometimes with a separate room for the bunk beds.
7. Camp Host / Campground Host
An RVer/camper who acts as the main point of contact for a campground, usually working as a Workamper for the campground.
8. Camper Van
Another name for Class B Motorhomes as they’re similar to the size of a van.
Wedges of a strong material (usually a heavy-duty plastic) wedged under an RV’s tires to prevent the RV from rolling away.
10. Class A
A type of motorhome that is typically the largest (30-40 feet long) as well as the most luxurious type of motorhome and RV in general. Class A Motorhomes have a tell-tale flat front end providing a large picture windshield for a wide-open view of the road and landscape.
11. Class B
A type of motorhome that is smaller, similar to the size of a van, without an over-the-cab sleeping or storage area like the Class C Motorhome.
12. Class B+
A type of motorhome that falls somewhere between Class B and Class C Motorhomes. Class B+ Motorhomes look similar to Class C Motorhomes, but unlike the Class C, the Class B+ doesn’t have a bed over the cab. And unlike Class B Motorhomes, a Class B+ can have slide-outs.
13. Class C
A type of motorhome with an over-the-cab area for extra sleeping or storage space.
Another name for Class A Motorhomes, other motorhomes, and sometimes RVs in general.
15. Coax Cable
The cable cord used to connect your RV to a campground’s cable television.
Sources for an RV to connect to water, sewer, or electric at a campsite.
17. Diesel Pusher
A type of motorhome with a diesel engine that’s located in the back of the RV rather than the front, pushing the RV instead of pulling it.
18. Digital Nomad
People who work remotely while traveling in a nomadic manner.
19. Driveable RV
RVs with a motor that you can drive, such as Motorhomes.
20. Dry Camping
Camping with no hook-ups (no water, sewer, or electric at the campsite), common with State and National Parks. Even though there may not be hook-ups, a fee may still be required with dry camping.
A type of heavy-duty truck with four back tires (two on each side), usually used to tow larger Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels.
22. Dump Station
A place where an RV’s wastewater from the black and gray tanks can be safely disposed of (“dumped”) into a sewer/septic structure.
23. Fifth Wheel / 5th Wheel / Fiver / 5er
Type of towable RV that hangs over the bed of the truck towing it.
24. Fresh Water Tanks
The tanks that hold freshwater to use when there is no water available at a campsite.
25. Full Hook-Ups
When the campsite comes with water, sewer, and electric connections.
RVers who live and travel in their RV full-time.
The kitchen area of an RV.
28. Gray Water Tank
The tank that holds the wastewater from an RV’s sinks and shower.
29. Good Sam Club
A membership program that offers 10% off at many campgrounds.
30. Harvest Hosts
A membership program that gives members access to wineries, farms, and other unique places to camp at with their self-contained RV.
31. Hitch / Tow Hitch
The device attached to a vehicle that’s used to connect the vehicle to an RV to tow the RV with the vehicle.
32. Holding Tanks
A general term for all of the RV’s tanks – black water, gray water, and freshwater.
A service some campgrounds offer to remove an RV’s waste when they don’t have sewer connections or a dump station.
A campground’s connections – can be water, sewer, electric, a combination of two, or all three.
Kampgrounds of America, a national chain of RV campgrounds that also offers a membership program for 10% off their campgrounds.
36. Leveling Blocks
Plastic blocks that stack on top of each other and are used under the stabilizers to level out the RV.
People who live in their stationary RV long-term at one particular campground or RV Park.
38. LP Tank
A propane (i.e. liquid petroleum for “LP”) tank used to store and supply propane/gas to the RV for heating and cooking.
Camping on someone else’s land (or even driveway) for free.
A type of RV that has a motor and is driven.
Staying just one night usually as a stop to rest from driving while on the way to a destination.
42. Part-Timers / Part-Timing
People who RV part-time, usually for longer than the typical getaway, while still having a traditional sticks and bricks home.
43. Passport America
A membership program that gives members 50% off certain campgrounds (usually on certain days of the week).
A folding type of RV that expands into a larger size.
45. Primitive Camping
Similar to dry camping and boondocking in that there are no hook-ups (no water, sewer, or electric at the campsite) but typically in a more remote location in the middle of nowhere.
A campsite that you can drive your RV into and out through rather than having to back in.
A slang term for RVs, can be used to reference any RV type but is most commonly used in conjunction with motorhomes.
Another name for a school bus converted to an RV.
RVs that have all the utilities needed to fully function without campground facilities or hook-ups. That means they can generate their own power, store and run water, and store their own waste.
50. Sewer Hose
The hose that connects the RV’s wastewater tanks to the dumpsite.
An accordion-style unit used to support a sewer hose creating a slope for proper drainage for the waste to flow down from the RV connection into the sewer connection.
52. Shore Power
A power source to connect your RV to electricity.
53. Slides / Slide-Outs / Pop-Outs
Sections of an RV that can slide out to create more space within the RV.
People who head south for the winter to warmer weather, just like birds.
55. Stabilizers / Stabilizing Jacks / Leveling Jacks
Devices used to stabilize and level out an RV to keep it from rocking back and forth while moving around inside.
Refer to traditional homes built with (you guessed it) sticks and/or bricks.
57. Surge Protector
A device to protect the electronics with your RV by protecting against any spike in voltage.
58. Sway Bars
Metal bars used to prevent the RV from swaying and rocking back-and-forth by creating stability, which also helps with drivability.
59. Thousand Trails
A membership program with private campgrounds for its members.
A vehicle towed separately behind your RV (usually behind a motorhome).
The vehicle used to tow a towable RV like a Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel.
62. Towable RV
A type of RV that has to be towed with a separate tow vehicle.
63. Toy Hauler
A type of Towable RV that can be a Travel Trailer or a Fifth Wheel (even some motorhomes can be Toy Haulers, but most are in the Towable category) and offer a combination of living space plus room to haul toys and gear within the trailer.
64. Travel Trailer / TT
A type of Towable RV that comes in a wide variety of styles, floor plans, and sizes. Similar to a Fifth Wheel, Travel Trailers are towed with a tow vehicle. But unlike Fifth Wheels, Travel Trailers to not hang over the bed of a truck.
65. Triple Tow
Towing two other vehicles behind the tow vehicle or RV. For example, a truck towing a Travel Trailer towing a boat, or a motorhome towing a car towing a trailer. Basically three separate vehicles/RVs/trailers connected to one another. This is NOT recommended!
66. Truck Camper / TC
A type of RV that fits inside the bed of the truck and hands over the cab of the truck carrying it.
67. Water Hose
The hose used to connect your RV to the campgrounds water supply to have running water in your RV.
A valve used when a campround’s water connection has high water pressure to reduce the water pressure to a safe level for your RV’s plumbing.
69. Weekend Warriors
RVers who take their RV out for short trips, typically just on the weekends.
70. Workamper / Workamping
RVers who work at campgrounds they’re staying at to offset the cost of camping.
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There’s a lot involved with RVing and RV life in general. But don’t let the RV lingo overwhelm you. You can grab a PDF of this blog post below to print out and take along with you as a handy cheat sheet to reference while you’re RVing!
Are there any RV-specific words or phrases I’m missing? Leave them in the comments below!