What Does RV Stand For? – The Amazing and Ever Changing Truth

What does RV stand for? Those two letters that conjure up images of freedom and the open trail stand for “Recreational Vehicle“. It is a phrase that refers to any kind of motorized vehicle with sleeping accommodation from a simple camper van right up to a luxury motor home. An RV covers any vehicle or trailer used for camping, giving you the opportunity to move from site to site and take in some of the best views and areas on offer.

The word “recreational” is a little misleading in some cases, as it suggests this kind of motor vehicle is only used for leisure activities. Plenty of people use smaller RVs as their main vehicle, and some even choose to live in them full-time, so they are often more than purely recreational after all. Overall, the phrase represents a vehicle that gives you the chance to have some fun, and any RV fan will tell you hitting the open road at the wheel of your motorhome is the best way to spend your free time.

An RV can be a motorized vehicle or a towable trailer, and there are many types available on the market today. Some opt for basic living accommodation, while others can be more luxurious and comfortable than many family homes.

Motorized RVs


Class A

what does rv stand for? - large class a motorhome

A Class A RV is a larger style motor home that gives you plenty of space for accommodation and maximum storage options. They are usually built on the chassis of a commercial vehicle like a bus or truck and have a solid A-frame built directly on the chassis itself. A Class A RV can be a massive vehicle, usually very long with six wheels or more. Large wheels of at least 22″ are needed to support the weight of the vehicle, and they give you the very best in luxury and indulgence.

Some come with slide-out sides to increase the capacity of your accommodation when parked up, and they usually include a fixed bedroom as well as optional beds that can be converted from couches or dining areas. They also have a good number of chairs with seatbelts to house all the family while you travel from one camping spot to another. A Class A RV houses everything you might need for an extended camping stay, with onboard water facilities, running hot water and shower, plenty of space for cooking and food preparation, and room to store as much leisure equipment as you might need.

Camping in a Class A RV is camping in style surrounded by all your home comforts and electrical equipment to make your camping adventure as commodious as staying in a luxury hotel.

Class B

Class B Motorhome driving through mountains

Class B is the smallest type of RV you will find. They are often referred to as camper vans, partly because they look very much like an oversized van. Inside, you will find a comfortable sleeping area and everything you might need for cooking. They also have a bathroom with a toilet and shower in one cubicle to help squeeze everything in.

They are usually tall enough to let you stand up straight, but won’t afford much space for the family to relax. Most Class B users tend to set up their dining and leisure area outside the van, sometimes under a roll-out canopy to protect from weather. Although they are smaller, Class B RVs are cleverly designed to squeeze in everything you might need for an extended stay.

Obviously, you won’t be able to take as much equipment as you can fit on a Class A RV, but as smaller vehicles, they also have their own advantages: they are much easier to drive and park, and usually do well on fuel economy. Some people use a Class B as their everyday vehicle, saving even more dollars by combining their RV and their normal car in one.

Class C

class c motorhome parked on the road

As you can expect, a Class B motorhome is considerably smaller than a massive Class A, but you will still find everything you could need for a fun camping vacation. They are larger than a Class B because they have a sleeping area over the top of the cab. with room for a double bed. This frees up more space in the living area to allow for greater room for the family to relax, and they can comfortably house up to eight people. Some of them also have slide-out sides to give you even more room.

One of the best assets of a Class C is the way they can tow a standard-sized car, so when you arrive at your leisure park you can set up your camp for the duration of your stay without having to pack anything away to go out shopping.

Towable RVs

Not every RV comes with an inbuilt engine, and some of the most comfortable RVs are designed to be towed by other vehicles.

Fifth Wheel

a fifth wheel rv setup in a wooded campsite

A fifth-wheel trailer is designed to be towed by a large truck or tractor. It has a hitch that fits into a U-shaped coupling attachment on the back of the towing vehicle. Many fifth-wheel trailers have a swan neck with sleeping or living accommodation that sits over the top of the towing vehicle, and they can be large enough and sturdy enough to include everything you might find in a Class B motorhome.

The fifth wheel is much easier to maneuver and tow, while still being roomy enough to house a large family.

Toy Hauler

jayco toy hauler

Source: Jayco.com

A toy hauler simply means that there is a garage area in the back to carry equipment like a quad or motorbike. They can be motorized or towable, like a Class B or Fifth Wheel, but they will be built to be stronger and carry more weight.

Toy haulers are popular with competitive sportsmen who need to take racing bikes or vehicles to competitions that can last a weekend or few days. Not everyone uses them for this purpose though, and the sturdy garage can provide lots of different options to make your camping trip more fun.

Travel Trailers

travel camping trailer setup at a lake cabin

Probably the most popular towed camping vehicle, a travel trailer can be anything from a tiny pod to a long home on wheels that contains everything you might expect from a large RV. They used to be called a “bumper pull” because when they first came out in the fifties they were attached to the bumper of the towing vehicle: now they fit on a regular towing hitch.

They can be towed with most standard vehicles, and once you get to your campsite you simply unhitch so you have your car free for driving around. Travel trailers are sturdy units and come with a range of different floor plans to include bedrooms, living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. Some also have pop-out sides for more space or you could attach an awning to the rail outside.

Tear Drop / Micro Campers

micro camper setup on the sand

A teardrop trailer is like a mini travel trailer, given the name because it is a little pod shaped like a tear-drop. These tiny camping pods are capable of housing two people comfortably, with a sleeping area and some basic cooking facilities. Because of their diminutive size, they can be towed by any vehicle and are great for driving on winding trails to access more remote areas.

In terms of facilities, they don’t offer much more than you might find while camping in a tent but they offer greater security and a chance to sleep off the ground in a comfortable bed. They are hugely popular with young people looking for adventure, as they are so easy to use and tow.

Interested in learning more about micro campers? Check out our article featuring 7 awesome micro campers that are perfect for your big adventures.

Pop Up Campers

a pop up camper trailer setup in the woods

Pop up campers are sort of a cross between a trailer and a tent. Everything folds into a small trailer that can be towed by the smallest vehicle, and on arrival at the campsite they open up into a large accommodation. They are ideal for people looking for something that is easy to tow and store as they will fit into most garages.

When erected, they offer a large living area and some even include toilets or showers. The added advantage of a pop-up camper is they can be very cheap to buy, making RV life available for families of any budget. They also get you a little closer to nature while still keeping your mattress well away from creepy critters, ideal for those wanting a rugged style camping holiday without having to give up every comfort.