What Does RV Stand For? Everything to Know

Have you ever heard of an RV? Maybe you have seen one whizzing down the highway or parked off in a scenic spot while camping. But, what does RV stand for and why they are so popular? In this blog, we will dive into the world of recreational vehicles (RVs) to learn more about their fascinating history and all the different kinds of RVs on the market today. As someone who lives in an RV, I can attest to the fact that while RV living is definitely different than living in a house, there are many benefits including some you may have never thought about. Keep reading to find out about the different types of RVs and which one is the best for you. 

 What Does RV Stand For?

The term “RV” stands for Recreational Vehicle and is used to refer to any kind of mobile living space like a motorhome, campervan, or travel trailer. The first motorized recreational vehicle that wasn’t just a car with a bed attached was actually built in Australia in 1929—but believe it or not, the concept of RVs goes back even further than that! 

Early settlers used covered wagons as their main form of transportation across America. They were just as mobile as modern-day RVs but were much less luxurious (and didn’t come with air conditioning!). While most of us wouldn’t consider living in a covered wagon today, we can enjoy all the amenities of home depending on what type of RV we choose. 

RVs first gained popularity in the United States during the 1950s when people started using them to explore our vast country. To this day, there is no better way to see America’s beauty than from inside an RV! 

Why is it Called an RV?

If you’ve made it this far, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that an RV is called an RV or recreational vehicle because it lets you enjoy all kinds of recreation. From your home base on wheels, you can hike, bike, fish, sight see, and even work if you have a full-time RV job. The possibilities are endless. 

The Unofficial Meaning: What Does RV Stand For to People Who RV

For those who RV, including Joel and me, what RV stands for is for freedom and adventure. In the past several years since owning our Class A, we have traveled to several amazing Oregon Coast RV parks, boondocked in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, and spent time in or made day trips to California, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Wyoming, Idaho, and more. With the acceleration of remote work in the last several years, even more people have been able to take advantage of this lifestyle, which I think is pretty fantastic. 

It’s no secret that RVs are becoming increasingly popular among all age groups – but why? One major reason is that they provide travelers with maximum convenience and comfort while on vacation or on long trips. After all, with an RV you don’t have to worry about booking hotel rooms or finding places to eat – everything is taken care of! 

Plus, with an RV you can go wherever you want whenever you want without having to worry about finding accommodations along your route. Another great thing about RVs is that they allow families or groups to travel together without sacrificing their own personal space or privacy – something that isn’t always easy when staying at hotels or inns!   

Finally, many people find owning an RV incredibly liberating – after all, who doesn’t want freedom from everyday obligations like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow? With an RV these tasks become a distant memory!   

So in short, what does RV stand for? Freedom, adventure, and the ability to have the convenience of home wherever you are. It’s no wonder there is decor saying “home is where you park it”.

What is the Difference Between an RV and a Camper?

When asking someone what RV stands for, there is sometimes some confusion about the difference between an RV and a camper. When it comes down to it, there really isn’t any difference between an RV and a camper; it’s just a personal preference for terminology.

Depending on what country you are in, there are even more terms for an RV. For example, in Australia RVs are more commonly called caravans. When I was taking a Spanish course recently, I learned the best term for RV is “casa rodante” which means rolling house. 

What Does RV Stand For and Common RV Names

Nowadays, there are various types of RVs on the market ranging from small campers perfect for weekend getaways all the way up to massive Class A Motorhomes designed for full-time living. A Class A motorhome is what my husband Joel and I have lived in since 2019 with no plans of stopping. 
So what does each RV stand for and what do you need to know before you buy an RV? Let’s find out! 


RVs Kinds in a Nutshell

RV campers are known for using a lot of technical jargon when describing RV types. Add to that all the slang names for RVs and you have a confusing jumble of terms being used for various recreational vehicles types. This guide give you a quick tutorial as to the various RV types, styles, and names for them.

RV Types and Names

a photo of a Class C motorhome, just one type of vehicle RV stands for

What does RV Stand For? (Recreational Vehicle)

RV stands for any motorhome, camper van, truck camper, trailer, toy hauler or fifth wheel. If it is a vehicle or towable that you a can camp in, then the term RV can describe it.

What Does Rig Stand For?

Another thing that RV stands for or is often called is a “rig”. When applied to towables (trailers and 5th wheels), it can also sometimes include the entire setup of the tow vehicle and the towable.

What does Camper Stand For?

This one will depend on who is using it. Some will use it as another term for motorhome. Some will use it to describe a trailer. And some will mean it to be specifically a truck-bed camper. So for this one, you may need to clarify with the speaker if you need to know more details other than it is some sort of RV. If you don’t know what RV it stands for, you can always ask. As a general rule, RVers are a pretty friendly bunch!

What is a Class A Motorhome RV?

Does RV stand for a motorhome? For some, yes. This is the technical designation given to a motorhome that is built on a heavy-duty frame that is a commercial bus chassis, a commercial truck chassis, or a motor vehicle chassis. They typically have a flat front, and a large amount of storage under the unit.

These are usually quite large and resemble buses with slide-out sections that expand living space. They tend to be very luxurious but can also be quite expensive depending on how many amenities they offer. 

RV stands for Class A Motorhome as well as many other types of RVs
Class A Motorhome

What is Does RV Stand For In Class B Motorhomes?

This is the technical designation given to a camper van. A class B is built within the standard stock framework of a van, with only minor exterior modifications, with all the camping conversions done inside. Some will however have a raised roof and/or a dropped floor to provide additional headroom.

Also known as “campervans” these vehicles are smaller than Class A motorhomes and often look like traditional vans from outside. They are great for those who want something easy to maneuver yet still big enough for comfortable living space. 

Class B Campervan
Class B Campervan

What is a Class Super B or B+ RV?

A Super B is vague designation given to a camper van that is still a van conversion but typically has additional exterior modificatons and may extend beyond the stock width in the living area. They do not have over-cab sleeping areas like a Class C.

Also Read:  Outdoor LED RV Lighting: A Fun Party or A Camper’s Worst Nightmare?

What is a Class C RV?

The question of what does RV stands for can also include a Class C RV. This is the technical designation given to a motorhome that is built on a van or truck chassis. The driving cab still uses the standard van or truck structure, with the camping portion built on the cargo section. They are typically easily identified by the cabover sleeping area about the driving cab. Many people also consider a Class C RV easier to drive than a Class A given their more truck-like cab.

Class C Motorhome
Class C Motorhome

What is a Class Super C RV?

A Super C RV stands for a rig that is cimilar to a regular class C, but is built on a much larger chassis and has larger engine, such as an F-550 or E-450. But it still has the stock driver cab and usually the overcab sleeping area.

Super B Motorhome
Super C Motorhome

What Does Motorhome Stand For (Gas and Diesel)?

This RV term stands for a camping vehicle that is self powered with an engine. The variety can be significant, but the consistent theme is the driving area and the camping area are directly connected by access and area single vehicle. This section and our what RV terms stand for glossary covers some of the variety of motorhomes and names.

What does Travel Trailer ( TT ) – Camper Trailer Stand For?

When people ask what does RV stand for they often wonder if the term RV includes travel trailers. To put is simply, yes. A trailer is a separate camping unit from the tow vehicle and can be pulled by a car, van or truck but it is still considered a type of RV.

Typically a trailer is used to described by a unit that is pulled by a hitch located below the back bumper, hence the nickname, “bumper pulls.” They can be very small, like the Airstream Nest, or quite long with multiple doors and slideouts.

Camper Trailer
Travel Trailer or Camper Trailer

Does RV Stand for 5th Wheels as Well?

Technically also a trailer, fifth wheels get their name from their special method of hitching and are also a type of RV. Hitches are placed in the bed of a pickup truck using a large pin that pivots on a flat plate, hence the idea of an “additional” wheel. They provide exceptional stability and turning characteristics by placing the front weight on the trailer between the tow vehicles axles as opposed to behind the vehicle like other types of trailers.

Fifth weels, sometimes called 5th wheels, or 5ers can also be extremely luxurious. Many people choosing full time RV life opt for 5th wheels. One major bonus over a motorhome is that you have a seperate tow vehicle which provides more living space inside.

Fifth Wheel RV
Fifth Wheel Trailer

What Does Toyhauler RV Stand For?

A toyhauler includes a large multi-use area called a “garage” that can carry “toys”. Some people think RV stands for toyhaulers only because they carry additional recreational vehicles such as motorcycles, ATVs, kayaks, bikes, etc. But even non-toyhaulers are considered RVs.

Typically once a toyhauler is set up, the toys are removed and the garage is converted to additional camping/sleeping space. Most toyhaulers are trailers or fifth wheels, but there are a few motorhome toyhaulers like the Thor Outlaw.

Toyhauler Trailer RV
Toyhauler Trailer

What does Caravan Stand For?

In the US, this typically refers to a group of vehicles traveling together, but in British English, a caravan is a trailer that is towed by a standard vehicle. That’s why they are also commonly called caravans in Australia.

What Are Teardrop Trailers?

RV can even stand for the extremely small trailer that gets its name from usually being shaped like an aerodynamic teardrop. Teardrop trailers typically do not include a bathroom and have an exterior kitchen in the rear. The main area is often just a sleeping area and some small amount of storage. They are good for vehicles with very small tow ratings, and are a nice step up from sleeping on the ground in a tent.

Teardrop Trailer
Teardrop Trailer

What is an A-Frame Popup Trailer?


An A-Frame popup is a type of RV popup trailer typically with opposing hard roof panels that fold up to meet and form an “A” shape. They have the advantage over tent-style popups in that they have a hard exterior when extended, but they do sacrifice some headroom space with that design.

A frame trailer RV
A-Frame Popup Trailer

Does RV Stand for Pop Up (Tent Camper, PUP) Too?

Yes, RV can also stand for a pop up camper. That’s why everyone is always so confused about what RV stands for, because it includes SO many different types. A pop up is a hybrid trailer that expands once set up, usually using canvas or tent-style areas. The weight of a pop up camper is a major draw since many vehicles can tow these. Many include some features like cassette toilets and basic kitchens, but they are all located at waist level or below so that the top area can pack up compactly.

Popup Tent Trailer
Pop Up Tent Trailer

What is a Hi-Lo Trailer?

This is a specific type of pop up trailer that is all hard sided, but the the upper portion cleverly collapeses down into the lower portion when traveling. This creates some challenges with placement of items withing the trailer, but it does allow for some amazing aerodynamic qualities when towing.

Hi-Lo Popup Trailer
Hi-Lo Pop Up Trailer

Is Bus Conversion an RV?

A general term for a motorhome that is built on a bus chassis is called a bus conversion. This can be a more typical-looking Class A motorhome built on a motorcoach chassis, or sometimes is a custom conversion done to a former school bus, which is slangly referred to as a “Schoolie.”

Is a Truck Camper an RV?

Also called a Slide-In, Slide-On or Cab-Over, a truck camper is yet another thing RV stands for. A truck camper or truck top camper is a camper that slides into the bed of a truck, then slides out onto its own legs at the campsite. In spite of the “add-on” nature of these camper, they can be quite luxurious, with some boasting slide-slideouts, nice bathrooms and kitchens and necessary holding tanks.

Truck Camper RV
Truck Camper

What does RV Stand For?

In summary, what does RV stand for? It stands for recreational vehicle and includes many different types of campers. RV stands for freedom and adventure for many as well. So if you’re debating getting an RV, take your pick and hit the road. You’ll be glad you did!

Also check out…
The Ultimate RV Dictionary and Glossary of RV Slang


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