Types of RVs

You all know I love this guy who makes a podcast for insomniacs, Sleep with Me. He basically just rambles on for an hour in a really boring way, but funny or weird (mostly both) enough to keep you from hating him, so you keep listening and then fall asleep.

One of his formats (not my favorite, but he has a bunch) is to recount a movie he thinks he saw 20 years ago, so he’s saying things like, “Then this guy, played by that actor who was in that movie with the popular woman who went to jail, I think that’s her. Well, the guy bursts into the room. Huh, maybe he came in later on in the movie. In any case, someone comes into the room …”

My point is: that’s how authoritative this post will be on RV terminology, aka types of campers.

I could actually look this stuff up and give you a fact-filled summary, but that would spoil all the fun of my blogging: I’m sitting here in the dark with light snow coming down and Banjo curled up beside me. It seems more like a story-telling early morning than a wikipedia-type morning, right?

So I’m going to pull a Sleep with Me and riff on what I think I might know. If you want to know for sure, look it up somewhere other than here.

Travel Trailers

Ours is not exactly a “recreation vehicle,” since it’s not a vehicle: there’s no engine. You have to tow it with a truck, so it’s called a trailer. And ours specifically is a bumper-pull trailer with no slide-outs.

I learned this when I started talking with campgrounds on the phone to make reservations: they ask so they’ll know exactly how big a spot you’ll need.

See, bigger trailers need to be towed via a hitch installed in the bed of the truck, and they’re called fifth-wheels. Here’s one in our campground.

His part that attaches to the hitch (the tongue) must have a broken jack because he has it propped up on cinderblocks. We RVers are can-do-ers 😉

So another style of travel trailer is making it bigger with slide-outs, which are sections that you expand with the push of a button once you’re parked. Some trailers have as many as three slide-outs on each side, which make them pretty much three times their travel size.

This is a rental trailer in our campground with two slide-outs: probably the dining area in the middle there and the bed in the back—both little rooms made much bigger. Some trailers you can’t even walk through when the slides are in.

Airstream doesn’t do any of this stuff, although I think decades ago they made a model with a slide-out, plus at one point they made a bus-style model, but they quickly dropped those and stuck with the iconic, simple travel trailer that we have.


Okay, you get my gist by now—motorhomes (aka RVs maybe?) have the driving part attached. They’re grouped into several classes: Class A, B, and C I know for sure, but maybe there’re more. Those types are all grouped by the type of vehicle the living space is attached to: a van engine and cab, or a truck engine and cab, or an all-in-one bus.

There are cool variations on all of these, like toy haulers (they have huge, open rear-ends for things like ATVs), tear drops (tiny little trailers that are basically a sleeping area with a kitchen you access from outside), pop-ups, and the kind I’ve been seeing at music festivals more and more: they are like serious tents you attach to the bed of your regular truck or to the top of your ATV.

I wanted to illustrate this post with pictures I took from the campground, but oddly you come off as a creepy person if you walk around where people live taking pictures.

Plus, nearly everyone here lives in the types of trailers that are parked right across from us that I photographed above. The funky smaller types are all off in the wilderness (not this campground, at least) or parked in people’s driveways waiting for better days.

The photo at the very top I stole from the Airstream site—it’s an ad from 1962.

4 thoughts to “Types of RVs”

  1. Now, I wonder? This slide-out (whatever RV-, motor- or just wagon) making things wider increasing the parkingspace, why on earth do that? Doesn’t parkingspace cost money?
    No really! I suggest slide-up instead, having your wagon (whatever type) looking like a castle like three stories high or something. Wouldn’t that be impressive enough making everybody else on the camp yealous?
    Just an out of space high thughts (you know me Shelly) to think hard about for the next generation of wheel-camp adventure homes. Right Shelly?
    Love -Li

    1. I would expect you to design this castle RV, Li, and I would be really envious! Here though, or in some campgrounds, you pay extra only for more amperage, not really for space. And when you’re parking in the woods, you have to measure to the sides to make sure your slideouts don’t hit any trees. You’d have to figure out how to measure upwards for yours. I’m sure you could! Lidar, maybe?

      1. Measure upwards for sure, I can do that. But to make it all work on a camp ground, is to choose a place where my wheel-wagon-castle really can stand out and show! Wouldn’t that be grand?

        1. True. I need to find for you a field with a driveway leading up to the trailer castle, all lined with huge oak trees.