If you’re not familiar with it, the camping and RV world can seem foreign and overwhelming. However, with such variety among the types of RVs, campgrounds, parks, and campsites, taking a moment and sifting through the definitions and specifications of each one can help you take hold of the wheel. Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to RV camping.
What’s an RV?
RV stands for “recreational vehicle,” which basically translates to an enjoyment vehicle. So, yeah. Try not to have fun camping in one of these babies.
Features of an RV can include a kitchen, bathroom, bed(s), toilet, bath, shower, closet, storage, air conditioning, water heater, propane heat, televisions, and much more. They can range from a rustic teardrop trailer to a luxurious motorhome with multiple baths. Keep reading to learn about the different types of RVs.
To read about the history of RVing, visit this blog post on RVshare.
What are the different types of RVs?
All right, brace yourself for a pretty long answer to this question. There are a few different types of RV, and they are mostly divvied into these categories:
- Class A Motorhomes
- Class B Motorhome
- Class C Motorhome
- Travel Trailer
- Fifth Wheel Trailer
- Pop-up Trailer
- Truck Camper
- Toy Hauler
Here’s an easy trick: all classes of “motorhomes” have, well, a motor in them. With these options, you choose whether you want to fuel up with gas or diesel. However, all of the other types of RVs require a tow vehicle to pull them. In these circumstances, pay attention to the amount of weight (GVWR) your vehicle can tow. If you do not have a vehicle that can pull the RV you are purchasing, then you’re going to have to purchase a tow vehicle as well.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are boxy, larger RVs that have the ability to tow a vehicle in the back. Most have “slide-outs” in which a portion of their sides expand for more space when parked.
Class B Motorhomes
The smallest option of all RVs, Class B motorhomes are campervans. You’ve probably heard of Vanlife, right? Campervans have made quite the comeback in the most recent years but have been around for a while. There are a variety of options on the market if you can live in a smaller space. A great thing about this size of RV is its ability to fit into all sorts of parks and campgrounds.
Class C Motorhomes
Although they are Class “C,” their size tends to be between Class A and Class B. In recent years, many RV companies have done a great job figuring out ways to fit all sorts of amenities into 19-23″ Class C options. Many have slideouts to accomplish this. Additionally, you can tow a vehicle with the Class C option.
These RVs pull by an automobile, usually an SUV or truck. Their sizes range from 15 feet to 33 feet, so there is a lot of variety in this category. If you decide to go the travel-trailer route, you would need to weigh your options again. Travel trailers have extremely cost-effective options, with some being pretty inexpensive compared to other RVs. Yet, similar to Class A motorhomes, some get pretty pricey the more space and amenities you add. Many travel trailers have built-in bunks, making them an excellent option for a family. Without a motor, you don’t have to worry about engine maintenance. You will, however, still have maintenance but can be more manageable than other RV options.
With different brands having options at various price points, travel trailers are the most popular choice for RVers. Additionally, with its lack of an engine, older models hold their values. As a result, many feel more comfortable buying an older travel trailer than they would an older motorhome.
The inside of travel trailers can vary, but most have a full bath, kitchen, and many have slide-outs to expand the living space.
Towing a travel trailer might intimidate many that might not have experience with hauling. These concerns can be addressed by practice or getting a smaller-sized travel trailer.
Fifth-wheels look like a hybrid of Class A motorhomes and travel trailers in that they tend to be large and boxy like Class A’s, but pickup trucks tow them like many travel trailers. To have a fifth-wheel, you must have a pickup truck with a large tow capacity and a big enough bed to put in a special hitch designed for fifth-wheel towing. You can identify fifth-wheels by their larger size and living space extending over the pickup truck bed, usually a “second story” bedroom within the RV.
If you’re comfortable with towing big rigs, have a big truck, and want your RV to feel like a residential home, this option might be best for you. With their grand size, this category of RVs provides amenities like multiple full baths, a washing machine, and a fuller, residential-style kitchen with an island. In addition, they often have slideouts to expand their luxurious living spaces.
Because of their size and amenities, you are looking at one expensive rig. Fifth-wheels are often cottages people park at a specific location for an extended time. It’s a tiny home.
The most cost-effective of the bunch, pop-up trailers are expandable rigs with “soft walls” that expand up and out when parked and set up. They are the lightest of RVs, allowing a wide range of vehicles able to tow them. They are for the person or family that will be spending most of their time outside at a campground, don’t mind using campground bathrooms and facilities, and like tent-like sleeping quarters. Not quite as “glamorous” as other options, they still provide a great camping experience. Their lightweight nature and smaller size allow them to manage rough terrain and fit into tighter spaces. They are more fuel-efficient than other options and are the perfect fit for people looking to use them during the summer or in mild climates.
Truck campers can handle whatever you throw at it as it snugly fits on top of a pickup truck bed. This style is often chosen by those that like to dry-camp, move around often, and don’t mind the tight living quarters. They are less expensive than other options; however, you are not getting the amenities you might enjoy otherwise. Depending on the truck you have, you might have to do some coordinating in terms of size and fit, as well. They are, however, a shorter length than other options, making them easy to maneuver, and their lighter weight means fewer trips to the gas pump.
Toy haulers are fifth-wheel trailers or travel trailers with the ability to stow away a “toy,” like an ATV, motorcycle, golf cart, scooters, or other types of fun vehicles. This option is great for people who need space to tow adventure gear. To spot a toy hauler, look for hinges on the bumper that allow the back to open up.
What is RVing?
RVing is the practice of driving, camping, or living in an RV.
What’s the difference between campgrounds, RV campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts?
Many different types of campgrounds and parks fall under the umbrella label of “campground.” In the traditional sense, campgrounds can accommodate both tent and RV camping. Additionally, tent-only campgrounds are simply called campgrounds.
These campgrounds can be more of a rustic experience, meaning that they might not have hookups for your RV, electric, water, or sewage. The campsites may not be level and might not accommodate larger motorhomes. Their benefit is that they tend to be in more picturesque locations like in or near national and state forests and parks. Campsites might vary individually as the campground tends to be organized around the natural environment.
RV parks are constructed to accommodate all types of RVs. They usually provide full hookups (water, electric, and sewage) and the sites might have paved parking spaces for your rig. Overall, the park might have amenities like a bathhouse, laundry room, and pool but not all do.
More expensive than RV parks, RV resorts offer amenities you’d find at, well, a resort. These include a clubhouse, pools, saunas, hot tubs, fitness centers, game rooms, restaurants or cafes, pickleball/tennis courts, bathhouses, laundry rooms, car washing stations, dog parks, and more. The sites themselves are full hookups with water, electricity, sewage and will most likely have cable hookups and wifi provided. I’ll note that many RV parks use the term “resort” loosely. Be sure to read campground descriptions thoroughly to determine if it’s a resort or not.
Motorcoach resorts are communities of Class A motorhomes that are over 40 feet long. They offer the amenities of a luxury resort and tend to be near a golf course. For example, the sites might include landscaped lawns, brick-paved parking spaces, a bathhouse, outdoor kitchens, and more.
What are the different types of campsites?
Camping on a primitive site is known as “dry camping” because there aren’t any hookups (water, electric, sewage). Instead, campers rely on campground facilitates for dishwashing, showering, and toilet use. Primitive campsites are found in campgrounds and RV campgrounds.
Partial hookup sites offer a water connection, electric connection, or both water and electric connections for your RV. They usually never offer a sewage connection, meaning, when you stay in a partial hookup, you use the campground’s dump station for releasing your grey and black water.
This type of site is exactly what you’d expect, all the hookups. That means the campsite has water, electric, and sewage connections for your RV. In addition, depending on what type of campground or park you’re staying at, some sites will include a cable hookup and wifi connection.
What are the different RVing lifestyles?
- Weekend RVing: People who take their RV out for a weekend camping trip.
- Vacation RVing: Campers who go on vacation with their RV instead of staying in a hotel or resort.
- Seasonal: Individuals who might be retired or work remotely and travel to an area for several months at a time, such as “snowbirds” or “winter Texans” who travel south for the winter.
- Full Time RVing: Someone who lives in their RV year-round.
Do I need a special license or insurance?
For most RVs, you won’t need a special license to drive or tow them. Depending on the state you live in or are traveling to, there are some requirements for driving particular Class A motorhomes. I’m talking about the BIG motorhomes. For the most part, you’re fine with your regular driver’s license.
In terms of insurance, if you purchase an RV, you will need RV insurance. It should come out to be a similar amount to what you pay to insure your vehicle.
Can I tow an RV with my car?
That depends on the kind of car and RV you have. If you have a pickup truck or SUV, you’ll most likely be able to tow some type of RV. Determining the kind of RV depends on your car’s tow capacity, the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can tow when pulling a trailer. Here is Curt’s Towing Capacity Guide. If you have an RV in mind and want to figure out what vehicle you need to tow it, I’ll refer you to Togo RV’s Ultimate Towing Guide.
Can I rent an RV?
Yes, you can! There are plenty of RV rentals, from listings on RVshare to nearby RV dealerships offering rentals. A simple online search will yield the options in your area.
How do I book a campsite?
With Campspot, it’s super easy to book your campsite. Just as you would book a hotel, go online to Campspot.com or download Campspot’s app to search for campsites by specific campgrounds, locations, and site types. Before, and I’m talking only a couple of years ago, you would have to call campgrounds and reserve sites via phone. Queue the endless voicemails, games of phone tag, and then having to give your credit card information over the phone. With Campspot, you can look through campground images and select the exact site you want. Then, when you had to reserve over the phone, they would assign you the sites. Campspot is changing the way people camp, simplifying the planning process so you can focus on what’s important: making memories outside with your loved ones.
Can I camp in a tent in an RV site?
That depends on the type of campsite and campground. At most campgrounds, rustic without any paved RV sites, campsites can be for both RVs and tents. If you want an RV and a tent at one site, confirm that the campground allows it with a manager or employee. Some may not or may charge an additional fee.