RV'ing lingo

Language is key -
Get to know the basics!

As with all sports and activities, RV’ing comes with its own language and words to describe different aspects of RV’ing. Some you may be familiar with, and some not! However, let me get you started!


RV is a recreational vehicle, and it includes motorhomes, trailers, tent trailers, campervans and even converted vehicles. These are homes that are either drivable or towable. However the internal space is designed for “living” though the level of comfort may depend on the RV type itself.

Motorhome refers to a class of RV’s that are drivable. It does not include any  kind of towable home. These include Class A, Class B or B+ or Class C RV’s. This includes campervans. These vehicle typically have a kitchen, bathroom and sleep space, and therefore meets all your basic living needs (and some will meet your luxury needs too). 

This is a motorhome that is shaped like a city bus, and has a very wide windshield. It provides the best front view while travelling the drive area can be incorporated into the living space. These typically come in lengths of 24 feet or longer, though the smaller models are harder to find. These are typically known as the most luxurious types of RV’s with some pricing over a million dollars, however they do come in many price points. They include full kitchen, bathroom &living space. They may even include a washer & dryer.

These are generally the smaller of the RV’s. It includes campervans, and smaller RV’s without an overhead bunk. One of the most famous brands is the Roadtrek. These are shaped like a regular van and include all the amenities of an RV.

A Class B+ is a hybrid between a Class B and a Class C. It’s shape resembles that of a Class C however it does not include an overheard bunk on top of the driving cab. Newer models have the cab area more nicely integrated into the living space with captains chairs that rotate into the RV for additional seating.   

These are generally the most common of RV’s and the one most people generally think of when you think of an RV. It is a basically a house put onto a pick up truck. These vary in size from 17 feet to 34 feet long.  They tend to be geared towards family RV’ing in that it is designed to maximize sleep spaces while providing all the basics – kitchen, bathroom, and living space. 

It has more space than a Class B but generally less than a Class A. Because they are typically more family units, their focus is on function as opposed to luxury, however more luxurious models are being manufactured more often in recent years. 

Boondocking is parking overnight somewhere that is not typically a camping space. In its purest form, it is parking/ camping in the boonies, such as parks, in forests, on the beach. This may be for 1 or 2 nights but most people will boondock longer in more remote areas. One of the key characteristics to boondocking is that it does not have electrical, water or dump hook ups available. You are utilizing the fact that your RV is self-contained.

Over the years, boondocking has evolved to include parking and camping in common public spaces such as big box store (ie; Walmart) parking lots. Urban boondocking is generally for 1 or 2 nights, it is not meant to be for a prolonger stay. 

Boondocking etiquette:

(1) leave no trace that you were there, by bringing back your garbage, cleaning the area before leaving and do NOT change the landscape of the boondocking site by cutting down trees or branches

(2) respect the ecological system there – do NOT dump!

(3) if you are boondocking near others, keep in mind that boondockers often want the sights and sounds of the natural environment – so keep radio’s, tv’s and generators to a minimum.

It is what it sounds like! It is boondocking in a mooching fashion! This means you may be parked in a family, friend or acquaintances driveway or on their property. Often, they will be kind enough to run you an extension cord for power!

Moochdocking etiquette: 

(1) leave no trace that you were there by cleaning up after yourself and putting your garbage in the appropriate bins

(2) do not dump (seems obvious but worth repeating)

(3) show appreciation to family, friend or acquaintances that have provided space & possible electricity. 

(4) do not overstay your welcome!

You may have guessed it, but Wallydocking is boondocking in a Walmart parking lot! It is typically used after a long day of travel or when you need to stock up! 

Etiquette points: Wallydockers

(1) ask permission to “dock” at Walmart,

(2) ask management if they have a preferred location to park.

(3) recognize that this is a  private business’ parking lot and NOT a campground.

(4) do clean up after yourself

(5) where possible, make a purchase in Walmart (even if its just TP)

This means that Wallydockers do not:

(1) set up as if in a campground, as in pull out your BBQ set up your awning or lawnchairs

(2) leave a mess OR empty grey/ black tanks in the parking lot

It’s not a frog! It refers to a vehicle that is towed behind an RV and NOT how the vehicle is towed (ie: flat tow or with a dolly). So it does not matter if it is a Jeep, a Honda or a Saturn (seems to be the most common toads) – they are all toads.

Yes, larger RV’s have a basement! These are like a crawl space in your house, small (or smallish), awkward space used for more storage! On most RV’s (except camper style Class B’s) it will be located at the back of the RV and under the bed. It may just be a compartment but may also be a pass through basement from one side of the RV to the other.

Just another name for a motorhome.

Exactly what it sounds like. It is the holding tank for the toilette and can the one to give you the most problems. 
Key points to keep in mind, the less undissolvable solids, the better (ie: toilette paper) and the more liquid the better. And always wear your gloves and washable shoes when doing your dump!

Your grey water tank is the holding tank for all other used liquids – so from your sinks and shower. It can also get smelly, if not maintained but biggest culprit is usually food scraps and oils. 

Key points: Your grey water tank is never as big as you think, it’s best to keep solids and oils out & water conservation will allow you to extend any boon or moochdocking you may want to do. 

We are Canadian, and it’s legal, eh? In this context it’s not a joint! Sorry to disappoint. It’s the term used to refer to the RV’s LPG/ propane/ electric fridge! Nothing quite as exciting as your first thought!

Tip: keep your RV as level as possible when you park, otherwise it may affect the good functioning of your fridge!

I wish it was always “sani” as in sanitized, but it’s not! Sani-dump, dump or dump stop refers to the location where you legally dispose of the content of your poop & grey tanks!  

The slide or slide out refers to a part of the RV that moves out to create more internal space. Generally you can have up to 4 slides, and they can vary in size. These slides can almost double the size of the internal space. 

In the case of my own RV’s, both have had living/ dining room slides, thereby increasing my living space and creating a dance floor when I want to have a dance party! 

Full timers are people who live in their RV and no longer have a “home base” or “sticks & bricks” to come home to. 

As of 2021, I will be a full timer. Yet in 2018, I was a part timer

Part timers are people who live in their RV’s for several months at a time but have a “home base” or “sticks & bricks”. 

Weekend warriors are people who camp or RV for short periods of time. It may be a weekend, a week or a couple weeks but it is camping/ Rv’ing vacation and not a lifestyle. 

Sticks & bricks refers to a home base, a persons primary residence. that is not mobile. 

Some people own homes, rent apartments or condo’s or share living quarters. Whatever the configuration, this is their primary residence to which they return after an RV expedition. 

Not unlike compassion fatigue, traveler burnout or travel fatigue is about travelling too much for too long. It is not exclusive to RV’er but can affect any one travelling using any mode of travel.

It is that feeling of coming home from vacation and needed a vacation from your vacation!

It generally affects newer travelers that have jammed their schedule too full of activities that they did not plan rest or sufficient rest. More experienced travelers recognize the benefits of slower or well paced travel.

Slow travel is not just about RV’ing, but applies to all forms of travel. It is about slowing down, and either seeing/ doing less or staying longer. The purpose of slow travel is to appreciate where you are and maintain a more “regular” pace of life. 

For me, RV’ing and house & pet sitting allows me to slow travel and spend time in a place to get a feeling of how life happens in a different part of the world.