In North America the term recreational vehicle, and its acronym RV, are generally used to refer to a vehicle equiped with living space and amenities found in a home. A recreational vehicle normally includes a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a living room.
RVs are intended for everything from brief leisure activities such as vacations and camping, to full-time living, for which they are often parked in special trailer parks. (However, many trailer parks are reserved just for mobile homes, not to be confused with RVs and motorhomes.) RVs can also be rented in most major cities and tourist areas.
Furthermore, they are occasionally used as mobile offices for business travelers and often include customizations such as extra desk space, an upgraded electrical system, a generator, and satellite Internet.
Kinds of RVs EditThere are different classes of vehicles generally labeled as RVs:
- Constructed on either a commercial truck chassis, a specially designed motor vehicle chassis, or a commercial bus chassis. The addition of slide-outs, first appearing in 1989, dramatically changed the industry, as they allow a wider room than would fit on the road.
- A commercial passenger bus that has been converted into an RV. Highly customized with luxury components, bus conversions are typically the largest motorhomes available.
- Built using a conventional van, to which either a raised roof has been added or had the back replaced by a low-profile body (aka coach-built).
- Built on a truck chassis with an attached cab section, which is usually van based, but may also be pickup truck based or even large truck based. They are characterized by a distinctive cab-over profile, the "cab-over" containing a bed or an "entertainment" section. Also referred to as "mini-motorhomes". In the UK, the cab-over is known as a Luton peak or [Luton body].
- A unit that is temporarily let into the bed or chassis of a pickup truck. These are much favored by hunters and other backwoods travelers, particularly in North America. :Also known as a pop-up or tent camper, a light-weight unit with sides that collapse for towing and storage. Suitable for towing by many vehicles.
- A unit with rigid sides designed to be towed by some larger vehicle with a bumper or frame hitch. Known in British English as a caravan.
- A compact, lightweight travel trailer that resembles a teardrop, sometimes seen being towed by motorcycles.
- A blend between a travel trailer and a folding (tent) trailer. One type has rigid sides and pull-out tent sections (usually beds) while another type's top section of walls and its roof can be lowered over its bottom section to reduce its height for towing.
- Designed to be towed by a pickup or medium duty truck equipped with a special hitch called a fifth wheel coupling. Part of the trailer body extends over the truck bed, shortening the total length of vehicle plus trailer combined. Some larger fifth-wheel trailers, usually over 40 feet (12.2 m) in length and 18,000 pounds (8,200 kg) in weight, are pulled by small semi-trucks, such as a small Freightliner.
- This is a standard travel trailer that is not self-contained. It is designed for park camping only, and while it is easily moved from site to site, as a normal trailer is, it is not capable of "dry camping" as it does not have any water storage tanks and must be used with hookups. It is not a mobile home.
- An uncommon term indicating a motorhome built around a semi truck chassis (such as a Freightliner). This type of motor home allows the pulling of large and heavy trailers.
- A motorhome, 5th-wheel, or travel trailer, it is designed to be part living space, and part garage for storing things such as motorcycles and ATVs.
The RVs Edit
A minimal RV typically contains beds, a table, food preparation and storage areas. Larger models add full bathrooms, refrigerators, living areas, master bedrooms, etc. Some RVs are very elaborate, with satellite TV and Internet access, slide-out sections, and awnings, and either storing a small car inside it or providing the option of towing it behind the RV. RVs can cost (new) from less than US$10,000 to $1,500,000 or more. Very high-end Class A motorhomes, for example, can cost between US$100,000 to $650,000 new. Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International make the Terra Wind - an amphibious Class A RV which costs between $850,000 and $1.2 million. In 2006, Featherlite Luxury Coaches debuted the Featherlite Vantare Platinum Plus, a motorhome featuring marble floors, a built-in treadmill and other luxury features valued at US$2.5 million/
The Parks Edit
Many RVers stay at RV parks, most of which feature electrical, water and sewer service (full hookups), as well as cable television and wireless Internet. One can also get partial hookups in the same parks. Amenities often include swimming pools, gamerooms and even destination-resort activities such as horseback riding. Others prefer staying at locations in remote rural areas (called boondocking), and still others at public campgrounds with minimal facilities.
Also many RVers stay at city parks, county parks, state parks and national parks. The United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also offer camping, often at no cost to the camper.
Advantages and Disadvantages Edit
Advantages of RVs include not having to move one's things in and out of motel rooms, not having to rent multiple motel rooms, sleeping in a bed one is comfortable with. Also, preparing food oneself saves money compared to eating in restaurants, and better meets any dietary restrictions or preferences. At the same time, an RV provides more organized living space and better protection from the weather than a tent. There is also no council tax if you choose to live in a RV and no home mortgage.
Disadvantages of RVs include low fuel economy for the motorized RV or tow vehicle, lack of maid service as experienced in motels (maid service is available at a few high-end resorts), and the challenge of driving or towing larger RV models for the novice. There will also be the disadvantage of the RV going down in value whereas a house price can go up.
There is a stereotype that people who live in RVs full-time do so because they are poor and cannot afford more conventional housing. However, an increasing number of people are opting to sell their homes and live in their RVs, which can cost as much as their home did. Some return to home ownership after several years while some few bounce back and forth between owning a home and going RVing full time. For these, mostly retirees, RVing is a life style choice not a financial decision.
Similarly, RVs — specifically, trailers which strongly resemble travel trailers, but usually with fewer amenities — have been used to temporarily house victims of natural disasters. A notable example is Hurricane Katrina, after which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ordered large numbers of such trailers to house victims of the storm in Louisiana and Mississippi.