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RANDY’S RANTS – What is a RV?

January 6, 2011 by · 15 Comments 


Sometimes I feel like letting it all out and ranting about one (or more) of my pet peeves.

One of these is the perception that only motor homes are RVs.  Maybe Robin Williams in the movie RV worked to cement this view?

We were at a New Years Eve celebration with a group of friends.  Seating at the tables in the main ballroom of the hotel was assigned according to when we made our reservations.  With 12 seats situated around a large round table, there were several strangers situated with our group.

The woman sitting to my left was at least my age, maybe a little bit older.  It was hard for me to tell since the make-up on her face was at least a 1/4” thick and filled in any wrinkles like Bondo does on a wrecked car.  She was “dressed to kill” with long black gloves and enough jewelry to require an armed guard.  Her companion wore a tuxedo.  Shucks, I only had on my Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Suit!

Somehow or other in an effort to create a conversation I mentioned to her that Nancy and I had a RV and enjoyed traveling to new places.  In fact, we really had not planned to be at the current celebration, but the cold weather had caused us to cancel our plans to head south over the Christmas school break.

I showed her a photo of our fifth wheel and the Volvo that was stored on my cell phone.  She responded, “Oh, I thought you said you had a RV.  That is a trailer.”

I have encountered people with this perception before – that an RV is exclusively a drivable motor home, anything that you pull is not an RV.  Normally, I just ignore the error or find a polite way to enlighten the individual by explaining that the term RV is for a Recreational Vehicle, which can be any number or type of vehicle that one does not need to drive.

After a brief hesitation to take another sip of her wine, she continued, “We own a real RV.  It is a 40 foot long Monaco Windsor PKD, that is a class A RV that we drive.  You must be aware that some parks won’t allow anything but a RV – no trailers.”

I could feel my temperature and pulse rising.  Not only was she misinformed on what constituted a RV, but also came across as being one of those people that always seem to have something that is better than anyone else.

Nancy was listening and knew what I was getting ready to do.  She squeezed my leg to get my attention and slowly mouthed to me, “Leave it alone – NO.”

I am sure the two Margaritas I had consumed earlier had an effect on my ability to restrain myself from any further comment.  But, despite the command from my dear wife, I had to respond to this strange woman.

“Excuse me, but are you saying that only motor homes are RV’s?”

“Why, of course.” She responded. “In order to call something a RV you must drive it.  If you pull it with a truck or something like that it is just a trailer or camper.”

NO, you are totally mistaken!”, I countered.  “The term RV is short for a Recreational Vehicle which can be most anything that has sleeping, cooking, and a power connection.  My tow vehicle is registered as a motor home since it is a fully self-contained vehicle with beds, kitchen, water, electrical power, and a potty.  The vehicle I pull is a 5th wheel trailer but it is also classified as a RV.”

She looked at me as if I was some creature from outer space or a lunatic that had just escaped from an asylum.  She immediately turned away from me – conservation ended.  A little later, she changed her seat so that she was several positions away.

No, it was not a pleasant encounter – but it was amusing in a special way.  Fortunately, it was something that I rarely experience.

For the most part the beauty of camping is that it does not really make any difference what your vehicle is. Once in a campground, like when we go to the ocean, the million-dollar motor home is often parked next to a pop-up or tent camper on one side and a smaller aluminum skinned trailer on the other.  In this environment, everyone is equal.  There should be no one-upmanship behavior, all the people assembled are there to enjoy the facility, and amenities offered near-by and the outdoor camping experience.  We share the same campfire, the same stories and enjoy exchanging tales of our adventures in the same manner as writers for this web site.

I see camping as a great equalizer.  It has nothing to do with social status, how much money you make or what size your RV is. In fact, you do not even need to be in a RV – you can be in a tent pulled out of the back of the family SUV.

I love this community. I honestly do not know where else we can easily find the opportunities that remove the social barriers or physical neighborhoods that often separate people.  Camper’s watch out for each other, speak to strange faces, assist anyone with a problem, and even share favorite recipes or meals with people they have never seen before.

The opportunity to meet new folks and create friendships is one of the reasons I enjoy camping so much. And, while we are on the camping subject, the term RV is most certainly not exclusively reserved for drivable camping vehicles.

Happy and Safe Camping Travels to All!




15 Responses to “RANDY’S RANTS – What is a RV?”
  1. dianew says:

    That is funny. We actually encountered a woman, perhaps the same one, who corrected me after I referred to our 37′ Fleetwood Terra as a camper. She seemed appalled at my reference and corrected it to RV. I just laughed and chalked it up to “uppityness”. Makes no difference to me what you call any of it – it’s just fun taking my home and pets, and husband, with me.

  2. Patti says:

    Randy, Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen! Here’s to RV’s in whatever form they may take! Patti

  3. jimjan says:

    Randy, as one of your RV ing Cedar Creek friends, I’m glad you took the opportunity to clarify the poor lady’s misapprehension. Life’s too short for being uppity. You gotta dance like nobody is watchin’. And Happy New Year too.


  4. poboypcb says:

    Your dinner companion seems to be one of those of whom my wife and I say, “She dosen’t get out ” anyway. We’ve done a tent, popups, travel trailer and now a class A and we’ve thought of them all as RVs! Happy camping, whatever your rig!

  5. Jon says:

    You can not regulate stupidity…I have run into those same kind of people . Thank God they are far and few between…

  6. Sharon Ellers says:

    My Grandma had a name for women like this…( Mrs. Aster’s Got Rocks)…..unfortunately there are people like this in the world. We have camped for over 40 years, started with a tent, 3 pop ups, pull behind and class A motor home….we have never camped with or close to anyone like this. That is one of the many reasons that we LOVE camping…everyone is friendly, helpful, equal. Probably this woman has FEW friends in any capacity..Sincerely, Sharon

  7. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Prof Randy,

    Thatz ‘teaching’.. She is probably the one who deleted Nick’s Blog the other day, because all he talked about was the life of a fulltimer, DUH!!! These types don’t do ‘camping’; they do RESORTS… Can you
    imagine her in one of Bob Difley’s boondocking sites?? OH WOW!!!! Nothing you said probably had any effect on her snobbiness.. SHE HAD A MONACO WINDSOR PKD 42′…POO POO!! Monaco is out of
    business for the 2nd time.. Cedar Creek is still going… and a Volvo tow-cab ain’t no sneezy!!

  8. Diane Berry says:

    Loved your Rant, Randy! I have had the same thoughts, though I must admit I did keep them to myself. Thank you for sticking up for us with our 18′ Trail-Lite RV that we pull with our Dodge Durango!

  9. Thank you Randy for making it clear at last. We don’t even drive anywhere with our trailer as it stays put in a park for good, and it still is an RV.

  10. Ruth says:

    Love the RANT! I have camped with trailers, fifth wheel, coach, tent, tent trailer and my old 1972 VW camper van. My favorite is the tent. It is just a mater of preference. I have kids and there is something about roughing it in a tent that appeals to us. We even have special mats for the bottom of our tent to insulate in cold weather. I started in a tent and I will probably finish in a tent. Who knows taste change. But, as you pointed out the beauty of camping is the people. The woman you met probably has her big ole’ rig out back of her house on a pad with covers on the tires that never come off.

  11. Laine says:

    Thanks for being a true camper, and sticking up for all of us! We have gone from tents to camping trailers to a 32′ motor home, to a pick up camper, to a 36 ft MONACO, to a Class B+ (or small C) and now have a Roadtrek Class B (camper van). We have bought each of these RV’s for the time or place we were in our lives, and have loved every one. There is no perfect RV, and they all have their pluses and minuses. I believe the 40′ Monaco that you heard about has the biggest minus of all………….a snooty owner that can’t travel much off of the freeways in our country. :) Hopefully, and probably, we will miss her presence wherever we go these days.

  12. Hoby says:

    Randy, I’ve had the opposite experience that stems from the same “uppitiness” (what is the actual word to use here?). We own a motorhome (class A, diesel pusher) and are full-time. My wife has a habit of calling all RVs (including ours) a “trailer” (when she was young, she lived in a trailer house, and this seems to be a carryover from those days she remembers so fondly). Most of the time this is not a problem (as you mentioned, we are all part of the same family when on the road and camping). However, if you remember my post a while back, we decided to enjoy a little luxury and stay in a “motorcoach” Resort. Anyway, we had many people with expressions of horror when my wife asked them about their “trailer” or mentioned that our “trailer” was parked on site xxx. I’m positive that a number of them raced to our site after we spoke to them just to make sure that the management had not “accidentally” let a lowly trailer sneak in ;)

  13. I totally agree with you. It isn’t about the RVs a family has, it’s about the purpose you have when you go camping. It shouldn’t look as if you’re in a competition when you go camping or showing off your 40 foot long Monaco Windsor to everyone in a campground. It was better that you told her your side, at least, she’ll have something to contemplate on.

  14. Barb Barclay says:

    I would like to find a website or way to contact like-minded singles who are into the camping scene.
    My husband and I were great campers and just loved going to the lake, the beach, all sorts of places.
    Unfortunately, he passed away.
    I would love to continue the lifestyle of camping that we enjoyed together, but am slightly intimidated about heading out alone. I am 63 years old.
    So, I would love to touch base with other singles (men and women) who enjoy this kind of lifestyle.


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