What Does RV Actually Stand For?

People throw around the name RV, but how many different vehicles actually fall under the umbrella of this acronym? Are motorhomes, campers, trailers, and RVs the same thing? What does RV actually stand for anyway?

A white RV in the Australian countryside
An RV on the open road | Tim Graham via Getty Images

With the pandemic still altering our old way of life and travel, more families are hitting the highway in RVs that they rent or buy. It’s an alluring proposition. There is something about the independence of knowing you can live easy in the vehicle you are driving. Knowing you won’t have to pay for hotels, knowing the fridge that fits neatly into your floor plan is stocked. There’s an almost idyllic image of the happy family on the road, radio on, the wind blowing through open windows carrying the scent of fresh mountain air, filling your vehicle with its crisp odor of freedom.

What RV means

The name RV stands for Recreational Vehicle. This title encompasses motorized vehicles––like motorhomes or campers–– as well as trailers that are outfitted with living amenities. These vehicles are purpose-built for travel and camping


Camping, travel, and van life all fall into the category of activities that may benefit from owning or renting an RV. Whether you want to live in your rig long term or take it out for the weekend a few times a year, a trailer, camper, or just any RV, in general, might be the perfect fit. Different households have different reasons for their interest in RVs.

Is is smart to buy an RV?

To answer this question, you have to take a many variables into account. There are so many different types of households out there. Each potential RV buyer has their own budget, their own priorities, and their own reasons for thinking about buying an RV or camper.

A white Ford F-350 super duty pickup truck towing a camper
Ford F-350 Towing a Camper | Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For some families, buying a $300,000 motorhome isn’t a big deal. On the other end of the spectrum, there are families that would rather just spend a few grand on something small and basic. It really depends on what you want out of your RV purchase. Deciding whether to spend the money on a camper, trailer, or motorhome will all come down to the individual buyer.

What about renting a camper, trailer, or motorhome?

If you are considering an RV purchase, renting is a great way to try some models out for a quick trip to get a feel for what amenities you can live without and which ones are a must-have. It can also give you a better idea of what kind of rig you will be able to afford. Renting an RV these days is pretty simple. There are organizations out there like Outdoorsy that help RV owners connect with potential renters. They even have precautions put into place for no contact and extra cleaning in the context of the pandemic.

1990 Land Rover Defender 130 dream RV camper-truck conversion parked in a field
1990 Land Rover Defender 130 Camper | Osprey Custom Cars

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Renting an RV is also a great way to take an RV vacation without actually having to buy and insure an entire rig. For some households, renting might actually be the smarter travel choice over pulling the plug on buying one. That said, if you really want to buy one but you know that you may not have loads of time to take it out and use it, it’s nice to know the option is there to rent out your RV and make a few extra bucks each time someone books it for a trip. And now you know what RV stands for so get ready for some recreation.