Recreational vehicle

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A recreational vehicle Dodge-based recreational vehicle in Munich.JPG
A recreational vehicle

A recreational vehicle, often abbreviated as RV, is a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters designed for accommodation. [1] Types of RVs include motorhomes, campervans, caravans (also known as travel trailers and camper trailers), fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.



Map symbol used by the US NPS to indicate an RV campground NPS map symbol rv campground.png
Map symbol used by the US NPS to indicate an RV campground

Typical amenities of an RV include a kitchen, a bathroom, and one or more sleeping facilities. RVs can range from utilitarian – containing only sleeping quarters and basic cooking facilities – to luxurious, with features like air conditioning (AC), water heaters, televisions and satellite receivers, and quartz countertops, for example.

RVs can either be trailers (which are towed behind motor vehicles) or self-motorized.[ citation needed ] Most RVs are single-deck; however, double-deck RVs also exist. To allow a more compact size while in transit, larger RVs often have expandable sides (called slide-outs) or canopies.


An early type of caravan is the horse-drawn covered wagon, which from circa 1745 played a significant part in opening up of the interior of the North American continent to white settlement.

The first motor home was built in 1915. It was built from a three-ton Packard truck, could sleep 11 people, and was 28 feet long. [2] By the 1920s the RV was well established in the United States, with RV camping clubs established across the country, despite the unpaved roads and limited camping facilities. [3] The first fifth wheel trailer was built in 1917. [2]

Several companies began manufacturing house trailers (called trailer coaches at the time). Airstream is one such company. In the 1950s, RVs expanded and became more luxurious. Two-story models were created with separate bedrooms. [2]


In U.S., about 85 percent of recreational vehicles sold are manufactured in Indiana, [4] and roughly two-thirds of that production in Elkhart County, which calls itself "the RV Capital of the World", population 206,000. The industry has US$32.4 billion annual economic impact in Indiana, pays US$3.1 billion in taxes to the state and supports 126,140 jobs and US$7.8 billion in wages, according to the RV Industry Association. [5]

The recreational vehicle industry around Elkhart is part of a large network of related transport equipment companies, including utility trailer makers and specialty bus manufacturers, who source from the same supply chains. [4] The industry has taken hits from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and other duties on RV parts made in China, from plumbing fixtures to electronic components to vinyl seat covers. Tariff-related price hikes forced manufacturers to pass on some of the increased costs through higher RV prices, which in turn has contributed to slower sales. [4] Shipments of RVs to dealers fell 22% percent in the first five months of 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier, after dropping 4% in 2018. [4]


Class-C motorhome Class-C.jpg
Class-C motorhome
Class-A motorhomes 2008-09-02 Two RVs for sale by owner (cropped).jpg
Class-A motorhomes

RVs are most commonly used for living quarters while traveling. People may choose to take a road trip in their RV and use the RV to sleep in, rather than a hotel room. They may even decide to tow their car from the back of the RV so they can use that to travel around easier when they reach their destination.

Although the most common usage of RVs is as temporary accommodation when traveling, some people use a RV as their main residence. In the United States and Canada, traveling south each winter to a warmer climate is referred to as snowbirding. In Australia, the slang term for a retired person who travels in a recreational vehicle is a "grey nomad". [7]

Living in an RV has become increasingly popular. In fact, one million Americans live in an RV. [8] While it is legal in all of the United States to live in an RV, there are laws around where you can park your RV and how long it can be parked for in certain areas.[ citation needed ]

Some owners fit solar panels to the roof of their RV. [9]

Usage of RVs is common at rural festivals such as Burning Man. [10]

Moisture and condensation

Moisture is a common problem in RVs. Moisture can result from breathing by the inhabitants as well as water vapor from cooking or drying of clothes. Rain water entering the RV can also be a cause.

High humidity can result in a poor indoor climate. In addition, moisture will often condense on windows since they are usually the coldest surfaces inside the vehicle. The condensation may then drip down into the wall in case the window frame is not sufficiently waterproof, potentially causing a growth of mold.

Aeration, ventilation, and heating are used to combat moisture. Cooking and drying clothes outdoors may also help. Dehumidifiers can be used to lower the humidity, but will not remove the underlying cause and as such can be viewed as a temporary solution. Extra thermal insulation is seldom a practical solution in RVs since there usually isn't enough space to make the insulation thick enough to prevent condensation and associated mold growth.


As of 2016, the average age of RV owners in the United States was 45, a three-year decrease since 2015. [11] Per 2020 research reports, more millennials are interested in buying RVs due to their increased demand for camping and outdoor recreational activities, especially in the US. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Campsite Place used for overnight stay in the outdoors

A campsite or camping pitch is a place used for overnight stay in an outdoor area. In UK English, a campsite is an area, usually divided into a number of pitches, where people can camp overnight using tents, camper vans or caravans; this UK English use of the word is synonymous with the US English expression campground. In American English, the term campsite generally means an area where an individual, family, group, or military unit can pitch a tent or park a camper; a campground may contain many campsites.

Caravan (towed trailer) type of vehicle

A caravan, travel trailer, camper, tourer or camper trailer is towed behind a road vehicle to provide a place to sleep which is more comfortable and protected than a tent. It provides the means for people to have their own home on a journey or a vacation, without relying on a motel or hotel, and enables them to stay in places where none is available. However, in some countries campers are restricted to designated sites for which fees are payable.

Forest River (company) American manufacturer of recreational vehicles and trailers

Forest River Inc. is an American manufacturer of recreational vehicles, cargo trailers, utility trailers, pontoon boats, and buses.

Campervan Type of vehicle

A campervan, sometimes referred to as a camper, caravanette, or motor caravan, is a self-propelled vehicle that provides both transport and sleeping accommodation. The term mainly describes vans that have been fitted out, often with a coachbuilt body for use as accommodation.

Motorhome type of vehicle

A motorhome is a type of self-propelled recreational vehicle (RV) which offers mobile living accommodation.

Thor Industries

Thor Industries, Inc. is an American manufacturer of recreational vehicles (RVs). The company sells towable and motorized RVs through its subsidiaries brands including Airstream, Heartland RV, Jayco, Livin Lite RV, and others. The company's headquarters is in Elkhart, Indiana. It has manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, and Oregon.

Truck camper type of vehicle

In North America the term truck camper and its derived acronym TC, are generally used to refer to any recreational vehicle or RV that may be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. In North America, this RV type is sometimes known as a slide-in or cab-over.

Winnebago Industries, Inc., is an American manufacturer of motorhomes, a type of recreational vehicle (RV), in the United States. It is based in Forest City, Iowa. On June 4, 2018, the company expanded into motorboat manufacturing with the acquisition of Chris-Craft Corporation. Winnebago has also manufactured light-to-medium utility vehicles as well as other products. The company is named after Winnebago County, where it is located. The county is named after the Native American tribe who have historically lived in the area. During the 1970s and 1980s, Winnebago Industries depended on Native American history and traditions in naming their products, for example "Chieftain" and "Brave." They also used Native American iconography and patterns in their designs and period advertisements.

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization of families who own and enjoy the use of recreational vehicles. Since 1963, FMCA has issued more than 500,000 memberships to families who look to the association as their source of information about all facets of RV ownership and travel. FMCA is a member-owned association that maintains its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, and employs a full-time office staff. FMCA is governed by volunteer officers who are elected from within the ranks of the association.

Fleetwood RV, Inc. is a producer of recreational vehicles (RVs). Founded in 1950, Fleetwood RV is part of the REV Group. Rev's recreation division includes Fleetwood RV, American Coach, Monaco, Holiday Rambler, Renegade RV, Midwest Automotive Designs, and Lance Campers.


Fulltiming is a term used among motorhome individuals and families who live "full-time" in their motorhome or RV. Such mobile individuals are often called fulltimers. Fulltiming is a worldwide activity, and there are many bloggers who record their day-to-day life on the road. The term has been discussed in publications since around 1993.

Jayco, Inc

Jayco, Inc., a subsidiary of Thor Industries, is an American manufacturer of recreation vehicles. The company manufactures fold-down camping trailers, conventional travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, and motorhomes. Jayco is based in Middlebury, Indiana, and about three-quarters of its 3,200-person workforce is from the Amish and Mennonite communities of Indiana.

Holiday Rambler

Holiday Rambler Corporation is an American corporation which primarily manufactures recreational vehicles. It was founded in 1953. In 1961, Holiday Rambler’s introduction of aluminum body framing ushered in a new era of lighter, stronger and more durable recreational vehicles (RVs). This aluminum frame (Alumaframe) became the standard for lighter and stronger RVs for 40 years. Holiday Rambler was also responsible for many firsts; built-in refrigerators, holding tanks and aerodynamic radiused corners. As Holiday Rambler moved into motorhomes, they were the first with tag axles and the kitchen slide-out revolutionized "interior engineering" in the field. Holiday Rambler was sold to Harley-Davidson in 1986 and later in 1996 to the Monaco Coach Corporation where its future, then under Navistar International Corp., was difficult in 2010 as it was for most motorhome manufacturers.

Popup camper type of vehicle

A pop-up camper is a type of towed recreational vehicle that can be collapsed for easy storage and transport. When set up, this type of trailer provides a large amount of interior space when compared to its size when collapsed. Its relatively affordable price makes it a popular choice for some RVers and its small size contributes to easier towing than many other types of RVs.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland RVs is an American manufacturer of recreational vehicles located in Elkhart, Indiana. Founded by former Damon Corp. CEO Brian Brady in 2003, it was purchased and became a subsidiary of Thor Industries in 2010.

REV Group

REV Group is an American manufacturer of specialty vehicles, including buses, fire trucks, ambulances, and recreational vehicles.

RV/MH Hall of Fame

The RV/MH Hall of Fame is a 100,000 sq. ft. museum in Elkhart, Indiana that features a variety of historical recreational vehicles from Airstream, Winnebago and other American makers. The foundation states that their primary goals are to "To create a display of historic RV/MH products in a museum for the education and enjoyment of the public."

Livin Lite RV American manufacturer of recreation vehicles

Livin Lite RV was an American manufacturer of recreation vehicles sold under the CampLite and QuickSilver brands. It was based in Shipshewana, Indiana. The company was most recently managed by KZ Inc., a subsidiary of Thor Industries. Livin Lite made truck campers, fold-down tent camping trailers, travel trailers, and toy haulers. They were known for their advanced lightweight aluminum construction techniques.

The term recreational vehicle (RV) is often used as a broad category of motor vehicles and trailers which include living quarters for designed temporary accommodation. Types of RVs include motorhomes, campervans, caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, truck campers and Park Model RVs.


  1. "Recreational Vehicle". Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 Leah (13 May 2015). "A Complete RV History". Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  3. "The brief history of RVs in America and the world". WM-AW based upon RV/MH Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Aeppel, Timothy (18 July 2019). "Trump's tariffs trip up the all-American RV industry". Reuters. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  5. Burris, Alexandria (19 August 2019). "Recession fears are rising. Here's the status of economic bellwether Elkhart, Indiana". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  6. 1 2 Cattanach, Jamie (12 April 2021) [25 August 2017]. "RV Classes: RV Motorhome Classes Explained". RVshare. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  7. "grey nomad". Collins English Dictionary (Complete and Unabridged 12th ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. 2014 via The Free Dictionary.
  8. "1 million Americans live in RVs. Meet the 'modern nomads.'". The Washington Post. 5 March 2021.
  9. Wittbrodt, Ben; Laureto, John; Tymrak, Brennan; Pearce, Joshua M. (2015), "Distributed manufacturing with 3-D printing: A case study of recreational vehicle solar photovoltaic mounting systems", Journal of Frugal Innovation, 1 (1), doi: 10.1186/s40669-014-0001-z
  10. "RV Guidelines" . Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  11. Schultz, E.J. (19 March 2018). "Young Wanderlust Gives New Life to RV Market". Advertising Age . Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  12. Intelligence, Arizton Advisory &. "Recreational Vehicle Market Size to Cross $42 billion by 2020 | Arizton". Arizton Advisory & Intelligence. Retrieved 29 October 2020.

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