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8 Different Types of RVs

Different types of RVs in a row close to mountains.

When we grew up, our family never went camping regularly, because we were lucky enough to have access to holiday homes.

I used to look at RVs and travel trailers pass us as we drove and wondered, fleetingly, what it was actually like to take home with you on vacation.  

If you are looking for a lot of variety and different options, I think that an RV might just give you that.

Types of RVs

RVs come in different shapes and sizes, which can basically be divided into two categories. There are those that are self-propelled and those that are towed.

1. Self-propelled RVs

a. Class A Motorhome

Side view of large Class A Motorhome RV on camp site.

The Class A Motorhome is the top-of-the-range RV and may be the dream camper for many. Think about them as the mansions of the RV world.

Class A motorhomes are built on a specially designed vehicle chassis that are very similar to those of buses or travel coaches. In fact, these RVs are mostly as large as buses.

There are two types of Class A motorhome: gas-fuelled and diesel-fuelled. The latter is called a ‘pusher’ because the engine is at the back of the vehicle. It is a powerful engine and means that the RV will travel smoothly up and down inclines.

These relatively luxurious RVs are really what you can think about as being a ‘house on the move’. They come with a lot of features, including actual bedrooms, full bathroom/s, a well-equipped kitchen, and comfortable living rooms. Some models even include a washer and dryer.

People who opt for Class A RVs are often involved in the design of the interior of the vehicle, so they are mostly bespoke. What is characteristic of all the models is that they contain a lot of storage.

Because of their size, they are not very maneuverable, especially in a town. If you drive this type of RV, you will need to find large campsites, especially those with a drive-through option.

b. Class B Campervan

Side view of white Class B Campervan on mountain hill road.

For those who want a self-contained, self-driven RV, but are operating on a slightly lower budget, opt for a Class B Campervan. Understandably, these are fast becoming the popular option for RVs.

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Class B campervans are significantly smaller than Class A Motorhomes, but they also contain all the basic spaces and amenities you need in a home. These are, of course, smaller and more compactly arranged.

The interiors are well-designed but are not always bespoke. Some vans will use multi-functional features so that the space is maximized.

One big advantage of a Class B Campervan is that it drives almost like a standard car, so can be driven by just about anyone. It is also easy to maneuver and can be driven as easily on the open road as in town.

You won’t need to look specifically for large campsites, and you should be able to use any RV site, not only those with a drive-through option.

The van is equipped with a tow hitch at the back, so it can pull a trailer. A disadvantage of an all-in-one camper van is that you cannot set up camp and then go out on adventures. You have to take everything with you. Unless, of course, you pull a run-around car on the trailer.

c. Class C Campervan

Side view of white and blue Class C Campervan on camp site with shade sun rays.

A Class C campervan is something between the Class A Motorhome and Class B Campervan. Like the Class A, they are built on a truck chassis, although they are smaller.

They are bigger than Class B but have a section that stretches over the cab, which means the interior has a split level. The upper level is most often used as a bedroom.

This class of RV is maneuverable and can be driven as easily on the open road as in town. The interior is compactly arranged and features al the amenities of a home, with the option of having two sleeping areas. Various floor plans are available.

In a Class C campervan, you will find a lot of storage and carefully designed features, so that it becomes a place for compact, complete living.

2. Towed RVs

a. Travel Trailer

Side view of Travel Trailer pulled by an SUV on road.

The travel trailer is by far the most popular of all RVs, with something like over 250,000 being sold in one year. There are a number of different models and versions of travel trailers, so it is likely that just about anyone will find one to suit their needs.

The different models are different sizes, ranging from the very basic to what is really a house on wheels. The sides of most extend to open up the living space.

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The features and compact arrangement of the inside of the van make them feel like a home-from-home. They are on one level, so there is no trouble navigating around them.

As suggested by the name, a travel trailer is towed by a bumper hitch. Depending on the size and weight, you should be able to use your family car. The trailers are quite easy to detach.

A great feature of this type of RV is that you can set up home and take the car when you need to get around, without disrupting any of your arrangements.

b. Pop-up camper

Back view of Pop-up camper on camp site.

When you look at a pop-up camper, you should think about it being like a compact travel trailer and a tent that came together. The two RVs are very alike, but the pop-up camper has canvas sections that literally pop up and extend the living or sleeping space.

The hard floor of the extension means that you won’t have to sleep on the ground. These RVs are towed with a bumper hitch. They are lightweight, affordable and a good option for a family.

c. Fifth wheel RV

Side view of Fifth wheel RV standby in an asphalt area.

A fifth-wheel RV is closely related to the travel trailer, but is bigger and offers more options. It is also the second most popular RV, with something like 80,000 sold in a year.

Like the travel trailer, the 5th wheel RV is towable, but the mechanism is very different. The towing mechanism sits over the back of a truck, which means that you need to have the correct vehicle for this RV.

However, using this method of towing is much safer, as the weight of the tow is taken by the truck. It also makes it easier to maneuver the RV.

The part of the RV that overhangs the truck provides a split-level and is often used as a sleeping space. This allows for some privacy in the RV.

Inside, the RV contains everything you need for an extended stay, including sleeping space, living space and a kitchen. There is also a lot of built-in storage space.

One of the great things about a 5th wheel RV is that you can arrive at the camp, set up home and then have the truck as a run-around vehicle.

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d. Teardrop Trailer

Side view of Teardrop Trailer pulled by classic Volkswagen van on road.

The teardrop trailer is possibly the smallest RV you will find on the market and is perfect for short trips with a few overnight stops, for a few people. It is towed by a bumper hitch and is very light. This means you can tow it with most cars.

When a camping site or a national park has small individual sites, then a teardrop trailer is a great choice. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and can be maneuvered easily.

The smallest versions of these trailers are basically bedrooms on wheels, but there are slightly larger versions with more features. Some models have a bathroom.

Because they are so small, everything in the trailer is compact and is designed to be multi-functional. Often, swivel toilets are used, as are folding sinks.

e. Toy Hauler

Side view of white Toy Hauler standby beside the road.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and love going to relatively remote places to enjoy camping and having fun, then the perfect RV for you is a toy hauler. These trailers are often called ‘sports utility trailers’.

The living space of a toy hauler is compact, and the whole trailer is relatively lightweight. They are towed by a bumper tow, which means that the space in the trailer is maximized.

What is special about a toy hauler trailer is the large cargo area at the back. This is specifically designed to accommodate recreation equipment, like off-road bikes, kayaks, or snowmobiles.

The cargo doors are usually heavyweight and can double as a ramp to drive the ‘toys’ into the trailer. With camping being a very popular vacation option, you will find that most models of RV are becoming something of a toy hauler, with a built-in cargo area at the back.

FAQs

What exactly is an RV?

An RV, or Recreation Vehicle, is a vehicle that is designed to include beds, bathroom facilities, and a kitchen so that it can be used as a home that can be moved from place to place. RVs are popular as vacation opportunities.

Why do people choose RVs?

RVs are popular because they offer the chance to take the facilities and amenities of a home with you. Generally, an RV can take you places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. They can also become a home-from-home.