What’s That Big Thing in Your Driveway?

February 26, 2011 by Barry & Monique Zander · 24 Comments  
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 By Monique & Barry Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

 What is an RV?  Easy question, since you either own one or are considering which type will best suit your RVing lifestyle.

But is it all that easy?  For instance, the Good Sam Club Buyers Guide lists the following types of RVs (and who would know better?):

Non-motorized versions include travel trailers, fifth wheels, folding camping trailers and SURVs, which is like an SUV.  Then there are the Motorized RVs, which the Buyers Guide breaks down into Class A Motorhomes, Class B Van Conversions, Class C Motorhomes, Truck Campers and Custom Coach/Bus.

But is that all … and are non-motorized vehicles RVs?  On the Wikipedia website, there is a good argument made for 4-Wheel-Drive vehicles being considered RVs.  There was the night when Monique and I were tent-camping in Joshua Tree National Park – the wind picked up dramatically and blew live embers from the campfire into our tent.  The temp dropped into the 30s, so we “camped” in our SUV.  Apparently SUVs are often used as RVs in Australia.

Then there is another entry in Wikipedia arguing that park models on wheels are RVs.  Well, maybe.

I bring this up to open a forum in the Comments Section below about what you consider an RV, but first, I’d like to share a few experiences.

Our home is in a 28-foot travel trailer*.  We parked in front of our son’s home in Huntington Beach last November, where we were cited for parking on the street on a street-sweeping day.  I got out of the ticket, but in the discussion with the city’s officer, he told me according to local law, a travel trailer is not a “Recreational Vehicle.”

I explained that we use it for recreation, spending most of our time in public campgrounds, and we bought it from an RV dealer.  That should make it an RV.  He said no, but the head of the traffic department told me the next day she would investigate further.

Recently on Coronado Island near San Diego, a diesel pusher owner asked me when I was going to buy an RV.  I took deep breaths before explaining the issue to him.

And in Wikipedia, there is the definition, “Recreational vehicle or RV is, in North America the usual term for a motor vehicle equipped with living space and amenities found in a home.”

My personal thoughts on the subject are that anything on wheels and used for recreation qualifies as a “Recreational Vehicle.”  As for the term “vehicle,” since states license travel trailers, fifth wheels and other towables under their Department of Motor Vehicles or a similar title, they are officially vehicles.

There are a few other directions that this blog could go, like discussing travel trailers used as construction-site offices.  Or, the historic question, “Were the pioneers who crossed the Great Plains in their Conestoga Wagons our RVer forefathers?”   And I don’t like thinking of the “recreation” that goes on in those million-dollar buses that transport rock stars on concert tours.

How many RVs in this photo?  Depends on who you ask.

How many RVs in this photo? Depends on who you ask.


*There was an asterisk when I mentioned our home is a travel trailer.  Last week we bought a cabin in the woods 5,700 feet above sea level, which will serve as a base while we continue our love for the RV life.  We’ll soon batten down the cabin’s windows and doors for almost a year while we enjoy many more wonders of North America.

We love our home on wheels, big enough to provide full-time RVing comfort; small enough to lodge us in size-restrictive parks.  Is your RV really a “recreational vehicle”?

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© Photo by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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24 Responses to “What’s That Big Thing in Your Driveway?”

  1. mort kissell on February 27th, 2011 5:25 pm

    My RV is a fully selfcontained houseboat. We camp on land and water.

  2. Jim G on February 27th, 2011 5:56 pm

    I’m confused

  3. Gary on February 27th, 2011 6:00 pm

    Boy, talk about English as a language, now you add “RV” An RV can just about be anything you want. If you sleep in it…. There you are. Recreational ,I think is the key to all this. If it doen’t move it’s a house! If it moves you have an RV. An RV in a permanent spot is no longer recreational. It’s a house!! Not too many houses on the road today, but the siz e of some of the RV’s are as big as a house. But they move. Perhaps to only another spot to sit for the winter as a house, but they can move. Quit nit-pinkin’ and leave us alone. Thanks, Gary…

  4. Ralphie Boyo on February 27th, 2011 6:02 pm

    The key word for me is “vehicle”. Perhaps that’s the reason the police had a problem with considering a trailer a recreational vehicle. As I understand it, a vehicle moves itself. I had a Volkswagen Westfalia bus and it was a rv to me, even though it rarely moved very fast. Now we have a 31 foot Coachmen Mirada and are livin’ the good life.

  5. muleman on February 27th, 2011 8:15 pm

    You may have bought it from an RV dealer but you bought a “Trailer” not an “RV”! You have a trailer with some form of living accomodation. Your “Vehicle” is the truck you pull it with! When your “Living accomodation” and “Vehicle” are self enclosed, you have an “RV”! You could “Hook” your trailer to the back of an RV if you want but don’t try hooking an RV to the back of your “UNIT”!

  6. Jean on February 27th, 2011 8:18 pm

    If the house moves around and has a license plate, it is an RV. Ours is a 27 foot 5th wheel. It’s an RV. We are always home, but the front yard keeps changing. Isn’t it great?

  7. Keith on February 27th, 2011 8:49 pm

    I work in law enforcement and in my state, a travel Trailer is considered a recreational vehicle. A vehicle is anything that has wheels and is licensed. If it has a motor, then it’s a motor vehicle.

  8. Stan on February 27th, 2011 8:57 pm

    You stated that…. “since states license travel trailers, fifth wheels and other towables under their Department of Motor Vehicles or a similar title, they are officially vehicles.” ….My utility trailer and car hauling trailer is licensed with the Department of Motor Vehicles and there NOT RV’s……

  9. Jim G on February 27th, 2011 9:32 pm

    Thanks to muleman, I think I now get it

  10. James Westray on February 27th, 2011 10:01 pm

    I lost access to our family RV a few years ago. Still, I camped in multiple Samborees in a Ford E250 cargo van. Carried along an apartment size refrig, inflatable bed, tv with dish system, camping table and stove. I had water and electric hookups and utilized the fairground showers. Monday mornings, it was back to work as usual.

  11. Jane on February 27th, 2011 11:25 pm

    Muleman has it absolutely correct! Read his explanation…he is totally correct…Sorry Barry and Monique…Your travel trailer is a trailer…not an RV…Also…you just bought a cabin in the woods! Congratulations…Looks like you are going to take the “slow” life after this year….don’t blame you…full timing is tough!! Please keep up your blogs tho…love them…

  12. Gary Richardson on February 28th, 2011 12:16 am

    Checked Craigslist lately? That’s were I found our RV–a 1984 Londonaire 27′ “mini” motor home (Class C). My other RV is an ‘87 VW Vanagon with a propane camp stove and the back seat down to make a very comfy queen-size bed.

    Under “RV” on Criaigslist you will find snowmobiles, ATVs, motorcycles as well as trailers and Class A, B & C motor homes.

    Logically and linguistically speaking, a “recreational vehicle” is a vehicle used for recreation. You don’t have to eat, sleep and live in it; you just have to have fun with it.

    A “vehicle” (from Latin “vehere”–to carry) is any conveyance; it doesn’t have to have wheels. Airplanes, hot-air balloons, snowmobiles, bicycles, cars of all sorts–all are vehicles and may be recreational vehicles if they’re enough fun!

  13. Tex on February 28th, 2011 12:30 am

    It’s kinda like Muleman says, but it depends on who your audience is. When you hook your trailer up to your truck, you have a RIG. When you run down the road next to a huge extended cab Kenworth towing a 53-foot trailer, he’s also driving a RIG. When the both of you pull into the Flying J for the night, you sleep in your trailer, he sleeps in his truck. Both of them are rigs, but are both of them RVs? You’re both doing the same thing, but would he be able to park in front of a house in Huntington Beach on street sweeping day?

    Now, when you’re driving down the road the next morning, in your pickup towing a trailer, and that trucker is behind you, he tells everyone on the CB that he’s behind some CAMPER. I had a trucker behind me call out on his CB that he was behind some CAMPER, and I drive a Class A. Next I heard him say the same thing again, and he was passing a Fifth wheel trailer.

    Imagine that motor vehicle laws and local ordinances are written by lawyers, some of whom may have never taken the time to learn the lingo, then some states or localities may think that all CAMPERS are RVs, some trailers are CAMPERS, some trailers are cargo haulers, but only some CAMPER RIGS may be truck/trailer combos, and the trailers hooked up to a truck in which you can sleep, cook and shower within may not be an RV at all because it’s hauling cargo. But some of those Heavy Duty Trucks have become RVs because they tow a triple-axle fifth wheel trailer. Remember that logic puzzle in school that talked about seeing a brown cow, therefore all cows are brown?

    So a couple weeks ago, I was at an RV Park….er Campground…no it was a Park, and was talking with a fellow just after we had both washed our RIGs…mine a Class A towing, and his a pickup towing a travel trailer, and we were watching another fellow wash his RIG, which was a Class C RIG towing, next to another guy who was fixing something on the roof of his Fifth wheel RIG. We were discussing our next route and whether we would Park/Camp/Park at Walmart on the way or would Camp/Park/Camp at a State Park Campground.

    So were we CAMPERS, RIGS, RVs, truck/trailers, motor homes towing, or what? Are we parking, camping, RVing? We were sooo confused that we just got out the box wine.

    Maybe we should just leave it and go with the local interpretations.

    Good Luck and Take Care,

  14. Jon on February 28th, 2011 6:28 am

    Boy you sure stirred up the pot on this one. Question if you buy a mobile home does that make it an RV? No way a house could ever be considered an RV. Let the debate continue!

  15. Nick Ryan on February 28th, 2011 6:51 am

    Furthering the confusion is If you click on “RVS” you’ll find dirt bikes, jet ski’s, snowmobiles, etc. In that genre of grouping you’d might as well consider roller blades as being RV’s.

  16. Manuel Enos on February 28th, 2011 8:50 am

    Well, I drive a 39 foot RMV (recreational motor vehicle) and my best friend has a 40 foot toy hauler fifth wheel(recreational towed trailer). Simply put, I believe that anything you drive, tow, float or fly could be considered an RV just change the name to match the situtation..ha ha ha ha

  17. movinout on February 28th, 2011 9:42 am

    Who cares? Just get out and enjoy the good life!

  18. Geoffrey Pruett on February 28th, 2011 10:38 am

    Our first RV was a 1965 3/4 ton Dodge with a full over the frame nonremovable unit on the back so the State of Oregon required plates for both the truck and for a trailer which did not have its own wheels. So much for logic! Also in college owned and drove daily a retired hearse, a Packard, and since it “did not exist” in the Oregon codes was licensed as a “Power Unit”, one of those noisy things usually found around road repair jobs creating electricity or compressed air. As for trailers the auto tow unit (all four off the ground) is titled but because of empty weight does not carry plates. And these fine pieces of logic were created by the people we hire to ensure our safety?

  19. Steve on March 2nd, 2011 11:29 am

    Is going outside to bang head on wall to see if I can sort this out

  20. Mark on March 2nd, 2011 3:08 pm

    If you can sleep in it, eat in it, and especially poop in it, it’s an RV. enjoy! please post some pics of your new cabin and more info. enjoy the posts.

  21. ATL Traveling Man on April 17th, 2011 3:14 am

    Had to go look up “diesel pusher”. Hmph…why can’t you just say Class A motor home. Who cares if your engine is in back, front, middle or on top, or what kind of fuel it burns? There are a lot of people who are new to RVing, camping, travelling, etc, etc, and do not have the slightest idea what you’re talking about. Stop being so fancy and speak english…..

  22. NeXus RV on August 8th, 2012 9:13 am

    Congratulations on the cabin! Nice!

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