A recreational vehicle, often abbreviated as RV, is a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters designed for accommodation. Types of RVs include motorhomes, campervans, coaches, caravans (also known as travel trailers and camper trailers), fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.
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. 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.
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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. 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. The first fifth wheel trailer was built in 1917.
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.
In the U.S., about 85 percent of recreational vehicles sold are manufactured in Indiana, 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.
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. 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. 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.
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".
Living in an RV has become increasingly popular. In fact, one million Americans live in an RV. 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.
Moisture and condensation
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. 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.
- Alternative housing
- List of recreational vehicle manufacturers
- List of recreational vehicles
- Recreational vehicle terms
- Rest area
- RV park
- Tiny house movement
- Vardo (Romani wagon)
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