A Beginner’s Guide to RV Lingo

A cute little sign with an RV on it

No longer the exclusive domain of retirees, there is now a vibrant mixed-age community of RVers who work remotely and build online businesses as they travel. While the majority of full-time RVers are American, Canadians are increasingly interested in adopting the RV lifestyle.  

As happens with any niche community, these folks have developed their own vocabulary to describe their experiences and communicate with one another. Of course, language and lingo are ever-evolving to meet the changing needs of its users, but this list should offer a window into the psyche of the RVers who make the road their permanent home. Whether you're a beginner to the world of RVing, or considering making more of a go of it, being familiar with these terms will make you sound like an old pro.

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RV Lingo and Slang 

1-in, 1-out: When you bring something new into your RV, something else has to go! This is a great tip for managing clutter!

2-2-2 Rule: This rule of thumb suggests you travel no more than 200 miles per day, arrive by 2 pm (so you have plenty of time to find a spot and set up), and stay at least two nights (so you have at least one full day to enjoy the location).

2 Uses Rule: Whenever possible, items in your RV should have at least two functions. Single function items may take up more space than they're worth.

6-4-2 Rule: RVs are small. Thus, a full house means six people for drinks, four for dinner, and two for overnight. This includes you and your partner, but not your kids or fur babies!

Boondocking/Dry Camping: Camping without electric or water hookups, whether urban or remote. This type of camping requires a rig that is appropriately equipped, typically with solar or generator for electricity and adequately sized tanks for water management.

Campendium: Launched by full-time RVers, Campendium is hands-down the best resource for finding all sorts of transient camping locations across North America, from national parks to free wild camping. Users can create profiles and upload reviews and photos to share with the community.

Caravanning: Travelling and camping with other RVers, where everyone has their own rig. FTRVers are highly independent and caravanning is often very fluid, with people coming and going freely on their own schedule, with little planning.

Full-time RVer/Full-timer/FTRVer: A person who lives and travels full-time in their RV with no home base to return to. Full-timers have gone through the difficult process of downsizing their belongings and giving up their fixed-location homes.

Full-time Family: Full-time RVers travelling with one or more dependent children. These folks form their own community for support and social interaction with other nomadic full-time RVer families.

Going Dark: Full-timers are often overwhelmed by the endless opportunities for social interaction. When it's time to buckle down and get some work done, some stop posting their location on social media for a stretch and "go dark" for a while (often announcing this will be happening first).

Moochdocking/Driveway Surfing: Parking in a friend or family member's driveway, or on their private property, often with electric/water hookups supplied from the house. Check the municipal rules before doing this, as some towns may limit the number of days they allow an RV to be parked in a driveway.

Part-time RVer/Part-timer/PTRVer: A person who travels extensively in their RV, but retains a home base. Part-timers usually travel for months at a time and may have downsized to a smaller fixed-location home, with lower overhead and less responsibilities specific to a particular location.

RV Nomad: A person who has made a deliberate lifestyle choice to continuously travel to new destinations by RV. The nomadic RVer is motivated to explore and has a different mindset from those who choose to stay at seasonal RV resorts for extended periods of time.

Serendipity: The tendency for things to work out well, or even better than could have been planned. RV life is a grand adventure, but is also filled with challenges and unknowns. Opportunities for serendipity abound: new connections, surprising events, and amazing locations tend to find those who embark on this lifestyle!

Stealth Camping: Sleeping in your RV overnight, while appearing to be a parked, vacant vehicle. Many urban areas allow RVs to park on public streets overnight but prohibit sleeping in them. Stealth campers will keep lights and sound to a minimum to avoid attracting attention overnight. Other communities do not allow RVs to park overnight on public roadways at all. Van-type RVs can often get around this limitation since they appear to be a regular vehicle.

Sticks and bricks: A regular, fixed location home, not on wheels, whether owned or rented.

Technomads: Working age RVers who use the internet to earn income while travelling full-time. For example, veteran RVers Cherie and Chris of Technomadia earn their living helping other full-time RVers stay connected remotely through their RV Mobile Internet Resource Center website.

Traveller Burnout/Travel Fatigue: A loss of motivation to continue travelling, typically caused by following a fast-paced travel schedule for an extended time. This is a common problem for newbie full-timers, who tend to launch in vacation mode and try to do too much in the first year! Experienced full-timers know to pace themselves and recognize that it is good to save something for later.

Tribe: The affectionate term used by many working age full-time RV nomads to describe their community of fellow full-timers.

Wallydocking: Parking overnight in a Walmart™ parking lot. Walmart founder Sam Walton was an RVer and made it corporate policy to welcome RVers to stay overnight free in Walmart lots. RVers may choose Wallydocking on a big travel day, when staying in an urban area, or when they need to stock up on supplies and don't have time to get to an RV park before dark.

Weekend Warrior: People who live in "sticks and bricks" homes working 9 to 5 jobs, but get out and explore in their RVs on weekends.

Whether you are full-time, part-time, or a weekend warrior, why not plan your next RV adventure in Ontario? While you're at it, try to work some of these terms into your next conversation! You never know what amazing experiences serendipity has in store for you and your tribe!

Margot Bai travels North America in her RV. Based in the Greater Toronto Area, she has camped in all seasons and has RV'd across Canada to Vancouver, BC, to Key West Florida, and Mexico. Margot is a published author.
 

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