Motorhome rental glossary

Motorhome rental glossary

The great motorhome glossary for renters

As with any group united by a hobby or lifestyle, motorhome owners sometimes appear to be speaking a language similar to- but quite separate from- English. Grey water and black water are easy concepts to grasp once you have a few road trips under your belt, but how is a humble renter supposed to know about things like axle weight, boondocking and payload? Motorhome Republic has put together a glossary of terms for renters which will have you fitting right in with the most seasoned grey nomads (grey nomads- retired baby boomers who roam the countryside in motorhomes). Get studying!


General terms

Axle Weight/Axle Load: The weight carried by a single axle. Can be useful to know for the few roadways/bridges with an axle weight restriction.

Black Water: Sewage wastewater from the toilet, held in a black water holding tank.

Campervan: An alternative term for motorhome, commonly used in the southern hemisphere for a wide range of vehicles. Elsewhere, it is most often used to refer to a Class B motorhome.

Camper: see campervan above.

Camping Car: Pronounced more like “komping ka,” the French word for motorhome.

Class A Motorhome: A big motorhome built on something like a commercial truck or bus chassis. The most luxurious of homes on wheels. 

Class B Motorhome: These look much like converted vans, and are the smallest category of motorhome. Most have limited bathroom and kitchen facilities- but they are easy to drive and park! 

Class C Motorhome: Whoever designed the motorhome rating system is not too familiar with alphabetical order. Class Cs are generally smaller than a Class A but bigger than a Class B, built on a truck or cutaway van chassis. Recognizable by their over-cab sleeping area, they are common the world over.

Curb Weight/Wet Weight: Actual weight of the vehicle with full water and fuel tanks before taking on people and supplies.

Grey Water: Waste water from the sinks and shower, held in a grey water holding tank.

Hi-top: A vehicle with a raised roof for more living space.

Payload: Total extra weight you can carry after essentials like driver, water, and fuel have been accounted for.

RV: The North American term for motorhome- it stands for ‘Recreational Vehicle.”

Truck camper: This refers to a dismountable camping attachment which is carried on a pickup truck.

Winnebago: A brand of RVs, sometimes used as a general term for any RV.

Wohnmobil: German word for motorhome.

4WD Camper: A camper with 4 wheel drive capability, for going off-road. Most have quite basic facilities and some are rented as a 4WD vehicle plus a tent. Popular in South Africa and Iceland.


Parts of the motorhome

A Frame: A framework used to tow a car behind a motorhome. You are unlikely to need one for your rental.

Awning: An extendable canvas roof attached to the side of the vehicle to provide a bit of outdoor living.

Artic Pack: A winter-proofing system which keeps tanks heated and stops them from freezing.

Bike Rack: This one seems self-explanatory. Some rental companies offer bikes and racks for hire with the vehicle.

Captain’s Chairs: The driver’s and passenger’s seat at the front- these may swivel to face the living area.

Cassette Toilet: A toilet with a removable tank which you must empty regularly. These are common on smaller motorhomes.

Converter/Charger: Converts 240 volts AC to 12 volts DC for running low wattage items onboard- i.e strip lights, water pumps. Usually will also charge the 12 volt leisure battery.

Cruise Control: A driving capability which allows you to maintain a constant speed. Does not mean you can leave the wheel to make a cup of tea.

Curb Side/Street Side: The side of the vehicle closer to the curb.

Dinette: Fixed seating around a table- this can often be converted into a double bed.

Double Floor: Under the floor you walk on is a gap, then the main floor. Tanks, pipes etc are found between them.

Galley: The kitchen.

Habitation Area: The living space.

Hula Skirt: Sometimes placed on the back bumper to prevent debris flung up by the wheels from hitting other vehicles.

Inverter: Allows you to run your 240-volt AC “household” items from the 12-volt DC battery.

Leisure Battery/House Battery: Deep-cycle 12-volt DC battery, separate from the chassis battery, which allows camping for longer periods without a hook-up.

Overcab: The area above the driver’s cab, often used as a bed.

Stinky Slinky: Slang for the sewer hose.

Water Pressure Regulator: limits the water pressure to an acceptable level when hooked up to city water supply.


Rental and insurance terms

Airport Transfer: Shuttles or cars to bring you from the airport to an off-airport depot and vice versa. Many companies offer these free of charge, some do not.

All Inclusive/Comprehensive Insurance: Covers all bonds, excesses, and any damage. The individual terms and conditions of each supplier apply.

Bedding Pack: A set of linen and towels for each bed- these are typically charged per person.

Calendar Days: This means that the day of pick up and drop off are included in the number of days charged.

Camping Set: Outdoor furniture which you can add on to your rental for a fee

CDW (Collision Damage Waiver): Optional damage coverage. Other optional coverages may include windscreen/glass, tyres and undercarriage.

DriveEasy: Independent excess cover which will reimburse any excess paid on an insurance claim.

Excess: The part of an insurance claim you must pay out of pocket. Can be eliminated with DriveEasy or all inclusive insurance.

FSH: Full Service History

Fuel Consumption: The rate at which a motorhome guzzles gas- important when deciding on a vehicle to hire.

Handover: The orientation given when you pick up a motorhome rental, during which renters learn how to operate the motorhome.

HT License: A special license for large vehicles which may be required to rent certain motorhomes and big RVs.

One-way Rental: Picking up a motorhome in one city and dropping it off in another. Not always an option, may incur a fee.

Mileage: The distance included in your rental, may be given as an average per day. Sometimes (commonly in North America) you will have to purchase mileage packages. 

Security Bond: An amount paid at the beginning of the rental and returned at the end providing there are no outstanding costs.

Snow Chains: An optional extra for many rentals, these make driving in snowy conditions much safer.

Tracker: Fitted to motorhomes to prevent theft

Unlimited Mileage: No restriction on the distance you can drive your rental.


Camping terms and facilities

Aires de Service: motorhome service points and free camping sites found all over France.

Boondocking: An American term for free camping.

Camping and Caravanning Club: A club for caravanners which operates hundreds of camping sites across the UK.

Campeggio: Italian word for a campsite.

Camping: French word for a campsite. Similar to Spanish “Cámping.”

Campingplatz: German word for a campsite

Campsite: A general term for a place to park for the night. Ranging from free and inexpensive basic sites in National Parks to privately owned holiday resorts. See also: Holiday Park, RV Park, Caravan Park, Camping, Campingplatz, Campeggio.

Caravan Park: Most often used in Australia and the UK to describe a well-equipped camping site set up for motorhomes. May also be called a Holiday Park, Family Park or Holiday Resort. Facilities vary but always include a bathroom. See also: Holiday Park, RV Park.

Dry Camping: Camping with no water or sewer hookups.

Dump Station/CDP (Chemical Disposal Point): Where you can empty grey and black water tanks. These can be found throughout most developed countries.

FMCA: Family Motor Coach Association, North America based but an international organisation. Motorhome enthusiasts.

Full-timer: Someone who lives in their motorhome. You’ll undoubtedly meet a few.

Full Hook Ups: A campsite offering water, sewer and electrical connections. Can be called a Full Service Pitch in the UK.

Holiday Park: Term used internationally but especially in New Zealand for a privately-owned camping park. Usually has a communal kitchen, bathrooms, play equipment, laundry, sometimes a pool, and cabin options as well as sites for tents and motorhomes. See also: Caravan Park, RV Park.

Hook Up- sewer, water, electrical: Connections with which you can empty your grey and black water tanks (sewer), fill up your water tanks (water), and charge your batteries/run appliances (electrical). 

Pull Through: A site in an RV Park with an entrance and exit so you can drive through with no reversing required.

RV Park: North American term for a campsite for motorhomes. These have a range of facilities which may include hookups, barbecues, dump stations, laundries, restrooms, showers and more. See also: Caravan Park, Holiday Park.

Written By: Sarah Glover

I love travelling, and a motorhome is such a great way to get around and get up close and personal with a new country or city. My top motorhome memory is driving a small sleepervan through the highlands of Scotland- a stunning nation and one of my favourite spots on earth! I hope to help you plan your next road trip with handy tips and information. Happy motoring!