From boondocking to Wallydocking and DW to TT, here’s a list of the most common RV terminology, jargon, and acronyms with easy-to-understand definitions…
“When I left my sticks & bricks to go to my favorite NP, I almost forgot my toad! My DW told me to turn the MH around, and that’s when I realized our stinky slinky was trailing behind us! I finally got the rig situated, and now we’re going boondocking with a bit of moochdocking the next few weeks.”
Did you understand that, or was it just a bunch of gibberish?
Don’t worry if it was all mumbo jumbo to you because it'll make perfect sense by the end of this short RV glossary.
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RV Terminology, Jargon & Acronyms for Newbie RVers
I know when I first started researching the RV lifestyle decades ago, it all sounded Greek to me.
Whenever I blankly stared at an experienced RVer, I felt like Jackie Chan in the movie Rush Hour, when Chris Tucker loudly asked, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?!”
If you can relate to me and Jackie Chan, then keep reading. The following RV slang, lingo, and abbreviations will help you understand the words that are coming out of experienced RVers’ mouths. Plus, you’ll sound like a veteran RVer, too!
By the way, I realized this article was needed when a newbie RVer posted in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group. Many members jumped in to offer translations, many of which you’ll see below. So, thank you again to all of our RV Lifestyle community members!
Blue Boy (Poop Tote, Turd Trailer)
This is like a personal-sized honey wagon. It's a small holding tank on wheels used for emptying black or gray water without moving your RV.
These were traditionally blue, but they're commonly gray nowadays, like this Camco Rhino Portable RV Tote Tank.
Boondocking (Dry Camping)
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Boondocking is camping off-grid. Your RV is self-contained, which means you don’t plug your RV into water, electricity, or other hook-ups.
Though boondocking is used as a broad term, it most accurately refers to camping out on land somewhere, where permitted (like federally owned land out West). It’s a style of camping where you are really away from people and out in nature.
Jennifer and I are big-time boondockers. So much so, that we even wrote a Complete Guide to Boondocking to help newbie RVers like yourself. It’s also great for long-time campground RVers who want to make the change to boondocking.
DW/DH (Dear Wife/Dear Husband)
Whenever someone is referring to DW or DH, they’re referring to their significant other. DW stands for Dear Wife and DH for Dear Husband. I think we should start using DD, too, for our Dear Dogs that travel with us, don’t you?
This may seem like odd acronyms to include on an RV terminology list, but you’d be surprised how often they come up. You’ll see them in RV forums, social media posts, and sometimes even mixed into spoken conversation.
Fiver (5er or 5th)
A fiver refers to a 5th wheel trailer, which is an RV trailer that hooks into the bed of a truck as opposed to the back hitch of a tow vehicle. They tend to be bigger than a standard travel trailer.
You may want to refer to 5th wheel vs. travel trailer for even more clarification.
When you put a sweet word next to a rustic one, you wonder what in the world it could mean. In this case, “honey” is meant as a euphemism for the dirty work that this “wagon” does.
A honey wagon is a truck or trailer with a large liquid-holding large tank that comes around to pump out RV waste tanks. They make regular stops at campgrounds, truck stops, and, of course, RV dump stations.
MH is simply an abbreviation for motorhome. Sometimes people use motorhome as an all-encompassing term for RVs, but experienced RVers know better. A motorhome specifically refers to RVs with a built-in cab and engine, unlike travel trailers requiring a tow vehicle.
Read Towable vs. Motorized RV: Which Is Right for You? to learn more between motorhomes and RV trailers.
Lotdocking is when you park overnight in a parking lot, like Walmart or Cracker Barrel. There are some important unwritten rules to follow when lotdocking.
Moochdocking is similar to boondocking, but it’s not exactly self-contained since you mooch off your family and friends to do it. Simply put, moochdocking is when you park at a friend or family member’s house.
Sometimes, you’re not mooching anything more than a parking space. Other times, you may be mooching water, power, etc. It’s worth mentioning that moochdock etiquette includes offering to pay for the utilities you use or at least buy them dinner!
Learn about Moochdocking Pros and Cons.
A “Navy shower” is when you turn the water off between wetting and rinsing. It certainly conserves hot water, but it leaves you cold in between rinses and isn’t nearly enjoyable as showers you take at home.
NF (National Forest)
Though not seen as often as the following NP, the letters NF pop up often. They're an abbreviation for national forest and often follow the name of a particular national forest.
For instance, Pisgah NF or Sequoia NF.
NFS (National Forest System) or
No, Techies, this does not refer to a Network File System! In the camping world, this refers to the National Forest System.
The NFS manages public lands in the form of national forests and grasslands. To add even more letters, this system is administered by the USFS (US Forest Service).
NP (National Park)
It seems obvious once it’s spelled out, but NP stands for National Park. As you know, we RVers love our national parks. So, you’ll see this abbreviation often.
By the way, DON’T Do These 7 Things in a National Park.
NPS (National Park Service)
NPS stands for the National Park Service, which has been entrusted with the care of our national parks since 1916. However, it's the NPS.gov website that RVers refer to the most.
The NPS website is the #1 resource for planning a visit to a national park. You can easily find a park, events, passes, and trip ideas on the site. Plus, learn how you can get involved with their important mission.
Poop Pyramid (Poo Pyramid)
Unfortunately, it’s just like what it sounds like: a pile of poop. Human waste piles up in your RV tank and pretty much becomes a solid mass that refuses to flow out of your stinky slinky.
You'll need to learn how to avoid the dreaded poop pyramid and How to Unclog an RV Toilet (7 Easy Methods & Tips).
PP (Provincial Park)
A provincial park is Canada’s version of a state park. Since Canada is separated into provinces, the name makes perfect sense. Canada also has national parks.
For example, Banff is a National Park run by Canada's federal government, while Algonquin is a Provincial Park (PP) run by the province of Ontario.
Pusher is short for a diesel pusher, which is a rear-engine diesel motorhome.
A rig is synonymous with an RV. Although, sometimes RVers use it as an umbrella term for their RV and everything they attach to it (like a tow vehicle or towed vehicle). You can think of it as whatever they’ve “rigged” up to take on their camping trip.
If you look closely, you’ll probably quickly realize this is a mash-up of two words: sanitation dump. Once you realize that, it’s pretty self-explanatory as a place where you dump your sanitation.
Speaking of which, it’s useful for you to know How to Find Rest Areas with RV Dump Stations.
Denotes that your rig can supply utilities (water, electricity, gas), waste management, etc. without an external source, for a limited duration.
As you learned earlier in the list, boondocking is a self-contained way to RV.
SKI (Spending Kids' Inheritance)
This acronym is a common joke among older RVers. You'll see social media posts along the lines of “SKIing and loving it,” even though it's the middle of summer.
It's such a popular sentiment you can find merchandise about it like this Enjoying the Kids' Inheritance garden flag.
SP (State Park)
Just like NP, SP comes up in conversations a lot with RVers. That’s because we love our state parks just as much as our national parks.
This acronym is often tied to a state acronym. If you see CA SP or FL SP, for instance, it’s referring to a California state park or Florida state park, respectively.
Sticks & Bricks
Sticks & bricks refers to a house on a foundation, i.e., not an RV. Many RVers are part-timers, which means they live part of the year in a sticks & bricks house.
You’ll hear part-timers say things like, “It’s time to go check on my sticks & bricks.” Or, full-timers will say, “I sold my sticks & bricks and haven’t regretted it for a second.”
Jennifer and I are two of the part-timers. We live in our sticks & bricks for about ¼ of the year and are RVing for the remainder.
A stinky slinky is a funny name for a sewer hose. It has spiraled ridges and stretches out like a slinky… and, well, it's stinky.
Dealing with human waste is surely one of the downsides of RVing. So, silly terms like this help us to laugh about an otherwise unenjoyable task.
A toad is a homophone us clever RVers came up with to refer to “towed” vehicles. Get it? Towed… toad.
A toad is a vehicle that is towed behind your RV. Once you settle your RV into a campsite, you use your toad to drive around town or the area.
It’s also referred to as a dinghy, as in the little boats that go back and forth from the ship to shore.
If you want a Toad, read Best Toad for RV? RVers share what vehicles THEY tow.
TT (Travel Trailer)
Remember how we said 5th wheels don’t hook onto the hitch at the back of a tow vehicle? Well, travel trailers do. A travel trailer is an RV trailer that hitches onto any tow vehicle, which may include an SUV or even a car.
TV (Tow Vehicle)
A tow vehicle is what pulls a travel trailer or 5th wheel. It’s typically a truck, but SUVs and even cars can be tow vehicles for smaller travel trailers.
Don’t confuse TV or tow vehicle for towed vehicle. Tow vehicles pull, whereas towed vehicles are pulled. That’s probably why we’ve clearly distinguished the terms between TV and toads.
Upside Down Pineapple (Flamingos)
An upside down pineapple has a secret meaning in the camping world of swinging. It’s often a message that the couple at the campsite is in an “open relationship,” meaning they are open to swapping or joining sexual partners.
Flamingos are sometimes said to have the same meaning, but that's more highly debated. Some campers just like decorating their campsites with flamingos!
Wallydocking (Lot docking)
Wallydocking is parking overnight in a Walmart parking lot. It’s a popular option when you’re looking for free overnight camping.
In general, it’s a form of lot docking, as in “parking lot” docking. Cracker Barrel is another lot docking favorite, but a cute nickname hasn’t emerged for that yet. I think Barreldocking has a nice ring to it… let’s see if it catches on.
The above is by no means a comprehensive list of RV terminology. So, be sure to add any other RV lingo you’ve heard of or know in the comments below.
Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide
At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.
Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.
It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.
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