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What Is an RV Honey Wagon (& Why Is It Grosser Than It Sounds?)

| Updated Feb 17, 2024

An RV honey wagon isn't what it sounds like. It's certainly not as pleasant as its sweet name, but it is important…

If you're new to the RV lifestyle, you'll eventually come across an RV honey wagon. No, it's not a wagon full of honey or an RV dedicated to beekeeping.

Instead, it's a service that helps you deal with one of the less glamorous aspects of RVing – waste management.

In this article, we're going to tell you what an RV honey wagon is, how it got its name, and why you might need one during your travels.

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What Is an RV Honey Wagon?

Contrary to what the name suggests, it has nothing to do with honey delivery. An RV honey wagon is essentially a truck or trailer that visits campsites to empty RV black and gray tanks. It transports the waste away and disposes of it properly off-site.

Why Is It Called a Honey Wagon?

RVers are known for giving silly names to the less-desirable aspects of RVing, like the poo pyramid and stinky slinky. So, you might think that RVers are also responsible for this euphemism. But, as it turns out, the name predates RVs!

The term honey wagon originates from horse-drawn wagons that carried sewage waste. It's believed that the name was inspired by the honey-colored liquid they carted around. So, I suppose people back in the day had a lot in common with the RVers today who'd rather use nice terms for, well, gross things.

Honey Wagon vs. Blue Boy

A “honey wagon” and a “blue boy” are both terms used in RV culture to refer to portable waste tanks or containers used for holding and transporting sewage from RVs. The main difference between a honey wagon and a blue boy lies in their design and usage:

A honey wagon typically refers to a larger, professional-grade portable sewage tank. They are typically larger in capacity, ranging from several tens to hundreds of gallons, allowing them to hold a significant amount of waste.

Honey wagons are typically owned and operated by third parties, though some campgrounds own their own.

What Is a Blue Boy?

camco tank

On the other hand, a “blue boy” is a term commonly used to describe a smaller, more personal-sized waste-holding tank. They are called “blue boys” because one of the original brand's tanks were always blue.

However, there are different brands available now and they come in a range of colors (but mostly gray). For instance, Camco's Tote Tanks are quite popular these days, and they are gray and orange.

Tote tanks have a capacity ranging from a few gallons up to 30 gallons or so. They are generally designed to be manually wheeled to a dump station or other appropriate waste disposal facilities.

Why Do RVers Use a Honey Wagon or Blue Boy?

The biggest benefit of honey wagons and blue boys is not having to move your RV in order to dump your waste tanks. Instead of tearing down camp to go to a dump station, you can stay put and empty your tank on-site.

The honey wagon will come to you, empty your tank(s), and take it away. As for blue boys, they allow you to do a DIY version of this service. You can fill your blue boy, then roll it to the campground's dump station or load it in your tow vehicle or toad to take to a nearby dump station.

Why Do Campgrounds Offer Honey Wagons Instead of Dump Stations?

How to Easily Find RV Dump Stations What Is an RV Honey Wagon (& Why Is It Grosser Than It Sounds?)

Installing a dump station at a campground is quite costly and the campgrounds can face some significant challenges when it comes to permits, management, etc. So, installing a dump station (not to mention sewage hookups at every campsite) might be impractical for their situation.

At the same time, campground owners realize that RVers appreciate being able to dump their waste tanks on the go. So, as a compromise, campgrounds arrange for a honey wagon service to cater to their guests.

How Do You Sign Up for RV Honey Wagon Service?

Typically, you can request honey wagon service at the campground office. It's important to note that honey wagons don't usually drive around every day, so find out the designated service days. You'll need to provide your site number to the office manager.

Usually, you don't have to be present when the honey wagon comes to your site. Just make sure that your tank valves are easily accessible and not blocked.

How Much to Use an RV Honey Wagon?

Well, it varies from campground to campground and business to business. Some campgrounds offer the service for free as an added amenity, while others may charge a small fee. Keep in mind that the service is usually not provided on a daily basis, so plan accordingly and inform the office staff of your needs during your stay.

Our friends at Campground Views interview Phelps Honeywagon Sanitation Systems

Can an RV Honey Wagon Completely Empty Your Tank?

Yes, an RV honey wagon can serve dozen of RVs in one trip. The only issue you might run into is if you're staying in a busy campground and a lot of RVers happen to opt for the service on the same day as you. It's possible it'll get full before it gets to you, especially if it served other campgrounds before yours.

However, that's not a common issue. The campgrounds and honey wagon service can mostly predict the levels of demand and plan accordingly.

Do RV Honey Wagons Offer Additional Services?

Some honey wagon services may offer tank cleaning, where they use specialized equipment to clean and sanitize the RV's waste tanks, ensuring they are free of any residue or odors.

Sometimes they also offer basic services like checking seals, valves, and connections, as well as addressing any minor issues that may arise with the RV's waste system.

That's Not All You Need to Know!

Can I Legally Dump Gray Water on the Ground While RV Camping?

Honey wagons are just one options and one aspect of dealing with waste management while RVing. We have several more articles that are definitely worth checking out:

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-16

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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