Tuesday, October 3, 2023


The Business of Work Camping: RV shorthand

By Sam Suva

Have you ever been talking to a fellow camper or reading in an RV forum and come across lingo or abbreviations that meant nothing to you? Me too! Let’s explore the shorthand of full-time RVing. How many do you know?

An “RV” is a recreation vehicle.

A “DP” is a diesel pusher. This differs from a gasoline powered motorhome in that the gas engine is usually in the front of the vehicle and the diesel is in the back.

A “TT” is a travel trailer, a camper that is pulled by a hitch connected to the rear bumper of a tow vehicle.

A “5’er” or “5th wheel” is a large camper that is pulled by a hitch (king pin) connected to a hitch (lock jaw) in the bed of a truck.

“DC” is direct current. This is power that comes from a battery, like a flashlight or a vehicle. The camper has DC lights and appliances because it needs to be able to function without being plugged into the power company’s electrical grid. This is helpful because the lights, the refrigerator and the water heater, even the air conditioner, can operate on DC.

“AC” is alternating current. This is the power that is commonly in houses. Switch on a light or plug in a vacuum cleaner – that is AC.

“Converter” is a device that pugs into an outlet outside, AC or alternating current, and uses it along with DC or direct current, like a battery, and provides power for the camper.

“Fresh,” “black” and “gray” water tanks. This refers to the type of liquid holding tanks that are in the camper. “Fresh” is water that a camper would use to cook, clean, consume and flush. “Black” refers to body waste from showers and toilets. “Gray” is usually from the kitchen sink.

“Potable” water is suitable for all types of consumption and should be put into fresh water tanks. Never put non-potable water, water that is not from a well or water that has been treated in the RV’s fresh water tanks.

“Gate valve” is a large handled valve that is used when emptying or “dumping” a tank. Usually when it is pushed all the way in it is closed and when it is pulled all the way out it is open.

“Chock” is a piece of plastic, wood or metal that is wedged between the tire and another tire or the ground to stop the camper from rolling away.

“Water pump” is the battery-powered device that can be turned on and off inside the camper to pump water from the water tank to the faucets and toilet without being hooked up to a water hose or electricity.

“Generator” produces electricity for the camper and can be either mounted on the camper or is portable and be used alongside. It is a gas, propane or diesel engine, and can be noisy.

“Solar” is the term for using the sun to charge panels connected to batteries that produce electricity for your camper.

“Basement storage” are storage areas under the camper with doors that seal against the elements. These usually have camp chairs, games, towing equipment, chocks, jacks, tools, grill and cooking supplies.

“Toad” is slang for a vehicle being pulled, or towed behind a motorhome.

“DH” is Dear Husband, “DW” is Dear Wife” and “DS” is Dear Son.

I hope these will help navigate the RV world of chat. Did I miss any? What are your favorites? Please let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading my articles and supporting RV Travel.

“SYDTR” See you down the road,


Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.

Read more articles about Work Camping.



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4 years ago

“STREET PIZZA”. A small animal that has been run over a few times, which the crows and vultures are dining on.

4 years ago

That’s definitely going in the RV Shorthand notebook, thanks!

4 years ago

Road kill. It’s what happens to the wife when she is supposed to be paying attention to directing you when you’re backing up but instead she is flapping her hands around asking the neighbors wife where she got her trailers cute gingham curtains. SPLAT. LOL.

JC Travel Stories
4 years ago

You left out the ubiquitous term that covers every thing from a flat tire to the smoke from a neighbor’s campfire. {bleeped}. 🙂

Mike McFarlin
4 years ago

He also left out one important abbreviation. The shorthand OS. Traveling at 60mph, “Ohhhh Sheeet” is what one would say after taking their eyes off the road for a few short seconds, looking up to see a large deer standing in the road. 😀

4 years ago

Followed up closely with, “WFT” or “Who’s fixin’ that!?!!”

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