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What is a Camper Van?

Full-sized RV campers contain many of the amenities of home, such as beds and kitchens.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A camper van is a single-sectioned vehicle furnished with sleeping, sitting and eating space. In other words, camper vans offer both transportation and accommodation. Camper vans may be regular sized vans that the owner customized with at least a bed or they can be larger vehicles manufactured specifically for recreational use. A camper van is also known as a motorhome and it is a type of recreational vehicle (RV). Although a trailer is also a type of RV, camper vans are not the same as trailers, since trailer-style campers attach to another vehicle and aren't part of a van.

Most camper vans or motorhomes feature lounge chairs behind the driver's and passenger's seats. These are often fitted with seat belts for use when the vehicle is moving. Since the chairs are usually padded and upholstered much like furniture in many houses, traveling this way can be very comfortable -- especially if there is a large side window on the camper van in which to look out. Some camper vans or motorhomes also have a nook type of eating area with two padded benches and a dining table – in some RVs this may transform into a sleeping area by lowering the table onto the benches. Larger motorhomes may have a dining table with separate dining chairs secured to the floor.

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The main advantage of larger camper vans or motorhomes is that they offer a lot more space than smaller ones. A small camper van typically sleeps only one or two people, while larger motorhomes usually sleep at least four people. However, smaller campers offer better gas mileage and are easier to drive and back up than large motorhomes. The great thing about camper vans of any size is that they offer much more protection and comfort than a tent when camping. Some people even live in larger camper vans or motorhomes year round.

Although a larger camper van has most of the comforts of a house, everything is compact as well as designed for transportation mode. For example, storage cupboards must have extra-secure latches so that items don't fall out of them during travel. Camper fridges also have more secure latches on them than regular household refrigerators to avoid the contents of the fridge being dumped onto the floor during a sharp turn. Bathrooms and kitchens are functional in motorhomes, but are much smaller than the ones in houses. Newer motorhomes may have dishwashers and clothes washing facilities.

Motorhomes or camper vans have tanks that hold water and waste. Usually, toilets drain into the black`water or waste tank, while water from the shower and kitchen sink drain into a separate grey water tank. This can vary though, as a sink or tub may also drain into the black water tank. The grey and black water tanks then drain into the ground through systems set up for this at camp sites.

Most furnaces and hot water tanks in camper van recreational vehicles are heated with propane. Propane is a fuel that is released from pressurized containers or tanks. Some camper vans or motorhomes have stationary tanks, while others have tanks that can be removed for fillings and then replaced. The propane is used for heating the camper as well as for cooking and heating hot water for showering. Having running water and heated conditions as well as electricity can make living in a motorhome or camper van very comfortable!

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