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Discovering new nooks and corners of our beautiful country is an increasingly popular pastime for many Brits. And if you own your own motorhome or campervan, it really is a breeze. However, when you’re still new to it, all the new terminology can seem a little daunting. To help you translate some of the jargon, we’ve put together a list of common phrases and words to help you out.

After all, just like finding the best motorhome or campervan insurance, starting a new hobby doesn’t have to be difficult! Give our helpful team at Motorhome Protect a call today and you’ll be on the road in no time.

Motorhome on the coast


The most prestigious type of motorhome where both the cab and living area are integrated. With a wealth of amenities and comfort, it’s no wonder they’re affectionately referred to as the ‘King of the campground’.

Actual Laden Weight (ALW)

The total weight of the motorhome or campervan and its contents. Visit a weighbridge to check yours.


Sometimes referred to as a ‘divorce in a bag’, this is a tent-like structure of fabric over a supporting frame. Can be free-standing or attached to the side of a motorhome or campervan. Some vehicles also boast permanently fixed roll-out blinds. Always check you’ve folded it away before driving off. Wondering how to choose an awning that’s right for you? Then read our helpful guide.

An awning is a great place to store large sports equipment such as mountain bikes when you’re not using them. However, such equipment can be expensive. Speak to the team at Motorhome Protect for reassurance on whether your campervan insurance covers these as well.

Axle weight

The amount of weight transmitted to the road by the wheels on one axle.

Base vehicle

The vehicle used as the platform on which a motorhome or campervan is built. Leading base vehicle manufacturers include Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen.


Another name for campervans, they can be either purpose built or van conversions.


The number of people the vehicle is able to sleep. For example, a two-berth campervan can sleep two people. It doesn’t refer to how many beds are in the vehicle.

Breakaway system

An emergency device designed to bring a towed vehicle to a safe stop if it becomes disconnected from the motorhome. Some are integrated into the supplemental braking system, while others are sold as accessories.


A type of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) commonly used in motorhomes or campervans in warmer climates. Usually sold in a blue cylinder.


The Caravan and Motorhome Club is one of the UK’s largest and best resourced clubs.


The Camping & Caravanning Club. Another fantastic organisation through which you can book over 100 well-run sites across the UK.

Caps (front, end and roof)

A type of moulded body part used on many motorhome exteriors.

Captain’s chairs

The driver and passenger front seats. The chairs often swivel to face the living area.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

A hazard in motorhomes where incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated appliances such as cookers or heaters cause exposure to this poisonous gas. ALWAYS have a working carbon monoxide detector fitted.

Cassette toilet

A form of chemical toilet found in motorhomes, where the black waste holding tank is accessed and emptied from outside. Take this to a Chemical Disposal Point (CDP) to empty.


More compact than an A-class. While they’ve usually got all the mod cons, the level of luxury is slightly less. Typically, easier to drive and park and are more manoeuvrable than A-class motorhomes. For more info on the differences between class A, B and C's check out our blog.


Certificated Location, small sites which are often on farms. Open to CC members only.


Certificated Site. Similar to CLs, but open to CCC members only.


Chemical Disposal Point, a drainage area used for the disposal of toilet waste (black water).


A type of motorhome that has been purpose-built on a coach, caravan, or other van chassis. They are bigger than those that have been converted from a regular van-type vehicle.


The driver/passenger area in the front of the motorhome.


The manufacturer who builds a motorhome or campervan from the base vehicle. If you’re thinking about doing this yourself then read our ultimate guide to converting your campervan.

Corner steady

Built into each back corner of a motorhome chassis, this winding device is used to stabilise the body once you’ve set up on an uneven pitch.


An essential item if you want to protect your investment. Read our guide on motorhome covers to help you choose the right one for your cherished home on wheels.

Dash cam

Record your most stunning drives, but also any accidents, with this great piece of kit. Coupled with the appropriate campervan insurance they’re the ideal way to protect your vintage camper. Not convinced? Then read our guide to all things dash cam-related.


The latest must-have gadget for your touring adventure. They are very portable (some even fold in half), easy to use and getting more affordable every day. Thinking of investing in an e-bike in 2021 ? Then read our view of the top picks worth buying now. You’ll have to hurry though as they’re selling out fast!

Elevating or pop-up roof

Self-explanatory really. A very popular choice among campervan converters. Providing extra headroom when you’re parked up, but a low profile to reduce wind resistance when on the road. Also handy for getting under low barriers at car parks and for garage storage. Look out for high-quality roofs from German manufacturers Reimo and SCA. If you buy a camper with one of these then you’re on to a good thing. Here are 5 good reasons to choose a campervan with a pop-up roof!


The side opposite the entrance door on motorhomes.

Fixed roof or high top

Lots of headroom but lacks the versatility of a pop-up roof.

Fresh water tank

Where all your fresh water is stored. You’ll be surprised at how much water you use for cooking and washing on a daily basis.

3-Way fridge

A fridge that can be powered by three different sources – the mains electricity when hooked up, the gas when parked up, but not connected, and the vehicle’s battery when on the move.

Full-service pitch

A camping pitch with individual provision for fresh water supply and waste water disposal, in addition to mains electricity. In some cases you might even get a TV connection!

Gas cylinder locker

A dedicated compartment on the vehicle for the storage of gas cylinders.


What is glampervanning? You really haven’t lived until you’ve relaxed in the lap of luxury during a glampervanning vacation. Bliss!

Grey water/Grey waste

Any dirty water that doesn’t come from the toilet. It comes from your kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as the shower (if you’re lucky enough to have one). There’s a separate grey waste storage tank that can be emptied at appropriate places.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)

Also known as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). This is the weight of the vehicle loaded to its maximum safe limit when being used on the road. It will be listed in the owner’s manual and is normally shown on a plate or sticker fitted to the vehicle.

Habitation area

The living space of a motorhome, as opposed to the external lockers or cab.


A pitch with a hard ground surface made of gravel, asphalt or concrete rather than grass. A great option during the winter months where your vehicle could be liable to getting stuck in a muddy grass pitch.


Usually, a bollard next to your pitch where you can plug into the mains electricity.


A device that converts the electricity from a 12v leisure battery into a form that will power a 240v domestic appliance. If you want to use a powerful hairdryer when camping then you’ll need one of these on your packing list.


The side of the motorhome that is closer to the kerb. Also called nearside.

Leisure battery

A 12v battery which powers the internal lighting, water pump etc in the living area. This is the secondary battery of a motorhome or campervan, so you’re not relying solely on the vehicle’s main battery.


The process of making sure your motorhome is level when on a pitch. A vital process if you want to ensure a good night’s sleep, properly draining sinks and unspilled drinks!


A type of motorhome without an overcab area. It usually has plenty of storage cupboards to make up for the lack of space above the cab. Offering less wind resistance and a more attractive, sleeker external look.

Luton overcab

A motorhome with a moulding above the cab that contains a double bed of varying sizes.

MOT & habitation checks

As with any vehicle, you must MOT your motorhome or campervan annually. The habitation check is essentially the MOT equivalent for the habitation area. Not every garage offers this service, but it’s worth hunting down.

Motorhome manoeuvring course

Such large vehicles can be daunting to drive if you’re not used to them. A common way for drivers to build confidence is to sign up to a motorhome manoeuvring course. You’ll learn how to reverse confidently and how to safely load your motorhome before setting off. You’ll also receive an invaluable one-to-one driving session with a specialist driving instructor who’ll give you practical advice on how to improve. Well worth the effort.

Motorhome service point

Where you can fill up with fresh water and empty the waste water tank.


Your payload is the difference between the maximum weight of your motorhome (MAM) and the unladen weight. This is the maximum weight you can add to your motorhome.


A type of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) usually stored in red cylinders and suitable for use all year round.


Hugely popular, easy-to-use alternative to traditional plumbing connectors. Used throughout motorhomes and campervans in the water system.

RV or Recreational Vehicle

An American term for a large motorhome.

Sat nav

Road maps are a great way to discover new and unexplored parts of the UK, but the addition of a sat nav will bring you right up to the 21st Century – no matter how vintage your camper is! Choosing the right sat nav for your campervan or motorhome is an important consideration before setting off to unfamiliar areas as is having the right campervan insurance.

Travelling seats

Seats found in the living areas of a motorhome that are fitted with seatbelts. This means they’re suitable for sitting in when the vehicle is moving.

Unladen weight

The unladen weight of a vehicle is its weight when it’s not carrying any passengers, goods or other items. It doesn’t include the weight of fuel or batteries (if it’s an electric vehicle).


The Vehicle Identification Number is essentially the vehicle’s unique fingerprint. Composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters), it’s usually stamped into the chassis.

Volkswagen (VW)

By far the most popular choice for campervans. There are many types you can choose from. Depending on their age there are plenty of colloquial ways they could be referred to, such as a splitty (split windscreen) and a bay (bay framed windscreen).

Water pump

Since motorhome and campervan water tanks are kept at low level, you’ll need a decent pump to send water to taps and the water heater.


The distance between the front and rear axles of a vehicle.

Protecting your vehicle with insurance cover

Whether you drive a motorhome or a campervan they’re a significant investment, so they deserve significant protection when out on the road.

Whatever precautions you take to combat the risk of mishaps, it’s impossible to rule out everything that could happen when you’re out and about.

Using our panel of insurers Motorhome Protect will search out the best campervan insurance, tailored to your vehicle, needs and budget.

Cover arranged by us includes benefits such as:

  • Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
  • Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
  • Unlimited EU cover

Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for campervan insurance today.

Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.