What Is A Self Contained RV?

A self-contained RV is a vehicle that can function without any external resources such as electricity, water, and gas. If you are traveling on your own, or as a couple, or a family, utilizing a self-contained RV could be an efficient way of road tripping around the country.

I love long road trips and I could not think of a better way to spend time with my loved ones and see more of the country at the same time! There are many long-term benefits of going off-grid and traveling in a self-contained RV, so why not look at this option next time you are looking at doing a road trip.

Carry on reading to find out exactly what a self-contained RV is, the cost of a self-contained RV, the three classes of self-contained RVs, and the various benefits of a self-contained RV.

Definition Of A Self Contained RV

To be self-contained, the vehicle would need to be able to run without external resources. This means that the vehicle would need to have its own toilet, water container with greywater and septic waste, and electricity or solar power.

When going to a campsite, this vehicle would not leave any trace of being there as it does not rely on campsite facilities or hookups.

Boondocking With No Hookups

Cost Of A Self Contained RV

Generally, it is more costly to rent a self-contained vehicle as opposed to one that isn’t, but in the long-term, costs will be saved. While on the road, costs can be saved by staying at free camping spots where no hookups are required. There is a surprisingly large number of public places that allow RVs to park at night and stay free of charge.

When looking at the cost of RV amenities, costs can vary. If you are going to be visiting warm locations, you might want to consider an engine-run generator instead of a noisy a/c run generator.

Another consideration is the type of engine. A diesel engine is not ideal if you will be idling your vehicle with the air conditioner on for a lengthy period – perhaps a gas run engine is better suited. If you are looking at doing a road trip during winter, you will most likely need winterproofing to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze or burst. 

These costs need to be considered when choosing what type of RV you want and what would be best suited to your needs, preferences, and where you plan to travel.

Generally speaking, you can get a secondhand trailer in good condition for about $15000, whereas a luxurious fifth-wheeler can be around $100000. 

Classes Of Self Contained RVs

RVs can vary in size and are classified into three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. 

Self Contained RVs: Class A

Class A RVs are the largest and usually diesel or gas-powered. Their large interior allows for similar amenities to a traditional home, which is why this class is often the most expensive. Due to their size, a special license may be required to drive such an RV.

These RVs usually appeal to individuals that want to live luxuriously and are usually full-time road trippers.

Self Contained RVs: Class B

Ford Transit Camper

This class of RV is the smallest of the three classes and is generally referred to as camper vans or converted vans. These RVs are typically Ford Transits or Mercedes-Benz Sprinters. At present, Class B RVs are popular amongst Millennials, and many van conversion companies have been doing lots of business.

These RVs are not as spacious as Class A ones, but they can still have a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living area. This space is usually quite basic and needs to make use of a creative floor plan. Multi-functional furniture comes in handy, such as a cupboard door that can fold out into a desk.

Class B RVs are far easier and cheaper to operate, and they don’t require a special license to drive.

Self Contained RVs: Class C

Class C RVs are smaller than the Class A but more extensive than the Class B RVs – around 20 to 31 feet in length. This class of RV is known for being versatile as they have more space for amenities and a bed. If you see a vehicle with an over-cab sleeping area, then it’s a Class C RV!

These RVs make use of a frame of a pickup truck or van, which makes them slightly more efficient on fuel and therefore less expensive than Class A.

Benefits Of A Self Contained RV

Other than the long-term cost savings, self-contained RVs have many benefits. Below I have made a shortlist of some of the benefits:

  1. Flexibility – living out of an RV allows for freedom. If you are spontaneous and decide that you want to stay an extra night at a particular camping spot, then you can. Also, if you decide to change your travel route last minute or even along the way, you can simply turn in the opposite direction.
  • Convenience – since your RV is quite literally your home away from home, you have everything you need in close proximity. Your books, board games, laptop, and favorite snacks are all under the same small roof. Just keep in mind that overpacking your RV could be a safety hazard – always look at its weight capacity (people included).
  • Connected to nature – watching the sunset and relaxing in a camping chair looking at the stars sounds like the perfect evening. And what better way than to fall asleep to the sound of crickets or owls hooting. Ideal for a nature lover.
  • Quality time – as you are on the road and spending time continuously with your family and loved ones, you are bound to feel closer to them (especially after a couple of arguments after seeing them 24/7).
  • Social distancing – especially now with the Covid-19 pandemic, traveling in an RV seems to be the most hygienic option. No public bathrooms, and you can eat, sleep, shower, and work in your own space, which you know has been properly clean. Although this is slightly more difficult with pets, it is still doable.

Good luck, and happy camping!

Check out our article on: Best Small Class A Motorhomes Under 30 Feet

Please keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.