What Is a Self-Contained RV?

If you enjoy fresh air, beautiful sights, and natural environments, traveling is surely a big part of your life. More specifically, traveling to escape from the busy and stressful life in the city and visit your favorite part of the countryside. Self-contained RVs are a wonderful way to provide you with the necessary structure to enjoy your trip. In this article, we are going to explain all about them.

Why Choose a Self-Contained RV?

These vehicles have the necessary equipment to provide you with adequate well-being outside the city. In other words, they have tanks to supply fresh water, other tanks to collect your waste, power generators to provide electricity, a stove with burners, a refrigerator and cabinets to store food and supplies, and a bathroom. And, of course, enough room to place beds or sofas on which to sleep.

As you can imagine, such a structure does not come cheap. Self-contained RVs are ideal if you want to go far from the city and/or to stay away for a long time. They are also the only choice in case you enjoy boondocking, which is the practice of camping without requiring anything from the outside nor leaving anything there. Some people prefer to make things easy and use a dedicated campsite.

Things to Consider Before Investing in a Self-Contained RV

Now that you know the basics, it is time to dig deeper. Any quick research on the Internet brings dozens of RV options, which makes the whole procedure confusing, to say the least. However, this is why you are reading this article: the following paragraphs compile the key points to pay attention.

How Much You Will Spend in Your RV?
The average price of those vehicles can be daunting at a first glance. You must start by listing your priorities in this regard. Once you understand what to look for, you will be able to make a good choice. You might need a luxury RV for $300,000 or make do with a fifth-wheel option of $80,000.
What size of a Self-Contained RV do you need?
Traveling with children and/or many people will require more space for sleeping. You will also need a large counter room if you plan to cook at the RV. Besides all that, any indoor leisure activities you plan to do will require more space. Those are the main issues that can make you need a bigger RV.
What Kind of Campsite Will You Be At?
The further you go from the city, the more infrastructure you will need from your RV. That means big storage areas, high-capacity batteries, a strong generator, and more room in general. If you plan to stay close to convenience stores and/or make stops along the way, a simpler RV will be enough.
What Amenities Do You Need?
Keep in mind the weather where you want to go, the access to outside infrastructure, and how long you will stay there. Intense adventures will require a shower with hot water, a large stove, well-lit rooms, and a high-capacity heater. All those variables will drive you towards a more complex RV.
How Do You Want to Travel?
Fifth-wheel RVs are essentially trailers that you attach to the rear end of another vehicle, such as a heavy-duty pickup truck. You will need a base vehicle with high towing capacity, but that option gives you the freedom to drive it separately to make quick runs to the city or explore the region.

The other common option is a motorized RV, which is an independent vehicle. It allows you to keep everything in one vehicle, which is interesting in case you do not want to involve your regular car in your camping hobby. On the other hand, motorized self-contained RVs are usually more expensive.

How Long Can You Be self-contained in an RV?

The first thing to keep in mind is that you will rely on the RV’s structure to keep you and your travel group in good condition throughout the trip. Therefore, taking more people with you, going further from the city, and staying away for more days are variables that will demand more from the RV.

How long can you go without an electric hookup?

Considering that an RV must be self-sufficient, it can provide electricity on its own. That comes from a generator that runs on fuel and a set of batteries. Therefore, you need to analyze everything from the beginning: larger tanks and batteries will provide electricity for longer and for more appliances.

Keep in mind that the previous paragraph considers that you want to boondock, that is, engage in a complete immersion in nature. If you prefer something easier and simpler, you can opt for visiting a dedicated campsite, which will even provide you with electricity hookups for all your appliances.

How long can you go without water and sewage hookups?

In this topic, demand will rise if you are traveling with a larger group and/or for more days. Supply, in turn, comes from the tanks included in the RV. A rule of thumb is that standard RVs can hold up to three days before you need to visit a dump station. However, that depends on those variables.

By the way, a dump station is, essentially, an appropriate place to discard the waste produced in an RV. Pretty much every campsite offers one, but you can always research online to find the nearest one to where you plan to go. The further you drive, the higher capacity you will need from the RV.

Do You Need a Self-Contained RV?

It all comes down to how intense you want your experience to be. Experienced campers can even sleep in a truck cabin, so they will need minimal infrastructure. Now, if you are a beginner and/or plan to travel with children, you will definitely need more complex accommodations. We know that the options are not cheap, so the more carefully you plan your trip, the more refreshing it will be!


No, not all RVs have kitchens. Some RVs, like pop-up campers and truck campers, don’t have their own kitchen. If you want an RV with a kitchen, make sure to get a self-contained RV.

There are many benefits to having a self-contained RV. One benefit is that you can dry camp or boondock. This means that you can camp in remote locations without hookups. Another benefit is that you don’t have to use the communal facilities at a campground. This means that you have more privacy and your own space.


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Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by travel. I inherited this passion from my parents. Since my college years and to this day, I have had a passion for traveling in a motorhome. I am here to share my experiences with you.

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