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The Ultimate Camping Dictionary

At Alan Rogers, we're experts in all things camping, caravanning and motorhoming. This pastime has a host of words and phrases that can be alien to newbies or first-timers, so we've compiled the ULTIMATE camping dictionary! Use the Ctrl+F (Command+F on Mac) to search for words or search using the clickable letters below. Got a suggestion? Send us a message on Facebook and we'll add it to the list.




Stands for Aqueous Film Forming Foam. A type of fire suppressant used in fire extinguishers. Recommended for use in the event of a caravan or motorhome fire. 

A-frame tent
[ ey-freym tent ]

A type of tent with a pointed peak that looks like the letter 'A' when viewed head-on.

[ eh-rees ]

Also known as motorhome stopovers. Public parking areas or private land where motorhome and caravan users may stop overnight for free or for a small fee.

Airstream Trailer
[ air-streem trey-ler ]

An American brand of caravan easily recognised by the distinctive shape of its rounded shape and polished aluminium exterior.


Actual Laden Weight. The net weight of a motor vehicle or trailer, together with the actual weight of goods or passengers or both carried by the vehicle or trailer.


Active Trailer Control. A safety feature built into newer models of caravans designed to stabilise a caravan when it is being towed.


Bell Tent
[ bel tent ]

A canvas tent with a circular base and pointed peak with an A-frame entrance. 

[ bil-ee ]

Short for billy can. Australian slang. A portable metal container used to cook food or boil water over a campfire or stove.

Breakaway Cable
breyk-uh-wey key-buhl ]

An emergency mechanism cable which ensures that a car and caravan remain attached to each other in the unlikely event that the tow unit becomes unhitched. 


[ kar-uh-bee-ner ]

A metal clip that has a variety of uses.

Caravan Stabliser
kar-uh-van stey-buh-lahy-zer ]

A mechanism that prevents a caravan from snaking whilst being towed.


Stands for Chemical Disposal Point. A dedicated waste area for disposing of chemical toilet waste.

Certified Locations
[ sur-tuh-fahyd loh-kay-shuhns ]

Independently owned campsites that are managed by the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

Certified Sites
[ sur-tuh-fahyd sahyts]

Independently owned campsites that are managed by the Camping and Caravan Club.

[ cham-ping ]

A portmanteau of church and camping. A relatively new trend in the UK which sees unused or rural churches rented out to campers with all the necessities of glamping and access to on-site facilities.

Chemical Toilet
[ kem-i-kuhl toi-lit ]

A type of portable toilet that uses chemicals to break down sewage as opposed to a mains-connected toilet which is connected to a sewer system. 

Club Centre
[ club sehn-ter ]

A rally organised by an official Caravan and Motorhome Club centre. You have to be a Club member to join a Club Centre Rally.


Dome Tent
[ dohm tent ]

A type of tent that has a rounded structure instead of a pointed peak.

Double-Wall Construction
[ duhb-uhl wawl kuhn-struhk-shuhn ]

Tents that have two layers: the fly or waterproof exterior and the canopy, or breathable inner wall.


es-kawr-ted ]

Holidays which are led by a tour host as a group rather than independently.

[ yoor-oh pluhg ]

A flat, two-pole, round-pin domestic AC power plug, rated for voltages up to 250 V and currents up to 2.5 A that is used widely in mainland Europe.

[ ik-skur-zhuhn ]

An arranged activity or tour that forms part of a motorhome holiday or rally.

Extension Mirrors
[ ik-sten-shuhmir-ers ]

Mirrors that attach to a car's wing-mirrors to allow the driver to see what is behind when towing a caravan. 



A German abbreviation for Freikörperkultur, it translates to free body culture. A term that originated in 1889 as the precursor to naturism, meaning communal nudity.  Find out more here.

Free Beach
[ free beech ]

Another name for a nudist or naturist beach.  Find out more here.

French-Style Toilets
[ french-stahyl toi-lits ]

Also known as hole-in-the-ground toilets or pit latrines. A toilet that is sunken into the ground, lacks a seat and requires the user to squat. 

Full Hookup
[ fuhl hook-uhp ]

A term used in reference to a motorhome or caravan's level of access to campsite utilities. Full hookup pitches provide campers with access to water, wastewater and electricity.

Fully Serviced Pitch
fool-ee sur-visd pich ]

Another name for full hookup.


Gear Loft
[ geer lawft ]

A small compartment, built into the roof of some tents where one can store extra equipment.

[ gaz ]

A French term meaning gas.

[ geo dohm ]

A dwelling often used for glamping consisting of a spherical thin-shell structure covered with waterproof plastic, canvas or other lightweight, flexible and hardwearing fabric.

glam-ping ]

A portmanteau of glamorous and camping. Referring to camping in luxury, often in unconventional accommodation like a teepee, yurt or treehouse.

Ground Stakes
[ ground steyks ]

Metal anchors which are used to keep a tent fastened securely to the ground.

[ gahy-lahyn ]

Cables that are used to help secure a tent in place by being anchored into the ground.

Gypsy Caravan
jip-see kar-uh-van ]

Also known as a Vardo or Romani wagon. A traditional horse-drawn carriage historically used by British Romani travellers and now a popular glamping dwelling. Mostly made of wood with ornate hand-painted exteriors and interiors, a stable door, windows and a small balcony.


hahrd-stan-ding ]

A dedicated area on which a motorhome or caravan sits for the duration of a stay on a campsite. It can be grassy, tarmacked, gravelled or concreted.


[ in-di-pen-duhnt ]

Opposite of escorted.


Acronym for International Naturist Federation. An organisation which represents naturists and other naturist organisations, charities and clubs.  Find out more here.


Leisure Battery
lezh-er bat-uh-ree ]


Acronym for "leave no trace". The act of leaving a pitch or camping ground as you found it upon arrival.


[ mar-shol ]

A person who leads a caravan or motorhome rally.


Maximum Authorised Weight. The maximum weight of a vehicle or trailer, including the maximum load that can be carried safely while used on the road. 

[ may-day ]

Breakdown insurance from the Caravan and Motorhome Club. 


[ ney-kay-shuhn ]

A portmanteau of naked and vacation. The act of holidaying naked [on a campsite or as part of a club].  Find out more here.

[ nohz-weyt ]

A mechanism that provides weight, or downward force on your tow bar when it's being towed.


[ out-fit ]

A term to describe a car and caravan as a singular item.

Owners Clubs
[ ohw-ners kluhbs ]

A club which a caravan or motorhome owner can join, often depending on the make of a vehicle (eg. Baileys, Swift, AutoTrail)


[ pich ]

A dedicated area on which a tent, caravan or motorhome sits for the duration of a stay on a campsite.


Rain Fly
[ reyn fly ]

An extra exterior covering to keep a tent protected from rain.

[ ra-lee ]

A group caravan and/or motorhome trip with pre-booked campsites and organised excursions, led by a rally marshal and organised by a rally organiser.

Rally Organiser
[ ra-lee or-gan-eye-sehr ]

An individual or company who organises the logistics of a rally, often in collaboration with a rally marshal.

Red Pennant
[ red pen-uhnt ]

Overseas holiday insurance from the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

Rented Accommodation
[ ren-ted uh-kom-uh-dey-shuhn ]

Fixed accommodation located on a campsite that can be rented out.

Rest Area
[ rest air-ee-uh ]

Similar to aires. Roadside lay-by or car park used by motorists to rest before continuing with their journey.

Roll-on, Roll-off
[ rohl-on, rohl-awf ]

Also known as ROROs. Ships that are designed to carry road vehicles and allow for easy boarding and disembarking by rolling on and off.


Acronym for "recreational vehicle". An American-style leisure vehicle that is often larger than traditional caravans and motorhomes.


Safari Tent
[ suh-fahr-ee tent ]

Traditionally used on African safari expeditions. A large tent with a framework of poles and canvas walls and roof, standing off the ground on stilts with clear vinyl windows and shutters. For glamping usage, fitted with kitchen, living space, bedrooms, bathroom and a wood-fired range.

Seasonal Pitch
see-zuh-nl pich ]

A similar concept to a holiday home. A pitch on which you can leave your caravan without needing to tow it to and from a site. 

Shepherd's Hut
shep-erds hut ]

A portable dwelling often constructed of corrugated iron with wooden or iron wheels, a stable door, a stove and small windows. Traditionally found in the UK and parts of France, they were used by shepherds during sheep raising and lambing from the 15th century until the mid-20th century. Now used for glamping opportunities.

[ smawr ]

A traditional American campfire snack made by putting a melted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate between two Graham crackers (similar to a British Digestive biscuit).

snoh-burd ]

Snowbirds are campers, caravanners or motorhomers who plan their camping destinations to avoid cold weather in the winter.

stat-ik ]

Referring to static caravans.

[ stey-key-shuhn ]

A portmanteau of stay and vacation. The act of holidaying locally rather than going abroad.


[ tee-pee ]

A cone-shaped tent traditionally made of animal skins and used by North American Indians. Modern tepees are made of canvas and are a popular glamping choice.

teks-tahyl ]

Quite simply, the opposite of naturism. To be clothed.  Find out more here.

[ theft-chek ]

A database of stolen leisure vehicles compiled by the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

[ toh-bahr ]

A device that connects a vehicle to a caravan or trailer for flat towing.

Tree House
tree-hous ]

A small house built or placed up in the branches of a tree.

Twin Axle
[ twin ak-suhl ]

A caravan with two axles and four wheels.


uhn-der-bel-ee ]

Refers to the underside of a caravan or motorhome, where pipes and other utilities can be found.


[ wig-wawm ]

An American Indian dwelling, usually of rounded or oval shape, formed of poles overlaid with bark, mats, or skins. Similar to a tepee, modern usage for glamping.

Wild Camping
[ wahyld kam-ping ]

The act of camping in the wild rather than on a campsite.


[ yurt ]

A tentlike dwelling, traditional to rural Mongolia. Cylindrical in shape with poles around the outer wall and canvas walls and roof, often covered by felt or skins.