Using Your RV as a Guesthouse


Liz Wilcox

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Author of Tales From the Black Tank, Liz Wilcox is an Army wife turned RV entrepreneur. When she’s not out exploring the US with her family, you can find her telling jokes and swapping campfire stories. She is a firm believer in the power of the campfire and refuses to settle for suburban survival. At the end of 2017, she gave up personal space in return for personal freedom, hitting the road in a 2007 Jayco Greyhawk. As a full-time RVer, she has a passion for creating community among campers of all kinds through humor and storytelling. You can learn more and become part of her community at The Virtual Campground.

Your RV is designed to be a camper and allow you to travel to new destinations and stay for a few days or more, but what if you’re at your house and you have people visiting from out of town? Wouldn’t that be a perfect time to use your RV as a guesthouse? It definitely would.

This often occurs around the holidays. Instead of packing your whole family into your home, think about using your RV as a guesthouse when people come to visit.

There are a lot of differences between a house and an RV. If you’re a seasoned RV owner, you might have forgotten all the little distinctions. If you have a guest coming to visit your home that has never been in a rig before, you definitely need to hold an orientation when they get there.

Here are a few tips for using your RV as a guesthouse at your home.

First Things First, Proper Toilet Operation

Elegant Camper RV Bathroom with Cassette Toilet. Rving in Style.

I will never forget the first time I had a friend come over to our fifth-wheel. Her daughter went to the bathroom and came out crying. “Mommy, they don’t flush their toilet here!” It was so hard not to laugh.

If you’re hosting guests at your home and using your RV as a guesthouse, make sure to tell them how the toilet flushes. Consider actually taking them to the toilet to show them where everything is, especially if they have young kids. Having a clean and working shower is a plus too.

What seems obvious or easy in conversation may turn out tricky once they’re in the bathroom. Also, actually showing them the bathroom will help you remember anything you might forget if you just mention it off-hand.  Explore Camping World’s endless selection of RV bathroom products.

Show Them Any Tricky Doors

I’ve also made the mistake of not sharing how to open the front door. I had one friend so frazzled I’m pretty sure she thought she was going to live in the RV forever.

Save your guests the embarrassment. Go through that when they first arrive. RV doors don’t always work like house doors. It seems silly, but it’s worth it to go over door operation so you don’t let your guests struggle with the latch or damage something.

Of course, if your guest is there for an extended stay, you’ll want to share how to open the fridge and in return, how to ensure it’s closed.

My mom stayed in our rig and was the worst about this. She was constantly asking how to open the refrigerator. In hindsight, I think if I would have shown her from the beginning, she would have understood better than having to figure it out on her own.

Not All Electricity is Created Equal

Power supply to a mobile home with a CEE plug via a power connector CEE.

Using your RV as a guesthouse at your own home is great, but you probably don’t have a full 30 or 50 amp hookup for your RV in your driveway.

However, most houses do have a 15 or 20 amp that you can plug your rig into with a converter. Of course, this means the rig isn’t getting full power and won’t be able to power everything. Some things will simply not work. Definitely, share that information with your guests.

I learned this the hard way when we were moochdocking at my father-in-law’s house. It was summer, and I got stuck without air conditioning on a hot day.

As an extra precaution, go through all the RV systems with your guests and instruct them on what appliances can be used at what times.

You’ll also want to point out how to reset the circuit breaker inside the RV. Chances are it may take them a day or two to get used to the limited supply of power.

Invite Your Guests Inside as Much as You Can

While you might love the small space your RV affords you, your guests might take a bit to warm up to it. An RV, like a travel trailer or Happier Camper, can be a very small space to someone who hasn’t ever spent much time in one.

Depending on your guests, their family size, and the luggage they’ve brought to the rig, your RV may get cramped quickly.

Don’t forget about those loved ones out there in the driveway. Invite them inside as much as you can for meals and a place to kick back and relax. You can also go to them. Eat your meals outside, play some games in the yard, and have a campfire.

Make Life Easy for Your Guests

5 gallon light bucket camping hack

Getting used to the rig might be more difficult for some guests. Keep a flashlight by the door just in case they want to leave during the night. While you’re at it, add a spare set of keys to your home. This lets your company know they can come to your house if they need to. You could go the extra mile and light their path to the house for them.

Reflective duct tape is an inexpensive and easy way to do that. If you like DIY projects, you could try making this bucket light (pictured above). It can be a great way to light the way from your RV to the door of your home.

Also, make sure to keep a list of everything you’ve gone over for them on the fridge in the RV. That way if they forget something during their stay, they can look at the list. This would include the aforementioned toilet procedures, electric quirks, and so on.

Make Your Rig Feel like Home

An RV is meant to be a home on wheels. If your rig hasn’t been used in a while, make it feel like home before your guests arrive.

Put some comfortable pillows on the beds and couch, freshen up the linens, do a thorough cleaning, and make sure the trailer or motorhome has everything they need. Find out how RV organization can transform your guests’ experiences. Make sure to keep the following items in the camper:

  • Silverware
  • Dishes
  • Pots and pans
  • Toilet paper
  • Laundry basket
  • Food in the pantry and fridge
  • Running water
  • Movies, Games, Toys, etc

If you’re not sure what your guest may need, ask them before they arrive. The extra care may be just what you need to win them over if they aren’t so excited about that limited electricity. If you do things right and make your guests’ stay in your RV a success, they may even decide to get one for themselves.

If the idea of sprucing up your RV seems overwhelming, whether for guests or before your next adventure, consult a Design Specialist who can help. Camping World Design Centers offer the products, resources, and installations you need to plan and execute your ideal interior design projects with the latest products from exclusive brands.

Have you ever used your RV as a guest house at your home? If so, how did it go? Leave a comment below. 



  • Comment (10)
  • YaiYaiTwitchity says:

    These are great comments.
    I am nervously preparing to become a first time RV-Mom and it will be my ‘YaYa’s Place’ (guest house) when I go to visit my daughter and family. The information shared here gives me more confidence that it will be just what I need… the little retreat in the back yard. Because as much as we love those grands…..YaYa needs her quiet time.

  • Crystal says:

    Does anyone know- could I use my rv toilet for an outdoor party of let’s say 50 people?

    • Hi Crystal!

      You certainly could. But a couple considerations:

      1. Ensure you instruct your guests on the proper methods for using an RV toilet (i.e., pre-filling the bowl, minimizing toilet paper use, rinsing the bowl, etc.)
      2. Ensure your black water holding tank has enough capacity to avoid overfilling it in this use case.

      Hope that helps!

  • Anne McDonald says:

    We live in Florida on the water and use our toy hauler as a 2 bedroom guest house frequently. Since it’s parked on our side yard we installed a dedicated 30amp RV plug which makes it very convenient. We have no sewer hookup so we purchased the valterra sewer kit to be able to dump the black and gray water into our sewer clean out near the street. We ask our guests to feel free to use the rv toilet at night but please try to use the inside guest bathroom during the daytime. The shower I give them the option to use the RV shower or inside guest shower. I stock the RV fridge with water and keep a mini kuerig in the camper, plus the house key to come inside in the am, whether we are up or not. I use nice bedding and towels and guests say they are very comfy when they stay with us. The only thing I still need to do is post a FAQ sheet on the fridge. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Deb says:

    We use our RV as a guest house all summer long at our cabin. It gives our guests privacy, a bit of space to have as their own. I provide them with a coffee bar in the RV, but all meals are in the cabin.

  • Linda says:

    We’ve owned campers for years and have had many guests both expected and unexpected. The funniest and probably most enjoyable was many years ago. My husband and I were hosting a surprise 25th anniversary party for our business partners. Their best friend drove to South Florida from Atlanta on the wrong day! We invited him in, enjoyed cocktails and dinner, then tucked him in bed in our 32’ Itasca motor home. We all got a great laugh about it. The following evening, he gave a beautiful toast, including his faux pas, which made our friends all the happier. He was our most memorable camper guest ever.

  • John Dubois says:

    Enjoyed the article on using the camper for a guest house. We are thinking of using it for an airb&b.

  • Liz Wilcox says:

    Oh I love the coffee bar idea! Thanks for sharing Deb!

  • Liz Wilcox says:

    Itasca to the rescue!!!

  • Liz Wilcox says:

    That’s a great idea John! The first time I ever stayed in an RV was on airbnb…then I bought one a couple weeks later!

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