In Europe, wagons built to live in, rather than just to carry persons or goods, were created in France around 1810. They were used in England by showmen and circus performers from the 1820s; but Gypsies only started living in caravans (vardos) from about 1850.
The covered wagon that played a significant part in opening up of the interior of the North American continent to white settlement from about 1745 was a kind of caravan. A well set-up wagon provided its occupants with living quarters as well as a means of moving themselves, plus their supplies and equipment.
In Canada, the first motorhomes were built on car or truck bodies from about 1910. By the 1920s the RV was well established in the U.S., with RV camping clubs established across the country, despite the unpaved roads and narrow amount of camping facilities.
In Australia, the first known motorhome was built in 1929. It is at the moment in the Goolwa Museum, where it has been partially restored. It is known by both the National Museum of Australia and the (Australian) National Motor Museum as being the first motorized caravan in Australia.
Between the late 1920s and the early 1960s, some South Australian railway maintenance gangs working in country areas where they were required to live on-site, were accommodated in caravans constructed by the department instead of the tents they had before used. These caravans were built like small railway carriages, about 6.1 metres (20 feet) long; but had wooden wheels with solid rubber tyres and ball bearings.
In the U.S., the modern RV industry had its beginnings in the late 1920s and 1930s (shortly after the advent of the automobile industry), where a number of companies began creating house trailers or trailer coaches, as they were then called. Often, these started out as mom and pop operations, building their designs in garages or back yards. (One of these early manufacturers, Airstream, is still in operational today.) Though tied to the mobile home industry in the early years—when few units were longer than 9 metres (30 ft) long, and thus easily transportable—the 1950s saw a separation of the two, as (what are now referred to as) mobile homes became bigger and more immobile, and thus largely became an entirely separate industry. During the 1950s, in addition to travel trailers or trailer coaches, manufacturers began building self-contained RVs.