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This Is Why RVers Can’t Have Nice Things

This Is Why RVers Can’t Have Nice Things

This Is Why RVers Can’t Have Nice Things

If you’re looking, it doesn’t take long to spot the reasons free overnight RV parking opportunities are being closed down around the nation. 

Whether you participate in forums or groups online or just take a look at your local Walmart parking lot, the reasons are right in front of you! 

We spotted a thread on Reddit that highlights the problem perfectly. Let’s get into it. 

Overnight RV Parking Spaces Disappearing Right Before Our Eyes

We’ve seen a bigger influx of new RVers hit the road over the last couple of years than in many years prior. And with the influx of new RVers comes the consequences, like losing some of our favorite free overnight parking spots. 

From popular BLM and public land boondocking sites being shut down to private parking lots around the nation banning RVers, we’re seeing more and more camping bans almost every month. 

With more people continuing to hit the road without much preparation, it doesn’t look like this trend will slow down anytime soon. 

Bad RV Practice #1: Using a Construction Generator While Lotdocking

This photo posted on Reddit shows just one of the reasons private parking lots hate hosting RVers overnight: being obnoxious. 

This photo shows several RVs posted up at what appears to be a Walmart parking lot. And one of the RVs is running a generator for power – specifically a construction generator. If you know anything about construction generators, you know that they’re way louder than their camping-specific counterparts. 

We get it – lotdocking doesn’t offer power and sometimes you just need a little juice. But Walmart is not the place. 

A comment from anotherjustnope sums it up pretty well: 

“This is the sh*t that ruins it for the rest of us. A lot of Walmarts have stopped letting people overnight and I’m guessing this would be one of the reasons why. Being unobtrusive is the way to go.”

Later on in the thread another commenter chimed in with another bad RVer at a Walmart in Edmonton: 

“I wish I took a pic of a Walmart lot we spent a night in in Edmonton a few years ago. We parked next to a trailer who had (and I am not kidding about this at all) fenced off the parking spot next to his, and laid down artificial turf – made himself a little yard. Had a BBQ there and everything. And now you know why Walmarts all over are denying RVers the ability to park for a night.”

A Few Irresponsible RVers Ruin Free Parking For Everyone

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating now, and we’ll say it again in the future: it only takes a few irresponsible RVers to ruin overnight parking for literally everyone else. 

Photos like this one from Reddit are a prime example. 

Maybe some people just really don’t know the “unwritten rules” of free overnight parking. Maybe they don’t know that they’re running the risk of ruining it for everyone else. 

We think it’s important to share these instances far and wide as well as sharing the consequences to educate RVers and hopefully prevent or slow new overnight RV parking bans.

Need Power to Run Your AC? Pay For a Campground or Find BLM Land

In most of the country it’s hot right now – like really hot. We get it! You need to run your AC, and parking for the night at a Walmart in most states during the summer is a recipe for a sweaty, sleepless night. 

If you need electricity that bad, go somewhere where it’s acceptable to run your generator and run it to your hearts content! Or pay for a campground. Is it really worth one night of comfortable sleep to potentially ruin a safe overnight parking spot for what could be hundreds or thousands of RVers passing through in the future?

Other Ways Irresponsible RVers Ruin Free Overnight Parking For Everyone Else

Running a construction generator in the middle of a Walmart parking lot isn’t the only way people are ruining free camping, but it’s a pretty glaring one. Here are a few other examples of things RVers do that people just aren’t putting up with anymore. 

Setting Up Camp

Like the commenter above stated, some people really do try to setup an entire campsite at a Walmart parking lot. 

We’ve read stories of RVers setting up their lawn chairs, BBQ grills, and hanging out around their camper while lotdocking, drinking and grilling up some food. 

This is never appropriate lotdocking etiquette. Parking lots that offer free overnight parking are for sleeping only – definitely not hanging out outside your rig.

Being Loud

Whether it’s generators, boisterous people, or loud music, being loud and obnoxious is one of the major no-nos when it comes to staying in a free overnight RV parking spot. Private businesses offer lot space to RVers for one purpose: well rested drivers make the road a safer place. 

Overnight RV parking spots are not for camping, partying, or recreating in any way. They are for sleeping or taking a quick break from the road and that’s it.

Overstaying Their Welcome

Like the previous two points mentioned, overnight RV parking spots like those offered by private businesses such as Walmart typically like RVers to arrive after 8pm and leave by 8am.

This is ample time to park, wind down for the night, fall asleep, and wake up refreshed to hit the road again in the morning. 

12 hours is a pretty generous time allotment, but many times RVers will stay at the same parking lot for up to a week at a time. 

Taking advantage of free overnight parking resources cause stores to put up “No Overnight Parking” signs and ban it altogether. 

Being Trashy

By being trashy, we mean being literally trashy. Irresponsible RVers abuse free parking options by leaving trash behind, dumping ashtrays, throwing litter out of their RV, or worse: dumping waste water. 

When human waste starts being disposed of, a free overnight RV parking spot gets shut down fast. Not only is this disgusting, it’s a legitimate hazard to human and animal health. 

If You Want to Set Up Camp, There Are Other Free Options

You want to park overnight in your RV for free and you want to enjoy your time, too. We get it! We also hate paying for camping. But when it comes to a resource like a quick overnight stop (such as a parking lot), we follow the unwritten rules and try to be as respectful as humanly possible.

And we’ve also gotten good at finding legitimate overnight camping spots where we can actually set up camp and have a good time… for free! If you want to park overnight for free and actually be able to enjoy your spot (without ruining it for others), sign up for our email below.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

David Johnson

Thursday 20th of January 2022

Another reason, especially here in Florida. is that there are "city ordinances signs" designating Walmart and other store shopping plazas as no overnight parking. The reason: Campgrounds in Florida (and probably other States) are losing money when campers stay overnight in big box store parking lots. So campground owners petitioned the town boards to pass city ordinances stopping overnight parking.

Also last May 2021, I stayed at a casino in Connecticut for 14 days free RV parking. However, there were surveyors surveying the free overnight parking area. I asked the parking lot security guard, "Why are they surveying". He told me that, "KOA has made a deal with the casino to set up a campground on the casino grounds and soon the free RV parking lot will be eliminated!". I wonder how many more KOA campgrounds are going to be built at casinos as KOA is expanding, and how many more casino RV free parking lots will be eliminated.

Linda

Thursday 20th of January 2022

My husband and I have a Sprinter van camper that he built from a cargo van. Everything is powered by solar and we have lots of storage space, which is what's important to us when we take our 4-8 week wildlife photography excursions. We went to a really nice free municipal park in Missouri in 2019. It was next to a river, there were about a dozen or so campsites with fire pits in a good sized circle and a small blockhouse with a potty and signs with rules posted. There were 2-3 large pick up trucks and a couple of tents. We thought this could be a nice little overnight (or two-three) in an area that we hadn't been in, so we went around the circle to look for a site that we liked away from the other folks. First, a woman had obviously done a bunch of "laundry" in the river and was spending it out all around in the sun to dry (despite signage specifically prohibiting that sort of thing). She gave us the evil eye as we drove by, but we just smiled at her. Don't rock the boat. Next, we saw that ALL of the fire pits were full and overflowing with all sorts of trash. We found a site that seemed to have the least amount of trash in the fire pit and I went to check out the blockhouse. The toilet was full of all sorts of trash and it was overflowing through the nice little cubicle hallway leading almost all the way to the door. Although nothing stunk, it was so absolutely disgusting! I was planning to clean up the fire pit at our site and take that trash with us, but I wasn't going to try to deal with all of that other trash. The final straw was when the other folks started revving their engines, yelling and blasting their music. I told my husband that I didn't really feel safe there, so we found another path down to the river, just to take a look at it before we left. Fortunately, it was about 2 pm, so we were able to find a nice and reasonable campground nearby, also on our list of possibilities, before we needed to start dinner. We stayed there for two days/three nights, as they also had free, hot showers. And they had some birds we had been looking for there, so it was really a win! But-why did those people have to trash that really nice free municipal campground? I mean, what IS the point?

Colt sparrow

Monday 13th of September 2021

Litter bugs are the worst and ungrateful selfish disrespectful people who only think of themselves should not be aloud out of there enclosures Yes the few ruin it for the many in evert aspect of life. The sad fact is nothing can be done to prevent them except with drawing the privileges

Doug White

Monday 13th of September 2021

Valley River Center Mall in Eugene OR has a really great policy for overniters. They just ask you to register your presence and then they hand out a permit that is renewable for up to 3 days as long as you meet their minimal standards for cleanliness, etrc.

Perry

Monday 13th of September 2021

I've just retired at 71 yo and I have been looking forward to all the benefits of an RV lifestyle for many years. It saddens me that I will not be able to benefit from some corporate parking lots (yes, corporations can be generous) and some beautiful, free boondocking sites - making the challenging parts of RV life thatifestyle more difficult. The type of person that would trash a parking lot or free campsite is exactly the person I am trying to leave behind in "civilization". And yet I have no answer for the situation.

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