Camping has become so popular that it has become a competition to find places to park your RV. Most campsites are full long before you arrive at your favorite destination.
As for the trip along the way, you’d be lucky to find a place to pull over for the night. Well, we can’t help you avoid procrastination in making those reservations for your vacation spot.
But we might be able to assist you in finding overnight lodging if your journey takes several days. See if you can incorporate any of the following 10 suggestions for overnight parking in your next camping excursion.
Can You Sleep in an RV Anywhere?
If you intend to pull over and catch a nap anywhere, you may find an expensive parking ticket on your windshield or be awakened in the middle of the night by that dreaded knock on the door.
Because of traffic flow, municipal laws, private property, and neighborhood watch programs, sleeping in an RV is strictly limited. So be prepared beforehand with the knowledge of places along your route where you can legally park overnight. We have listed several ideas below.
Where Is the Safest Place to Sleep in Your Car?
If you’re traveling by car, it is important to find a safe place to get a good night’s rest. Car camping can be more vulnerable than staying in an RV with a ready-made bed, bath, and kitchen facilities.
One of the most secure places would be a casino parking lot. Security patrols are constantly alert and restroom facilities are usually open until 2:00 a.m. or even later.
10 Places to Easily Park Overnight
If you’re on your way to a vacation destination in your RV, you may have a multi-day trip ahead of you before you reach your campground. Stopping each night and setting up camp may not be the most appealing option, time-wise or cost-wise.
All you may need for those intermingling nights is a place to pull over and get a good night’s sleep before moving on. Here are 10 locations that can offer you just that – a stopping spot for a nominal (and in many cases, free) cost:
1. Walmart Parking Lots
The number one place to stay overnight is a Walmart parking lot. It’s always good to call in advance and ask permission. Many jurisdictions have outlawed overnight parking with laws instigated by local campgrounds that see the practice as competition for their paid campsites.
But there are still many Walmarts that allow overnight parking. When asked, they will usually tell you what part of the parking lot to move to.
And remember good RV etiquette: don’t put down stabilizing jacks or put out slides while parking overnight. You don’t want to appear to be “setting up camp.” Another good practice is to leave the parking lot in better shape than when you came. Pick up trash or put carts in their place. This will continue the goodwill between RVers and Walmarts.
2. Cracker Barrel Parking Lots
Cracker Barrels like having RVers stay with them overnight so much that many have painted RV parking spaces in their lots. Always call and ask permission first.
The manager will most likely tell you to park after they close for the evening. They’re the perfect spot to hang around in the morning, as RVers become customers for a hearty breakfast!
3. Casino Parking Lots
Many gambling establishments welcome overnight stays on their extensive grounds. Again, call in advance. They’ll send you to the least busy part of their property, but you will almost always find it a pleasant stay.
Many casinos have 24-hour security patrols, and to make you a patron, they may give you a player’s card loaded with $10 in gambling money and even credit for a good breakfast. Some of these businesses have appealed to so many RVers that they have built their own RV campgrounds on the property.
4. BLM Land
For a usually quiet, relaxing stay, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campsites are the most comfortable places to stop. Most are far off the beaten path, so noise is not an issue. There are no services, including no toilets or other amenities, but you can actually camp on BLM land.
Take out your slides, set up your grill, and stick around for up to 14 days in the same place. You do need to access the BLM website at www.blm.gov to locate such public lands, but if the spot you choose is not an official campground, the cost is usually free.
5. Truck Stops
Parking overnight at a truck stop is not the best option for overnight stays, but it can be helpful if there are no other places to park. If you do decide to park at one, prepare for the constant noise of refrigerator trucks and those revving up to leave.
Also, be respectful of the truck parking area and don’t use it. Ask an attendant where you may park to stay out of the way because truckers depend upon truck stops to get their required rest before continuing with their job.
A couple of benefits of staying at a truck stop include nice clean showers and lots of snacks. There may even be a restaurant on site.
6. Rest Stops and Welcome Centers
Highway rest stops and state welcome centers are usually good places to stop for a rest. However, these rest stops are not areas where you would put out your slides and set up your lawn chairs.
They are for catching some shut-eye, then moving on. Many have clean restrooms, snack machines, and even dog walk areas.
7. Hotel Parking Lot
Some hotel and motel parking lots look like great options since they are already full of vehicles and usually have good safety lighting. But before you pull in, be sure to call the front desk and ask permission.
You may find some pushback from them, as they see your RV as competition for the room they could sell you. Many will let you stay if you assure them you are just stopping for some rest and will be out early in the morning.
8. Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome
Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome are basically databases that list businesses and RV owners willing to let you park at their location free of charge. With Harvest Hosts, you can stay at participating vineyards, farms, breweries, museums, ranches, and even golf courses for one night and sometimes more. You must be in a self-contained rig (no car or tent campers), and there are usually no hookups.
However, you’ll be asked to purchase something while staying at the location. For instance, you may buy a museum tour or get a bottle of wine at a winery.
The cost per year is around $100 and $140 to include golf courses in the membership.
Boondockers Welcome charges a yearly fee of $50 to stay at the homes of RVers who usually have limited hookups available and, at the very least, a nice spot on their property to park. It’s a great way to meet other RVers and share camping experiences and favorite destinations while learning about local attractions.
9. Residential Streets
Parking on a side street in a town is a bit more involved, as you will need to do some research about specific laws for each place you visit. Many streets have “No Overnight Parking” signs, but some off-street parking may not be labeled.
The best way to discover open parking areas is to look at the municipality’s website regarding parking restrictions. Then drive around during daylight hours to scout possibilities.
10. Driveway of a Friend or Family Member
Moochdocking, otherwise known as camping in a friend’s driveway, is a great way to visit loved ones without imposing too much.
They don’t have to donate a guest room or feel obligated to prepare breakfast for you. If you hook up to their electricity, it might be good form to offer them some money for the service. They might love it if you invited them (to their driveway) for dinner prepared in your RV kitchen.
How Do You Find Places to Park Overnight?
You can find all the locations listed above with a bit of research. In fact, many camping apps have a filter for “free locations” or “overnight parking.” Be sure to peruse AllStays Pro, either on their iPhone app or online. You’ll find everything from campsites to camping services like propane and fuel stations and dump stations.
Campendium is another favorite website where campsites across the country are reviewed for their accessibility, price, noise level, and even cellular service availability.
Just remember to contact locations directly before you arrive to make sure they will allow you to stay so that you can enjoy a peaceful night’s rest when you get there.
Where are your go-to places to park overnight?
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