You never know what the road will throw your way when you’re traveling. Many travelers have found free overnight parking spots to get some shut-eye when they cannot reach their final destination. Once they get some sleep, they’ll return to the road.
However, while these can be convenient and inexpensive ways to get some rest, they’re not always the best idea.
Today, we’re sharing five reasons you should avoid overnight parking whenever possible. Let’s dive in and see!
What Is Overnight Parking?
Overnight parking is what many travelers use when they need a place to sleep for the night. Some of the most common locations for overnight parking are parking lots, city streets, and many other public locations.
These parking options can be great spots to help break up long travel days and avoid paying expensive fees at campgrounds or hotels.
FYI: Here are the 7 Deadly Sins of Overnight Parking
Is Overnight Parking Legal?
When it comes to the legal status of overnight parking, it can be difficult to know. This is because cities and local communities restrict when and where they allow overnight parking. Finding legal overnight parking in cities can be nearly impossible. However, rural areas tend to be a bit more hospitable for allowing overnight parking.
Just because you see an empty parking lot doesn’t mean you can park in it. These are typically private property, and you should never park on private property without permission.
In addition, some businesses and other private properties may not be able to grant overnight parking requests due to local rules and regulations.
Can You Sleep Overnight in a Parked Car?
While it may not be incredibly comfortable, sleeping overnight in a parked car is possible. There’s sufficient ventilation that you won’t have to worry about running out of oxygen or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Many who park overnight find that cracking a window helps to increase air circulation and for them to be more comfortable.
5 Reasons to Avoid Overnight Parking
If you’re still considering overnight parking, here are a handful of reasons why you should avoid it. For those of you who do it regularly, some of these might leave you questioning why you ever tried it in the first place. Let’s dive in!
It Can Be Unsafe
Overnight camping typically means finding a spot in an unfamiliar area to park for the night. Not only do you not know your way around an unfamiliar area, but you also don’t know what safety is like either. You could be unknowingly parking in the middle of an area with a high crime rate.
The last thing you want to do is wake up and discover that someone has stolen your hub caps while you were sleeping.
Finding a safe place to park for the night can be incredibly difficult. The safest places typically have restrictions when it comes to overnight parking and are quick to issue citations to anyone violating those rules and regulations.
Extra Safety: We carry wasp spray just in case trouble comes buzzing…we’re not recommending using it on humans.
You Might Be Breaking the Law
As overnight parking has become more popular, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in rules and regulations prohibiting overnight parking. While we understand that many cities and communities are tired of dealing with nomads leaving trash behind when passing through town, it’s still incredibly frustrating.
Laws regarding overnight parking are constantly changing and it can be nearly impossible to stay up to date with them.
Just because someone told you they previously stayed at an overnight spot doesn’t mean that it’s still available. A city or business can change its mind to allow or prohibit overnight parking as they see fit. If you regularly take advantage of overnight parking spots, it’s essential to leave the spot cleaner than you found it, especially if you plan to use it again in the future.
Local People May Not Like It
There have been many reports of RVers and travelers having encounters with residents who don’t like people parking in a particular spot. Whether it’s a Walmart parking lot or city street, there’s always a chance you’re going to run into a “Karen” that’s a part of the unofficial welcoming committee that will give you a hard time.
These encounters can turn south quickly, especially if you or the other individual have an attitude. Unless you like the potential of facing confrontation, you might want to reconsider some overnight parking spots.
The Noise Can Be Unbearable
Just because you’re trying to get some sleep doesn’t mean that everyone else is doing the same. Many businesses that allow overnight parking utilize the overnight delivery hours to make it easier on their drivers. So while the parking lot may be empty, it can still be incredibly noisy.
If you find yourself parking anywhere near a semi-truck, you’ll quickly learn that many truck drivers let their trucks idle throughout the night. While you may enjoy the sound of a purring diesel engine, you’re not likely going to enjoy it nearly as much after midnight when you’re trying to sleep. Some overnight parking spots can be nearly impossible to get a solid night’s sleep due to the excessive noise.
You Must Be Self-Sufficient
Overnight parking spots typically require you to be entirely self-sufficient. If you’re traveling in an RV, this means bringing your own water, power, and storing your sewage. While those who boondock on BLM land may not have any issues with this, not everyone is set up to handle it. You could wake up in the morning and discover that your RV’s battery is dead simply from leaving a light or fan on throughout the night.
This is one of the most obvious reminders that you’re not staying in a campground. Some campgrounds provide an electrical, water, or sewer connection at the campsite. However, you’re not going to find any of these at most overnight parking spots. So unless you’re prepared to be entirely self-sufficient, avoid overnight parking spots.
If you still want to park overnight, we’ve found Cracker Barrel to be the most accommodating.
Is Overnight Parking Worth It?
Overnight parking can be an excellent way to save some money and get some rest while traveling. However, for overnight parking spots to be worth it, you must do plenty of research. You can’t pull into just any parking spot and park for the night.
You want to make sure any overnight parking spot you choose is legal and safe. If not, you could find yourself in a frustrating or dangerous situation.
Do you use overnight parking spots during your travels?
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: