Whether it’s a lack of planning, traffic, or other travel issues, plenty of folks have found themselves exhausted and far from any RV park, campground, or other accommodations. Up ahead, you see an Albertsons, complete with a spacious parking lot. It might be tempting to pull in and get some rest. However, knowing the rules for overnight parking there and at other familiar businesses is crucial.
Read on as we explore the major do’s and don’ts.
What Is Albertsons?
Albertsons is a grocery store chain with more than 2,200 locations. Most of them are in the western and midwestern parts of the country. Founded in 1939 in Boise, Idaho, it quickly grew to become one of the nation’s largest supermarkets. With spacious stores of up to 70,000 square feet, the company focuses on creating full-featured stores. That almost universally includes butchers, fresh seafood departments, bakeries, delis, and more.
Recently, rival supermarket chain Kroger announced it would acquire Albertsons in a multi-billion dollar deal.
Can You Park Overnight at Albertsons?
While Albertsons may have a large parking lot close to major roads, don’t be fooled – you shouldn’t park there overnight. While there may not be signs expressly forbidding the practice in all lots, the company doesn’t have any policies that would broadly permit overnight parking, unlike some others.
In fact, some Albertsons have even had to crack down on those using their lot for other purposes. It’s had vehicles ticketed or towed.
Where Can I Park Overnight?
Albertsons may not be a good choice for overnight parking. But the good news for RVers and other travelers is that there are still plenty of free, convenient overnight parking spots. Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list, but just a few of the most notable and common options.
While not every Walmart allows overnight parking, many do, making it an excellent choice to grab a few hours’ rest. Walmarts typically have large, easy-to-navigate parking lots with plenty of lighting for safety. In addition, many Walmarts are open late or even 24 hours. That allows campers to grab food or other supplies upon arrival. Before settling down for the night, you should confirm with store management if you can do that.
Outdoor stores like Cabelas know that RVers are some of their best customers, so it should be no surprise you can park there for a night as well. While there’s no official, written policy, most stores will allow one-night stays. Still, you should confirm with individual stores to be sure. Other sporting goods stores like Big 5 and Dick’s may also offer this benefit.
If you want to combine a convenient place to stay overnight and a great place to grab some breakfast the following day, Cracker Barrel is the choice for you. A practically ubiquitous feature along highways in the south, the combination general store-restaurant has been offering home cooking, road trip souvenirs, and a place to rest for decades.
Many Cracker Barrels will have spots designed specifically for RVs, but like elsewhere, it’s good practice to check with managers about overnight stays and perhaps grab a meal. Your stomach won’t regret it!
It hardly gets more convenient for travelers than rest areas. Often just feet from interstates or other major highways, there’s no worrying about time lost deviating from your route. Most include basic services like bathrooms, but some may not be much more than a parking lot with a few picnic tables. Many also have regular security patrols to ensure things stay safe.
Truck stops may not have the best reputation in some quarters, but they can be lifesavers for those needing a place to park overnight. Conveniently located just off major roadways, you generally won’t have to travel far. Unlike many rest areas, truck stops often have extensive amenities available, like restaurants, general stores, showers, and other services in some cases. Many truck stops also have their own security to ensure things stay safe, with so many people coming and going.
The federal government manages BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands for use by the public. One of the most common uses of some parts of BLM land is free or low-cost camping. While campers won’t have access to many or any amenities, they’ll be able to stop overnight (or up to 14 days of any 28-day period) throughout vast stretches of land, particularly out west.
What Is It Called When You Camp for Free?
There are a few various terms you’ll hear for free camping. In some cases, you’ll be “stealth camping.” – getting some rest in your rig without anyone hopefully knowing you’re sleeping inside. This generally happens in areas where you can’t camp. You should only do it with caution.
In other cases, free camping is known as boondocking, particularly when there are no amenities or hookups at the site. This can be anywhere from a parking lot at a major event to a vacant spot on remote public land. A slight variation is known as “moochdocking,” which involves staying on the property of a friend or family member and taking advantage of a (usually limited) utility hookup.
Is Boondocking Safe?
Generally speaking, those who exercise a bit of common sense should find boondocking to be very safe. Crime is relatively rare at boondocking locations. Campers don’t face any hazards they wouldn’t encounter at many normal campsites – except maybe in the most remote locations. As always, you should exercise good judgment in avoiding areas with risks from wild animals or natural features like dying trees or high rivers.
In addition, boondockers should always trust their gut, whether they’re uncertain about a location or even a situation with fellow campers. Whether or not it’s warranted, chances are you’ll sleep better and get more rest in a spot that doesn’t make you worry.
Is It Worth Parking Overnight in Business Parking Lots?
To be sure, spending a night without hookups in a parking lot is rarely any traveler’s idea of a good time. Most of us would rather enjoy a beautiful RV park with great views and convenient amenities. Still, anyone who travels frequently or full-time knows there are some nights when you just need a place to get a few hours of rest before hopping back on the road.
In these situations, there are few better choices than the parking lots of businesses, along with rest stops and truck stops. As always, check to ensure overnight parking is allowed before settling in. Sweet dreams!
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 who 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: