Hotels make their living by accommodating travelers. So it seems reasonable to assume they’d welcome overnight parking.
However, you may be surprised at what could happen if you’re caught sleeping in your RV in a hotel parking lot.
Join us as we explore the ins and outs of using hotels to stay overnight in your motorhome. We’ll also go over some of the basics of finding a good place for overnight parking in your RV.
Let’s hit the road!
What Is Overnight RV Parking?
When you’re on the road, you can’t always stick to your schedule. Sometimes you may need to pull over for some shut-eye rather than continue down the highway. Dry camping in parking lots for the night is a common practice when RVers are between campgrounds with nowhere better to stop. It’s a no-frills way of RVing since you won’t have hook-ups like water or sewer.
Overnight RV parking may not be very easy in big cities. But smaller towns and rural areas can be lenient towards motorhomes if they move on after a few hours.
You may spot an RV camped out at a big box store or a truck stop. Sometimes they’ll use rest stops along the highway. And every once in a while, you may see a camper trying to blend in at a hotel parking lot.
Is Overnight Parking at a Hotel Legal?
Hotels are private property. That means it’s technically trespassing if you’re caught there without permission. Furthermore, in some cities, there’s a total ban on sleeping in your vehicle.
So, while some hotels may let their guests park an RV in the lot, those spots are typically for paying customers. While you could always try asking permission, odds are the staff will say no. They want to reserve their lots for checked-in guests. That’s why many dry campers try to slip in and out before anyone notices them.
You may be able to get away with parking overnight in a hotel lot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legal to do so.
What Can Happen if You’re Caught Overnight Parking at a Hotel?
In many cases, nothing will happen. Some hotels don’t monitor their lots overnight, so as long as no one has trouble parking, you’re in the clear. Still, there’s a good chance the hotel may have your RV towed.
Of course, not all tow truck companies will be able to tow your rig, especially if it’s a large RV. But the worst-case scenario is that the hotel calls the police for trespassing. If you’re charged, you may end up paying more for that stop than the hotel room would have cost you.
Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 5 Unusual Places to Sleep Overnight in Your Vehicle.
Tips for Overnight RV Parking
Before you hit the road, you should spend some time looking for backup spots to stay along the route. That way, you won’t be forced to try overnight parking in a hotel. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Know the Rules and Regulations
Parking regulations will vary from state to state and city to city. For example, Colorado doesn’t allow overnight parking in rest areas, while Texas allows you to stay for a maximum of 24 hours.
Cities often have specific rules about street parking, and some even require a permit. And while some businesses may let RVs park overnight, local ordinances may not allow it. You can find local rules online, so know before you go.
Always Get Permission
If you’re parking on private property, make sure you have permission to do so. It’s not worth the risk to sneak in and out. You can face big fines and risk having your vehicle towed.
It’s recommended to get permission from an owner or manager of the business. If the person you talk to doesn’t have the authority, they aren’t liable for any problems.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Some places are a lot safer to sleep in than others. If you’re sleeping in a parking lot without a lot of traffic, you may arouse some curiosity. Always lock your doors and hide your valuables. Keep your shades pulled down and your windows closed.
Bad situations can sometimes happen at rest stops and truck stops. If something feels off, it’s better to find somewhere else to sleep. But with some common sense, you can avoid trouble and get a good night’s rest. Many parking lots have overnight security, including hotels and malls, if you can get permission to stay there.
Minimize the Space You Use
Remember, you’re not at a campground, so don’t start setting up camp. Don’t set out chairs or start grilling. It’s also best to keep your slides pulled in while you get some rest. If you’re in a big parking lot, try to park near the back so you’re not in the way.
Keep It Clean
The parking lot isn’t a trash can. If someone permits you to stay the night, treat them with respect. Clean up trash or litter around your camper. Some people will assume the worst if they see a mess, even if it was already there. Leave the area better than you found it.
This is a simple way to keep the peace and help ensure businesses continue to allow overnight RV parking.
How Do You Find Legal Overnight RV Parking?
When you’re on the road, RVers have a few go-to places to check out. Some states allow you to park an RV at rest stops. Of course, they may have limits as low as four hours, so it’s not ideal for a good night’s sleep. Many truck stops and big box stores outside city limits also allow RV parking. But be sure to check with the owner or manager first, though.
If you need help finding places to stay, several apps can help you plan your overnight stays. Campendium, iOverlander, and AllStays are great resources to use. You can also camp for free in national forests and public land run by the Bureau of Land Management.
And if a business does let you camp overnight, be sure to spend some money on supplies while you’re there. It’s an easy way to say thank you.
Pro Tip: Combine RVing and a hotel stay with this Ultimate Airstream Hotel Guide.
Should You Sleep in Your RV in a Hotel Parking Lot?
If you absolutely need to stop and there’s nowhere else to go, you might consider booking a hotel room rather than trying to park in their lot overnight. Or, you could ask permission to rest in your camper for a few hours. They may have some sympathy for you and allow you to stay without a hassle.
But, for the most part, it’s not worth the risk. The better solution is to plan for each night on the road, along with a few backup options. That way, you’ll never have to sleep with one eye open, waiting for that dreaded knock on the door.
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