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The One Overnight Parking Spot in Every Town (But, It’s Only Semi-Legit)

Most campers and RVers are interested in saving money, so let’s talk about a semi-legit overnight parking hack that does just that. 

You’ve probably heard of camping discount clubs that help you save on your campsite fees, but there are other ways. 

Keep reading to learn about all the ways you can save on camping and why some are only semi-legit. 

Let’s get started!

Overnight Parking Hack – Hospital Parking Lots

Did you know you could spend the night in a hospital parking lot?

Although it’s private property and a business, most city laws regarding overnight parking don’t apply to hospital lots. However, some places have signs restricting overnight stays, so you should avoid those.

Why is This Overnight Parking Hack only “Semi-Legit?”

Hospital parking lots are private property set aside for family and friends visiting patients. It’s not exactly open to just anyone parking and staying there. 

Although the hospital has the right to ask you to leave, it rarely happens because visitors can and do stay the night in their vehicles. Some hospitals even have RV spaces. So as long as you don’t call attention to yourself, you should be able to get away with staying the night. 

We don’t encourage breaking the rules, breaking the law, or being disrespectful…however, with inflation soaring, it’s nice to find something easy on your wallet.

Speaking of Cheap Camping: This $25 Radar Detector May Save You from Getting a Potential Speeding Ticket.

Tips for Overnighting in Hospital Lots

We recommend looking for hospitals in suburban and rural areas. They tend to have the largest lots that can accommodate most RVs. 

Once you find a place to park, select an out-of-the-way spot by a curb with grass. That way, you can open a slide if you can’t reach your bed. Remember that this is just night-time parking, so don’t set anything up outside your rig. Keep your exterior lights off and your awning retracted.

If you’re traveling with kids or pets, make sure to keep them all quiet, especially at night. Although your kids and pets might need to burn off some energy, don’t let them just run around. 

Keep your pets on a leash, clean up after them, and do what you can to keep them from barking. You don’t want to be a distraction and attract the attention of security or other visitors.

Keep your blinds shut and if you must watch TV or listen to music, keep your volume low or use headphones. If you have external speakers, double-check to ensure they’re off. Hospital parking lots are quiet places. 

Lastly, try to arrive later in the evening and depart first thing in the morning. 

PRO TIP: Don’t be like these overnight parking campers!

Emergency sign for hospital.
Most city laws regarding overnight parking don’t apply to hospital lots.

Is This Camping Hack Considered Boondocking?

Boondocking is more than sleeping in your RV without hookups. It’s an off-grid, out in the wild, camping adventure. When you’re boondocking, you have to rely on yourself. You bring all your supplies, water, power, and resourcefulness. Sometimes, part of the adventure is just finding the place!

Boondocking is associated with camping in the boonies. Sleeping in a paved lot is neither camping nor being out in the boonies. It’s lot docking.

Pro Tip: Become a boondocking pro with these 22 RV Boondocking Tips.

RV parked in Walmart parking lot.
Big box stores also offer free camping options.

Other Overnight Camping Hacks

Big box stores and restaurants often allow free nighttime RV stays. These places still need to comply with city laws, so you always want to check before turning in for the night.

Trust us. You don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night and asked to leave!

Stores that Allow Night RV Parking

Most campers know about big box stores such as Walmart, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops, but they aren’t the only ones! Some Lowes, Home Depot, and Costco stores also offer one-night stays for RVers. The good thing about box stores is that you can shop for whatever you need for the next leg of your trip. 

Cracker Barrel is also a favorite overnight spot among campers. They have free spaces for RVs and are typically located right off the highway. The following morning, you can stop in for a reasonably priced breakfast. Talk about a bonus!

The biggest downfall is that the parking lots aren’t huge, making it challenging to mauver larger RVs. There aren’t many RV spaces either, so you’ll need to find another place to park if they’re full.

Pro Tip: Save some money on your next camping trip by using these tips on How to Legally Camp at Cracker Barrel.

Stealth Overnight Options

There are other one-night camping spots that campers can use, as long as they can be stealthy. 

Most RVers have used truck stops and gas stations for camping hacks at one time or another, but how about 24-hour grocery stores? The lots at grocery stores are typically large and well-lighted. Sure, vehicles are always coming and going, but it’s a good choice if you’re tired and just need a place to rest at night.

Rest areas are another fantastic night-time option. They’re well-lighted, large enough to park any size rig, and have restrooms, snack machines, and picnic areas. If you’re lucky, you might even find one with a dump station! You can only stay for about eight hours, so make sure you leave before your time is up.

Some of the more unusual locations to spend the night include bars and taverns, 24-hour gyms, trailheads, scenic overlooks, and mechanic shops. Most of these locations have vehicles coming and going throughout the day and night, so you should be able to blend right in. 

Those are our Camping Hacks!

What do you think? Is overnighting at the hospital a good camping hack, or do you have your own recommendations? Tell us in the comments!

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:

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  1. Mary Beth Ryan says:

    I often shop at non-profit thrift stores so I ask the manager if I can stay nearby overnight. This works well with small, locally owned stores of all types. I’m often told if there is security that patrols or not.

    Semi trucks sometimes park in residential streets overnight so I just tuck in behind them.

  2. Albert Bartkowski says:

    Saw the above link for radar detectors! REMEMBER- They are ILLEGAL in Canada!!!( Also I believe Virginia) The police have radar detector, detectors!!!! My buddy was stopped just entering Quebec! Confiscated the detector, AND a $800.00 fine!!!!
    FYI !!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is what we do, not by choice, but so far these have worked for us.
    Love’s truckstop in Ohio for 21/2 weeks, weigh station in Mich for 5 nites, rest area in Ohio for 3 nites and now in KY at a small town Soccer Field for 1 nite so far.
    What a blessing since it was either mechanical or broke, waiting for payday each time. We’re medically challenged SRs just starting our adventure of full time! We don’t use credit, a only cash. So far no issues…be blessed!!