Whether you are planning on just stopping somewhere along the road for the night or you have a scheduling/reservation snafu, you may find yourself without a place to park. Some people travel back and forth across the country without ever making a reservation or staying in a paid campground or park. They embrace the boondocking lifestyle. Their secret is knowing when and where to look for a free overnight RV parking spot.
There are many places that will allow you to park for one night. Some key things to remember:
- Be sure you have permission from the owner or manager of the property.
- Keep your safety in mind and don’t park in dangerous-seeming places or in an unsafe manner.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. If you’ve been given permission to stay more than just one night, keep it short. If you’re only there for the night, don’t set up camp – you’re only parking. No need to bring out the grill and hammock.
Where to Find Free Overnight RV Parking
Here are a few easy places to consider for a free overnight RV parking spot when you’re on the move.
Quite a few casinos (especially those that don’t have their own or adjacent RV park) will allow you to park your rig in their lots. The key is to check with management to find out IF, where and for how long you can park. The casinos usually have some spots for RVers already designated. These spots are often at the back or on the fringes of the parking lot.
It is not unusual to find out that you can stay more than one night at certain casinos. (They want you to spend as much time inside as possible!)
Highway Rest Stops
The multitude of highway rest stops are designed for the convenience and needs of drivers. That includes RV drivers! Most rest areas will have separate areas designated for trucks and larger vehicles as well as passenger cars. Even if you’re driving a smaller rig, it is usually advisable to park in the truck area. There’s more room and it’s easier to maneuver. Many truckers also use certain rest stops to take a break and catch a few ZZZs.
Be sure your rig is safely parked and secured. Just like truck stops below, you never know who is visiting the rest area while you’re there. Keep safety in mind both in and out of your rig.
With the hundreds if not thousands, of truck stops on the highways, it shouldn’t be an issue to find a place to pull into for a quick night’s rest. There are many benefits to using a truck stop for your recharge. The facility and parking lot are designed for the largest vehicles on the road and are usually well-lit. You should have no trouble parking your rig in the big spaces or open areas that are adjacent to many truck stops. You can refuel the rig and yourself quickly and easily before hitting the road again in the morning.
There are some big cons to go with the above pros though. Truck stops can be extremely noisy – at all hours. It may be difficult to get a sound sleep. Many types of people frequent these travel centers. You need to be sure your rig and possessions stay locked securely away from prying eyes and sticky fingers. Stay safe and keep your guard up.
The parking lots of Walmart are one of the best-known places for RVers to pull in and spend a night. Many campers plan their trip based on the proximity of a Walmart to their main destination – for shopping and resting.
The main thing with Walmart (and any spot) is to get permission. The manager may have a certain place they want you to park or they may even discourage you from staying overnight. Even though corporate Walmart encourages the practice, individual store managers may not. This could be due to safety concerns, small parking lots, or other reasons. The goal is to have a good encounter with the store personnel and ensure a welcome if you return.
There are a lot more places you can pull into for a free and quick overnight stay or for extended periods of time. We will learn more about them and other places to dry camp in the upcoming weeks.