Tips for Overnight RV Parking on a Roadtrip
Roadtrips are a lot of fun, especially when you do so with friends, family, and fellow fans! Some times though, our roadtrips are longer than a one day trip, meaning we have to stop and sleep somewhere along the way. What’s the tailgater to do? Let’s take a look at the options for overnight RV parking.
Campgrounds and Parks
Obviously, the preferred spot to park is in a campground or state or national park, where you’ll have hookups for water, sewer, and electricity. However, these benefits mean additional costs. For those of us that have become accustomed to the good life though, these benefits may be well worth the cost. Especially if you have been on the road for a few days, need to empty waste tanks and refill the freshwater tanks.
If you know that the trip will take more than a day and you plan on splitting it up, we recommend that you plan your overnight stop. Many campgrounds and parks will be full during the common RV tailgating periods – in the fall (football) and spring/summer (baseball). Make reservations for campgrounds and parks when you plan your roadtrip.
If you’ve taken advantage of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Land annual pass, you may not have any additional entrance fees and can boondock for free. In some parks, only spots with hookups will cost you additional money. You’ll want to check with the individual park for various fees and rules. For example, many parks and campgrounds have rules about how late you can arrive. This may not be best if you are staying for a short time and will be hitting the road first thing in the morning.
Parking Overnight at Businesses
Walmart is the most recognized overnight RV parking friendly store. But there are others, including Cracker Barrel and Cabellas, that are RV parking friendly. Many casinos will also provide free overnight parking for RVers. Many Camping World stores are also welcoming for overnight RV parking.
Don’t assume that all the Walmart stores will allow overnight RV parking. Some local cities and counties have prohibited it and there is nothing that the local store can do about it. Other stores may not have the room for you to be taking up 5 or more parking spots. And don’t ignore “no overnight parking” signs. Don’t expect to be able to park at Walmart or other businesses in Florida during snowbird season! It is so busy and there have been so many abuses of the privilege that many places straight up don’t allow overnight parking.
Can I park my RV at a Walmart store?
While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.
Tips for Overnight RV Parking
Above all, be nice and unassuming. The best thing to do is to leave a favorable impression. Here are a few tips to help make sure that these stores continue to allow overnight parking and stay RV friendly:
- When possible, use the store or restaurant. They are businesses and need to keep the doors open. So give back to them by buying their products and services. Make them see the benefit of helping out the RV community by adding to their bottom line.
- Don’t stay multiple nights in a row. This is usually not difficult for RV tailgaters, since we have games to get to. But perhaps you are making a longer trip and arrive a few days early or want to explore an area. Don’t stay in the same parking lot for more than 1, maybe 2, nights in a row.
- Arrive late, leave early. Don’t try to park or take up spaces during the prime shopping/eating times for these stores.
- Park in the back or side of the lot, away from the front door. Leave the close-in spaces for other customers. It’ll also make it easier for you to get out when you are ready to go, as it will be less likely a car is blocking you in.
- Take up as little space as you can.
- This might mean you have to leave your slides in, if you can’t find an exterior spot hanging over some grassy area or there are lots of other RVs. If the lot is busy, keep the slides in. Whatever you do, do not hang out over the roadways as you could end up with some nasty damage to your RV.
- Don’t pull out the awnings. You are using this as a stopover spot to get some sleep.
- Don’t setup your tailgate with the grills, tables, carpets or rugs, and chairs.
- Stay quiet – keep music and other entertainment to a minimum.
- Stay clean – make sure that when you leave, you leave no trace behind. Pick up all your trash and dispose of it properly.
- Don’t dump waste tanks, even if there are sewer or storm drains nearby. Dumping into storm drains is against the law and could provide for horrible press coverage.
- If you are traveling with your dog, make sure you clean up after your dogs and keep their noise to a minimum. A long walk around the neighborhood goes a long way to keeping them quiet and sleeping well. Does you some good as well!
Some people will recommend that you talk to local manager. If possible, call ahead to make sure it is OK and if not, you’ll have time to find somewhere else. Once you arrive, if you see several other RVs or large trucks staying the night, it may not be necessary to talk to a manager. However, make sure that there is plenty of space left for regular customers to get in and out of the parking lot if you are parked there. Basically, use your discretion on talking to management (but do abide by any local laws – hate for you to be sleeping and then get the knock on the door from local police!)
See Also: How Tall is your RV? RV Clearance Tips
Other Overnight RV Parking Options
Some more options for overnight RV parking:
- Some city convention centers or stadiums will let you park overnight for free if there is no event going on. We definitely recommend that you do your research on this one if you plan on using this option.
- Truck stops, like Flying J and Travel Centers of America, will let you park overnight. Some even have separate RV parking to let you stay away from the trucks that idle all night. You’ll be able to fill up the gas tanks and some even offer dump sites!
- Rest areas are some times an option. Often, rest areas also have a place to dump your waste tanks, although I would be cautious about refilling the freshwater tanks. At least you can lighten the load this way.
- Elks Club and Moose Lodge members can park for free in some of their lots. Other lots may require a fee or donation. But for those that have stayed in one of these campgrounds, the reports have been good (clean and often with hookups).
In general, large parking lots, like around malls, shopping centers, or churches, are options. However, it is best to check with local management if you aren’t sure whether the lot is an option. If you aren’t sure, it may be worth a trip to a local police precinct to ask permission – they may even let you stay in the station’s parking lot if they have extra space. Talk about security!
One final tip
Be mindful of the surroundings. Your personal safety is very important and not all stores are created equal. Security is not guaranteed. So if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t stay.