Thinking about where you can legally park your campervan overnight?
One of the most prominent benefits of driving a Class B motorhome or campervan is the minimal lodging expenses. That’s because your home is literally touring along with you. Wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to pack all your belongings and traverse the world on your own terms and in your own time?
Driving a motorhome around a beautiful country is an incredible adventure, whether you’re searching for an exploit at twenty years old or savoring retirement with your partner.
To further make your road trip a cozier and enjoyable activity, we’ve made a list of the areas where you can and cannot park a campervan to sleep overnight.
Where to Park Your Campervan
Truck stops are intended for huge semi-trucks and other vehicles to stop and park overnight. They have all the services that you would require like food nearby and a hot shower (normally for a small fee).
Even though you aren’t technically driving a truck, you can still park your campervan at truck stops but only for a few hours of shuteye before getting back on the road and proceeding to your adventure.
You may be surprised, but yes, you can park your RV or campervan at a casino. While not a long-term solution, casinos offer a quick and easy rest stop that permits drivers to rest their eyes before getting back on the road.
The main reason most casinos allow this is because they want you to do some gambling as well, while you’re there. But whether you want to gamble or not, staying overnight in a casino parking lot is a cheap alternative to spending for a spot at a campground.
Walmart is one of the most popular national retail stores that let motorhome and RV travelers park overnight. They allow campervans and RVs to park in the back corner of the lot away from the store to give way for paying customers.
Plus, parking at the back of the lot is also quieter which provides the driver a better rest. Last but not least, parking at Walmart allows you to stock up on food, snacks, and any other essential stuff that you may be running low on.
The main concern for several RVers about parking at a Walmart is the protection against theft and burglary.
Several schools allow RVs and campervans to park for a short period inside the school premises if it’s really necessary. But keep in mind that school parking lots should only be used as a last resort and as long as it’s outside of school hours.
It would be great to check in with the school administrators first before parking at their property. Some schools may find it uncomfortable, but it’s your responsibility as the motorhome owner to respect their decision and find a new place to park for the night if not allowed.
However, it might help if this is a school where you or your child have attended.
RV campgrounds are perhaps the most typical place to park a motorhome due to availability, safety, and hookups.
Most RV campgrounds have all of the required hookups that you may need such as water and electricity. Some even have Wi-Fi! Several campgrounds also have a spot where you can clear your RV’s septic tank.
Unlike other parking spots, RV campgrounds let you stay for a longer period as long as you pay for your spot.
National and State Parks
National and state parks can be a wonderful spot to park your RV while witnessing some of the most beautiful and scenic sites in the country. However, some parks require an early reservation for RV or motorhome camping. So, be sure to prepare well ahead if you want to stay in a national or state park for the night.
Free dispersed camping is also permitted on most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undeveloped public land for up to 14 days. Even if the land is leased or has mining rights, you may still park there unless posted otherwise by BLM.
Moochdocking is the exquisite art of parking with buddies or family and “mooching” off their power and water hookups. While it might sound a bit vague, this can be an ideal way to visit family and friends that you haven’t seen in some time.
If you’re planning a long road trip in your RV, consider taking some mooch docking along the way. Even if you have adjusted your course to make it happen, mooch docking is an excellent opportunity for free RV overnight parking.
Harvest Hosts is speedily taking overnight RV parking by storm. Why stay overnight in a parking lot when you can carry your self-contained rig along and spend your night at the wineries, breweries, and rich farms making up the Harvest Hosts network?
For a small annual charge, you’ll gain access to over a thousand splendid spots to park your campervan overnight for free. As a bonus, you can also take advantage of the amenities such as wine tastings and farmer’s markets at the host site.
Boondockers Welcome is another great place like Harvest Hosts that provides free overnight parking at excellent spots all over the country. Their annual charge is less than Harvest Hosts, and they manage to concentrate more on residential areas for RV overnight parking, instead of vineyards and breweries.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands
BLM lands are federally controlled areas that often provide free RV parking. These scattered camping areas are very common in the Southwest. You could search on the Allstays app or jump straight on the BLM website to look for free RV parking near you.
Several BLM lands are located in wonderfully scenic areas, so you may want to prepare for longer than an overnight stay!
Where can You NOT Park Your Campervan
Although you may be allowed to leave common vehicles on certain city streets for the night, this is a different story for motorhomes and RVs. Because of their sheer size and the reality that you would be sleeping inside, several cities don’t allow car camping on streets.
Some cities and towns have even completely banned RV owners from parking along the city streets for an extended period of time. If this is the situation, it’s best to try refuge elsewhere for the night.
Parking your campervan or RV for the night on private property is deemed trespassing and is illegal. This one comes with a hint of a disclaimer, though. If you have the permission of the property owner, then you are allowed.
However, you should also know that the property owner is well within their rights to ask you to leave the premises at any time. While it may be required to do so in an emergency, it’s best to avoid private property altogether when looking for a place to park.
Pro Tip: Remember to acknowledge city regulations to ensure parking on private property is permitted. Several cities are banning parking an RV on neighborhood streets. But if your RV fits in a driveway, then you’ll surely avoid a hefty fine.
If you’re not certain where to park your RV, look for the owner or official who manages the area. This way, you won’t be waking up in the middle of being towed. Some may be happier to let you park for a night, while others won’t.
Be sure to follow instructions on where to park and what regulations are in place. You want to make sure that you leave the spot in pristine condition when you hit the road.
Rest stops are precisely for what it says, resting. They are intended for quick bathroom breaks and an opportunity for drivers to stretch their legs. But unless it’s explicitly allowed, rest stops are not the place where you can park your RV for the night to get some shut-eye.
While rest stops are excellent spots to take a quick bathroom break, pull up some snacks, or ask for directions, you still have to look somewhere else for an overnight parking location. Some states do permit overnight parking at assigned rest stops, but you’ll have to check them first to see where to locate them.
How to Find Free Overnight Parking?
Did you know you can park your RV or campervan for free? That’s right! There is absolutely no reason why you have to pay $50+ a night just to stay in traditional RV campsites. There are still some RV owners out there who make a point of rarely parking in paid campgrounds.
Wondering why somebody would prefer this and how you can do the same? Read on to discover these things and more.
Free Overnight Parking for Your Camper Model
A little-known puzzle in the world of overnight RV parking is that some networks offer free parking if you drive a particular model.
For instance, Airstream owners have long helped with courtesy parking. Airstream owners will issue their names in the courtesy parking directory that is granted to all members of the national Airstream club. If you have an Airstream, you can locate an overnight RV parking near you and have a fun time with other Airstreamers.
Several other RV companies have similar offerings through their social clubs. The most reliable way to search is to reach out to your RV manufacturer to know if free RV overnight parking is possible in their network.
Why Some Campers Avoid Paid RV Parks
Let’s start with the basics: Why should an RVer go out of their way just to locate free RV parking?
Well, the obvious answer is to save. This is a great factor for multiple campers. After all, when you camp frequently, those campground charges can really add up. That said, money is far from the only purpose to look for free campsites.
Another relevant reason some RV owners prefer to avoid the common campgrounds and look for free camping instead is, well, freedom.
Most of these RVers hit the road in their little homes-on-wheels because they love the sense of freedom, and jumping campgrounds can give you even more freedom. This is because most free campsites are first-come-first-served, and to be honest, free camping spots seldom fill up. This means that you have total freedom from reservations and can always come and go as you please.
The third most typical reason one might prefer to look for free camping is for the amazing scenes that they offer. Obviously, we aren’t pointing to the truck stops and Walmart parking lots here. However, the BLM land and National Forests provide free camping opportunities that can be absolutely astounding.
On top of that, this mode of camping (often referred to as boondocking) is normally very secluded. This involves no annoying neighbors and lots of space to spread out.
Free RV Camping 101
By now you’re probably considering that free camping sounds pretty awesome. However, there are some things you should know before you jump right in. Below are some of the veteran RVer’s favorite dry camping and boondocking tips and tricks:
Remember Your Manners
While you won’t normally have neighbors while boondocking, there is still a chance that you might. You will also probably have neighbors when you check-in parking lots for swift overnights. Therefore, you should remember your manners by keeping your volume down, avoiding operating the generator at night, and generally being nice and respectful.
Leave No Trace
This advice runs along with the tips about manners above. However, it is significant enough to have its spot on the list. Always remember to clean up after camping. No trash or objects should ever be left behind, and free campsites certainly shouldn’t be employed for RV storage.
Take Plenty of Supplies
If you’ll be camping far from any kind of market or store, you have to make sure that you carry plenty of supplies along with you. Load your freshwater tank and bring some jugs of drinking water. Stock up on food and propane, and be prepared to depart for a few days.
Have a Way to Generate Electricity
Generally speaking, free campsites will not accommodate RV hookups. This means that you will be needing plenty of water on hand, but it also suggests that you will certainly need a way to generate and store electricity. Usually, this means spending on a generator, but some RV owners turn to solar instead.
Always Put Safety First
Safety must always come first. Therefore, if you sense that a campsite seems unsafe for any reason, move your rig. A radio to monitor the weather and an emergency kit should always be close at hand. Additionally, several RVers feel that it is a great idea to keep a can of pepper spray on hand for self-defense.
Finding Free Overnight Parking Near Me
One great step is to look for free overnight RV parking. Some free RV parking spots are intended for a quick overnight stay only while some allow actual camping.
When it gets to looking for someplace you can park overnight and get some zzz’s, you should have no difficulties at all. However, the most typical places that provide free overnight only allow RVs to stay. Therefore, these stops are only meant for resting along your travel route, not for camping.
This means that you are not allowed to set up a camp, and you must leave the next day. In some instances, it also implies giving the store or restaurant that so graciously enables you to stay overnight some sort of business.
Below are some of the RVer’s favorite places to stop for a quick overnight. Just be sure to inquire and check for signages before staying for a night anywhere:
- Camping World
- Cracker Barrel
- Rest stops
Here are three tools that you can use for finding places to park your RV for free:
- Allstays app. No RVer should be without this app that reveals all the available parking spots (free and paid) where you can park an RV overnight. Just simply set the app filter to free parking, and it will show you free overnight RV parking areas near your location.
- Freecampsites.net. A great source to discover free overnight RV parking near you
- Campendium. An exhaustive listing of all types of campgrounds and free RV parking
Finding Free Campgrounds Near Me
Of course, you don’t always want to go out after spending only one night in a parking spot. If you’re looking for a camp where you can stay for a few nights, you will want to scan for some free campgrounds or simply take advantage of scattered camping possibilities.
Unfortunately, locating these free camping opportunities is not always as simple as surfing the internet for “RV parks near me”. That said, once you identify where to look, you should be able to locate quite a few awesome free campsites.
The very best place to look for is FreeCampsites.net. This awesome website enables users to explore free or incredibly cheap camping in a designated area. The results include information like having restrooms, trash cans, and picnic tables on-site, as well as visitor’s reviews. Some of the campsites posted even allow RV hookups, though these do sometimes require additional payment.
Traversing the country in a campervan can be a truly exciting trip at any age. But don’t underestimate the value of locating the right spot to park overnight. By knowing where you can and where you can’t park, your trips will be that much smoother and more pleasant.