With the RV industry booming and more people than ever hitting the open road for great adventures, many people are left wondering about their options when it comes to parking, sleeping, and overnight camping in free campsites, paid campgrounds, and even retail parking lots. If you’re new to RV or van life and wondering about where you can sleep in your RV, read on to explore the options.
Understanding the Rules
One of the best ways to travel across the country, in a new place, or even in your own home state, is to understand the local rules. Where some states have public parking restrictions prohibiting overnight camping in an RV, other places are more RV-friendly. In fact, if you do your research ahead of time, you might even be able to find private businesses that not only allow but encourage RV parking overnight.
Do what you can to research local casinos, big-box retail outlets, and overnight diners along your route. Consider calling these establishments ahead of time and asking if they allow RV campers. You might be surprised to learn that some businesses encourage RVers to use their private lots in hopes of gaining patronage.
If you can’t find a place to stay with permission and don’t intend to book a camping site, call the town’s law enforcement officials and ask about parking regulations, bans, and restrictions. In some cities and towns, law enforcement will even make suggestions on safe places to park overnight like commuter lots and more. Calling ahead for suggestions and permission will prevent a late-night knock on the door. The same way you might plan a trip to the mall during a sale to find your favorite cardigan sweaters for your next camping adventure in colder weather, taking extra steps ahead will prevent frustrations and make for a better experience.
Because outdoor camping and RV trips are more popular than ever, many people are having trouble reserving campsites. In fact, reserving a spot in a premier RV park can mean up to a year’s wait. If you’re patient and aren’t comfortable with parking in a free site or planning ahead for staying in a parking lot or other arrangements, you’ll be able to reserve spots for next season if you start now.
While it’s possible you’ll get lucky if you show up at a campground unannounced, odds are that calling ahead to reserve a site, asking about cancellations, or getting on a waiting list is also a good idea. In reality, your chances will be lower than they have been in prior years. However, the good news is that as the RV tradition explodes, more campgrounds are sprouting up all over the United States and other countries; making things look more promising for next year. If you’re hopeful about getting a spot, no matter how far off, consider booking now.
Free Overnight Camping
Most cities and towns have areas where free parking is, indeed, allowed. One way to find out is to visit popular camping apps and websites to search for spots where other RVers have had good luck. There, you’ll be able to plot destinations and read reviews of other campers’ experiences. While most spots will mean going off-grid and no hook-ups, some towns do have hook-up services for a low charge or donation.
When considering free spots, another option is mooch-docking with friends and family. Always remember to make a mental note of people you know in any given area. Their driveway could be a useful place to park along the way.
At the end of the day, whether you opt to sleep in a rest area, truck stop, paid campground, free campsite, or in a commercial parking lot, there are endless options when it comes to where you can sleep in your RV. In doing some research ahead of time, downloading apps with travel suggestions for the best RV for family of 4, and being willing to contact local law enforcement to understand the rules, you’ll have no problems finding cheap or free places to sleep in your RV travels. Happy exploring to you – may your travels be safe and memorable!