Parking overnight, not in Campground

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eagle

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I am seriously interested in purchasing a 31 foot motorhome, not so much for "camping" but for comfortable traveling.  My business requires me to frequently host meetings at a distance and also travel to conventions with groups.  I rented a motorhome for my last trip and it made the journey so much more enjoyable.  Thankfully, the hotel the rest of the group was staying in allowed me to park, and stay overnight, in their parking lot. 

My question is this...where, outside of campgrounds have you been able to pull over and spend the night?  Rest areas?  I need to be able to drive to a city.  Host a meeting (maybe even on the RV) and stay the night.  I'd prefer not to have to find a campground. 

Thanks!
 

Tom

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In addition to rest areas, folks overnight in truck stops and in WalMart parking lots.
 

eagle

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Is this all legal or do they just hope to get away with it?  Is it safe to assume that I could pull into any truck stop, WalMart, or rest area and spend the night?
 

Tom

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It's legal except in a small number of places where it's posted otherwise. Personally, I don't stay in any of these places, but folks repeatedly tell me that truck stops and WalMarts are safe. Truck stops are likely to be noisy. Some folks warn against rest areas.
 

Jim Dick

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eagle said:
Is this all legal or do they just hope to get away with it?  Is it safe to assume that I could pull into any truck stop, WalMart, or rest area and spend the night?

We have stayed at several Walmarts in the past couple of years. We call 1-800-walmart, put in the zip code of the town where we want to stay and it gives us the phone number. My wife then calls the store and asks the manager if they allow parking. If they do we stop, if not we continue onward. :) Usually the only time they will say no is if they don't own the lot or there is an ordinance against parking overnight.

I don't like truck stops as they are noisy and some truckers don't like us taking up their spots. They have been known to cause damage to RVs. I've heard of people losing side mirrors because a trucker pulled close to damage it. Not all truckers are like that!

I haven't found many rest areas that allow overnight parking. I guess many do it anyway but I don't want a knock on the door from the State Police in the middle of the night. :)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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In addition, some restaurants and other businesses may allow you to stay overnight, especially if you are doing business with them. Sometimes town or county parks have free or inexpensive parking as well.  County fair grounds and convention centers are another potential spot, as are mobile home parks. There is probably some place to park where ever you go, but finding it is another story.  Some folks have reported that the local police are often helpful in identifying a place (including parking at the local police station), but I suspect that is true mostly in towns and smaller cities.

Most truck stops allow overnight parking of trucks, so you can park there too. Naturally, they expect your fueling business in return. In our experience they are almost always very noisy, though.

Most cities have campgrounds  near or even in town, where you can park in comfort with hook-ups at reasonable prices.  Very large cities (NY, Washington DC, etc) probably will not, but most others have nearby facilities.  And if you tow a car behind the motorhome, a bit of distance is not a problem. May even be a virtue!
 

camper1b

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When traveling long distances we regularly stay in parking lots.  We have used Walmart, Flying J and Cracker Barrel.  All of them are RV freindly and let you stay there overnight.  We even buy the Walmart atlas that gives the locations of all stores so we can find them easily when the time comes to bed down for the night.  (Of course our GPS tells us where they are also).  I do not like spending nights in rest areas.  We did one time because of a blown tire but they don't seem as safe to me.  Walmarts and Flying J's are usually open all night with well lit lots and overnight security.  I usually don't ask the manager when we get there because it's usually late at night and there are other campers already there.  I do, however, go in in the morning, thank the manager and buy stuff (or eat if it's a Cracker Barrel).  There are signs poted around the lots if overnight parking is illegal.

Now, having said that, we don't CAMP there, just stop overnight for sleep.  No awning, lawn chairs, etc.  You might think we are just parked there for some shopping.  Have fun.
 

Jim Dick

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camper1b said:
Now, having said that, we don't CAMP there, just stop overnight for sleep.  No awning, lawn chairs, etc.  You might think we are just parked there for some shopping.  Have fun.

Rich,

That's a very important point. Those that do camp in a parking lot could ruin it for everyone.
 

Ron

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We never stay in a business parking lot overnight be it Wal-Mart, Flying J, or any other business without getting permission first. When we do spend a night in a parking lot all the items found in  parking etiquette at http://www.escapees.com/ apply.
 

Wendy

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Back to the original discussion, here's a website that discusses "other" places to park: http://www.freecampgrounds.com/othercamps.html Most were already mentioned earlier in this thread: Wal-Mart, Flying J, Camping World, restaurants, fairgrounds, city parks (look for signs forbidding this).

Use these for spots better than just parking in a parking lot:
"Don Wright's Guide To Free Campgrounds" is helpful for finding free and low cost places to camp or park.

Join Passport America and you can stay in member campgrounds for half-price.

If you're over 65 or disabled, you can get a federal Golden Access pass that allows half-price camping in federal parks.
 

Smoky

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Great discussion!

?Any time we recommend something or some place it's appropriate to talk about the pros and cons of the recommendations.?

Well said, Tom, and much appreciated.

Just because someone begins a thread, does not, IMO, mean they ?own? the thread.  The community owns these threads and can take them where they wish to go.  Fine for someone to remind us not to neglect the original poster, and I respect Gary for reminding us.  Truth is we can do both!  Take the thread to new areas and yet also address the original poster?s needs.

?The manager of the local Wal-Mart doesn't care if you park in his parking lot and the police don't enforce the ordinance because they say its private property and they won't remove anyone unless the store manager asks them to.?

Good point, Wendy!

In all my travels I have ignored ordinance postings at WM.  When I see them I go inside and ask permission from the manager.  It has ALWAYS been granted, though they advise me of the ordinance and give me helpful suggestions to deal with it.  This whole thing about campground resistance is a crock IMO.

Lest anyone think I do not support CG?s the last 12 months I spent 2,662 dollars per my Quicken report.  I think that is not only more than sufficient support, it will go even higher as my fulltiming continues.

I really see no difference between boondocking on public land vs. private land as long as all the rules of etiquette are obeyed.  It is a personal choice.  Some such as Tom choose not to do it on private land, and some such as myself do it and enjoy it.  Each is entitled to their own choice.  I am sure the originator of this thread will read both sides of the issue, as Tom suggests, and make their own choice.

As for CG safety and ambience, I agree with Ron.  I have stayed at many CGs I would never visit again.  I have yet to stay at my first WM I would not revisit.  WMs are exceedingly safe with excellent security.  The purpose is not to be a cheapskate, but to avoid complications and obtain convenience and safety.  I have not overnighted at a truck stop yet, but am looking forward to it.  I will judge for myself how safe they are.

Above all else, I love the freedom that RVing and even more? fulltiming give us.  I resist anyone or any group who tries to take these freedoms away.  It has already happened in the boating industry where the right to anchor has now been removed by many communities who enrich their coffers making boaters pay if the anchorage area is adjacent to their community,.  Ugh!
 

Rancher Will

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I agree with Smoky:
My wife and I have stayed overnight in Wal-Mart and Truckstop Parking lots more times than I can remember over the past 50 years. We will continue in the future.
We only stay overnight in those places and stay in Campgrounds when we arrive at our distination.
Safety is no problem. Everyone is responsible for their own safety wherever they may stop.
We always plan to do some shopping, even if it is a little, when we stop at Wal-Mart or Truck stops, buying something such as fuel, food, misc items, to express our appreciation for them.
We have learned that when we are considerate we are welcomed.
 

Tom

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Looks like you're replying to old discussions, although the additional info is still good and will help others in future. FWIW the original poster hasn't been back here since 2005.
 

pdq

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Smoky said:
I really see no difference between boondocking on public land vs. private land as long as all the rules of etiquette are obeyed.

...just entering the discussion here...
and find myself reflecting on this concept noted by Smoky....

i had not considered this concept previously

i ask;
with boondocking on public land; does one not put out their slides, extend the awning, etc - basically they are CAMPING?

i ask this because i understood over nighting at walmart - or similar 'parking lot' - one was not to be CAMPING
so while there may be some similarities between the two - there are significant differences

i raise this because if the differences between boondocking on public land vs. private land are blurred - it won;t take long before the walmart or similar parking lots come banging on the door of the motorhome to say "NO CAMPING HERE"

regards, pdq
 

Smoky

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PDQ -

You are absolutely correct.

One should be very careful to distinguish between campground camping, boondocking on public lands, and overnight parking on business parking lots.

I think everyone knows what campground camping is. 

Boondocking is similar to campground camping except it is on land generally owned by some form of government where camping for free or a small fee is permitted.  Quartzite where we have one of our Forum Rallies is a good example.  Boondocking is a situation where you can generally put out slides, awnings, chairs, etc and enjoy the full experience of overnight camping.  Motorcoaches in particular are well designed for this with their independent generators and various comfort systems that do not depend on shore power.  Some businesses and private individually owned property also supports boondocking.  The Elk Clubs and some of the free camping spots owned by businesses as outlined in some Escapee materials come to mind.  And some individuals like Ron Ruward of our forum have offered private land.

Overnight parking on business parking lots such as WalMart, Home Depot, Truck stops, Cracker Barrel, Casinos, Public rest stops, roadside pullovers.etc is yet another area.  This is a very gray area.  Each place often has their own unique set of rules.  I would not call this boondockng but instead I call it overnight parking.

Overnight parking can be a great boon to the weary long haul traveler.  When you are traveling several thousand miles with limited time it is really helpful at the end of a long day of driving to pull into a convenient off-highway location and spend a pleasant evening without having to search for a campground or go through registration processes.  But you better know the rules for that unique location.

Most of the time I use Wal-Mart because of their enhanced security and the fact that they are located near restaurants and various types of convenience stores and services.  We don't put out awnings or chairs and the usual camping paraphernalia.  In the morning we can just fire up the engine and continue our journey.  There are some risks of course.  Over the years we have been hit by shopping carts on windy days, have derelicts knock on our doors, etc.  But overall it serves a need and is a win-win situation for us and Wal-Mart.  We take time to gather up shopping carts around the lots and return them.  And we spend money in their stores.  We also meet many fascinating RV travelers who share information about what is up and down the Interstate.

The FMCA and the Escapees organizations have published rules of behavior for how to take advantage of overnight parking in a way that is harmonious with the surrounding community.

Smoky
 

chrishibbard7

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just wanted to say thank you to all, esp forum members.  Y'all are very helpful, and I really appreciate this forum.
 

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