Have you ever found yourself desperately scouting for a safe and legal parking spot as you navigate your RV through the highway in the late hours? Maybe you’re behind on schedule. Maybe the closest RV Park is still a sunrise away. Or perhaps you want to recharge for a bit before being on your way.
So what are your options? Lucky for you, you can park your RV practically anywhere according to most state parking ordinances. But that doesn’t mean you should just pull up at the side of the highway.
Then, there are your typical truck stops. These commercial facilities cater to motorists, truckers, and you guess it, RVers. But before you pull up into a truck stop for an overnight stay, you must remember that you’re not the only community of motorists looking for a rest station.
In this article, I will walk you through the do’s and dont’s, the pros and cons, and the logistics of parking your RV at a truck stop.
Can You Park Your RV at a Truck Stop?
Let’s get this out of the way. The short answer is: yes. You are allowed to park your RV at virtually any truck stop. Most truck stops have designated parking spots for RVs.
Truck stops are also dubbed “Travel Centers.” These Centers provide refueling, parking, and a range of amenities to different travelers. You’d be surprised at just how many facilities you can find at a truck stop. But more on that later.
First, let’s back up a little. At the very least, truck stops are supposed to provide refueling stations for trucks, rigs, and various types of large motorhomes. Be careful not to confuse these with motorway service or rest areas meant for smaller vehicles.
Truck stops are especially designed to accommodate large vehicles such as your beloved RV.
So what exactly is the problem then? Well, to understand the logistics of most modern truck stops, you must understand the context of state-specific parking ordinances and regulations of large motorized vehicles.
What Exactly is the Point of Contention?
So here’s the bitter truth. Over the past few decades, there has been an exponential increase in the corporatization of the trucking industry. This increase is explicit in the shift from “Truck Stops” to “Travel Centers.” Franchises capitalize on the increasing needs of long-haulers.
Additionally, truckers are mandated by law to rest for a set number of hours before resuming their drive. This becomes problematic when strict regulations severely restrict the options available to Truck Drivers on where they can park.
In contrast, RVers can essentially park wherever, and that’s no exaggeration. Nor must they abide by unyielding driving laws.
So where does that leave you, a well-intended RVer who just wants to avail the parking facilities to which he is already entitled? Basically, all of this was to say that you must always be considerate in your conduct at a truck stop.
A good rule of thumb is to call ahead and confirm if a truck stop has any available RV parking. Most of all, never, I repeat, never, park in a Trucker’s spot.
The Dos and Don’ts of Parking Your RV at a Truck Stop
So now you know that there are myriads of truck stop franchises dotting the highways and byways. You also understand that you can utilize the full extent of these facilities. Nevertheless, there are some implicit etiquettes of staying at truck stops.
I said it once, and I’ll say it again: always be mindful of the parking allocations. Calling ahead of time and double-checking with the management is the most fool-proof way of doing this.
To do this, you need to know what your options are. Having at least one travel app will drastically reduce the hassle. Apps such as RVParky and Allstays are the best source for reviews. Allstays is especially handy for tracking the number of RV parking spots available at any given stop.
Another unspoken rule is to always back into the parking spots. This is more so for your convenience than anyone else’s. If you find that there is no parking space available, then you can always park in the empty lot towards the back corner. As long as you’re not blocking anyone’s way, you should be fine.
Try to keep the noise to a minimum. Remember that most of the Truckers and RVers around you are probably looking to get a quick shut-eye.
But it doesn’t just end there. Once you’ve settled in, always make a point of giving the truck stop your business. Yes, even when you’re stopping for just a few hours. Play fair and buy something. It’s just all in good spirit.
Don’t Do This
At the risk of sounding redundant, let me reassert this one more time. Do not park in a spot that is designated for other vehicles, no matter what.
On top of that, keep in mind that it is equally inappropriate to put out your slide, set up your patio, or bust out your grill. Remember, this is a truck stop, not an RV Park.
In the spirit of being neighborly, be careful not to hog up the facilities. Again, just try to be as heedful and considerate as possible.
The Pros and Cons of Parking Your RV at a Truck Stop
When it comes to truck stops, you must remember that it is all about convenience. Truck stops are ideal if your only concern is quick and frugal replenishment. Technically, there are charges for utilizing the parking. However, they are almost negligible.
These truck stops are quite secure, notwithstanding the outdated stereotype of a dangerous environment. At least, they’re certainly more secure than the side of the highway, or the parking lot of a Walmart.
While the convenience aspect is indisputable, there are a few major drawbacks of these facilities. Firstly, the constant noise of vehicles coming and going is very distressing. This is also because truck stops are always busy.
There is no set time for comings and goings. This means that you must be ready to deal with the persistent clamor
What Amenities are Available for RVers at Truck Stops?
If anything good has resulted from truck stops’ corporatization, it’s that amenities have substantially increased. Essentially, happy customers mean a blooming business. Accordingly, a booming business means repeated patronage.
Truck stops are great for stocking up on toiletries and other essentials. Most truck stops will have shower facilities of their own. These facilities are by and large well-stocked and clean. Similarly, some stops might also have laundry facilities that you can utilize.
Surprisingly, the WiFi services at some of these truck stops are better than those of most RV Parks.
But that’s not it. Some of the fancier truck spots will also have chain restaurants, medical offices, and barbershops. Very few franchises might even have casinos.
Most Popular Truck Stop Chains in the US
Love’s is a private family-owned chain of truck stops and convenience stores throughout the US. They have 500 different stores across 41 states. This makes them one of the largest private companies.
Love’s offers an encompassing range of services and amenities. This includes refueling stations, RV repair and maintenance, restaurants, convenience stores, storage, showers, and RV dumps.
Pilot Flying J
Pilot Flying J operates a chain of truck stops in over 750 locations throughout North America and Canada.
Owing to its vastness, the Pilot Flying J travel centers offer an extensive range of amenities. These include parking, vehicle washes, accessories, laundry, game rooms, WiFi, ATMs, payphones, a Western Union, and large lounges.
You’ll also find that select Flying J truck stops offer parking spots that are free of charge. Unfortunately, spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
TravelCenters of America
TravelCenters of America is the oldest and largest full-service truck stop in the US. Service centers, convenience stores, and restaurants are among the many operations of this franchise.
It has over 270 centers across 43 states.
TravelCenters actually has designated RV parks that are equivalent to truck stops. These provide overnight parking to RVers along with RV-specific services. These parks are great full-service alternatives to designated truck stops.
Recognizing the need for stopping, scheduled or otherwise, is one of the most responsible things you can do as an RVer. Truck Stops are arguably the most convenient readily available facilities to do just that.
As long as you’ve got good conduct and adhere to the pointers in this article, you should be good to go.