Once you start your journey with your new brand RV, you will be facing some big dilemmas. But don’t worry everything has an answer and a solution. One of the biggest difficulties that RV people face when they begin RVing is where to park the RV.
Yes, you will find yourself asking this question a lot. In this scope, many will advise you to book a spot in one of the RV camps or campground near you beforehand will be the best option possible. Nevertheless, there are other available options you can choose from and they are for FREE.
In this article, we have compiled and gathered several accessible options for parking your van. We will be discussing these options briefly, apps and resources that can help you find these spots, and more importantly some top tips for free overnight permission.
But before, we jump right into that, let’s have a brief look at what is the difference between RV parking and RV camping.
If you are one of these RVers who are looking for an overnight stay without having to pay money or schedule a spot advance, then keep on reading. You will be able to use these spots for now on.
Where Can I Park My RV For Free?
The Difference between RV Parking and RV Camping
If you are traveling alone or with your friends from one place to another with your RV, you know you will need a place to rest at some point. In this regard, you are faced with two options; you either park your RV somewhere or Camp with your RV somewhere. For those who are new in the RV world, the two terms might sound similar or all the same. But in fact, they are connoted with a different meaning.
When we say RV parking we simply mean that you are going to park your RV for one single night in order for your to get enough sleep and rest and hit the road the first thing in the morning. So instead of paying a certain amount of money and stay at a campground, some people prefer to save that money and look for other potential alternatives that are FREE.
Camping, on the other hand, differs from parking. When you are planning to camp with your RV, you usually end up setting a camp by spreading the awning, unbuckling those folding chairs and why not enjoying a barbecue. Camping is usually referred to when we talk about spending several days in the same spot/area, not just overnight. It’s more of a multi-day adventure.
The different free RV parking options
In order to make it easier for you, here are the different potential spots when searching for a free overnight RV Parking places. However, it is important o keep in mind that it is recommended if not obligatory to ask for permission before you do the landing.
If you don’t want to ask for permission, then the smaller your RV is, the better your chances to find suitable parking spaces.
Truck stops: This is a great go-to option when it comes to free overnight RV parking. The thing about Truck stops is the fact that they are not limited to Trucks and oversized gears only. RVs are welcome to join this group circle while keeping in mind the rule of truckers when they are parking.
Flyin J is considered one of the RV friendly truck stops that you can check out. Within the truck stops you will find many facilities available like food services, a nice bathroom and more that you can make the best use of them. The only disadvantage when it comes to these spots is noise pollution.
The Truck stops are usually located near the highway so you will be hearing on a constant basis to vehicles movement outside not to forget mentioning that you are staying in big rigs area coming in and going out all the time even during the night hours. The only tip we can recommend is to keep your valuable gear out of the sight and make sure to lock your RV firmly.
Fairgrounds: When they are not in use, fairgrounds also allow RVs to park for free for one single night. Maybe you should avoid holidays and weekends since they tend to be crowded and inconvenient.
Wal-Mart: Well, the best thing about parking at Wal-Mart is that you don’t have to go all over the places trying to figure out the direction of this spot since there are plenty of Wal-Mart locations on there. Plus, Most Wal-Mart’s offer free parking spots for RVs. They are accessible and you can actually get your groceries from there.
Not only that, usually Wal-Mart’s are located near to other facilities and businesses like restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and other different stores. However, you have to keep in mind that not all of them allow for a free overnight RV parking due to a city ordinance. Therefore, it is essential to check out the detailed Wal-Mart policies regarding RV in general
Churches: Another option that we can find on this list is churches. Yes, they do offer free overnight parking spots for RVs. Since churches are always hosting a large number of peoples either to pray or for celebrations, they usually tend to have a large parking lot for their guests. However, unlike weekdays, which tend to be less crowded, the parking area of the churches is usually full during the weekends, especially on Sundays. However, you certainly have to ask for permission before anything and get their approval.
Schools: Just like churches schools have indeed a spacious and ample parking space for their comers. However, unlike churches, the schools tend to be busy on weekdays, therefore, it is better that you stay out of the sight during these times.
You can only use the area during the weekends or the holidays otherwise it won’t be very convenient either for you or for the school. The school will probably give your permission to park during the weeks since it is will be empty during that time. Again, you will always have to ask ahead their permission via an email or a phone call during their working hours and get their permission.
Stores parking lots (cracker barrel): As you can tell Wal-Mart isn’t the only property that allows for free overnight RV parking. Stores like Cracker Barrel, Costco and Cabela’s and some other national chains permit an overnight stay.
Some of them even offer certain facilities including water refills, accessible toilets and more. The only difference regarding these services is the fact that they may not be accessible and available for 24 hours.
Casino parking lots: A sheer number of casinos allow RVs to park overnight in their parking lots whenever spaces are available. They are usually free and you will observe the high amount of RVs located there.
However, during the picks seasons or sometimes on the weekends, they may charge you a small fee but it’s always questionable. Therefore, once you decide whether you want to park in a casino lot or not, try o give the person in charge a phone call and ask their permission to park for free overnight.
City parks: Regarding city and state parks, it is always a good idea to ask ahead people there if it allowed parking your RV overnight. Often, city parks allow for free parking. But you never know. Just make sure to ask ahead and get your information right.
Rest stops: Depending on which state you are, some states legalize and permit RV owners to part for an overnight for free. However, not all states do so. Therefore, make sure to check ahead and know your options. If you happen to be in a state where it is legal to park free for a night, then be prepared to share the space with other Rvers and Truck owners.
Picnic area: roadside areas and picnic areas are other options that you can take into consideration. However, you have to look carefully at where to park your RV and maintain a low key profile in these areas. Some Tips and Etiquettes To Help You Get Permission and Park Overnight For Free.
In order to make sure that you will get a positive response regarding your permission to stay overnight in a particular spot for free, you will need some tips that could help you in the process.
Free RV Parking Tips
Be friendly and humble
In your case, the nicer you are the better are your chance to get the spot. After all, you are asking them for a favor, so it will be smart to be kind and nice about it. Also, you have to keep in mind, that your call or your email should be short and precise. The other person might be busy and won’t bother reading long emails or handling long phone calls. Keep it short and friendly.
It will raise your chances if you indicate that you will be a future potential customer. Places like Wal-Mart and other shopping sites wouldn’t miss the chance to lose a potential customer. Therefore, you have to state in your call or your email, that you will be using their products/services or resources in general whenever you need or have to. Also, make sure to stick to your words, and visit them accordingly.
Confirm your parking, again
It never hurts to ask the permission of that person again once you reach your spot destination. It shows that you respect the person and the place you will be using and it will give you credit for future stays. Approach the person in charge once you arrive.
Address the right person
You might end up finding yourself in a weird situation where you have to deal with other dilemmas. Many people find themselves not getting permission from the right person. You have to make sure that you are talking to a manager with the right authority.
This is why we said you have to confirm your permission twice. You might get a yes over the phone, but find yourself spotless the moment you arrive. It never hurt to ask the person on the phone if they are the right person in charge and the one to talk to. Just be nice.
Get yourself proof to show your permission to park
Making a phone call can be a good idea but also sending an email will be way better. Why? Getting your respond in the form of a written email can help you protect yourself in case something happens.
Emphasize on the word parking
Make sure that you are communicating your information well. If you happen t say r mention the world camping instead of parking, people tend to think that you will set a tent in front of their business space. This is definitely a big no for them.
Know your limits
Stick to your words and promises and leave the first thing in the morning. Avoid letting them come to you to evacuate the place, it doesn’t leave a good impression.
Simply put, keep your RV parking mark low. Don’t grab attention or making anything that will annoy or anger the people around you. You have to remember that this is a public place after all. Also, you have to keep your spot clean just like the way you found it or better.
RV life is all about taking adventures and experience new things in life. While finding where to sleep at night for free can be a challenging option it’s not a hard one for sure.
With just a little bit of planning ahead of your time to know your next step can make the whole process easier for you. If you happen to be looking at alternative parking options for free, hopefully, this list has helped you find what you are looking for.
However, you should always keep in mind that you ensure getting permission for your stay from the right person, the one who has authority over the parking area. You don’t want to find yourself in a weird position demanding things that are out of your hands.
Also, make sure to follow and abide by the instructions and the rules imposed by the place. As RV owners you always want to portray that you are a responsible and reliable person.