Free Overnight RV Parking: Do’s and Don’ts

Do's and don'ts of free overnight RV parking, www.marianamcdougall.com. Photo of an RV against a blue sky with some white clouds.

Boondocking is one of the many ways to save during your RV adventure.

Unfortunately, some people abuse the system, and ruin it for other RVers. While free overnight stays in your RV are super awesome, it’s important to remember some basic etiquette. Here are the basic “rules” we follow when overnighting at free spots.

 

Do's and don'ts of free overnight RV parking, www.marianamcdougall.com. Background photo by Rota Alternativa on Unsplash: an RV driving down a road, pine trees on the left and a church-like building on the right. Bicycles on the back of the RV.

1. Ask permission first.

Even if you checked AllStays and a bunch of people have stayed at a particular place with no issues, it’s still wise to ask for permission to park. Before staying at a Walmart parking lot, we’d either call ahead and ask if we could park for one night, or we’d go into the store and ask the management.

2. Don’t overstay your welcome.

Don’t park your RV in someone’s parking lot and stay there for a week. It’s generally understood that RVers will stay a night or two and then move on. Businesses don’t want people living in their parking lots.

3. Respect quiet hours (even if none are posted).

When you dry camp, especially if there are other campers around, don’t run your generator in the wee hours of the morning. Pretend you’re at a campground and respect quiet hours, which are usually, at the bare minimum, 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

4. Don’t act like you own the place.

If you’re staying at a truck stop, remember that these stops are there for professional drivers first. Even if there are designated RV parking spaces, if the place is busy, give the “right of park” to the drivers. They work long hours and need those parking spots more than we do.

If you can live without your slideouts, keep them in. If you can’t, be aware of your surroundings, and move to a different spot if your slideoouts are taking too much space. We don’t have slideouts, so can’t give a personal account of this, but there are those who have encountered hostility when having them out.

Remember that whoever is allowing you to park overnight is doing you a basically unnecessary favour, so show respect to their property by picking up after yourself. Don’t put out outdoor equipment or seating or act like you’re at a resort.

5. Give them your business.

Businesses allow overnight parking for RVer’s because it’s a marketing win for them: RVers who park overnight usually make purchases while they’re there. So respect that and give them your business—even if it’s just buying a chocolate bar at a truck stop. Preferably, fill up on gas there, too. If it’s a Walmart, buy some groceries. And if it’s a BLM that requires payment for parking, pay the fee. It’s cheap enough and you help with maintenance of the lands.

Have you ever boondocked? Do you have any other suggestions for do’s and don’ts of free overnight parking?

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