13 Tips for Free Overnight Parking

Who doesn’t love free? Even if you pay for most of your nights on an RV vacation, it is still great to find one or two places to park for free along the way. Although you won’t find the same kind of amenities when parking for free as you will enjoy in a formal RV park, you simply can’t beat the price. So how do you find free parking for your rig on your next trip? The tips below should be of some assistance.

Sunrise over sea#1 – WalMart for Starters

It is well-known in the RV’ing world that WalMart parking lots are generally open to RV’ers for a free night’s stay. This is not true of every single WalMart, however, so be sure to check before you set up for the night.

#2 – Trucks Stops Can Work as Well

You may be able to find truck stops along your route which will welcome you for free. These are great for a night along the road when in the middle of a long drive, as they are usually conveniently located near the freeway.

#3 – Like to Gamble?

Well, even if you don’t, casino parking lots will frequently welcome RV travelers for a free night of parking. As always, check with a manager or other person in charge before you assume you will be welcomed.

#4 – Start Looking Early

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where night is drawing close and you have nowhere to park for the night. If you are driving along and don’t yet know where you will be staying, get to work on that point as soon as possible. Driving an RV while tired is dangerous, so you need to stop for the night before you are completely worn out.

#5 – Make a Good Sale

In some situations, you may have to convince a property owner to allow you to set up for the night. When that is the case, present yourself well and be friendly at all times. Remember, you are the one asking for the favor!

#6 – Ask at an Outdoor Store

If you are new to the area you are visiting and don’t know your way around, find the local outdoor and camping store and ask for help. Those working at the store will likely know of many nearby places to set up your RV.

#7 – Be Willing to Spend

When asking for the favor of a free night of parking, you should be willing to spend some money to support the business in question. For instance, if asking to park at a restaurant for the night, be sure to buy dinner or breakfast as a thank you.

#8 – Keep It Clean

If you start unpacking your entire RV in the parking lot of an establishment, you will likely be asked to leave. Free overnight parking is not meant to be a regular campsite – it is just a place to get some rest before moving on.

#9 – Don’t Get in the Way

This is another tip related to being respectful of others. Don’t take up four parking spaces right near the front of a store when parking for the night. Find an out-of-the-way spot in the back of the lot where you won’t interfere with business.

#10 – Rest Stops May Work

For this point, you need to check local regulations. Rest stops located along the side of the freeway may allow you to stay for the night in your RV, which is great because they provide an easy on/off during a long drive.

#11 – Be Smart

If a particular neighborhood does not feel safe when you pull in, it may be best to move on even if you had found somewhere free to park. Trust your own best judgment on this point.

#12 – Never Dump

This should go without saying, but you should never dump either of your tanks when parking for free. It is your responsibility to find an RV dump station or other permitted location for emptying your tanks.

#13 – Don’t Count On It

Free overnight parking is great when you can find it, but you should always have a paid backup option in mind. If none of your free leads pan out, you will want to have somewhere in mind where you can stop and get some sleep.

  • Wal mart,BLM land is good for two weeks get maps from the forestry dept called motor vehicle use maps should be free. Ask other rvers where to go some have been there awhile.good luck and kill your generator at ten o clock.

  • Years ago I was traveling through Ohio turnpike and they had an RV area that they charged $5 a night for a full hookup? Is that still available?

  • Also don’t put your jacks down or extend your slide outs, jacks could damage the asphalt slide outs take up two to three spaces.

  • As a retired (well almost retired) trucker may I suggest the following, IF you decide to park at a “travel center” aka Truck Stop:
    1- Please park in the “car” lot. Most are large enough to accommodate your rig.
    2- Don’t put out your slides, set up your “stuff” and take 2 or 3 spots away from a trucker that MUST use the spots because they have four different clocks to limit their driving and eLogs that mandate when they must park. PARKING IS NOW AT A PREMIUM FOR SEMIS.
    3- Go inside the restaurant and buy SOMETHING, it is expensive to maintain a travel center facility.
    4- Don’t complain if “that idiot pulling a reefer” bacls in next to you. Refrigerated trailers are the lifeblood af America. Without them we wouldn’t eat. I have pulled a reeferfor most of my 41 years of driving professionally and have hauled medication, artificial heart valves and perishable foods with a value at over a million dollars, and yes, I have had RVers ask me to shut that #@$%$# thing off. NOPE, SORRY, CAN’T DO THAT.
    5- Remember, as RVers you are a guest of that “Travel Center” also.

    Starting in July we are “hitting the road” to start seeing what I have spent 5.5 million miles driving by!
    Drive safe!
    Stay alert !
    Don’t TEXT!


    • You are absolutely right and thank you for this comment…because I was going to say the same thing (but probably not as well as you did)! Thanks for all those miles you drove!

    • enjoy your new adventure from the other prospective, as long as i can get some needed sleep in a must have situation, one should always be thankfull, just pulling off the road itself probably saves thousands of lives.

  • Thanks for good points — that person in #4 is probably the same one who runs a loud generator all day and night in a campground with quiet hours.

  • Love all these great ideas and comments – thank you so much. Have a quick question…we are heading to Bar Harbor, ME in June – a 2 day trip – and want to stop in NY or PA somewhere at a rest area to sleep. Does anybody know of any restrictions regarding this – besides the logical?