There are few things as exciting as planning a road trip in your RV. Whether you're an obsessive planner who likes to outline every aspect of the trip or a free spirit who goes where the road takes you, you'll still need a place to park your RV overnight. RV parks and campgrounds are an obvious solution, but what happens if you face harsh weather, a vehicle breakdown, or some other unforeseen circumstance that forces you to look for a parking space for your RV? Here is a list of some unusual places you can park your RV for free when and if that happens.
6 Unusual Places to Park Your RV Overnight
Campgrounds are great for parking your RV overnight or for a longer period of time. However, they are expensive and overcrowded. If you truly want to go off-the-grid, you can try boondocking to get closer to nature. But if you're just looking for a spot to spend the night, try out some of these places:
Truck stops are a great place to park your rig overnight. They have plenty of space so can find a parking spot fit for the largest Class As or Fifth Wheels. Just make sure to follow truck stop etiquette and only plan to stay over for one night. Parking at truck stops gives you the chance to meet some unique people and explore a new lifestyle.
Smaller airports allow overnight parking for smaller campers and RVs. This option is great for those of you who want to try out 'flamping'; flying across the country with your camping equipment. But even if you don't plan on flying at all, small airports can be a great place to park your RV overnight on your way to your destination.
Schools, Colleges, Universities
Some schools, colleges, and universities allow free parking for RVs on their campus. This is mostly allowed for parents scouting the schools for their kids. But you can call and ask the school first to check if they have free parking spaces. Most will let you park overnight for free if they do.
If you're looking for a parking spot in a place other than Walmart then you can head over to the nearest Walgreens or CVS. Pharmacies allow free overnight parking for RVs provided you ask beforehand and confirm that space is available. Some pharmacies would ask you to make a purchase, which you might end up making anyway.
City parks are a great option for overnight parking. A lot of parks around the US allow RVs to park in their parking lot for a small fee. But do some research and you can even find some city parks that allow free parking. City parks are usually quieter in the evenings and more private than campgrounds, so are perfect for spending a night on the way to your destination.
Casinos are another option for parking overnight. A lot of casinos have dedicated parking spaces for RVs but even the ones that don't will allow you to park as long as you don't park near the entrance of the casino. You may need to give a small overnight fee for parking at some casinos, but most will allow free parking overnight.
Pro Tips for Overnight RV Parking
Overnight RV parking can be a good way to save money while you make your way to your destination. It is also a good option to ride out emergencies and bad weather. However, keep these tips in mind when planning to park your rig at an unconventional parking area.
Safety: All the unusual parking spots we mentioned above are generally safe. But since you might be new to the place and, depending on the location, the parking area may get deserted at night, it is always a good idea to think about the safety of your RV and your belongings. Install good quality door locks and make sure you also lock any compartments with your valuables inside. Always carry road safety equipment with you, in case of emergencies. Make sure all the sliders, windows, doors are locked and secured when and if you step away from your rig and leave it in the parking lot.
Permissions: It is always a good idea to call ahead and check for parking space availability, especially if you're planning to park at schools, casinos, parks, or airports. Since these places have limited parking space already, there might not be a space available. Make sure to follow all rules and etiquette of the parking spot.
RV Essentials: One of the biggest perks of RV parks and campgrounds is that you get access to water, sewer, and electric. But since you won't be getting any of that when you park at these places for free, make sure your rig is prepared for the trip. Keep your freshwater tank filled, your generators fully fueled, your backup batteries charged, and your rig stocked with all living essentials.
Free Amenities: Some free parking spots also come with frills. For example, you might find public toilets at city parks, free wifi at schools, and a pharmacy that is open 24/7. When this happens, it might feel like you've hit the jackpot. But remember to use the amenities with care and to not overstay your welcome.
The Last Word
Whether you're a seasonal RVer or a full-time RV family, there will be times in your RV journey when you'll need to park your rig overnight at an unconventional RV parking spot. When that happens make sure you're prepared to live off-the-grid temporarily and make the best of your situation. You might end up meeting some interesting new people and make memories that last you a lifetime.