If you just want to stop and sleep for the night, there are a lot of free parking spaces you can seek out. Truck stops have large parking areas, mostly for truckers, but some offer separate RV areas where you can pull in and park overnight. For the sake of keeping a good relationship with truck stops, and also with the truckers that frequent them, a few rules should be made a part of your overnight parking experience.
Try to Use The Services
If possible, fuel up at the establishment as a sign of good will and appreciation for the free parking. Also visit the restaurant and shop if possible. Many modern truck stops offer some pretty great dining (not your stereotypical truck stop greasy spoon). Park at the edge of the parking area away from the traffic flow if possible. Try not to take up a space that a trucker could use. Respect the truckers and they will be more likely to respect you.
Do not use your leveling jacks. It is hard on the asphalt and it has a tendency to irritate the management and the truckers. It also makes it looks like you intend to be there for awhile. Never stay longer than one night unless you have an emergency. Do not extend your slides unless you are next to the edge of the parking area and only then extend a slide to the outside of the parking area if it makes it easier to walk around your bed for example. Make do with the space available with the slides in whenever possible. No awnings, no lawn chairs, no grills. You are not camping.
Free parking means you are simply stopping to sleep for the night and you will be on your way the next morning or when you have rested enough to drive safely. Use generators sparingly. One exception to that would be if you are in a hot climate and the heat coming up from the asphalt is stiffling, you will need to run the AC. You will probably notice a lot of the truckers are idling their engines for the same reason. Your little Onan generator won’t make the noise level any worse. Rule of thumb: If the engine noise is already high, feel free to run your generator. If it’s quiet around you, keep it off.
Try A Walmart
Walmart still has the welcome mat out for free parking to Rver’s in most locations. Actually there are over 600 Walmarts that DO NOT allow overnight parking, but there are thousands more that do. Call ahead and talk to the management and ask permission. There are lists of Walmarts available with phone numbers etc. that will make this easy. Again, observe your rules of overnight parking. Always leave your parking space in better shape than you found it. Pick up a little trash and even a few cigarette butts as a sign of respect and thanks. If you’ve been in the military you will understand the term “police call”. (No not a phone call to the police, but the military’s way of saying spread out and pick up the trash.) And don’t forget to shop a little. After all you need a Walmart stop for something anyway, don’t you?
Some K-marts, Targets and even some supermarkets will allow parking overnight as long as there is no city ordinance against it. Again, call and ask permission. It might just save you the dreaded knock on the door at 3:00am and your being asked to move on.
Please, help keep the welcome mat out to Rver’s at these businesses. We stopped at a Walmart awhile back and saw a huge 3 axle 5th wheel parked in the middle of the lot. All 5 slides were out, leveling jacks down, lawn chairs out with the outside TV on and the grill smoking like crazy. Really? Do you seriously think this is what Walmart had in mind when they extended their invitation to Rver’s to spend the night? Let’s all leave a small footprint and keep this policy alive. We all like free parking at times. An occasional night free can help trim our budgets.