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Old 09-14-2021, 07:45 PM   #1
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Truck stops, Walmarts, etc.

We have owned and used fifth wheels for a number of years. Our stays have always been destinations and we have never just pulled over at a truck stop to sleep. This is changing later this summer/early fall. We will travel about 1,200 miles to a destination expecting two or three (short) nights for rest. I've read that Walmart and other retailers (Cabellas, Cracker Barrel, etc.) are discouraging people like us from sleeping in their lots. Wondering what others are finding and would appreciate some input from those with experience. While we support the campgrounds and parks that we use, it just seems silly to arrive after dark, leave before sunrise and pay for services that we simply do not need (hookups), but, if necessary, then that is what we will do.


Of course, we will be courteous, careful and spend some money with any merchants that allow our brief overnights. If it helps, we will be traveling through Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.


By the way, if there is a better place for this question, kindly advise. Thank's all for your input.
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:58 PM   #2
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Its not necessarily that the Walmarts, etc, themselves are pushing us away, its the town or city. They are making new ordinances left and right prohibiting overnight parking. But if u plan the route ahead of time, u can call and ask them. Truck stops suck because the big rigs are so loud. And even then, there may be signs saying no overnight parking. We are Harvest Host members. Love it! We get up early, drive till dinner time, pull into a winery and buy a bottle of wine.
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:07 PM   #3
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We have done this occasionally when traveling cross country and only need to eat and sleep quickly. We have not any any issues over the years as long as you are respectful and we usually shop while we are there.
Wanderer1 is right about the truck stops, they often idle or have reefer units running all night. Not all Cracker Barrel’s have RV/Bus parking so it pays to plan ahead by half a day at least.
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:18 PM   #4
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We started out a year ago using places like Cracker Barrel for overnights but have found most of them have limited space and they are very popular (can be tough to get a spot unless you stop driving earlier in the day). Shifted to Walmarts and will still use but call ahead first as many will say, “technically we are told to tell you “no, we do not allow overnights””.
On our last couple trips we have used Rural King and Farm n Fleet on the east coast and Midwest. Good experience but not a built in option for RV Trip Wizard.
Also have started using rest stops. Since we have a longer rig, we blend in with all the trucks, but if your unit is not sound insulated well, or if you are a light sleeper, or if this makes you nervous, this may not be a good idea for you. Has worked well for us so far.
So far we have not used truck stops as my Bride isn’t comfortable sleeping there and more and more of them are charging for overnight parking.
We always scope out using satellite photos and then check with store manager. Only once have we had to move on due to not being allowed. That one time has taught us to call ahead first.
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:23 PM   #5
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Look at apps like AllStays Camp&RV to find places to park overnight (I don’t call it “camping”). We prefer Lowe’s, Cabela’s, Bass Pro, etc. to Walmart because they are quieter, but we have spent a number of nights in Walmart parking lots. We now use Boondockers Welcome, a yearly subscription service where you can request a stay at a host’s property for overnight. We were pleased to not stay in a single parking on this last 2 month trip! If you stay at a Big Box store, always call the desk before hand to ask “Do you allow RVs to park overnight? Where would you like me to park?” The majority of them do allow overnight parking.
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Old Yesterday, 06:42 AM   #6
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I don't know why anyone would care if an rv was parked in an empty parking lot at night. When I pull into a town at night and park in an empty strip mall nobody seems to care. I usually go shopping in the morning when they open.
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Old Yesterday, 07:39 AM   #7
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In the past we've stayed at Walmart's, Sam's, Cabela's, truck stops etc.

It is getting harder to find places that allow overnight parking as the cities are adopting ordinances against over night parking. The best you can do is call ahead. On my last trip I did this several times and was told I could park.

I also did join Harvest Hosts prior to my last trip and stayed at 4 different locations but you have to reserve a spot ahead of time and they do have restrictions on length etc. But definitely an option. I would park and go have a couple glasses (or samplers) and maybe an appetizer as a courtesy. But RV'ers need to be courteous of the venues, last one I stayed at said they were changing the rules as that week one RV'er (who did not know what they were doing) got stuck in the Vineyard and had to be towed out then complained it was their fault. There was plenty of room but the individual decided to cut across a soft part of the field, DUH!!!
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Old Yesterday, 09:47 AM   #8
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About four years ago (Yes…. I know the world has changed a lot since then) I took a 3 month, 15,000 miles road trip from the Great Lakes area to the northern west coast area and back in a SUV. Only every 3-4 days did I stay in a hotel just for a real shower and a real bed to sleep on. Other than that I drove wherever I wanted, visited anything and everything I wanted, and “camped” in numerous different places and different venues. From that trip I learned some of these things;

Don’t try to overnight (free camping) in a bigger city, it’s just too much hassle. The smaller towns surrounding the city are a better chance of finding a place without much hassle. (A Walmart in a big city will tell you “No” to overnighting, but a Walmart 30 miles away in a smaller town will more likely say “Yes” and “we actually have an area designated for overnighting”)

Real trucks stops (Pilot, Flying J, TA) are a hit and miss on acceptable rv overnighting, I’ve been to many that had dedicated rv parking for overnighting, and others that you had to park in-line with semi’s. The real hidden gems here are the small town (think one gas station towns) “truck stops”. I never had one tell me “No” when I asked if I could overnight for the night, they were always very happy to tell me where a good spot was.

For a cheap nightly fee (think like $5-10) check out city campgrounds, county fairgrounds, and the sorts. Most are very nice and I rarely encountered one that didn’t have an opening.

Stay away from “touristy” areas if you want to overnight for free. You and hundreds more are wanting the same thing in the same limited area….. and it leads to many businesses saying “no” flat out.

Check out small local “mom and pop” recreation stores. (This is the biggest change in 4 years… not many around anymore) You need something small to buy? Try giving them your money instead of Cabelas or Scheels, and they more likely will be open to allowing you to stay there for the night. (I did this quite often, only downside is they would like you packed up and gone before they opened)

Now granted a SUV is a lot different than towing a big trailer behind you and trying to find a free overnighting spot, but the principle is still the same.
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Old Yesterday, 10:10 AM   #9
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

As others have said, it's usually not Wal-Mart but the city that prohibits overnight parking. Not as easy as it used to be, but you can usually find a place to stay with a little perservance!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old Today, 12:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderer1 View Post
Its not necessarily that the Walmarts, etc, themselves are pushing us away, its the town or city. They are making new ordinances left and right prohibiting overnight parking. But if u plan the route ahead of time, u can call and ask them. Truck stops suck because the big rigs are so loud. And even then, there may be signs saying no overnight parking. We are Harvest Host members. Love it! We get up early, drive till dinner time, pull into a winery and buy a bottle of wine.
This just happened in our town. City is warding off the invasion of homeless that seems to be happening country wide.
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Old Today, 01:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cadillac_al View Post
I don't know why anyone would care if an rv was parked in an empty parking lot at night.
Legal stuff. Especially if you are a business, if you knowingly allow people to use your property, you can become responsible if bad things happen to them, even when it's clearly not your actual fault.
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Old Today, 01:38 PM   #12
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I stay at Pilot Flying J , RV friendly, Travel centers.

Download the app and pick RVer and you can seek out RV friendly Centers that have up front RV parking.
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