Respectful Overnight Parking At Truck Stops For The RVer
By Kelly Beasley
Unless you're new to RVing, you know many campers do overnight parking at truck stops. And that is a great place to overnight!
But there's a big divide about if it's OK to park your RV in the semi-parking spots that are available there.
There are other places for RVs to park, and there are a FEW other places for truckers/professional drivers to park, too.
But are you hurting those working drivers with big rigs for taking up the space they depend on while working?
Here you learn if it's ok and how to safely use truck stop overnight parking at places like Love's, Flying J, Pilot, and more!
Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!
Our favorite way to find camping locations.
Try PRO for free today, no strings attached.
Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!
Our favorite way to find camping locations.
Can I Park My RV In A Truck Spot?
Yes, you can. BUT... is it always ethical? We're going to get into that. For now, we say you can, but you might change your mind about how you overnight parking at truck stops with your RV affects semi drivers.
Meantime, at most travel centers, the company owner doesn't state that RVs cannot use these spaces.
Many have even removed the word 'truck stop' and made it 'travel center,' as the amenities exist for all, not just truckers.
Some 'trucker stops' do have spots dedicated to RV parking.
You can see exactly which Pilot and Flying J do in this guide (PDF), where they do and do not have dedicated RV spots.
If they have them, we suggest you use them instead of the truck parking spots.
Well, Can RVs Park At Truck Stops Or Not??
The short answer is that parking in a large truck parking spot is technically OK.
But be aware, if it's full, you'll likely tick off the professional drivers.
So if you do so, park there at your own risk.
We believe truck drivers are justified in their anger.
How so? Let's find out.
The Professional Trucker's Dilemma
They may be angry because THEY ARE WORKING and have limited places they fit.
They also have strict hours to abide by when it comes to driving and rest time.
Those drivers are in trouble if they come to a truck stop at the end of their shift and can't find overnight parking at truck stops they hit.
Now they have to put their careers and licenses on the line, and potentially even their life (sleepy), to go another 10+ miles up the road to the next truck stop to HOPEFULLY find other truck parking spaces.
If they don't park by the time the golden hour hits, they:
- Incur hefty fines
- The infraction goes on their record for up to FIVE YEARS
This puts their job in jeopardy and could even make them un-hirable.
For them, not having available overnight parking at truck stops is dangerous, and the system seems unfair to them.
We talked to one of our previous full-time RVing friends, who is now a professional driver, about RVers overnight parking at truck stops IN the big rig spaces.
Below are his insights.
"The subject of RVers parking in truck spots is discussed A TON among truckers, and the responses are always negative and often threatening violence or property damage.
This seems aimed more at the RVs that park at truck stops than public rest areas.
Folks need to know they're being talked about and are disliked for taking up available truck parking with their RVs.
Truckers are regulated VERY stringently.
We have more Federal and state regulations than even doctors.
We cannot cheat or fib, as they're all based on computers and GPS trackers required in each truck.
These regulations tell us when we must park.
And you better be parked before that timer hits zero!
Otherwise, significant fines and possibly losing your job make you almost unhirable.
All infractions are recorded and logged for five years.
The wonderful thing about being an RVer is you have control. I would never tell an RVer to pay for an RV park site instead of parking at a truck stop.
That's idiotic, but it's what I hear most truckers say.
However, I encourage RVers to stick to Walmarts, rest areas, and the auto side of truck stops whenever possible."
The DOT regulates semi-truck drivers.
They cannot park in the same alternative spots as RVs, such as some Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, etc.
Sure, many travel centers clearly state that RVs are welcome there. However, we must share the road with truck drivers trying to make a living.
We both may be driving long hours. (Truckers are.) We both need to pull over to sleep.
RVers have campgrounds, Walmarts, boondocking sites, and more, but truckers do not.
Professional drivers have a very tight schedule and rules to abide by.
We usually have more flexibility than they do. Can you park elsewhere?
How To Find A Truck Stop
The easiest way to find a truck stop is by using the Allstays Camp and RV app. It does require a subscription, but it's CHOCK FULL of helpful things for the RVer.
You can filter for truck stops (even by brand), and they all pop up on the map.
SUPER easy! Some bloggers claim they call to ensure they can park (including at Walmarts), but we never do anymore. I don't know a seasoned RVer that does this.
Most apps will tell you if RV parking is allowed or not, and that's sufficient.
Truck Stop Amenities
I love truck stops! Look for these handy amenities:
Good as they are, let's find some other places you could overnight park for free.
Truck Stop RV Parking Alternatives
Often you can create your own RV spot at a travel center such as a Flying J, Love's, or Pilot.
Truck stops are spacious enough for semi-trucks to maneuver.
If you can find an area off to the side where you will not be blocking any traffic flow, take it!
At some stops, there are empty lots next to the truck stop where some trucks and other travelers will park.
Some travel centers have spots dedicated to RVs. If where you are has it, USE it.
Other Places To Park Your RV Overnight
There are many places that RVers can use to park overnight.
A trucker doesn't have so many options.
If you are smaller and you CAN find a spot that isn't taking up a giant truck spot, why not do it?
It's simply about being aware of others' needs.
Not just your own. Really, it is. Can't we all be considerate?
It's a beautiful thing.
Interstate Rest Areas
Yep, it's true.
A good old rest stop can be the perfect place to overnight in a pinch.
They are designed for RVs and semi-trucks to come through and park, so there's plenty of maneuvering area to feel safe to pull in.
Also, many states have laws that disallow staying overnight in rest areas.
Some people love to stay overnight at the places that this membership provides (one of several companies that offer camping discounts).
It's all about whether it fits into your travel style or not.
Read more about how Boondockers Welcome works.
Out West, more than in the East or the Midwest, there are many places on public land to stay overnight for free. (Can you camp on public land?)
There are places on BLM land, national forests (can I camp anywhere in a national forest?), nature preserves, and more. Just be sure to arrive well before dark.
To find spots, check out Campendium.com.
If you fear boondocking, check out our boondocking guide on losing your fear.
Walmart RV Overnight Parking
Most Walmarts across the country allow overnight RV parking.
It's SUCH an easy place to stay for the night. The number of parking spaces available at night is never a problem.
Be aware- some Walmarts don't allow overnighters due to city ordinances.
Trust us; these cities enforce their rules.
In some cities, you may experience cops coming through and forcing you to leave.
Some even hire security to keep people from staying the night.
Business Parking Lots
Some chain businesses allow RV overnight parking. Check the Allstays app or call ahead to find out if any company allows it.
Some RV-friendly places are Cracker Barrel, some large outdoor stores like Cabella's, non-truck stop gas stations, some casinos, etc.
You can always call and ask if it's OK to stay.
RV Street Parking
Some cities allow RV street parking on certain streets. It's not always easy to find city ordinances online showing where you are legally entitled to park, along with the rules of that street.
Even in some large cities, you can find legal street parking.
(Keep in mind that many of these spots are NOT desirable because of the homeless population/high crime areas.)
Other Parking Alternatives
There are many strange places that RVers have found to stay that may not technically be 'legal.'
We don't necessarily condone doing this, but many RVers and nomadic people do it.
However, if you get good at this, it can work.
It's worth a try, and you might find the perfect spot for one overnight.
Let's review some of the rules for parking at businesses:
*Unwritten* Parking Lot Overnighting Rules
Abide by these and act like a decent human being.
This way, we can all enjoy staying overnight in our RVs at a Walmart and other businesses that still allow it in the distant future!
So, is overnight parking at truck stop ok to do? Sure, but reconsider parking in the only spots where a semi can fit.
They are a great place to use the toilets, take a hot shower, and do laundry, in addition to needing a place to park for the night.
But unlike you (likely on vacation), a professional truck driver, who is working, cannot just find a place to park at the local laundromat.
So can RVs stay at truck stops?
They can. There are even truck stops with RV parking. Truck stops that allow overnight RV parking aren't necessarily condoning you parking in the big spots. Do that at your own risk (the truckers dislike it).
Look for those RV-friendly truck stops with dedicated RV parking if you need a big spot.
Even if there are a ton of spots in the early evening at, say, a Love's travel stop overnight parking area, remember that it most likely will quickly fill up overnight.
Do your best not to be 'that guy' who parked his little travel trailer in a huge truck spot.
It's just all about being considerate of one another on the road!
Ultimately, it's your decision whether you should use a truck stop overnight parking spot for yourself. It's not against the law, but we should all be looking out for one another. And now you know.
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.