Road Trip Ideas for Free Overnight Parking

While researching van dwelling online, I found many road trip ideas for free overnight parking while getting some shut eye. These include Wal-Mart, campgrounds (free or otherwise), truck stops, rest stops, hospitals, apartment complexes, motels, casinos, and other places of business.

By the way, I do intend to camp in National Parks as much possible and pay the daily camping fee if necessary, but this page of road trip ideas is intended for those times when we are driving somewhere far and/or are low on funds and need a safe place to plant ourselves and sleep for one night.


I always noticed the RVs at Wal-Mart and didn’t think much of it, but apparently Wal-Marts are known for welcoming RVers and allowing them to spend the night. It makes good sense. They make money off of the merchandise that the campers buy when they are there in the lot, and the campers have a place they know they are allowed to sleep and buy a few things without a hassle. Go to your favorite search engine and type in, “parking at Wal-Mart,” and you will get a long list of websites devoted to spending the night at Wal-Mart.

After researching road trip ideas for parking at Wal-Mart sites, I found it boils down to this:

1. It’s obvious, but bares repeating, go to a Wal-Mart in a non crime ridden area. It may also be a good idea to go to a 24 hour Wal-Mart so you know there is always security around.

2. Don’t “camp.” Don’t set up a lawn chair and blast your radio while drinking beers out of an ice chest at your side. The idea is to rest and move on. Some Wal-Marts don’t allow RVs anymore for this reason, which bring us to the next caveat.

3. Make sure that particular Wal-Mart still allows RVs. There are many sources on the web, paid and otherwise, to find out this information. I will just find a Wal-Mart location using the site for the most up to date info. Then I will call ahead and ask to make sure we are welcome.

Click here to find a Wal-Mart location.

Truck Stops

Truck stops are good. They have 24 hour security and are well lit. Choose one of the big chain truck stops like Flying J, and use proper etiquette for overnight sleeping in free lots, stay only for a night, and don’t set up camp. Place your vehicle in the designated area for non-truckers and stay out of their way

Rest Stops

You can stay at one if you want to, but I ain’t doing it. Rest stops remind me of horror movies. And, when I was surfing for road trip ideas on safe overnight sleeping in a vehicle, I found that rest stops are NOT recommended. Bad stuff has happened. There are valid reasons that rest stops remind me of horror movies.

Apartment Complexes

This one doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea in a pinch. If you park in guest parking for one night, I don’t think anyone is going to complain. There is 24 hour security in a lot of complexes, and lots of people around to detour those serial killers that like to have privacy when they murder.


One person suggested this as a good place to sleep and suggested that if a security guard asks you why you are there, tell them your aunt is sick and you are waiting to visit. I guess that would be okay if there is nowhere else to go. I would rather just plan ahead for a campground or Wal-Mart.


While researching road trip ideas for free parking, I discovered that many casinos allow RVs to park for free. I recommend calling ahead to verify it is allowed and get all the pertinent info such as how long you are allowed to stay and whether or not there is an actual camping area or just a parking lot.


The idea here is that if you stay for just one night it is unlikely that anyone will take notice that you are not actually staying in the motel.

I am just uncomfortable with the idea of being somewhere I am not supposed to be. I will strive to stick with places where I know I’m welcome, like the Wal-marts, free campgrounds, truck stops, and casinos. I’ll call ahead to verify its okay, and I’ll be considerate and follow the rules.

Click here to return to Plan Your Route from Road Trip Ideas for Free Parking! Copyright © [2011] Lynn Hortel. All Rights Reserved.


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