There are three main ways to find free RV parking when visiting a new city. First, through your phone, by scouting out mega store parking lots, and by just parking in the street. Each city is different, so more likely than not you will be rotating between these three strategies when you arrive in a new place.
- 1 Free RV parking on the street
- 2 Stop and Ask
- 3 Apps to find free RV parking
- Step 1: Get to know the city first. Before you get there, if you have time, find out what people are saying about each neighborhood online. You don’t have to find RV-focused articles per se. Instead, try to get a mental map of the layout of the city. Where is downtown? Where is Main Street? Where are the major freeways in the city?
- Step 2: Once you arrive, try to assess how big or busy the streets are. This is where you’ll figure out whether it’s better to park in a parking lot or in a residential area.
- Step 3: Check your go-to application to make connections with the RV community. Maybe there is an opportunity to camp at someone’s house through boondockerswelcome.com or check to see if there is a Walmart in the area that is extremely friendly to RVers.
- Step 4: If you find a free parking spot that could be considered as part of someone’s vicinity or property, ask them if you can stay the night.
- Step 5: Camp for the night for free.
Free RV parking on the streetFinding free RV parking on the street in a new city can be a daunting challenge. You don’t know how the locals, law enforcement or nearby residents will react, but there is a sure fire way to find an acceptable spot without asking for any permission and risking friction with the neighbors.
Method 1: Finding the “hipster” neighborhoodSome neighborhoods are notorious for embracing free things and there is definitely strength in numbers. Many of the neighborhoods they have made their own have a great culture. In addition to finding free RV parking, you’ll find cheap places to shop, arty places to visit and great authentic places to eat. Los Angeles has Venice, San Francisco has Hippie Hill and Austin has South Congress Avenue. Every major city has one neighborhood known for having a lenient law enforcement policy and these neighborhoods are typically okay with campers freeloading a night or two (and sometimes a month) in a free parking spot on the street.
Method 2: Cruise and find othersLocal RVers and campers know the best places to park in each city. While cruising large avenues, you are sure to find at least one with many motorhomes parked along the way. These streets are typically a little away from residential areas, with not much happening around. That’s why it’s tolerated and even encouraged as a street for large vehicles to park for the night. These places can be central but can also be on the outskirts. If you’re unsure about the safety in the city, it’s better not to risk it and use another method for finding a free parking spot.
Method 3: Find the Food trucksFood truck owners are the local experts of Free RV parking. They know the closest central place to park overnight. Next time you grab a taco ask them where they park and you’re sure to get some expert advice.
Method 4: The residential optionParking in a residential area is an art. You want to use this option when you don’t feel safe parking your rig in the outskirts and empty parts of town. You want to be close enough to people where you feel safe, but not so close that they feel you are intruding. It’s always better to ask when you get there, but sometimes you will arrive too late in the night and perhaps won’t have the opportunity to do so.
How to pick the house you will park in front of
- Houses with thick bushes and a lot of vegetation
- Houses that are not very close to the street with a large front yard
- Houses that have a motorhome in the driveway
- Parking spots that don’t face the front of the house, but rather the side of it. Corner houses are ideal.
- Streets that are well lit and have a traffic light at the intersection. (The reason is that these houses see a lot of car traffic and privacy isn’t something that they are used to having a lot of)
- Spots in front of apartment buildings. Apartment residents tend to feel less entitled to the parking spots in front of their houses because they share that space with the other residents. On the other hand, houses often consider the parking spot in front of their house as part of their “turf”.
Stop and AskThere are so many places where you can potentially park for the night, the secret is to practice good etiquette and ask if it’s ok with the manager or owner of the property. It’s just the right thing to do. You’ll find that people will rarely refuse you, and if they do, there are so many willing parties willing to let you park there for free. Here is a list of places where you have a good chance at spending the night in peace:
- Walmart parking lots
- Costco parking lots
- Home Depot parking lots
- Lowe’s parking lots
- Truck stops
- Rest Areas
- All you can eat restaurants
- Beach parking lots