When you embark on an RV adventure and set out to live the vanlife, be it for a few days, months, or even years, there are many challenges you may come across. It's not always easy to transition to tiny living on the road – especially for those that are used to the creature comforts of home. Sure you may have to make a few sacrifices, but the rewards will always outweigh any of the minor inconveniences, such as searching for a place to sleep when you're in a new city.
Seasoned RVers and vanlifers know that you can't always be camped out in nature, waking up to beautiful mountain or ocean views. No, sometimes along the way your RV adventure will take you into the heart of the concrete jungle, be it for supplies or simply the desire to reconnect with civilization.
When it comes to city camping, whether you're there for an extended period time or just stopping for the night on your way through, there are some good places to pullover for a nights rest, and there are some not so good places – and by not so good we're not just talking about the lousy views, we are also talking about illegal city camping.
Focusing on the safe and legal side of city camping, we have put together a small list of suggestions where you can pullover for the night to catch some much needed sleep when you're in a new city.
Just remember, if you are ever in any doubt whether or not your RV is legally allowed to park in a particular spot it is always advisable to first ask as each location may have their own bylaws and regulations that they must adhere to.
Depending on how spontaneous this overnight stop is, the best bet when it comes to parking for the night is an RV park or resort. Now sure they cost money, but they are usually pretty affordable, and as a bonus they typically have many amenities you won't find in other suggestions on this list, such as showers, laundry, and all the rest.
If the city you are visiting is located near a major highway or freeway, which most are, you may be lucky enough to find a place to park your RV for the evening at a truck stop. Not only will you have access to some of the same facilities that an RV park offers, but for the most part truck stops that cater to RVs will usually allow you to park for free.
The majority of these rest areas will provide, at the very least, restroom facilities, which can be a huge benefit if you're living the slimmed down vanlife and your RV doesn't have a washroom onboard. When it comes to parking for the night at a rest area you may have to use a little bit of investigative techniques to figure out if it is allowed or not. Some areas allow overnight parking, while in other areas it is against the law. However, most areas should post any restrictions. Again, if in any doubt you may want to consult the local city council for more information.
Both veteran and newbie RVers alike know that when looking for a place to sleep in a new city the oasis of all city parking lots is of course located at the local Walmart.
Pulling up next to RVs and customized vans in the darkest spots of the parking lot, which are of course coveted by RVers and vanlifers alike, you may feel a sense of being part of something secret and special. And never forget that you are part of something special. You are part of a community who are living the free life out on the open road – #vanlife!
Although Walmart itself values RV travellers, and corporately they allow RVs to park in all of their parking lots across North America, their FAQs on the corporate website warn that the ultimate decision is up to the individual store managers and is based on local laws. So, as stated earlier, when it doubt, it is always best to ask first.
Churches tend to have large parking lots that are not always in use in the evenings or the majority of days during the week. This can be an excellent place to park your RV for the night to get some much needed shut-eye. It's of course advisable to ask first, and if you happen to be a member of that particular denomination, well all the better.
If the city you are visiting or passing through contains a casino, this can be another great place to spend the night as most casinos are very accepting to RV owners. And who knows, if you head in for a few rounds of roulette, you may even be able to fall asleep on a big pile of money. The house always wins, and since your house is technically in the parking that must increases your odds, right?
Finally, if you really can't find a place to pullover for the night, and have no idea on how to find out about the local rules a regulations for parking an RV, just head straight to the source by stopping by the local police station. Worst case scenario, they don't allow you to park your RV overnight in their parking lot, but they will, at the very least, be able to provide you with some suggestions where you can park for the evening.
Where are your favourite places to park for the night when you're in a new city? Leave a comment below and let us know.