Overnight RV Parking Rules – Lotdocking Do’s and Don’ts

Big box stores and business’ that offer overnight RV parking are now crowded with campers of every shape and size. With that, there’s been an influx of disrespectful campers who totally ignore the overnight RV parking rules and are downright trashing the place! Because of lack of parking etiquette, businesses and municipalities are telling RVs and vanlifers to hit the road!

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Overnight RV Parking Rules

No Overnight RV Parking Sign

Overnight Parking Complaints?

Camper and RV sales have skyrocketed which means a lot of new RVers are setting out on the open road for adventure travel. This has resulted in a huge number of RV campers looking for free overnight parking.

But that has also created an influx of ignorance and disrespect towards business property owners that offer free overnight parking for RVs.

However, even though it’s only a small amount of RVers and campers that are abusing the privilege, it affects the entire RV community.

Parking lot owners and local governments are taking serious notice. RVers are slowly losing the privilege of free overnight RV parking. Because of that, they’ll be at the mercy of price gouging campgrounds.

Most complaints from business owners and local authorities stem from how overnight parking lot campers are leaving the areas.

Some are leaving junk behind for employees and business owners to clean up and dispose of.

From broken down tents and moldy sleeping bags to piss bottles and RVs dumping their black tanks right onto the parking lot, who can really blame the business owners for giving overnight campers the middle finger?

In fact, we’ve even seen RVers stuffing heaps of trash in grocery carts and not cleaning up their dog’s crap in the grassy areas of parking lots.

Now granted, not all of those are from RVers who are staying overnight in the parking lots.

However, after some of the the things we’ve witnessed and read in online forums, it’s no wonder these business’ are kicking RVers to the curb. 

If only all RVers set a good example and show they truly appreciate their generosity, they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.

So, while respectable RVers can’t really do anything about the few unkempt vagrants, there are things they can do to help keep businesses and local governments from closing the gates on RVers who just want want a place to park for the night.

What is the RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy?

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The RV industry-sanctioned RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy backed by Escapees and FMCA and is supported by over 20 of the most respected RV clubs and membership organizations.

In retrospect, it’s sad that these overnight RV parking rules even had to be put into print. It’s just comes down to simple courtesy.

It starts with each individual RVer and their families to follow these simple overnight parking rules and etiquette code of conduct.

So, let’s better understand what each of these rules are for  overnight parking for RVs.

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Park for ONE night only

Remember, businesses only permit RVers to stay overnight for one night only. These are intended as a quick overnight stay-over to catch some sleep or rest.

Overnight parking lots are not to be used for camping or tailgating.

Never assume you can just park and go sightseeing either. If you want to tour the area or stay more than a night, it’s best to just find a campground.

Obtain PERMISSION from property management

Never assume that any business will allow you to park your RV in their parking lot; regardless if it’s day or night. It’s highly suggested to ask for permission first.

But, make certain you ask the store’s management. Get their name and title just in case the local authorities try to send you packing.

OBEY posted regulations and signs

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This sign is the result of a state and municipal parking ordinance.

There are some municipalities who have enacted local ordinances disallowing RV parking.

But also, the businesses themselves, may post signs for reasons of their own such as liability or their need to accommodate all of their customers.

NEVER set up camp

Lotdocking is NOT camping. These free overnight parking lots are not the place to set up camp. Do not set out your campsite mat, camp chairs, fire pit or grill.

In fact, the only thing that should be out are your RV steps.

The RV next to us at a casino did just that. Their chairs were below our slide. And, unfortunately, we had to relocate because they became unapproachable belligerent drunks.

In other words, make your RV just as it should be; parked. 

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Don’t be this guy! Never set up camp! We were parked side by side at a Casino RV designated parking area. He setup camp right under our slide-out.

NO hydraulic jacks on asphalt or soft surfaces

When your leveling jacks are deployed to the ground surface, know that the entire weight of your entire RV is forced onto those spots. And that means, there’s high potential of damaging the parking surface.

✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ Don’t damage parking surfaces with your RV’s leveling jacks. Instead, use RV SnapPads – THE Ultimate RV Leveling Jack Pad Protectors

Leave it CLEANER than you found it

No matter where you park your RV, there should be absolutely no evidence that you were there.

But even so, if there’s existing trash around your parking space, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Show the management and owners that you care about their property as they care about allowing you to park there in the first place. 

It’s simple, just pack in pack out.

✰ READ MORE ✰  Do you know what the  Leave No Trace Principles – Outdoor Ethics are?

PATRONIZE the business

As a thanks to the businesses that allow overnight parking for RVs, show your appreciation and gratitude by patronizing their business.

Whether it’s fueling your vehicles, eating a meal, making a purchase or supporting through a donation, give these businesses and the municipalities good reason for continuing to allow RVers a safe place to park overnight.

Be SAFETY conscious

As you travel throughout the Country, you may occasionally find yourselves driving through some less-than-desirable locations.

Before parking anywhere in the parking lot, scope out the area before. If you see questionable behavior or sketchy characters, don’t stick around.

Never put your family or yourself in a potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situation.

✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ Check out our RVer’s Guide to Personal Safety on the Road for good travel tips to keep you safe on your road trip.

A few unwritten rules for overnight RV parking

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We wanted to add in a couple other RV parking etiquette tips that we feel should be taken into respect as well.

Slide-outs or no slide-outs?

Deploying your RV’s slide-outs is such a controversial topic and understandably so.

But even though it’s not one of the overnight parking etiquette code of conduct bullet points, it is a measure we all need to respect. 

While some may wave their finger and scold “don’t deploy your slide-outs”, other RVers defend the practice because they have to.

Being completely transparent, as a lot of other RVers and campers do, we have to deploy our driver’s side slide-out to even put down our bed.

But we are selective in where we park our motorhome. And because we’re small enough really to park in a regular parking spot, we will typically find a back corner space and deploy our slide-out over the grass edge.

Or, if that’s not possible, we unhitch our Jeep and park it on the same side as the slide.

So, if you need to deploy a slide-out to access your bed and/or bathroom, find an out of the way parking area where you can deploy your slide-out over a grassy island.

Or park your RV on the side of the parking lot where your slide won’t impede traffic.

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Though our slide-out don’t go over our parking space line, we still put our safety cones out to alert others who may park next to us.

Just do not deploy your slide(s) in a parking spot that isn’t wide enough to accommodate it.

Some establishments have not taken into consideration of RV slide-outs therefore, the spaces may not work for your motorhome or camper.

Sometimes, we will put out our high-vis safety cones just to be an extra precaution so others don’t run into our slide-out.

Park your RV correctly

You should always park your RV in a parking space that is appropriately sized for your motorhome or camper.

To be honest, this really never occurred to us until we downsized from our big rig fifth wheel to our tiny Class C motorhome.

If you’re parking a van or much smaller RV, there may be smaller overnight parking spaces to park in. Leave those big long parking spaces for big rig motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers.

Again though, always ask kindly where you should park in the lot.

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Don’t be this guy! A small van camper parked in large vehicle and truck parking. Just because a van listed as an RV, it doesn’t not need to take up an RV or truck space.

Never impede automobile or pedestrian traffic

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Don’t be this guy! He completely blocked the sidewalk which impeded pedestrian traffic. 

If you are given permission to park in a regular parking space that backs up to a curb, make certain you do not impede or block traffic.

This includes sidewalks, pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as handicap spaces.

Overnight parking rules overview

Campground and RV park fees have gotten very expensive; especially if you just want to sleep for 6-8 hours. And we totally get you may not want to drive 20 miles off the interstate to the first available campground.

But here’s the thing. These RV parking etiquette rules aren’t just parking lots.

They also are applicable to being a guest at Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, HipCamp, Moose and Elks Lodges, Veteran’s Organization parking lots, etc.

In fact, every place you park your motorhomes or camping trailer, you should practice those simple parking lot rules.

Wrapping up the RV overnight parking rules to remember

So, we hope you just take these lotdocking and overnight RV parking etiquette guidelines as a friendly ‘just do it’. Municipalities across the United States have clamped down by passing ordinances that prohibits RV parking on business or private property.

Unfortunately, it’s because the lack of respect from a few that supersedes the respectful RVers. Let’s change that…for the better. If every RVer puts forth in following these simple overnight parking rules, everyone can continue to enjoy the privilege.

✰ READ MORE TIPS ✰ Check out Where to Find FREE Overnight RV PARKING

Great resources for overnight RV parking:

If you have any further concerns or questions about any of these overnight parking etiquette and RV lotdocking rules, consider reading our other articles below.

More articles to read:

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3 Replies to “Overnight RV Parking Rules – Lotdocking Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. When we are lot docking, we grab the plastic gloves and a bag we keep in our RV and pick up trash in the lot especially as we are walking our pups. Of course we police our pups as well. This way we feel like we are leaving the place better than we found it.

    1. Hi Gayla, PERFECT! That’s what we should always do. Thank you for being good stewards and being a great example to RVers and Campers all around the globe. Safe travels!

  2. Being as careful as possible by when trying to lay down some foundation for an RV is really interesting for sure. I can see this as something that will really be crucial to think about since you can end up damaging the foundation of the campground if you’re not careful. I’ll make sure I keep that in mind after I find an RV campground where I can start visiting.

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