March 4th, 2018

The open road calls to many travelers, beckoning them to explore new horizons in RVs. But where do you sleep when the road is your home? Hotels and campgrounds are options, but sometimes they’re too costly or too far from your travel route. Rest areas offer an alternative, but there are rules to follow, concerns to be aware of, and courtesies to extend to our nation’s truckers.

Is It Allowed?
In most states, you can sleep in your RV at a rest area as long as you don't set up camp. This means no slide-outs, awnings, or chairs. The general rule is "come in late, leave early," treating the area as a resting stop rather than a campground. However, some states strictly prohibit overnight parking at rest areas, such as Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, and others. Always check the state's transportation website for the most up-to-date information.

Safety First
One advantage of rest areas is that they are generally safe places to park overnight. Most have onsite staff, ample lighting, and surveillance cameras. Additionally, rest areas are frequented by truckers who are experienced road travelers. They can often sense if something is amiss, providing an extra layer of security.

Truckers Come First
Rest areas are crucial for truckers who are transporting goods across the country. Given that truckers don't have the flexibility that RV travelers have in choosing where to stop, it's only fair to give them priority. Be respectful of truck parking spots and try to park in spaces designated for RVs or cars if available.

Other Options

Walmart Parking Lots
Some Walmart locations allow RV parking in their lots overnight. However, the rules can vary from location to location, and sometimes local ordinances prohibit overnight parking. Always check with store management before staying the night.

Safety Concerns at Walmart
While convenient, Walmart parking lots may not offer the same level of safety as rest areas. They usually lack onsite security staff and surveillance specific for overnight parkers.

Truck Stops
Truck stops are another alternative but remember that these are primarily for truckers. Some truck stops offer designated RV parking spaces, but amenities and safety can vary.

Don't Overstay Your Welcome
Rest areas are not intended for long-term stays. Some states have implemented stringent regulations against this due to individuals abusing the privilege. It's crucial to respect the rules and the needs of others—particularly truckers— who rely on these spaces for their livelihood.

Rest areas can serve as convenient, safe overnight stops for RV travelers "in route" to their destination. Always be respectful of state regulations and the needs of truckers. If you use these areas responsibly, they can be a valuable part of your travel itinerary.

Safe Travels!

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