The 8 Tenets of Overnight Parking Etiquette

If You're Parking Overnight, You Must Follow These Rules

John Elk/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

It happens to everyone who travels eventually: It’s late, you’re tired, or the kids are cranky, so you pull over to the side of the road trying to figure out what to do. If you’re a RVer, luckily, you’re either driving a hotel room or pulling one behind you. If you decide to pull over for the night and park your RV somewhere, you must adhere to overnight RV parking etiquette.

Luckily, the folks at the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) have teamed up with many of the RV and travel communities across the United States to come up with the tenets of overnight RV parking. Let’s look at them and what it means for the next time you have to park overnight before making it to the campground or RV park.

RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy

The FMCA has posted these tenets as the code of conduct to follow when parking overnight on the fly:

  1. Stay one night only.
  2. Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
  3. Obey posted regulations.
  4. No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills outside your RV.
  5. Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt.)
  6. Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.
  7. Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.
  8. Be safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.

These rules apply to those who are looking for dry camping locations. Dry camping lots are any area around you that allows you to park your RV or trailer overnight without any hook ups or luxuries associated with a RV park. These include casinos, Home Depots, and other places that allow temporary parking for RVs.

It’s important that before you park, you get permission from a manager or the owner of the property before you do so. Not all parking lots allow RVs to park there, and that’s why this is one of the most important rules to follow when overnight parking. If you don’t obtain permission, you may find yourself towed for being on private property.

When spending the night, make sure to avoid noises that would cause a disturbance around you. This includes not using your awnings, jacks and setting up an area like you would if you were at a RV park. In fact, you don’t want to set up anything outside your RV or trailer for the night if possible. Never, ever start grilling, fire up the generator or entertain yourself outside the RV when parking this way.

When parking overnight, always buy something from the location you’re parking at. If this is a Walmart, it might be a good time to stock up on drinks or snacks. If at a home improvement store, maybe you need something for your RV. Think outside the box if you have to but always make a purchase. If you’re not parking somewhere that you can buy something from, find a way to say thank you by leaving supplies, helping the local community or simply leaving a note of thanks.

Why Follow Overnight RV Parking Etiquette?

Overnight RV parking etiquette is essential for all RVers to know and follow. By doing whatever you want when you park anywhere you think is okay, you’re causing more harm than good to the environment and the communities that are taking you in for the night. By following the rules above, you ensure that communities and businesses will continue to help the stranded RVer in need overnight.