Have you ever wondered if you can sleep at a rest stop or a truck stop while traveling in your RV? This is a common question because of how RVers travel.
The answer is yes and no. It’s complicated. Let’s look at when you can sleep at rest stops and how.
Can RVers Sleep at Rest Stops?
Rest stops are made for weary travelers to take a break from the road and get some shut-eye. Yes, RVers can sleep at rest and truck stops, but there are some caveats.
Let’s look at the dos and don’ts of sleeping at a rest stop as an RVer.
SHOULD RVers Sleep at Rest Stops?
In most instances, the question isn’t can RVers sleep at rest stops, but should they. RVers have many other places to park and sleep, like parking lots, campgrounds, and BLM land.
Some wonder if we should be taking up those spaces at rest stops. The answer is: sometimes. It depends on the specific circumstances.
Why It’s Sometimes Frowned Upon to Sleep at Rest Stops as an RVer
The U.S. Census estimates that there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers on the roads. Truck drivers need rest stops for sleeping and mandated breaks from driving. Without available rest stop space, truckers quite literally have to stop on the side of the road.
They’re bound by an electronic tracking log that records when they take breaks and sleep. Therefore, RVers should avoid taking up limited and valuable space that truckers need when we can easily go to a campground or other overnight parking space.
Unwritten Rules for Sleeping at Rest Stops
It’s perfectly fine for you to sleep at a truck stop or a rest stop in your RV if you follow these simple unwritten rules.
Don’t Stay If It’s Packed or Small
If a rest stop has limited large parking spaces, it’s a good idea to keep moving. Most rest stops have way more parking for small cars than RVers and truckers. Truckers need the large spaces for their mandated breaks.
Obey Posted Signs
Many rest stops will have signs telling you where you can and can’t park and how long you can park. Obey posted signs, especially the signs that designate appropriate parking areas.
Stay in Designated RV Area (If Applicable)
If you find a rest or a truck stop with a designated RV area, stay there. If the RV area is full, don’t take a spot on the side for truckers. Unless it’s an emergency, find another rest stop.
Don’t Set Up Camp
Some overnight rest stop parking rules are the same as overnight parking in any other parking lot. Don’t put out your slides unless absolutely necessary, and don’t set up camp with camp chairs, a grill, or anything else. Rest stops are for resting and sleeping only.
Stay No Longer Than 8-10 Hours: Sleep and Go
Many rest stops have signs up that tell you how long you can park there. For the most part, rest stops should be no longer than eight to 10 hours. That’s plenty of time to eat, sleep, eat, and hit the road again.
Alternatives to Rest Stops for Free Overnight Parking for RVers
There are plenty of other places for RVers to stop for a quick overnight sleep break. You can find free overnight parking at Walmart, Camping World, Gander RV, Cracker Barrel, Home Depot, and even churches. Use an app or website like Allstays, Campendium, and FreeCampsites to find free overnight parking spaces that aren’t rest stops.
Try Boondocking for a Private Free Camping Experience
If you want a truly unique, free camping experience, try boondocking. Boondocking is free camping on public lands. Examples of public lands include national forests, BLM land, OHV recreation areas, and more. You can typically camp for free on public lands for up to 14 days. It’s private, remote, and you can set up camp, relax, and have a good time.
There’s usually no electricity, water, sewer, or trash services at boondocking sites, so come prepared. You can find free boondocking campsites on Allstays, Campendium, The Dyrt, FreeCampsites, and other popular RVing apps and websites.
Use Good Judgement When It Comes to Sleeping at Rest Stops
It’s not hard to determine whether or not you should sleep at a rest stop. If it’s already packed with truckers and there are only a few open spots, you should probably find a different accommodation. Usually, rest stops have plenty of spaces for RVers and truckers to get some much-needed rest. Have you ever stayed overnight at a rest stop? What are your tips for other RVers who do so?
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