How to Use Costco as an RVer

If you’re an RVer, there’s a chance you’ve already parked overnight at a Costco. It’s affordable, easy to access, and usually pretty quiet. But is sleeping overnight at Costco permissible? Are there rules and guidelines for using Costco as an RVer?

We’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your overnight stay at Costco. Let’s get started!

Use Costco parking lots to park your RV for the night

Can I Sleep Overnight at Costco? 

In short, you can park overnight at many Costco locations. Costco is an excellent option for an overnight stay during a long drive. Most Costco locations have huge parking lots that are well-lit and free, and some even have designated RV parking.

However, not all municipalities allow camping in a parking lot, and not all Costco locations permit overnight parking.

Even if the Costco you are eyeing allows overnight camping, it’s not as simple as showing up. There is etiquette to follow.

We took a closer look to uncover Is Camping at Walmart Safe?

What Is the Etiquette for Spending the Night at Costco?

Spending the night in the parking lot of any business is a privilege. The same applies to Costco. When people abuse these opportunities, they go away. It’s essential to follow a few simple rules to respect the business and your fellow travelers.

Ask Permission

Even if you are 99.9 percent sure that a company allows overnight camping, call ahead or go inside and ask management if it is okay to stay in their lot. Even if you call ahead, it’s best to introduce yourself to a manager and other employees when you arrive so they are aware you have their permission to stay.

In addition to ensuring the business approves of you staying overnight, management might also have some requests for overnight guests. They may include where to park so you’re not impacting the company or the hours you can stay in the lot.

Don’t Set Up Camp

You’d be surprised how many folks break out a grill and camping chairs when staying overnight in a parking lot. Please don’t do it.

Not only is an asphalt parking lot not the most aesthetically pleasing location, Costco and other businesses that allow overnight camping are not campgrounds. They have many customers and delivery trucks coming and going throughout the day.

Aside from not setting out your camp chairs, an outdoor rug, or barbeque, do not put out your awning, leveling jacks or blocks, or other items that would indicate a more permanent stay. This is a convenient stop for a quick overnight rest.

If you need to stay longer, clear it with Costco management first.

Respect Your Neighbors

It would be best if you also respected others in the lot and neighboring businesses and homes by keeping the noise reasonable. Keep your voice down, and don’t blare loud music.

Additionally, don’t run your generator. If you find it necessary to run your generator, get permission from the manager first. Even if you have permission, it is common courtesy to position your rig so that most of the generator noise faces away from neighbors or other businesses that might be open.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is an essential tenet to follow while camping. Camping privileges disappear when campers break the rules. Making a mess is one of the quickest ways to shut it down.

Following the Leave No Trace principle is simple. Leave the area as good or even better than you found it. 

Even if the parking lot has some trash strewn around or trash cans are overflowing, don’t add to the mess. Always clean up your debris. If there is nowhere to dispose of it respectfully, take it with you until you can dispose of it properly.

We’re fans of going a step further and leaving a place better than we found it. Though you may not have left any trash on the ground, picking up garbage that others have left behind can show the business that you are treating their hospitality with respect.

BONUS TIP: It is always advisable to patronize any business that allows an overnight stay. At Costco, you must have a membership or be a guest of a member to shop there, but if you do have a membership, Costco has many beneficial supplies and groceries that benefit any traveler. Their whole bean coffee is a particularly excellent deal!

Busy Costco parking lot RVers could use to camp in

Can I Get Gas for My RV at Costco? 

Many drivers know Costco for frequently having the lowest fuel prices. When fueling an RV with a huge tank, it can lead to tremendous savings. However, fueling at a Costco Gas Station requires a Costco membership or Shop Card. Your savings may be enough to justify the cost of membership because of fuel prices alone.

How Can I Get Costco Gas Without a Membership?

The Costco Shop Card is one of the only ways you can shop at Costco, including a Costco Gas Station, without having a membership.

A Costco Shop Card is for members who don’t want to carry cash or credit cards. It can also be a gift for a non-member. If you know a member, they could purchase a Costco Shop Card and load it with any denomination between $25 and $2,000.

A Costco Shop Card never expires and is rechargeable. You can use it for any Costco purchase, including merchandise, memberships, or at Costco Gas Stations and Food Courts.

Though non-members can use them, only members can purchase Costco Shop Cards. Members can reload them at any Costco location.

Are memberships, like a Costco or RV membership, a good idea? Find out why Your RV Memberships Are a Waste of Money.

Costco Wholesale exterior

Does Costco Have RV Supplies? 

Costco has some RV supplies. Costco carries many valuable items for travelers. However, you won’t typically find RV toilet paper, RV drain hoses, leveling blocks, or other specific RV products. 

Costco physical locations have many items that can be useful for RVers, like memory foam mattresses, grills, outdoor chairs, bear or pepper spray, Instapots, and other things. Many products are available seasonally.

Costco has a broader assortment of RV-related supplies available for shipping via its online portal.

Is Spending the Night at Costco Worth It?

Spending the night at Costco is an excellent way to save money on camping and RVing. It’s also a fun experience that can help you get to know other travelers. As long as you follow proper etiquette by asking permission and following Leave No Trace principles, we say go for it!

Have you ever spent the night at a Costco? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments.

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