A man stealth camping in a parking lot in a red camper van and bringing in morning groceries.

Would You Camp at a Hospital?

A hospital might be the first place you consider heading to when you’re sick or injured. However, after reading today’s article, you might visit them when you’re perfectly healthy. 

While we’re sure the cafeteria food is good and the gift shop workers are lovely, they’re not why we think you might want to visit. In reality, hospitals are one of the most hidden secrets for free overnight RV parking.

Would you camp at a hospital? If not, let’s see if we can change your mind! Let’s get started!

A man stealth camping in a parking lot in a red camper van and bringing in morning groceries.

Can You Park Overnight at a Hospital?

It’s common to find the large parking lots at hospitals empty during the overnight hours. If you can maneuver your rig into the parking lot, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to stay the night.

However, you must look for any signs warning against the prohibition of overnight parking. Whether or not you can park overnight at a hospital is typically case-by-case.

VanLife Stealth Camping At A Hospital

Is It Illegal to Sleep Overnight at a Hospital?

Hospitals are like other establishments with large empty parking lots. The legalities of staying can depend on the hospital’s policy and any local rules and regulations.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s typically no consistency regarding whether overnight parking is available. Even in situations where there’s prohibition, law enforcement may not be actively enforcing it unless it becomes a problem.

How Can I Sleep in My Car Overnight?

Depending on your car, you may sleep relatively comfortably in it. We have seen some people who create support structures that convert their backseat space into a bed.

If your vehicle is big enough, you might be able to fit a standard twin-size mattress in the back. If this is the case, you’ll likely enjoy a relatively comfortable night’s sleep.

Whether you’re able to convert your backseat or not, you’ll likely want to fabricate some window covers. This will give you some privacy and block out the bright parking lot lighting that can help keep you safe.

Find a spot out of the way of those coming and going. Because hospitals see traffic throughout the night and people are generally coming to hospitals for a purpose, there’s a good chance you won’t attract much attention if you keep to yourself.

Is It Safe to Sleep in a Parking Garage?

Sleeping in a parking garage can be equally, if not more, safe than sleeping anywhere else. Many hospital parking garages have hired security that patrols the area 24/7.

It’s also common for parking garages to have plenty of lighting and even security cameras. These typically ward off anyone up to no good.

If you can avoid drawing attention to yourself, there’s a good chance no one will pay much attention to your vehicle throughout the night. Find a spot that is out of the way but not so much that it looks out of place. You want to blend in as much as possible in these situations.

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What Alternative Places Could You Camp Overnight? 

There are many options if hospitals give you the heebie-jeebies, or you’re just not comfortable giving it a try. Let’s look at some alternate places you might consider.

Business Parking Lots

Easily the most popular locations for overnight parking are business parking lots, especially if they’re large and easy to access. Walmart and Cracker Barrel are two of the most popular locations nomads turn to when looking for a place to camp overnight.

These are great options because you can stock up on any supplies you might need or even enjoy a delicious meal. Their parking lots can often handle several rigs and are very easy to get in and out of during your stay.

Friend or Relatives Driveway

If you have a friend or family member with enough room, you might be able to stay with them. This is great because you get a place to crash for the night, but you can also visit with them. They may even let you do some laundry, take a long hot shower, or fill up or empty your tanks.

If you’re considering this option, you’ll want to make sure there is plenty of room for your rig. Not everyone is familiar with how large RVs can be or how much space might be needed to maneuver them into a driveway.

Campground

It may not be a free option, but staying overnight at a campground can be great even if you prefer boondocking. We’ve seen some campgrounds that charge $10 or $15 to dump and fill up your tanks, while their camping fees may only be $10 or $15 more.

If you’ve been trying to conserve water or power, it might be worth paying a few bucks more to stay overnight. You won’t have to worry nearly as much about water or power usage.

Rest Stop

Rest stops are great options for overnight stays because they’re right off the interstate or highway. Unless otherwise noted, you can expect they’re easy to navigate even if you’re in a big rig. We’ve seen some rest stop locations with on-duty security that patrols the area to help keep everyone safe.

One of the difficulties of a rest stop, though, is that many limit how long you can park. This often allows others to stop and rest and avoid people setting up camp.

These locations also have a generous amount of traffic throughout the night as people pull off to use the restroom or stretch their legs. The noise can make it difficult to get a solid night’s sleep.

Truck Stop

Truckers have been pulling into truck stops at the end of a long day of driving for decades. These locations often have plenty of space, and some will have some amenities to make life on the road easier for truck drivers. Luckily, the amenities are available to more than just truck drivers.

Camping overnight at a truck stop can make it easy to get on the road first thing in the morning, and you can start with a full tank of fuel. However, it’s common for large semi-trucks to idle throughout the night to run heaters and air conditioners for the truck drivers.

If you park next to one or have one pull up next to you, it can be challenging to tune out the noise.

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Is Camping at a Hospital a Good Idea? 

If you’re in a pinch and looking for a place to camp, a hospital can be a great option. However, you want to do all you can to minimize drawing attention to yourself. Don’t create a scene or situation that would cause the hospital or law enforcement to ask you to leave.

If you’re in a van or small vehicle, there’s a good chance no one will bother you. Pulling in with a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome may draw some attention.

However, the worst that will likely happen if there’s a problem is that you’ll get asked to leave. If you refuse to leave, law enforcement could get involved.

Would you consider staying overnight in a hospital parking lot?

If You Love RVing, You Need to Stay Informed

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Stick with Nomadic News. We publish daily articles and breaking stories that matter to your RV lifestyle.

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