How To Find Free Or Cheap Parking Spots For Your Camper Van Or RV
19 mins read

How To Find Free Or Cheap Parking Spots For Your Camper Van Or RV

**Affiliate Disclosure:** Dear readers, some links in my posts are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only promote products I believe in, and your trust is essential to me. These commissions support the blog's maintenance and development, allowing me to provide valuable content .As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Rest assured, my recommendations are unbiased. If you have any concerns, feel free to reach out. Thank you for your support! Best regards, [Peckie]

If you’re an avid camper or RV enthusiast, you know that finding affordable cheap parking spots can be quite a challenge. The last thing you want is to spend a fortune on accommodation just for your vehicle. Luckily, there are plenty of free or cheap parking options available if you know where to look. In this article, you will discover practical tips and insider secrets on how to locate the best and most budget-friendly parking spots for your camper van or RV. Say goodbye to costly camping fees and hello to saving money while enjoying the great outdoors!

Table of Contents

1. Utilize RV Mobile Apps and Websites

Finding free or cheap parking spots for your camper van or RV can be made much easier with the help of mobile apps and websites dedicated to providing information on parking locations. Here are some popular options:

1.1. Park4Night

Park4Night is a fantastic resource for RVers looking for overnight parking options. This app features an extensive database of parking spots shared by fellow travelers. You can find detailed information on parking areas, such as whether they allow overnight stays, availability of amenities like restrooms and water, and even user reviews and ratings.

1.2. AllStays

AllStays is another highly recommended app that provides comprehensive information on campgrounds, RV parks, and other parking options. With this app, you can filter the results based on your specific preferences, such as free or low-cost options, availability of hookups, or pet-friendly locations.

1.3. iOverlander

iOverlander is a popular app among both RVers and road travelers. It offers a vast collection of user-submitted locations, including camping areas, parking spots, and other points of interest along your route. The app also provides valuable information like GPS coordinates, reviews, and even photos to help you make an informed decision.

1.4. RV Parky

RV Parky is a comprehensive website and app that allows you to search for RV parks, campgrounds, and parking spots across North America. The platform provides detailed information on each location, including amenities, availability, and user ratings. RV Parky also offers a trip planner feature to help you map out your journey and find suitable parking options along the way.

1.5. FreeRoam

FreeRoam is a must-have app for those seeking off-grid camping experiences. This app specializes in providing information on free and dispersed camping sites available on public lands, such as national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas. With FreeRoam, you can browse through various locations, learn about access roads, and find valuable tips from other users.

2. Stay at Campgrounds or RV Parks

If you prefer the convenience and amenities that campgrounds or RV parks offer, there are various options available to suit your needs.

2.1. National Parks

National parks often have designated campgrounds where you can park your camper van or RV. While some may charge a fee, others offer free or low-cost options. Make sure to check the park’s website or contact their visitor center for availability and reservation requirements.

2.2. State Parks

Similar to national parks, state parks offer a range of camping options for RVers. Some state parks offer discounted rates for long-term stays, and others may have designated areas specifically for RVs. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

2.3. City and County Parks

Many cities and counties provide public parks that allow overnight RV parking. These parks are often equipped with amenities like electricity hookups, water connections, and restroom facilities. Some may require reservations or have restrictions on the length of stay, so be sure to check the park’s regulations beforehand.

2.4. Private Campgrounds

Private campgrounds are another popular option for RVers, offering a range of amenities and services. While they may charge higher rates compared to public parks, private campgrounds often provide additional facilities such as swimming pools, laundry facilities, and entertainment options. Research and compare different campgrounds to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

2.5. Membership Campgrounds

Membership campgrounds, such as KOA (Kampgrounds of America) or Thousand Trails, offer exclusive access to their network of campgrounds for a yearly fee. These campgrounds often have well-maintained facilities and a variety of amenities. If you plan to travel frequently and enjoy the perks of these membership programs, they can be a cost-effective option in the long run.

How To Find Free Or Cheap Parking Spots For Your Camper Van Or RV

This image is property of

3. Seek Alternative Overnight Options

If you’re looking for quick overnight stays or are on a tight budget, consider these alternative parking options:

3.1. Walmart Parking Lots

Walmart is known for its welcoming policy of allowing overnight RV parking in many of its store parking lots. While this may not be available in all locations, it’s worth checking if a nearby Walmart welcomes overnight stays. Always ensure you follow any specific rules or guidelines provided by the store.

3.2. Casino Parking Lots

Some casinos allow overnight RV parking for free or at a minimal charge as an incentive for potential customers to visit their establishments. Do some research before your trip to find casinos that permit RV parking and offer the necessary amenities, such as security and restroom facilities.

3.3. Rest Stops

Rest stops along highways often provide a convenient option for a quick overnight stay. While they usually do not offer amenities other than restrooms, they can be a convenient and safe option if you’re just looking for a few hours of rest before hitting the road again.

3.4. Churches and Religious Establishments

In certain circumstances, churches and religious establishments may allow overnight parking for RVers. It’s always recommended to ask for permission and check if there are any restrictions or guidelines to follow. Showing gratitude by making a donation or volunteering may also be appreciated.

3.5. Retail Store Parking Lots

In addition to Walmart, some other retail chains may also allow overnight parking. However, it’s crucial to obtain permission from the store manager and comply with any specified guidelines. Remember to be respectful, keep a low profile, and clean up after yourself to maintain positive relationships with the establishments.

4. Explore Public Lands and Wildlife Management Areas

For nature enthusiasts and those seeking solitude, public lands and wildlife management areas offer unique opportunities for overnight parking:

4.1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land

BLM land is federally owned land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. These areas often allow dispersed camping, allowing you to park your RV in designated spots for free or at a minimal fee. Check BLM websites or contact local offices to find available areas and any specific regulations or permits required.

4.2. National Forests

National forests also offer dispersed camping opportunities, allowing you to park your RV in designated areas within the forest. However, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations of each national forest as they may vary. Some national forests may require permits or have restrictions on the length of stay.

4.3. Wildlife Management Areas

Wildlife management areas are typically managed by state agencies and provide habitat for various wildlife species. These areas often have designated parking spots or camping opportunities for RVers. However, it’s crucial to consult the state’s wildlife management agency to ensure compliance with any regulations or permits required.

4.4. Army Corps of Engineers

Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) manages various land and water resources, including campgrounds and RV parks. These areas are often located near lakes, rivers, or reservoirs, providing beautiful natural surroundings. ACE campgrounds may offer discounted rates for senior citizens or holders of America the Beautiful Passes. Reservations are recommended during popular travel seasons.

How To Find Free Or Cheap Parking Spots For Your Camper Van Or RV

This image is property of

5. Consider Boondocking or Dry Camping

Boondocking, also known as dry camping, refers to camping without the use of hookups or established campground facilities. This option allows you to park your RV in remote and often scenic locations for free or at minimal cost. Here are some popular options:

5.1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Dispersed Camping

As mentioned earlier, BLM land often allows for dispersed camping, which means you can find spots scattered throughout the designated areas. Boondocking on BLM land offers a sense of adventure and solitude, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature without the usual amenities.

5.2. National Forests Dispersed Camping

Similar to BLM land, national forests often have dispersed camping opportunities for RVers. These sites may be more primitive but offer a unique camping experience surrounded by beautiful forests, mountains, or lakes. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and be mindful of any regulations or permits required.

5.3. Harvest Hosts

Harvest Hosts is a membership program that connects RVers with wineries, breweries, farms, and other unique locations willing to host overnight stays. In exchange for staying at these establishments, it’s customary to support their businesses by making purchases. This program allows you to experience different destinations while providing economic benefits to local businesses.

5.4. Public Land RV Areas

Public land RV areas, such as those managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or other governmental agencies, often offer boondocking opportunities. These areas may have minimal amenities like pit toilets or picnic tables, but they provide a chance to enjoy nature and peaceful surroundings.

6. Use Street Parking in Residential Areas

If you’re in need of a quick overnight stop or want to explore a specific city or town, street parking in residential areas can be a viable option. However, it’s essential to do this responsibly and respectfully to avoid any inconvenience or conflicts with local residents. Here are some tips:

6.1. Research Local Parking Regulations

Before opting for street parking, familiarize yourself with the local parking regulations. Some neighborhoods may have restrictions on overnight parking or require permits for extended stays. Check local government websites or contact the appropriate authorities for specific information.

6.2. Be Mindful of Local Residents

When choosing a residential area for street parking, it’s crucial to respect the privacy and tranquility of local residents. Avoid parking directly in front of houses or obstructing driveways. Keep noise levels to a minimum, especially during nighttime hours.

6.3. Utilize Apps for Street Parking Availability

Certain mobile apps and websites provide information on street parking availability and regulations. These platforms can help you identify suitable areas for overnight parking without running into any issues. Research and utilize these resources to make your experience more convenient.

6.4. Follow Etiquette for Street Parking

To ensure a positive relationship with local residents and authorities, follow some basic etiquette guidelines for street parking. Keep your RV clean and well-maintained, avoid extending awnings or slides that may encroach on public space, and always dispose of waste properly. Leaving the area cleaner than you found it will help maintain a positive image for RVers.

How To Find Free Or Cheap Parking Spots For Your Camper Van Or RV

This image is property of

7. Look for Special Parking Programs

Several special parking programs cater specifically to RVers, providing more options for overnight stays. These programs might include:

7.1. Overnight Parking Programs

Some cities or organizations offer specific overnight parking programs that allow RVers to park legally and safely for a night or a few days. These programs typically have designated parking areas equipped with necessary amenities. Research the availability of such programs and any associated costs or requirements.

7.2. Seasonal RV Parking Programs

In certain areas, seasonal RV parking programs cater to those looking for longer-term parking solutions. These programs might offer discounted rates, storage options, or additional services. Check with local RV associations or campground directories to find out about any seasonal parking programs in your desired areas.

7.3. Urban RV Pilot Programs

To address the growing interest in urban camping, some cities have initiated pilot programs specifically for accommodating RVs in urban environments. These programs aim to provide designated parking areas with amenities like electric hookups or waste disposal facilities. Stay updated with new initiatives and pilot programs that may offer suitable urban parking options.

8. Coordinate with Fellow RVers

RVing is a community-driven lifestyle, and connecting with other RVers can provide valuable information and insights into finding free or cheap parking spots. Here are some ways to coordinate with fellow RVers:

8.1. Join RVing Communities and Forums

Online communities and forums dedicated to RVing are a treasure trove of information. Connect with fellow RVers through these platforms to access firsthand experiences, recommendations, and tips for finding parking spots. You can also share your own knowledge and contribute to the RVing community.

8.2. Connect with RVers on Social Media

Social media platforms, particularly Facebook groups and pages, are great for networking with RVers. Join relevant groups or follow RVing pages to stay informed about potential parking opportunities. Engaging with the community through comments or direct messages can lead to valuable connections and insights.

8.3. Attend RVing Gatherings and Meetups

RVing gatherings and meetups provide an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals in person. These events often have seminars, workshops, and social activities where you can exchange ideas and gather information about parking options from experienced RVers. Keep an eye out for local or regional gatherings and enjoy the camaraderie of the RVing community.

9. Consider Workamping Opportunities

Workamping refers to the practice of exchanging labor or services for free or discounted camping accommodations. It allows RVers to stretch their budget while experiencing new locations. Consider these workamping opportunities:

9.1. Campground Host Positions

Many campgrounds, especially state or national parks, hire campground hosts to assist with various tasks. In exchange for your services, such as greeting visitors or light maintenance work, you may receive free or discounted camping accommodations. This opportunity not only saves you money but also allows you to stay in beautiful locations.

9.2. Volunteer Work Opportunities

Various organizations and charities offer volunteer work opportunities that include RV parking. This could involve helping with disaster relief efforts, environmental conservation projects, or community service initiatives. Volunteering not only provides you with a parking spot but also allows you to make a positive impact on the places you visit.

9.3. Temporary Job Placements

If you prefer a more structured work arrangement, temporary job placements can provide RV parking along with income. Seasonal jobs at theme parks, festivals, or campgrounds often include on-site accommodation options for employees. These opportunities allow you to stay in a location for an extended period while earning money to support your travels.

10. Plan Ahead and Stay Organized

To optimize your search for free or cheap parking spots, it’s essential to plan ahead and stay organized. Here are some tips:

10.1. Research and Map Out Potential Parking Spots

Before embarking on your RV journey, research and map out potential parking spots along your route. Utilize the mobile apps and websites mentioned earlier to identify suitable locations, noting their availability, amenities, and any associated costs. This allows you to have a backup plan in case your preferred spot is unavailable.

10.2. Keep Track of Parking Regulations and Permit Requirements

Different areas may have varying parking regulations, such as maximum stay periods or permit requirements. Keep track of these regulations and ensure that you comply with them to avoid any penalties or fines. Maintaining a digital or physical document with relevant information can help you stay organized and avoid any legal issues.

10.3. Maintain a List of Favourite Parking Locations

As you explore different parking spots and find suitable ones, maintain a list of your favorite locations. Include details such as GPS coordinates, amenities, and any specific tips or recommendations. This list can become a valuable resource for your future travels and help you find familiar and reliable parking spots.

In conclusion, finding free or cheap parking spots for your camper van or RV requires a combination of research, planning, and a bit of flexibility. Utilizing mobile apps and websites, staying at campgrounds or RV parks, considering alternative overnight options, exploring public lands, considering boondocking, using street parking in residential areas, looking for special parking programs, coordinating with fellow RVers, considering work-amping opportunities, and staying organized are all key factors in finding suitable parking options that fit your budget and preferences. By embracing these strategies and making use of the available resources, you can enjoy the freedom of RVing without breaking the bank. Happy travels!

Lucas’s Awesome Camper Van Travels: From Indonesia to the Philippines


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *