Parking Lot Camping

Would You Consider Parking Lot Camping

  • Yes, No Problem

    Votes: 23 22.8%
  • No, Too Dangerous

    Votes: 18 17.8%
  • Only In An Emergency

    Votes: 60 59.4%

  • Total voters
    101

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,293
Southeastern PA
I like to ask this question every now and then as times and people change. How do you feel about non-campground camping? By "non-campground" I'm referring to Interstate rest areas and places like Loves. I don't know if Walmart still allows parking lot camping because so many towns banned the practice.

Now of course, doing overnight parking lot camping in a popup camper is a little iffy because of the fact that with a popup, you only have canvas between you and the world, but also, to setup you most likely have to unhook from your TV. With an A-Frame, you most likely don't have to unhook but it's very obvious that you're sleeping in the camper. Where with a hybrid, you can stay connected to the TV and "Go Turtle" (that's when the bunkends are not deployed) making it a bit less obvious that you're asleep in the camper, and not just in the store or whatever. And then there is the option of just sleeping in the TV that night. This is what I've done at least twice.

So what are your thoughts on parking lot camping. In today's world where people are having road rage over windshield washer fluid (yes, this did just happen), is this still a good idea.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,149
No, not in my popup trailer. If I had been evacuated and everyone was parking lot camping, sure. And everyone else would be jealous of my super-luxe accomodations. But traveling? Nope. I plan to avoid that.

But...I can see how it would be doable in my popup truck camper...if I didn't have my kids along (because we kind of have to spill out of it or we'll strangle each other). So yeah, if I were on a roadtrip with just the spouse and we just wanted to get somewhere, I think I might consider it. And then the spouse would say "nope. Motel".
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,946
Albuquerque, NM
We don't do it, would only do something like that in a real emergency. We now have a travel trailer, would not have done it at all in tent or tent-on-wheels days, most such places, setting up, at all, is not done.I know the big RV people do it, some on a routine basis, to save money. I doubt I'd sleep, so not sure what advantage it would have, unless it was a stop for bad weather.
I read a bad "review" by a large RV owner who had stopped overnight in one of the Walmarts here in ABQ. Sorry, but it's one I don't like to go to during the day, let alone try to spend the niggt. I figure I don't know good/bad areas in town any better than others may be able to discern them here.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,272
Ontario
My local camp Walmart is a busy place starting early May right through until end of October. Some nights there are 30 plus rv's of all types and sizes, but only once have I seen a popup spending the night..
 

generok

Super Active Member
Feb 7, 2013
3,457
Anchorage, AK
I would avoid it if I could for almost any developed place like a box store parking lot that draws customers. On the other hand, there are a few places that have large, open lots that are pretty unused in the summer (the lots for our ski areas for instance) that DO offer PAID dry camping opportunity. In that case, sure... I don't prefer it, but I have done it.

If I was trying to be sly about "I'm not really camping here", then there's no place I would try to do that in a PUP, it's just too obvious. In the TH, sure, maybe, but for me, the constant worry someone is going to come roust me out of the spot in the middle of the night would not make for a comfortable experience for me, and I likely would not sleep.

I much prefer to dry camp in an area clearly designated as camping space, or just pay for a campsite.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
2,649
Not in a popup. When I had my truck camper I sometimes overnighted in roadside rest areas and once just pulled off of the road, off the shoulder but still on the ROW. But usually, back then at least, if you planned ahead at all there was a community, state or national campground somewhere along the way for a cheap overnight.
 

Sneezer

Super Active Member
Aug 8, 2015
3,076
DFW, TX
Never in a pop up. I might consider it if I had a trailer, but even then it would be iffy. I think it would fall into the emergency bucket - reservations fell through at the last minute en route, mechanical issues that would delay arrival, etc.
 

JunieB

Active Member
May 8, 2018
370
Central Florida
Never in or with a popup in-tow, NEVER in an interstate "rest area." I have other criteria for potential un-camping sites.
Tried to sleep at a Walmart lot once or twice-- in a big roomy SUV (security locks all on) but it was so darned well LIT and so noisy-- also some of the "blinky light vehicles" visiting at night--never got much sleep, never again at a Walmart. I will still occasionally un-camp on a long trip when I only want say, 5-6 hrs of sleep. Be inconspicuous.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,878
Northern Virginia
In a popup or a frame absolutely not even if I had a TT I probably would say no. Now I've taken a cat nap in the SUV while at a rest area, but wasn't very restful as it was noisy, bright, and I didn't feel safe. Never again unless I absolutely cannot go further. I'd rather hunt down a motel/hotel. Walmarts in my area put a nix to campers, as there are a ton of homeless who were using it. Because I've seen what I have at a lot of Walmarts no way in heck would I even consider sleeping in it's parking lot, just not safe. Then again I'm probably just paranoid because I live where I do.
 

kudzu

Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 20, 2014
642
Knee deep in kudzu
Yes we’ve done it a few times but slept in the van each time, with one exception. Last year we slept in the new TH at a Cracker Barrel. I think it all depends are where you are. My preference is to find a campground.

Only one time have we slept at an interstate rest stop. It was two humans with 4 large dogs parked between tractor trailers & a diesel pusher motorhome. We’d gotten stuck in delays & were exhausted. Didn’t think either of us could stay awake long enough to find an RV park. Staying there didn’t feel dangerous but I hated potentially taking space from a trucker.
 

Zephyr

Active Member
Jun 18, 2013
353
central Oregon
My parents once spent the night in their motorhome parked in a gravel lot off an interstate exchange next to a gas station and a small grocery store. They had been delayed by road construction and an accident (not theirs). It was after dark, so after getting gas they asked if they could spend the night. The gas attendant seemed happy about it. They understood why when they witnessed a botched robbery at the grocery store. The get-away vehicle broke down in the parking lot, the robbers argued, and the police showed up and hauled them away. Mom still talks about that night.
 




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