Staying in rest areas?

Road stories, questions about driving the B190, lessons learned
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skater
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Staying in rest areas?

Post by skater » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:42 am

Someone asked me about staying in rest areas (or Wal-Marts or Cracker Barrels) overnight, which is always a dicey subject among RVers. Some people do it all the time.

This article from RVtravel.com talks about some of the problems you could run into while doing it. It also says that no cop would actually evict you from just sleeping there overnight, on the grounds that they'd rather have you sleeping there than fall asleep along the road somewhere, especially after being evicted from the rest area.

Different states have different laws regarding this, and some jurisdictions are working to outlaw overnight stays in Wal-Mart lots (and the like) altogether. So be aware of the local laws, and if you do stay in a commercial lot, be sure to buy stuff from them.

My parents and I one time stayed at a Sheetz gas station right before Christmas one year after we determined the road to get to the campground was too icy to navigate. Things were going pretty well until a truck pulled in next to us and left his engine running all night; we weren't able to sleep very well afterwards because of the noise. This is the only time I can remember us ever staying somewhere other than a campground.

For me, doing something like that is a last resort - I'd be too nervous otherwise. But if you're tired, you're tired, and it's not worth risking an accident.

What do you think?
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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jlidahoair
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Post by jlidahoair » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:40 pm

Having the truck park next to you with the engine running all night reminds me of years ago while I was delivering fuel on the Phillips volume tender contract for Arrow Transport. It seems like I was always starting to work at about 2 am, and in the wintertime, and here in the Idaho mountains it do get very cold. I delivered diesel, and gasoline to a couple of bulk plants. One was in Cascade, id. and the others in Grangeville and Craigmont Id. I always had 7-8,000 gallons on, so with that weight and the length of the rig (the tongue on the trailer was a long as our B190's), there just weren't many places to pull off on a snowy night. Many times I would be tired and pull off into a little area that was plowed and take a snooze. I always had to leave the engine running, otherwise it would be so cold it wouldn't start up again. The Cummins 350 Turbo's were good engines, but cold blooded unless you could plug in the engine heaters in -19 and below weather. well, anyway, I remember this one very cold night pulling into this well lighted pull-off and taking a short snooze. when I woke up I noticed a poor little bird perched on the electric heated mirror. I felt sorry for the little guy sitting there in the middle of the night trying to keep warm.. Don't we retired Teamsters have the stories though? Ha. Truth is sometimes more strange than fiction. :o)

About the Walmart parking lots. Here in Idaho they seem to allow Motor Homes to park for the night there. We've even seen some there through the daytime with their dingy's unhooked. We personally prefer a campground with security, because you never know who you'll meet out there. One good thing about the WM parking lots is that they are always well lighted. Probably safe enough for a night's stay. Do check the laws, or ask the people in the WM.. Just my take.. :o)
Have a great weekend,

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craigmar
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staying in rest areas

Post by craigmar » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:45 pm

My wife and I have never had a problem when we've been on the road and had to stop for a rest or nights sleep. We have used roadside rest stops, walmart and sideroads. I think a person has to exercise their individual good judgement and do things like locking the doors, seeing who is knocking at the door if it ever happens, (not once in our outings) and just be aware of your surroundings. Most places are pretty safe.
A few years back there was an incident here in Utah at a Walmart in St. George where a guy had been acting really strange all day long, when night approached, he apparently knocked on an RV'ers door and when they opened the door he tried to get in. The end result of that fight was the RV'er shot him with a shotgun and ended the battle and the perp's life.
I know it's not everyones bag but a good self-defense gun is not a bad thing to have in case of something like the above or out in the boonies against critters or snakes etc. As a trucker I have handy a tire knocker, sort of a midget baseball bat for checking tire pressure but it could also double as a head knocker as well.

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Re: Staying in rest areas?

Post by Wakeslayer » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:35 am

My wife and I just completed our first run in the B190. We went to Highland Park, IL for a concert Wednesday night and were headed to Rockford, IL for a weekend long music festival from there. This is about 90 miles. There was a huge storm in the area Wednesday evening. As we were headed up I-90 there were about 20-25 mph crosswinds that were irritating to drive in and I was exhausted as it was 1am and we had already driven 500 plus miles. We pulled off at the Elgin exit and headed north a couple miles. We really did not want to parking lot it so we pulled off at a city park. We parked, had a half a drink, and pulled the curtains shut. We had just fallen asleep when we were lit up by floodlights. I could hear someone outside so I said hello? The response was "It's the cops" to which I replied "I figured" I got out, explained myself and provided my ID. He said he would let us stay if we checked out. in the end it was fine and the officers were completely cool with us staying. They warned us about kids in the area, and locking the doors. They did not want us out driving.

Thank you Carpenterville Cops.
Just get on the Bus!!

Mike & Barbara

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skater
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Re: Staying in rest areas?

Post by skater » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:05 pm

That's a good experience. It's nice to see cops taking a smart view of things.

We took our trailer to Disney last January, and we filled the water tank before the trip, figuring that we just might run into a situation where we need to stay in a rest area or something, especially if the weather got bad. We didn't have a problem, though, and we stayed in good campgrounds all of the nights on the road.
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WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

BOBandDEB
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Re: Staying in rest areas?

Post by BOBandDEB » Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:43 am

We have spent the night in Walmart and Kmart parking lots several times with no problem. In fact, it's often more peaceful than pulling into a park as an overnighter. If there are other RVs already in the parking lot, we park over by them. If no other RVers are there I will go into the store and ask the manager if it's ok to spend the night. I've only been turned down twice, and that was because of local ordinances. We've never had any trouble. We always go into the store and buy something.

I once, just a couple of years ago, spent the night in a rest area, in the back seat of my '64 1/2 Mustang! I had checked into a motel, but when I went into the room, I found it hadn't been cleaned from the previous tenant. I got my money back, and decided to push on. At 3 AM I was too tired to go on, so pulled into the next rest area. This rest area was a good place to spend the night, but the back seat of that Mustang sure wasn't. I did manage to get a couple hours of sleep. but it was painful.

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Re: Staying in rest areas?

Post by nvestysly » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:12 am

The link Skater provided in post #1 is inactive so I was not able to read the article. I can imagine some of the things mentioned in the article - everything from panhandling, to noisy environment, and police officers asking you to move. A friend of ours stayed at a Cracker Barrel and found himself waking in the middle of the night to sirens and flashing lights. Turns out the Cracker Barrel was on fire!

That incident hasn't deterred us from staying at Cracker Barrel and sometimes a Walmart. We always call ahead to ask if it's okay to stay in the parking lot. Many times we purchase something at the Cracker Barrel or Walmart but that's not required by any means. We prefer Cracker Barrel versus Walmart because the restaurants close at 10:00 PM and it's relatively quiet after that point except for the possibility of the dumpster being emptied in the wee hours of the morning. Walmarts tend to be open 24 hours so there is too much traffic coming and going. We avoid Flyin' J and other truck stops for the same reason. We've also stayed in church parking lots and even on city streets. We avoid rest areas that indicate no overnight parking. Some rest areas do allow overnight parking.

Our form of travel often has us going long distances for a day or two to reach the next destination. On these point A to point B legs of the trip we're simply looking for a place to stay and get some sleep. We may be arriving after dark and may even leave the next morning before the sun comes up so pulling into a campground - even one that has pull-throughs - is not very appealing.

We use the Allstays app on our smart phone almost exclusively to find overnight parking and camping locations. The app allows you to enter a destination city or simply browse via the map feature. All kinds of "camping" locations are listed - Walmart, Cracker Barrel, casinos, Moose and Elk Lodges (must be a member), military campgrounds, commercial campgrounds, Corp of Engineer, private campgrounds, and many more. Allstays is the one app we paid for and it's definitely worth the $10 price.
We sold our 1998 B190, V-10
Currently own a 2010 Airstream Interstate

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Re: Staying in rest areas?

Post by DavidP » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:00 pm

We stay in both rest stops and Walmart's. We also have stayed at gas stops that have ample parking like Love's, T&A, Pilot, Flying J Etc.. And a fresh cup of coffee in the morning is always good. We don't run through the winter so weather isn't a factor. Local races that we can make in less then a days drive we usually are fully loaded before we leave. The races that are more than a days drive and are repeat venues we have figured out. We either stop at a rest stop we are comfortable with or a Walmart we have stayed at before. Depending on how much further we have to go we will either find a Walmart closer to the race or shop at the one we are at for anything of weight that we didn't have to carry and could buy closer to the race. Gallons of water, bottled water, Gatorade, Etc... New venues we either google Walmart, stop at a rest stop or if we have traveled the same route we use stops we are familiar with.
We have never checked with a Walmart about staying. We always see another camper, RV or truck parked in the parking lot and with the B we just park in a outlying spot and we are kind of incognito. At a rest stop we just park in a regular spot. Plenty of room for the B. I know some of the Walmart's close to big city's might be dicey. We have shopped at a couple and when you see armed guards working the doors you know you might not be in the best neighbor hood.
Only thing that might ruin parking at different normal one night spots are the people who live in there campers and try to stay for multiple nights. Our local Walmart had to throw out an extended stayer because they literally set up camp there and were running there dingy around town for 4 days. In that case I would use a camp ground. Water, sewer and electric! I have a strange feeling that with the full timers trying to live on the cheep will end up ruining it for all of us.

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