aerial view of parking lot

Overnight Parking: What You Need to Know

Overnight parking refers to the ability to park your vehicle on public or private property for an extended period. Understanding the laws and regulations regarding overnight parking is essential, as they vary depending on the location. This post will provide an overview of overnight parking regulations and tips for finding legal parking spots.

What Is Overnight Parking?

Overnight parking can be a convenient and affordable way to travel and explore new places, but it also requires some planning and responsibility. You should always research your options ahead of time, use reliable resources and apps to find parking spots, ask for permission when necessary, stay safe and legal, and leave no trace behind.

  • It refers to parking a vehicle in a public spot for an extended period, typically overnight.
  • It is more used in large cities with limited and expensive parking spots.
  • It is often a last resort, as it can be dangerous and illegal.

Understanding Local Parking Regulations

The rules and regulations for overnight parking vary depending on the location, the type of space, and the authority in charge. Some places may allow or tolerate overnight parking, such as Walmart, rest areas, truck stops, etc., while others may prohibit or restrict it, such as residential streets, parking garages, etc. It is essential to check the signage and the local laws before parking overnight.

a warning sign on a metal post
Photo by Mattrichmo on

Different Locations, Different Rules

Finding overnight parking spots can be challenging, but these tips and resources can help you. Here are some of them.

6 of the Best Apps in the United States and Canada for Finding Overnight Parking

  1. Overnight RV Parking
  2. The Parking Spot
  3. Parkopedia Parking
  4. ParkWhiz
  5. SpotAngels
  6. SpotHero

These apps can help you find free or cheap parking spots, compare prices and availability, book in advance and get discounts and rewards.

 7 of the Best Apps to Find Free Parking

  1. The Dryt
  3. Bureau of Land Management
  4. All Stays
  5. RVParky
  6. Campendium
  7. iOverlander

Use these apps to find where you can boondock on public lands, such as National Forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Management). These spots are accessible, secluded, and scenic but may require adventure and preparation. You can read reviews and tips, see photos and maps, and check the rules and regulations on these apps.

Also, look for places where overnight parking is allowed or tolerated, such as:

  1. Walmart
  2. Cracker Barrel
  3. Truck Stops
  4. Casinos
  5. Hospitals

These places are convenient, accessible, and safe but may also be noisy, crowded, and boring. Before parking overnight, you should always check with the manager or staff, follow their rules, and respect their property.

Safety Considerations

Staying safe and legal while overnight parking is essential for your well-being and wallet. Here are some advice on how to do that:

  • Check the local laws and regulations before parking overnight. Rules for overnight parking and sleeping in your car may vary by state, city, or property. You should always ask for permission from the property owner or manager, read the signage and time limits, and avoid parking on highways, freeways, or public streets not designated for parking.
  • Avoid unwanted attention or harassment from authorities or locals. Try to blend in with your surroundings, park in well-lit and safe areas, lock your doors and windows, cover your windows for privacy, and have a backup plan in case you need to leave. It would help to respect the noise level, trash disposal, and other people’s space.
  • Avoid fines or arrests for intoxicated driving. You can be arrested for having control of your vehicle while intoxicated, even if the car is not moving or the engine is off. You should never drink and drive, but if you find yourself in a situation where you need to sleep in your car after drinking, you should park legally, turn off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition, and move to the back seat.

Be Respectful and Responsible While Overnight Parking

Being respectful and responsible while overnight parking is courteous and essential for maintaining good relations with the property owners, the locals, and the authorities. Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

  • Leave no trace. You should always clean up after yourself and dispose of your trash properly. Do not dump waste or liquids on the ground or in the toilets. Do not damage or vandalize the property or the surroundings. Leave the place as you found it or better.
  • Be quiet. You should avoid making loud noises, playing music, running generators, or honking your horn. Respect the quiet hours and the privacy of other people. Do not disturb or annoy anyone with your presence or behavior. Use headphones when watching videos or listening to music while parked.
  • Ask for permission. It would help if you always asked for permission from the property owner or manager before parking overnight unless a sign clearly states that it is allowed. Follow their rules and instructions, and thank them for their hospitality. Do not overstay your welcome or abuse their generosity.

 Concluding Thoughts

  • Overnight parking can be a convenient solution when you need to park for an extended period.
  • However, you should always be aware of the local laws and regulations before parking in any location.
  • Take safety precautions to protect your vehicle from theft or damage.
  • Use Leave No Trace practices.
  • Always ask permission to park when no sign states it is allowed.
  • Stay within your welcome.

    We encourage you to try overnight parking and share your experiences. Overnight parking can be a unique and cost-effective way to explore new places and save on accommodation costs. By following the laws and regulations, being respectful and responsible, and taking safety precautions, you can have a positive and enjoyable experience. Share your tips, favorite parking spots, and any challenges you’ve faced while parking overnight. Your experiences can help others navigate the world of overnight parking and make informed decisions.

    Bookmark The Stella Experience Blog for more car camping, RV, and Vanlife tips.

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