There’s a popular belief among many RVers that it’s OK to take advantage of free overnight RV parking at truck stops around America. If you’re too cheap or broke to pay for an RV park and a big box parking lot is out of your way, overnighting in a truck stop parking spot might seem like a good idea—but the long-haul truckers of the highways disagree, and with good reason.
RVs are not wanted at truck stops.
Like most frugal RVers, I also thought it was OK to park our rig at truck stops. We never had too many issues, but the last few times we parked at truck stops we got jammed in-between dozens of idling, noisy big rigs with only a few feet between us. Truck stops are more crowded than ever and there’s a good reason for that.
Parking shortage leaves truckers out in the cold
According to this Wall Street Journal article, North American truckers are running out of places to park. There are two obvious reasons for this:
- Cheap fuel means more companies are shipping via long-haul trucking companies
- Federal labor laws requiring more trucker rest periods mean that truck stops are busier than ever as drivers are forced to take more breaks.
As more truckers compete for limited overnight parking spaces, they aren’t happy about seeing RVs on their turf. We used to be clueless about trucker’s attitudes toward RVers at truck stops, but then one evening while overnighting at truck stop, a trucker made it clear—he nearly took out our slide!
Forget RV parking at truck stops.
We thought we were being polite by not extending our slide into another parking spot, but we were wrong. I wrote this blog post about the incident and it sparked reality checks from real-life truckers like:
“We can’t pull those big commercial rigs over just anywhere and enjoy a park or the river or the view or the wind in the trees or a historical site or whatever. We have the truck stop.
And, when you pull into a truck stop to spend the night as a “civilian” you could be preventing a trucker who needs that shower or laundry and rest from getting it done and having her (his) normal. A truck stop isn’t a place to camp or a place to slide out your slideouts unless you want to lose them. I’ve known “drivers” who actually get a thrill from ripping off the sides of slides….The trucker who pulled in beside you was sending you a message and you would have been wise to roll it up and move on.”
If you’re a frugal RVer and always on the lookout for free overnight RV parking spots, do yourself a favor and bypass the truck stops. Look for other acceptable and safe free places to park your rig—there’s plenty out there for recreational vehicles like ours.