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Free Overnight RV Parking 101 – Tips & Tricks

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Camp the Night Away...Cash Free

Did you know you can camp in your RV for absolutely nothing? That’s right! There is absolutely no reason you need to be paying $50+ a night to stay in traditional RV sites. In fact, there are some RVers out there who make a point of rarely staying in paid campgrounds.


Wondering why somebody would choose this and how you can do the same? Read on to learn more.


Related: RV Boondocking: What Is Boondocking? 10 Tips You Need to Know!

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com and was syndicated by Cheapism.com.

RV Park
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Why Some Campers Avoid Paid RV Parks

Let’s begin with the basics: Why should an RVer go out of their way to find free RV parking?


Well, there is the obvious answer of money savings. This is a huge factor for many campers. After all, when you camp often, those campground fees can really add up. That said, money is far from the only reason to seek out free campsites.


Related: 4 Places to Camp Other Than State and National Parks



Driving RV
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Greater Flexibility

Another awesome reason some people choose to avoid the typical RV campgrounds and seek out free camping instead is, well, freedom. Most of us hit the road in our little homes-on-wheels because we love the feeling of freedom, and skipping campgrounds can actually give you even more freedom.


This is because most free camping is first-come-first-served, and to be honest, free camping areas rarely fill up. This means you have complete freedom from reservations and can come and go as you please.

Related: How to Find RV Campsites at Wineries, Farms, and Other Fun Spots

RV Dry Camping
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Commune With Nature

The third most common reason one might choose to find free camping is for the amazing locations that free camping often offers. Obviously, we aren’t referring to the truck stops and Walmart parking lots here. However, the BLM land and National Forests that offer free camping opportunities can be absolutely stunning.


On top of that, this type of camping—often referred to as boondocking—is typically very secluded. This means no annoying neighbors and plenty of space to spread out.


Related: 30 Stunning Photos of Iconic Landscapes in the American West

RV France
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Free RV Camping – What You Need to Know

By now you’re probably thinking that free camping sounds pretty great. However, there are some things you should know before jumping in. Here are some of our favorite dry camping and boondocking tips and tricks.


For more great RV articles, lifestyle stories, and money-saving tips, please sign up for Cheapism's free newsletters.

RV Camper Neighbors by Lake
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Remember Your Manners

While you won’t usually have neighbors while boondocking, there is a chance that you might. You will also probably have neighbors when you stop in parking lots for quick overnights. Therefore, it is always important to remember your manners by keeping your volume down, avoiding running the generator at night, and generally being kind and respectful.


Related: Are You Practicing Good RV Campground Etiquette?

RV Camper with Trashcan
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Leave No Trace

This tip actually goes along with the tips about manners above. However, it is important enough to get its own spot on the list. Always, always remember to clean up after yourself after camping. No trash or items should ever be left behind, and free camp spots certainly shouldn’t be used for RV storage.

Camping Supplies Bin
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Take Plenty of Supplies

If you’ll be camping far from any kind of store, you’ll want to be sure to take plenty of supplies along. Fill your freshwater tank and take some jugs of drinking water. Stock up on food and propane, and be ready to escape for a few days.


Related: 4 Boondock Camping Cooking Tips

RV Generator
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Have a Way to Generate Electricity

Generally speaking, free campsites will not include RV hookups. This means you’ll need plenty of water on hand, but it also means you’ll need a way to generate and store electricity. Usually this means investing in a generator, but some RVers turn to solar instead.


Related: How to Select the Best RV Generator for Your RV

Emergency Safety Kit
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Always Put Safety First

Safety should always come first. Therefore, if a campsite ever feels unsafe for any reason, move your rig. A weather radio and emergency kit should always be close at hand. Additionally, many RVers feel it is a good idea to keep a can of pepper spray on hand for self defense.


Related: First Aid Tips and Tricks Every Hiker Needs to Know

RV Parking Sign
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How to Find Free Overnight Parking

The next step is to find free overnight RV parking. There are two types of free RV parking: those that are meant for a quick overnight only, and those that allow actual camping. In this section we’ll discuss the former.


Related: How to Find Places to Boondock or Free Park in Your RV

RV Owners At Rest Stop
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Short-Term Stays

When it comes to finding someplace you can park overnight and catch some zzz’s, you should have no problems at all. However, the most common places that allow free overnight parking only allow RVs to stay for one night. Therefore, these stops should be for resting along your travel route only, not for camping.


This means no setting up camp and leaving quickly the next day. In some cases, it also means giving the store or restaurant that so graciously allowed you to stay overnight some sort of business.

Related: Best RV Destinations for Spring


Walmart
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Camping Sign
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Free Campgrounds For Longer Stays

Of course, you don’t always want to head out after only one night in a place. If you’re looking to camp for a few nights, you will want to look into finding a free campground or simply take advantage of dispersed camping opportunities.


Unfortunately, finding these free camping opportunities is not always as easy as searching the internet for “RV parks near me.” That said, once you know where to look, you should be able to find quite a few awesome free campsites.


Related: The 27 Best Free Campgrounds in the US

Lean on the Experience of the RV Community
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Online Resources

The very best place to look for free campsites is naturally Campendium.com. This awesome website allows users to search for free or incredibly cheap camping in a given area. The results include such information as whether or not there are restrooms, trash cans, and picnic tables onsite, as well as reviews. Some of the campsites listed even offer RV hookups, though these do sometimes require some sort of small fee.


Another option is to head to the Bureau of Land Management and National Forest websites directly. Here you can research your options in terms of camping on government-owned land.


This article originally appeared on RVshare.com and was syndicated by Cheapism.com.