‘Tis the Season! The Seasonal RVers are heading for their winter base camp…and by the looks of the local Walmart parking lot today, I’d say there’s many still en-route.
I just hope they will remember the “parking etiquette” that RVers follow when overnighting at retail (i.e. Walmart) parking lots, truck stops and rest areas. These guidelines (supported by the RV industry) help ensure that the privilege of staying over one night is not abused. Repeated abuse of this etiquette can have negative effects on RVers. With an increase in parking prohibited locations (including rest areas), RVers need to remember that this privilege can be taken away as easily as erecting an OVERNIGHT PARKING PROHIBITED sign.
First of all, stop and ask if it is okay to overnight – esp. at retail businesses. Verify the parking policy with an employee (someone with authority) and ask them if there is a particular area designated for larger vehicles and RVs.
If you are in a business parking lot, make sure you are off to the side or the very back of the parking lot. Try not to take too many parking spaces. Parking spaces equal money to the business. Another reason to park away from the main flow of traffic… we once saw a newer Class A (with their slides out ) have two shopping carts jammed under their slide. I won’t repeat the language coming out of the owner’s mouth as he was trying to get them out without causing more damage!
If you are at a truck stop, remember not to get in their way. Find a parking spot on the end or toward the back. If you see other RVers, try to park by them. It is very important that while at a truck stop (especially if you are parked with the semi trucks) that you stay within your lines. If you have trouble backing your rig or have trouble staying in your lines, find a pull-thru if you can. But if you find a truck stop with a double pull-thru, make sure you pull all the way forward so that someone can park behind you. And don’t be surprised if you find another RV behind you in the morning.
No matter where you overnight park, remember to be courteous and try to get in your spot as quickly as possible without holding up the traffic flow.
You should not put your slides out. If your RV layout blocks a closet or another area you need access to, make sure you re-locate those items to easy access areas prior to overnighting. Some people arrange their RV so that a slide may actually be over a concrete area with grass or mulch landscaping and not interfere with the parking lot.
Do not use your hydraulic jacks. And by no means should you put down your awning or set up camp (lawn chairs, rugs, BBQ grill, etc…) while overnight parking. You are not camping, you are parking.
While you are there, please patronize the business. Buy fuel or shop in their store. Grab a bite to eat from their restaurant. We have found some of the best pizzas around can be found at truck stops! You don’t have to spend a great deal, but if you aren’t at least buying fuel at a truck stop, buy something – bag of chips or some travel souvenirs – anything to show your gratitude. And even if you have your cupboards full, you should be able to find something at a business like Walmart – books, magazines or even travel maps.
There are some safety issues with overnighting. Turn on your door light and your scare lights. Make sure all you RV doors, outside compartments and tow vehicle doors are locked. Never, ever just open the door to someone who knocks on it! Open a window near the door and speak to them through the window until you know what is going on. If you are overnighting at a truck stop, do not go wandering around a night. If you must walk your pet, make sure to do it near your RV. Traffic never ceases at a truck stop or a busy store like Walmart. Tired drivers may not see you in the shadows.
NOTE: The Escapees club has parking etiquette cards and the Good Neighbor Policy letter which can be printed out for RVers to share. Visit their site at: http://www.escapees.com/Boondocking.asp