One of the most consistently challenging parts of vanlife is finding where to park. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that permit overnight parking for vanlifers. Here are some top spots to check out:
- Public areas: Many government-owned areas are available for overnight camping. For example, the Bureau of Land Management offers public boondocking spots across the United States (most of which are free to use). However, these areas tend to be secluded, so expect to drive off the beaten path to find them.
- Store parking lots: Some chain businesses (such as Walmart and Cracker Barrel) let people remain overnight in their parking lots for free. Parking lots are a great option as they’re spacious and easily accessible — however, depending on the store, you may not have access to a restroom.
- Rest and truck stops: In the US, there’s no shortage of rest and truck stops available. Both offer public restrooms, fast food options and a space to leave your vehicle. Most truck stops will let you park overnight — highway rest areas, however, may impose time limits.
- Campgrounds: Many states and cities have campgrounds where vanlifers can leave their vehicles. They typically come with amenities like restrooms, showers and laundry services. On the downside, most campgrounds charge fees and can become very crowded.
- Street parking: In certain neighborhoods, you can leave your van on the street overnight. If you go down this route, always check local laws and try to keep noise levels to a minimum.
Before settling in anywhere overnight, make sure you’re allowed to park there — the last thing you want to do on your roadside adventure is break any laws!