We park the RV for free most of the time and only pay to park maybe once per week. The RV community calls this boondocking – parking without hookups to electric or water. This means that you can’t really boondock in cold climates unless you want to blast through all of the propane and put a ton of hours on the generator. We follow the 65-degree weather around the country to make boondocking more feasible.
Our fresh water tank holds 100 gallons and lasts about 6 days with conservative use. If you’re a shower diva that likes to take long, steaming hot showers, forget it. Our hot water lasts about 20 minutes at most if we shut it off between lathers. Lately we’ve started showering at the gym to avoid using much tank water. This should help the fresh water last much longer.
Parking at Walmart
We spend a lot of time staying in Walmart parking lots because it is by far the most convenient way to boondock. It’s in the city, easy to get to, and located practically everywhere. We haven’t had any bad experiences or felt unsafe. But, we have witnessed a decent amount of hobo fights and drug deals.
I’m not sure how long you can stay since the longest that we stay is 3 days. Most don’t seem to care that you are there. (Pro tip: If you come across a Walmart with a “no overnight parking” policy, ask a cart guy if that rule is actually enforced. Don’t let the signs and cameras intimidate you because at most, Walmart puts a note on your door to leave within 24 hours. This means that you get at lease one night!)
Parking on BLM land
The government Bureau of land management owns areas of land that allow people to stay up to 14 nights for free. We love parking on BLM land because it is unmanaged, quiet, and Jax can run around off leash.
This site is fairly accurate, but not necessarily inclusive of all available options. The main issue we run into with this site is that it doesn’t always specify if it’s accessible by a 38ft rig like ours. We also find that sometimes the road is too rough to reach the area.
Parking at Truck stops
These are great in a pinch since they are everywhere. The bad thing is that people always come and go, so you hear loud hissing diesel brakes all night long. The highway traffic is also loud. So, if you’re a light sleeper, this may not be the best option.
Parking at Cracker Barrel
We haven’t actually stayed at one yet, but they do allow overnight parking. Plus, if you like a greasy spoon, you can just walk to breakfast in the morning! It’s almost like staying at a hotel except the breakfast isn’t free.
We park at an RV site once a week to recharge everything, do laundry, and get a bunch of stuff done without worrying about conserving water or energy. Parks will range from $35 – $100 per night depending on where you are. The most we spent was at Dockweiler RV park in California for $75 per night. If you plan to stay somewhere for an extended period of time, the weekly and monthly rates are much cheaper. These spots book up fast though because they are limited and seasonal.
Parking at Fairgrounds
This is a hidden gym in the RV world. Fairgrounds often have very cheap and even free camping.