Sunday, February 03, 2019
You Slept Where?
The first night I owned my Travato, I slept in the parking lot of a Walmart. For the entire trip from South Carolina to California, I never once stayed in an RV park. Every night I put my head down in either a Walmart parking lot or one of the major truck stops. I always felt safe. And they were free, and conveniently located on the route I was taking.
So now I’m retired and not on a forced march across the US, but I still stay in these parking lots with my RV. Not all the time, but when it’s convenient, and I’m just looking for a cheap stopover.
My favorite such parking lots are the Flying J/Pilot truck stops. Love’s are good too, but I prefer Flying J/Pilot. They have everything a traveler could need or want, and I’m not talking gas and oil. Most of them have showers (big clean showers with hot water, fresh towels, and a nice strong water flow), laundry facilities, fresh hot food, favorite junk food, often a restaurant, and every gadget or health care item you could want. The coffee is always hot. The drinks always cold. The service always good.
Okay, I’ll admit that the parking lots can be noisy. They are often just a wall or frontage road away from an interstate, and often filled with 18-wheelers. But I’ve never found this to be a problem. I’m a good sleeper. And at the end of a long drive, I’ll fall into bed and hear nothing. I slept in one last night, and when I woke up, was surprised to find the RV on my right was gone and on my left, between my van and a big rig, was someone sleeping in their car. Never heard him pull up either. After living on one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles for over fifteen years, noise from the road is white noise to me.
If I need supplies, I will go to a Walmart for the night. Not all Walmarts allow overnight parking, so you have to check first, but it’s pretty convenient to do your shopping and turn in for the night in the same place.
Other places that often allow RV overnight parking that I haven’t tried yet are Cracker Barrel restaurants and some sporting goods chains. Also Camping World.
But are they really free? In theory, yes. But if I’m at a Walmart, I’m spending money on paper goods and groceries. At the truck stops I often buy a shower and dinner or breakfast. And how can anyone park at a Cracker Barrel and not have a meal?
The next time you’re at a Flying J, you just might see Novella.