Every RVer NEEDS TO KNOW these rules and proper etiquette for parking overnight at truck stops.
There are often heated debates between truckers and RVers on whether it’s okay to park RVs overnight at truck stops. Technically, yes, it is okay, but only if you follow these unwritten rules.
I’ve heard how truckers have taken out RV slides or parked scarily close to RVs to prove their point. I’ve also heard about plenty of angry threats, too.
Of course, most truck drivers are kind and patient and will either tolerate any unwritten rule-breaking or nicely ask you to address the issue. But you don't want them to have to do that, nor do you want to push anyone beyond their patience level.
So, as a longtime boondocker who has stayed overnight at truck stops, I will share my advice with you. The key is respect!
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Parking Overnight at Truck Stops (What You NEED to Know)
First and foremost, you must remember that truckers are working! They are trying to earn a living for their families, and they need truck stops to do so.
It’s understandable when they get upset if your RV interferes with their livelihood. After hours on the road, they want and need somewhere to park, rest, shower, and eat. Not to mention they are required BY LAW to rest.
So, the all-encompassing rule to remember as you read the following rules is: TRUCKERS GET PRIORITY.
Rule #1: Don’t Leave Your RV When Filling Up
Do not pull up to the gas pump, start pumping, and then go inside for a snack. Wait for your pump to finish filling your tank, then pull through to a parking spot. Only then should you leave your RV to go into the store or restroom.
Breaking this rule is a sure way to tick off a trucker. After all, they’re on the clock! They shouldn’t have to wait on you to get back out on the road.
Rule #2: Don’t Park in Truck Spots
Never park in a truck parking spot at truck stops, even if many are available. Truckers come in and out at all hours, and they may need that spot.
Only park in designated RV spots. You’ll thank me for two reasons for this advice.
For one, trucks are loud, even when they’re idling or running off generators at night. You won’t get a good night’s sleep even if truckers leave you be.
For two, you won’t have to deal with a tired, irritated trucker. Put yourself in his or her shoes and imagine what it’d be like to pull in for a much-needed (& legally-required) rest only to find a vacationer in your spot. I’m sure you’d be disgruntled, too.
Rule #3: Don’t Park Too Close to Trucks
This is clearly a pet peeve of truckers. After all, they are navigating BIG trucks into small spaces.
So, even if your designated RV spot is next to a truck spot, give them as much space as possible! More so, park in a spot as far away as possible.
It’s highly recommended that you keep your slides pulled in, as they can accidentally get swiped when such big rigs are moving in tight places.
If you have to put out your slides to access your rooms, only put them out as far as necessary. And make sure they do not hang over the neighboring parking space. Again, park as far away from others as possible.
Remember that overnight parking at a truck stop is only meant as a pit stop to rest or sleep at most. You certainly should not set up camp for the night by putting out chairs and slides!
Rule #4: Don’t Be a Shower Hog
As an RVer or boondocker, you can and should use showers at truck stops. It’s a great way to refresh in a clean shower for a small fee.
However, don’t be a shower hog! If there are several showers available and no crowd in sight, feel free to enjoy a good long shower.
But if there’s a line (especially consisting of truckers), don’t dawdle! Remember, you should always behave as if truckers have priority.
So, shower quickly if truckers are waiting or, better yet, shower later if that’s a convenient-enough option for you.
By the way, we also recommend reading How to Take a GOOD Shower in an RV (Is It Even Possible?!).
Rule #5: Beware of Hustlers
There was a discussion in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group on this very thing. The RVer who posted the warning explained it quite well:
“If ANYONE tries to involve you in anything regarding money at a truck stop, meaning if money is the conversation except maybe just asking for a dollar or so, I would stay clear of it.
If anyone tries to chat you up about something you know nothing of, just say sorry, I gotta get doing stuff and move on.
People work in weird ways. Thieves will approach and chat you up while they eyeball your stuff or see if you're an easy mark. By deflecting, you show them a preemptive position.”
As the RVer explained, a hustler may be figuring out if you're a good mark, or they may be distracting you while a partner in crime robs you. So, be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, and be firm in ending a conversation that seems fishy.
Rule #6: Buy Something From the Truck Stop
Yes, truck stops are a great “free” place to park overnight. However, out of respect for the truck stop owners, it shouldn’t be completely free.
It’s proper etiquette to make a purchase, whether it’s a snack, shower, or fuel. This consideration encourages truck stop owners to cater to RVers as well as truckers.
If you want a completely free place to stay, then you're better off at a rest stop. At a truck stop, it's common courtesy to at least buy something small.
Rule #7: Be Nice to Truckers!
By treating truckers with respect and kindness, you will likely get it in return. Remember this, even if an irritated trucker approaches you!
I’ve seen truckers quickly calm down if they realize that the RVer will happily right any wrong they might be doing.
I’ve also seen truckers be incredibly grateful if you give them priority over showers, fuel, etc.
Just think of it this way: Truck stops are home away from home for truckers. How would you want someone to behave if a visitor came into your home? Behave that way!
Easily Accessible Spots to RV Overnight
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