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Stay Overnight in your RV for Free

| Updated May 11, 2023

It’s no secret that across North America, many towns and cities are becoming increasingly anti-RV, prohibiting overnight camping anywhere except in RV campgrounds, which often charge an arm and a leg for what can often be pretty dismal campsites. Our interview of the week tells us how we can avoid such places and find lots of great overnight RV camping sites, oftentimes for free or very minimal costs.

Also this week in Episode 217, your RV questions, some great RV tips and another excellent off the beaten path report from the Burketts.

Show Notes for Episode #217 November 7, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:


Stay Overnight in your RV for Free 1MIKE

This week we’re coming to you from our new RV, camped in the Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida.


We're attending a gathering organized by our friend Paul “Pogo” Pogorzelski, who loves Disney and tossed some dates out last spring and found 50 or so others who agreed that Fort Wilderness would be a great place to gather in early November.

Stay Overnight in your RV for Free 2


We are loving our new Roadtrek! It rolled out of the factory Friday and made its way straight to our Michigan driveway, where we packed it up and immediately took off for Florida. Friday and Saturday nights, we needed to run the heater. Tonight, in Florida, the air conditioning is on. It's performed flawlessly so far and we can't wait to show it to you.


As soon as we finish the Disney World video and we get a little more familiar with all the bells and whistles on this unit, we will be doing a complete video reveal and tour. But let me say that in almost seven years of doing the RV Lifestyle now in five different Class B Roadtreks, this Roadtrek has impressed us the most in every away way possible. And we've only been in it for three days!


We've asked our various social media followers to help us name this new unit and we'll probably choose one for the video reveal. If you have a good idea, send it in!

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best tool for RVers looking for places to camp. 


Pictures of amazing locations shared on social media can draw millions of visitors, and unintended consequences
An interesting story I saw YouTube last week about the affect social media is having on various unique but previously little-known locations around the country was fascinating. As people take pictures of gorgeous places on public land they often share the picture on places like Instagram and Facebook. Those posts typically include location coordinates. So then more people visit the spot, more pictures posted, and more people decided to visit. The result is some unique spots around the country are becoming inundated with tourists before the parking lots are made, before the trails laid out, and before the bathrooms are installed, causing significant environmental damage and a slew of unforeseen troubles. We’ll put a link to this interesting story in the shownotes at

Couple who fell to deaths at Yosemite National Park were taking selfie, brother said
Speaking of social media, last week in this newsletter we reported on a couple who were found dead at Yosemite National Park after apparently falling off Taft Point, with rangers investigating how they fell. This week a relative of the couple was widely quoted as saying the couple was taking a selfie. The couple, who were from India, were travel bloggers who posted pictures of themselves in sometimes dangerous situations while taking pictures to post. This is such a sad story. So many beautiful locations in national parks have no guard rails, and all it takes is a slip of the foot or an unexpected breeze to fall and literally die. One story I found reported a study on literally hundreds of deaths around the world caused by people trying to get the perfect selfie to post online.

Full-time RVer denied the right to vote because he lives in his RV
Many who live full-time in their RV, traveling the country keep a Post Office Box often in the community where they used to live, for mail and various other purposes. That's why a story about a Missouri man, who lives full-time in his RV, caught my eye. The man was denied the right to vote in the midterm elections because he does not have a sticks and bricks house, only a U.S. Post Office Box.

Jellystone Park-Camp Resorts sees nearly 19 percent sales increase third quarter 
Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts issued a press release last week saying its third quarter sales were up nearly 19 percent for 2018, credited largely to an increase in millennial campers. Jellystone is the second largest campground franchise network in the U.S., which is known for catering to families with its swimming pools, kid activities and regular appearances of Yogi and friends. Mike and I camped at a Jellystone campground last summer in northern Michigan with four of our grandchildren, our son Jeff and his wife Aimee, and our daughter Wendy and her husband, Dan. We were there during the week and it seemed every spot was taken, most spots filled with young families. Check the shownotes to see a video at

Ditch the bathroom when designing your camper van, writer urges
Recently I came across a fun and thought-provoking story by a writer who advocates getting a camper van built with no bathroom. To open up space, the writer argues, get your van built without a bathroom and simply dig a hole when boondocking, or use the campground's facilities when in a campground. Skipping the bathroom means four could sleep in the camper van – instead of two. We’ll build in links to a story and photos of this in the shownotes to see a video at


As Mike and I hit the road last week to camp with our friends and fellow Roadtrekers at Disney’s Camp Wildness Park before meandering over to the Florida panhandle to check on our condo— I knew we’d be doing some grilling.
Some time ago our friend Doug McClendon from Texas shared how he uses an onion to clean the grill. We still use this tip, and in case any of you have never heard of it, I thought it would be a good idea to share it again.
I think we can all agree that when we’re on the road grilling is a great option. It keeps food odors out of our rigs, and it keeps much of the mess of cooking outside our RVs, too. Plus grilled meat soaking in a good marinating all day is an easy way to quickly cook a tasty meal while on the road.
But, the downside of all this, is sometimes those BBQ grills are just, well, nasty.
So what to do? You could scrub it with something like a Brillo pad, but I really try to eat naturally and healthy and avoid all that chemical exposure. That is why I like to use an onion. Onions are a great cleaner, providing a wonderful, non-toxic and inexpensive way to eliminate all the grime.
Here is how it works: First get the heat on your grill very hot to burn off as much of that gunk as possible. Then slice an onion in half, poke it with one of those extra long grilling forks, and  rub it back and forth over the grill, like a scrub brush. If you have any stubborn spots, spray it with a little lemon juice or vinegar, for a natural aciditic boost. Then get that onion out and scrub a little more.
If you are using charcoal when you're done,  just throw your onion onto the briskets to add a little more flavor. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend that for a gas grill. And that’s it! It is that easy.
I went to the National Onion Association webpage to learn a little more about why this method works, and was fascinated to read about the antibacterial properties onions hold, and the many studies that show onions contain compounds found to fight cancer, reduce heart disease and even help reduce osteoporosis. I will put a link to the National Onion Association on the show notes.
Thanks Doug for sharing your grilling tip with us some time ago – as you can see, we are still using it! And I hope this tip will be helpful for you, too.
And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.
I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  To see our Rad Power Bikes in action, just click here. Visit WWW.RADPOWERBIKES.COM 


Larry asks about availability for the 2019 Sprinter chassis for REVs.

We also answered some email questions:

Question re: a Roadtrek….can you get them with leveling Jack’s or only stabilizers….or nothing?

Thanks, Ronnie & Milt

Hello and thanks for the welcome,

Just had an 80 watt Solor panel added to my unit and winter is about to set in, will the Solor maintain my battery’s over the winter?


It’s no secret that across North America, many towns and cities are becoming increasingly anto RV, prohibiting overnight camping anywhere except commercial RV campgrounds, which often charge an army and a leg for what are frequently pretty dismal campsites.

This week, Jim O’Briant from Overnight RV Parking tells us how we can avoid such places and find lots of great overnight RV camping sites, oftentimes for free or very minimal costs.

Here's a video version of the interview:

Here's a transcript of the interview:

Mike Wendland:           Joining us right now from Overnight RV Parking is our friend Jim O'Briant and he connects with us from his home in Gilroy, California. Jim, how are you?

Jim O'Briant:                 Fine.

Mike Wendland:           Glad to have you on. Let's talk about overnight parking. And it's kind of like a scandal in a sense, on how many towns have been pressured by the campground industry, among other factors, into making it very difficult to find those free overnight spots. Tell me what you're seeing around the country.

Jim O'Briant:                 Well, we've had website online for more than 10 years now. And during that time, we've seen online news reports and reports from RVers of more and more towns that are making it illegal to sleep in an RV inside their city limits unless you're in a licensed RV park or trailer park or a licensed to campground. I don't have any statistics as to exactly how many towns have done this but I know the number is increasing.

Mike Wendland:           Now, there's a number of reasons why. I know one of the factors that has been relatively new is the large number of homeless people who are living in their vehicles and that is kind of confounded, I know, in law enforcement in some communities. But there's another reason and that kind of goes back to just basic greed. And talk about that. I mean, the pressure that is put on some of these places.

Jim O'Briant:                 Well, in a lot of cases, the local law has been proposed by local RV parking owners basically in an attempt to legislate RVers into being their customers. In fact, the Association of the RV Parks and Campgrounds, the ARVC, which is a nationwide trade organization for RV parks and campgrounds, offers its member campgrounds what they call model legislation. These are pre-written laws that the campground owner can take to the local city council or border supervisors, to whoever the local governing body is, and try and get it passed.

10 years ago, anyone who went to the ARVC website could see this but once the word got out that RVers were looking at it and spreading the word that they were doing this, that part of their website became available to their paid members only.

Mike Wendland:           So the bottom line is that they would pressure the city fathers and the city mothers, I guess, as well, and get them to enact an ordinance that would make 'em essentially, if you're an RV and want to spend the night, have to spend 20, 30, 40, $50 a night to overnight. However-

Jim O'Briant:                 Even more than that Mike. I haven't seen any statistics now since 2011. But in the spring of 2011, the average cost of a full hookup site in the USA was $40.93 a night, and that was almost eight years ago.

Mike Wendland:           Holy mackerel. Yeah. We do most of our camping boondocking or staying in places that are free or very close to free. And that's of course why I'm so delighted to have you with us and to talk about there really are out there for people to overnight for free. For example, on, how many sites do you have currently in your database?

Jim O'Briant:                 Our database currently includes, I think, 13,800 and something locations. But those aren't all free places to stay overnight. We include places where you might think you could such as a Walmart parking lot in a town where it's illegal and the Walmart goes ahead and allow it. And we show those as a no parking so you know not to park there. But the majority of our places are free. We also list the places that are $20 a night or less. And this includes a lot of small city and county parks.

Mike Wendland:           That's one of the things that I have always appreciated about your site. We did a trip early this summer and we took pretty much Highway 2 across to Montana in the northern route and I found all these delightful little campgrounds. These little city and county campgrounds that I never would have found in any of the other apps and you had 'em on your site. There's a lot of really nice municipal campgrounds.

Jim O'Briant:                 There really are. And a lot of those are in the … Well, basically if you paint a broad stripe up and down in the middle of the United States from Wisconsin and Illinois, and Michigan over to Montana and then all the way south from there to the golf course to the Mexican border, a lot of cities and towns in those states have campgrounds. And the history of those goes back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. People were traveling as best they could to try and find work. And cities and towns did what they could to provide a free or inexpensive place for them to spend the night because they knew nobody had any money. It was the depression after all. And a lot of those campgrounds are still in existence.

Mike Wendland:           Now, there's also plenty of places like our favorite which is Cracker Barrel, but I was looking on your site in some Menards. I didn't know Menards sometimes allowed free parking.

Jim O'Briant:                 Yeah, we found a few Menards that do. For those who aren't in the area where Menards have stores, they're a homeland improvement chain, not unlike Home Depot and Lowe's. And most of their stores are in the mid west.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, just found one on your list and I'm going to try on my way down to Florida. And then we know the big boxes, I think sometimes Home Depot. Why don't you tick off some of them? Some of the big box stores that allows RVers. We know Walmart, we know Cracker Barrel, but there's others as well.

Jim O'Briant:                 Yeah, some Home Depots will allow it, some won't. Same with Lowe's. Very few Target stores allow it but most of them don't. And also they're not really considered big box stores I guess in the same sense because they're specialized. But Bass Pro Shop and Cabela's, the big sporting good, used to be sporting good chains but Bass Pro Shop has purchased Cabela's so they're owned by the same company now. Most of their stores allow it unless they're in a mall where the mall rules don't allow it.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah. I have to say, I want to thank you again for your site. Our favorite stop as we head west every year is at Mitchell, South Dakota at a Cabela's there. And I found that on your site some years ago and we stay there going and coming back, and it's great. Of course casinos, many casinos have it. Talk about how people would use Overnight RV Parking. Now, let's just say we're on a route and I'm going to pick a route, say I-70 or I-65, let's take that. That goes down through Louisville and then down through Nashville. I know where I'm going to go, I know I want to drive 300 miles or so today, how would I use your site?

Jim O'Briant:                 Well, if you go to an RV parking website, when you log in to our website or log in through our app, we have iPhone and Android apps that our subscribers can use to make it easier to use. Our search feeds are on small screens like something like phones. You log in to the website and you either drag the map that comes up or put it in a search term. Let's say if you know you're going to be around Louisville, Kentucky, so I'm going to give it a night. You put in Louisville and search Louisville, Kentucky and the map will pop up with a whole of color-coded pointers.

The bright green ones are places that, according to the latest information we have, you can park overnight for free. The light red ones are places where you can't even though you might have expected it. And those are the principle colors you would see. Occasionally you will have a yellow one where it's officially not allowed or technically not allowed but the word we have is that it's generally not enforced. So you'll probably be okay but it's at your own risk of getting kicked out in the middle of the night. We have a couple of other colors, we have purple ones and we can maybe talk about this in a little bit. These are membership organizations that have RV parking for their members with or without hookups, including the Elks, the Moose, Eagle's Lodges and so on. And we have a dark green category which isn't free. Now, those would be $20 or less prices. Then we have a gray category which means we know that this place exists, none of our reporters have reported to us about it so we don't know their policy and we haven't had time to contact them yet.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah. I happen to have that map up. I just opened it up and I put Louisville in and it's pretty neat. I mean, I'm finding Cracker Barrels of course and then I see an Oaks Lodge. I'm coming great down, Camping World that's in there, and many of them all around. Lots of Cracker Barrels, Walmarts, they're all listed with a little pin. And then when you click that pin, you get to find out all this detail about it. And it tells you from what part many of the people would park, what part of the lot you can park in and it gives you directions as well. So it's a great resource. Now, you-

Jim O'Briant:                 We try to make that information as complete as possible and include a lot of detail that you can't get anywhere else. The other thing is that if you switch that map from just a map view to satellite view and zoom in on one of those pointers. For example, if you zoom in on one of the Walmarts, that pointer is in the part of the lot where that store wants you to park according to our best information.

Mike Wendland:           That's a great service. I'm playing around with it right now and I also even have the GPS coordinates. Now, you've got a special deal for the people listening to this podcast. I know it's normally 24.95 a year which is a great bargain if you are looking for places to overnight, which many of us are and don't want to get stuck with that 40-dollar a night price that so many people charge. But if they order and mention us and we have a special link they can try, it's, what special deal do you have for people listening to the podcast and follow us?

Jim O'Briant:                 Yeah. This is something that you arranged with us a couple of years ago for your readers and your subscribers is that if they click that link to subscribe, on the first year they'll get 15 months instead of 12 for their 24.95. So it's three months free.

Mike Wendland:           That's good. That's a great price

Jim O'Briant:                 The other thing I want to mention is that when our subscribers then report back to us using the forms on our website and they give us an update on, “Yes, I was at this Walmart and they now allow parking.” Or, “Yes, I was at this Home Depot, they still allow parking but they want us in a different part of the lot,” that type of thing, we add free weeks to their subscription in exchange to those reports. So it's possible to subscribe once and if you submit enough reports, you turn it yourself into a free lifetime subscription from that point on.

Mike Wendland:           Well, what I like about it is that it's updated so often and you can see when people were in there and often times it's not even that further away from you and you've got lots of information. It's a great site and we are very careful about the sites that we recommend and especially … There's so many things out there for RVers but this is a must have. It's my personal campaign to just really come back and talk about how important it is for people to take control of where they spend the night. You don't have to get stuck spending that $40 a night that's so expensive.

Jim O'Briant:                 I agree 100%. The first long trip that we took after launching the website ourselves was from California to Iowa and back. And we were out there 23 or 24 nights on that trip. And we stayed in some Oaks Lodges and we stayed in some state parks that weren't free, but our average cost per night on that trip was $9.16.

Mike Wendland:           Wow. Well, it's a great price. And Jim, I want to thank you so much for coming on the program and helping us all understand all of that. And we will continue to recommend Overnight RV Parking. And if people want to check out your site, they can get 15 months for the price of 12 by just going to Jim O'Briant, a pleasure to have you on the program and we'll see you down the road.

Jim O'Briant:                 My pleasure to be with you this morning Mike. Thank you of the opportunity for me to tell more folks about what we do.

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country


By Andy Choi
Verizon Wireless

Did you know nearly 60 percent of people categorize themselves as “prepared shoppers,” gearing up for the holiday season more than 40 days in advance? I know, it seems a little early, but Halloween is behind us now, so let's tech the halls with ideas from Verizon to upgrade your holiday happenings in the kitchen.

First, check out the Google Home Hub with Voice Assistant to start making your time in the kitchen easier. Say: “Hey Google, let’s make chocolate chip cookies” for step-by-step baking instructions. Hands covered in cookie dough? No problem. Simply ask your Google Assistant for a little help to set a timer, or multiple concurrent timers, without touching a thing.  You can also ask for conversions like: “Hey Google, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” Not a bad sous chef!

What if you’re out of recipe staples like flour and chocolate chips? Just go ahead and say it to make an order for to-the-door delivery. With Google Express you can order delivery for household essentials from your favorite stores. Tell your Assistant: “OK Google, buy me some flour and chocolate chips.”

You can also count on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 for a great visual display in the kitchen. If the kiddos get bored after licking the cookie dough spoon, they can try out the tablet’s S Pen. Pick from a selection of pen and brush types and they can create your next holiday work of art to share with grandma and grandpa.

So whether it's for a culinary expert on your shopping list or a little upgrade to your own kitchen, know that there are plenty of tech-inspired gifts to make the holidays a little sweeter. With this week's traveling technology tip, I'm Andy Choi with Verizon.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.


Stay Overnight in your RV for Free 3
Patti and Tom Burkett

By Tom and Patti Burkett

Do you remember that scene when Maria runs across the mountain meadow singing “the hills are alive?”  I never knew the Sound of Music was based on a true story.  When the von Trapps left Austria in 1939, they were assisted by their family priest who helped them organize a singing tour, first in the US, then in Scandinavia.  After a second return to the USA in 1940, they settled in the mountains of northern Vermont, which Maria said was “as close to our home in Austria as anywhere we’ve seen.”

Stay Overnight in your RV for Free 4Outside of Stowe, one of Vermont’s big ski centers, you’ll begin seeing signs for the Trapp family lodge.  Drive out into the country, up (and up and up), and you’ll find it, perched on top of a mountain with stunning views toward the di˚stant peaks.  It does look a bit like a mountain chalet.  As the story goes, the Trapps made many friends on their musical tours, and entertained many of them here on the mountain.  In time, the family expanded the lodge and opened it as a guest house.  Since then it’s grown into a hotel and, on the surrounding acreage guest bungalows and timeshare condos.  All very tasteful.

Just down the hill is the new Trapp Biergarten and brewery, where they probably brew Trappish ale.  The lodge dining room has an amazing view, and serves lunch and dinner.  One of the bellmen told us that Georg and Maria’s son, Johannes, still lives here and comes to the lodge every morning for breakfast and to get the daily papers.  He also told us we could only park in the front lot during the day, but could use the side lot overnight.  We weren’t quick enough on our feet to ask if that meant we could camp there, but that may be so.

Stowe is an upscale, artsy ski and sport town, with lots of little restaurants, galleries, and outdoor stores.  Within an hour’s drive are a number of Vermont cheese dairies, including Cabot’s and one we really liked, the Sage Farm Goat Dairy.  Ben & Jerry’s headquarters is 20 minutes down the road, and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a Harvest Host overnight stop and serves the best maple creamees we’ve had in the state

Aside from Interstate 89, which is one of the most beautiful freeways we’ve driven, the roads in Vermont are small and rural and wind their way through family farm country liberally studded with fruit and vegetable stands, historic markers, and hardworking small towns.  Rivers abound, and there are many campgrounds.  We came across few boondocking sites, but if you belong to Harvest Hosts there more options.  This is country for taking it easy and seeing what’s around the next bend in the road.  Do that, and you might come across us, Patti and Tom Burkett, out here off the beaten path.

Off the Beaten Path is brought to you by Harvest Hosts, a membership site that provides truly unique overnight stops at wineries, farms and attractions. 


Please Subscribe and Give Us a Rating and Review!

Many listeners are asking how they can subscribe, review and rate the Roadtreking Podcast on iTunes. With a new podcast like this, those reviews and ratings are really important to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your review.

Here’s how:

How to subscribe, rate and review a podcast

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts up on the top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in Mike Wendland or Roadtreking RV Podcast.
> Click on the logo image of the Roadtreking RV Podcast on the search return page
> From there (see photo above), you can…

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-11-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

One Response to “Stay Overnight in your RV for Free”

November 11, 2018at3:04 pm, Bill Dornbush said:

I used to listen week.y to your podcasts and read your newsletter, but something has happened, and I am no longer receiving the emails nor is my podcast app, BeyondPod, able to download your podcasts. I checked and all other podcasts are being downloaded so something must have changed for you. It started with podcast 211 which I cannot download through the app. I would appreciate it if you could find out what changed in your feed.

I am sending this comment here as I don’t see a general “contact us” link like I see on other web sites.

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