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The Ins and Outs of Overnight Truck Stop Parking for RVs

Truck stops can sometimes be chaotic, especially in an RV. However, there are some fantastic RV friendly truck stops that offer overnight parking spots at travel centers. Learning the ins and outs of these establishments makes life on the road easier. If your heart rate increases when you think about pulling into overnight parking at truck stops for the night with a bunch of truckers, don’t worry. We’re here to help!

Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the ins and outs of overnight truck stop parking in an RV. Let’s dive in!

TRUCKERS SPEAK: Should RVs Park Overnight at Truck Stops?

Are There RV-Friendly Truck Stops? 

Truck stops are great for big rigs and RVs. Most of these locations are very accommodating to any type of large vehicle. Whether you need to fill up on fuel, grab a bite to eat, or even take a shower, there are plenty of RV-friendly truck stops. There are also fuel memberships that RVers can join that make it easier to use the truck lanes for fueling up and getting awesome diesel discounts.

You can even stay the night at most RV-friendly truck stops if you park out of the way and don’t interfere with others coming and going. However, we’ll share with you later why this may not always be the best option. Spoiler alert: Don’t expect to get a good night’s sleep, especially if you’re a light sleeper.

RVs parked at Love's truck stop
Truck stops are well-equipped for big rigs.

How Do You Find Truck Stops? 

You would have had to rely on road signs to help you find truck stops a couple of decades ago. However, times have changed, and apps like AllStays and Google Maps make finding travel centers as easy as possible today. 

You can filter results to look in a specific area where you’ll be traveling or based on your current location. Don’t forget to check the reviews; you don’t want to stop at a shady location if you don’t have to. Your safety needs to be your top priority when finding a safe place to stay for the night.

Another great option to easily find truck stops is downloading the apps specific to the business. Establishments like Loves, Pilot, and Flying J have apps that are easy to use and available in whatever app store you use. Almost all major retailers of this type have their specific app that makes it easy for you to find the nearest location. This makes it easy for those of you who are brand loyalists.

Pro Tip: Going on a road trip? Find out Is the World’s Largest Truck Stop Really Worth the Hype?

Which Truck Stops Allow RV Parking?

Despite what you might have heard, there are plenty of RV-friendly truck stops. Pilot, Flying J, Love’s, and most others allow RV parking. However, even if you are staying at RV-friendly truck stops, you must ensure you’re not parking in the way of others. 

Truckers operate on extremely tight schedules and are constantly coming and going. Trust us; you don’t want to cause a delay for a fellow driver because you blocked them in or didn’t give them space to maneuver. You may end up with a knock on your door from a disgruntled truck driver needing you to move.

With this in mind, we tend to recommend using truck stops only if you have to. If you take a space needed for a hard-working trucker in need of rest, we’d hate for them to have to keep moving.

Pilot truck stop sign
Head to Love’s, Pilot, or Flying J to spend the night.

What Are the Benefits of Overnight Parking at Truck Stops? 

You should take advantage of overnight parking at truck stops for several reasons. Let’s dive in and see the positive side of these budget-friendly spots to park for the night.

Convenience

These spots are everywhere, especially when traveling on interstates or other major highways. They’re easy to find and built for semis, so they can easily handle RVs of every size. In most situations, you can quickly and easily get in and out of these locations. 

Many travelers enjoy these locations because they allow them to be as efficient as possible with their stops. Instead of making multiple stops to accomplish certain tasks, you can easily do multiple activities in one stop. These plazas can be extremely convenient if you need to fill up on gas, grab a bite to eat, or get some rest after a long travel day.

Food and Fuel

Getting food and fuel isn’t always easy, especially in an RV. However, truck stops make it just about as easy as possible. They have many features for truck drivers, who spend most of their time on the highway. Like everybody else, truckers must keep their stomachs and fuel tanks full.

You can often find restaurants and other fast-food establishments. In addition, there are typically almost always snacks and a variety of hot and cold food items in the store. There’s a good chance that even the pickiest eater will be able to find something to eat.

If you need diesel fuel, the truck lanes provide plenty of room and can help you fill your tank as quickly as possible. These unique lanes feature larger fuel nozzles, which increase fuel flow. No matter the size of your tank, it might surprise you how quickly these pumps fill it.

Showers

Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can slack on your hygiene. Whether you’ve been boondocking for days or you’ve run out of water, you need to stay clean. Trust us; your fellow travelers will appreciate it.

Most of these truck stops have shower facilities where anyone can pay for a shower. If you’re a part of a loyalty program, you can cash in your rewards for a free shower. These shower rooms can be hotel-quality and provide a private space to enjoy a long, hot shower.

The cost of a shower at a truck stop can vary, but on average, it‘s usually between $10 and $20. The exact cost will depend on location, length of time, type, and whether there are additional amenities. Some offer packages that include showers, laundry services, and other amenities, which can cost more.

It’s also possible for these locations to offer different pricing for truckers and other customers. Some offer discounts for frequent customers or members of trucking organizations. It’s always a good idea to check with each location to confirm the cost of showers and any other services you may need. 

Pro Tip: Freshen up by using our guide on How To Shower at a Truck Stop.

Trucks parked at truck stop.
Spending the night at a truck stop often comes along with a warm truck stop shower.

Bathrooms

When nature calls, you better find a place to answer it. If the bathroom in your RV isn’t easily accessible, you can quickly run inside and use the restroom. However, as we’ve all likely experienced, some of these are cleaner than others. In general, Love’s, Pilot, and Flying J have a reputation for having relatively clean bathrooms.

Dump Station and Water

Some truck stops have installed dump and water stations at select locations. While these aren’t available everywhere, they’re becoming increasingly more common. These will likely come with a fee, but it’s typically not outrageous. They’ll do the job in a pinch, especially if you’re boondocking or in an area with few other options to dump your tanks and fill up on water.

It’s important to remember to make sure the water is potable. These will typically be identified by having a bright blue spigot. Water spigots that are red or other colors may contain chemicals or bacteria and may not be safe for drinking. When in doubt, ask an employee or find a water source that specifies it’s potable.

Pro Tip: Need to dump your RV tanks? Head to one of Our 5 Favorite Places to Dump Our RV Waste Tanks.

Fuel Discounts With Membership Cards

With the prices we see at the pump, it’s no wonder why many RVers are joining membership programs for fuel discounts. One of the most popular options is the TSD Open Roads program. This works at many of the most popular fueling spots and can save drivers a lot of money. It’s not uncommon for them to save 30 cents to 75 cents per gallon each time they fill up their tanks.

While TSD Open Roads is a large and fantastic program, most corporate fuel stations offer something similar. Pilot, Flying J, and Love’s all offer loyalty programs. This may require signing up for a credit card that you use for fuel purchases. Do your research before selecting which program works best for your situation.

DEF Fluid

If you require DEF fluid for your diesel vehicle, you can often find it at a truck stop. Semi-trucks use lots of DEF fluid and you’ll find it available at the truck pumps. However, some may also sell the jugs in their store area.

Truck and RV parked in truck stop parking lot.
There are pros and cons to overnight parking at a truck stop.

What Are the Disadvantages of Overnight Parking at Truck Stops? 

While there are many reasons for parking overnight at truck stops, there are also some disadvantages. Let’s look at a few reasons you might want to consider other options.

It’s Noisy

If you’ve ever been to one of these locations, you know that the massive engines that power semis can be extremely noisy. Big rigs are constantly coming and going throughout the night. This can make it nearly impossible for anyone who’s a light sleeper.

In addition, most tractor-trailer drivers leave their vehicles running throughout the night. This allows them to power heaters, air conditioners, and electrical outlets inside the cab of their vehicle. While this may be convenient for them, it will be very noisy for you if you’re parked next to them.

The Parking Lots Can Be Gross

Unfortunately, these parking lots are nothing glamorous. In fact, they can be quite gross. Like the littered highways around them, truck stops are frequently edged with trash. Whether it blows out of vehicles and trash cans unknowingly or there is intentional littering, you’ll see all matter of garbage. Additionally, there is usually an odor of urine where truckers dump their pee bottles.

It Can Be Crowded

Truckers have very few options for places they can park for the night. When you consider the amenities, it’s easy to see why truckers love these and often choose these spots. They’re one of their most convenient options while they live on the road.

As a result, some of these stops can fill up very quickly and be very crowded. If you enjoy your space, a truck stop is likely not a great place to park for the night. Arriving late means navigating a crowded parking lot, which isn’t fun. In addition, there may not be any remaining spots available.

Not Always Pull-Thru Spots

Unfortunately, you’re not always guaranteed always to find a pull-thru spot. Backing an RV into a tight spot isn’t easy and takes practice. If you’re not comfortable maneuvering your RV into a tight space, you may not be able to find a place to park. 

In addition, if you’re traveling in a Class A motorhome and towing a car, you’ll need to unhook your toad to back into a parking spot. If you hope for an easy or convenient spot to park, this isn’t always guaranteed.

It Can Feel Unsafe for Solo Travelers

When it comes to safety, it can be hit or miss at many of these locations. Safety should always be a top priority, no matter where you stay. However, solo travelers can feel unsafe as there will likely be activity outside at night. You never know who or what is going on outside your vehicle. Your mind can start playing games on you, and you can question your safety.

Some locations are safer than others. However, we suggest that you leave if you ever feel unsafe. Finding a new location may not be convenient, but it’s better than risking your safety. No overnight spot is worth putting yourself in danger.

RV friendly truck stops
RV friendly truck stops are easy to find.

Are All Truck Stops Open 24/7?

Not all truck stops are open 24/7. The operating hours of a service station can depend on many factors, such as location, size, and demand of the business. Some travel centers may be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while others may have limited operating hours or be closed on certain days. Check with the business in advance to confirm its hours of operation and ensure that the services you need will be available when you arrive.

Popular retailers like Love’s, Pilot, and Flying J are typically open 24/7. While some of the services they offer may not always be available, they can still care for most of your needs. This is another reason you should download the apps for your favorite locations. You can quickly find all the essential information you need during your travels.

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Is RV Overnight Park at Trucks Stops Worth It?

You’ll quickly lower your expectations and standards when you’re desperate for a place to park for the night. Depending on the location, truck stops can be a great place to park your rig. However, some are better than others, and you must take the necessary safety precautions. 

In general, these are typically fantastic options that are worth considering during your travels.

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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