If your staying, working, or visiting someone at a hospital it’s of course ok to park overnight, but what about travelers looking for a spot to stop? We get this question asked a lot.
The secret is out that Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and a few other places are great spots for travelers to park overnight. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly more common for travelers to arrive and struggle to find a spot to park for the night. This is causing many travelers to think outside the box when finding new and safe places.
So what’s the deal? Can you park overnight at a hospital? Let’s look and see!
Is It Legal to Park Overnight at a Hospital?
Like many popular overnight parking locations, hospitals often have large parking garages or parking lots that sit empty most of the night. However, just because the hospital parking lot sits desolate doesn’t mean you can legally park overnight.
These parking lots are private property, which means the owners can restrict their access or use. You should never park on private property without permission from the owner. Doing so is illegal and could get you into trouble with the law.
Do Hospitals Have Rules Against Overnight Parking?
Hospitals often permit overnight parking, but typically only for those using the hospital’s facilities or visiting someone. Policies regarding overnight parking vary from hospital to hospital. However, even if the hospital is gracious enough to let you stay, some cities and local municipalities have strict rules and regulations regarding parking overnight, especially for RVs.
In general, we don’t recommend staying at hospitals in an RV or car as those spots may be needed for emergencies. If you are visiting someone in the hospital, however, with your RV it may make sense.
We recommend checking with the hospital before wasting your time, energy, or fuel to get to a hospital with your RV. You don’t want to arrive and discover that the hospital or local rules and regulations prohibit overnight parking.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to try stealth camping in a hospital parking lot, make sure to Avoid These 7 Things That Will Give You Away When Stealth Camping.
Tips for Parking Overnight at a Hospital
If you find yourself parking overnight at a hospital, you can do a few things to ensure you and others have a positive overnight stay. Let’s look at what you can do to be a good guest.
Research the Hospital’s Overnight Parking Rules Before You Go
Unless you’re grasping for straws looking for a place to stay and just so happen to come across a hospital, you want to know the hospital and any local rules in advance. If the hospital has very strict rules regarding overnight parking, you won’t want to waste your time trying to stay. You might be able to stay for an hour or two, but you’ll likely get asked to leave before the end of the night.
Use resources like Campendium and iOverlander to check and see if others have stayed. Many of the users on these platforms are great about providing information regarding their stays. They’ll likely tell you if they had a positive or negative experience with the hospital’s parking rules.
Even if the hospital allows overnight parking, you should limit your noise. You don’t want to attract attention to yourself or disturb others who might be parking to get some rest. This isn’t the time or place to test your vehicle’s speaker by watching your favorite action movie.
Avoid using a generator to power your rig if you’re in an RV. This isn’t the place to park if you need to run a generator to stay cool. You’ll want to find a campground or other place to stay where you can get power, or your generator won’t annoy others. You don’t want to disturb those around you, especially those who work at or are using the hospital.
Watch Out for Hospital Security Staff
Many hospitals hire security to monitor their parking lots and garages. Some of these security workers take their jobs more seriously than others. If you’re breaking the rules, strict security officers will call you on it.
We’re not encouraging you or anyone to break the rules, but if you are trying to stealth camp, you better watch out for security staff. If you do get asked to leave the hospital when overnight parking, be respectful and courteous. They have an important job in keeping the hospital safe, and they’re just doing their job. Being aggressive or angry towards them likely won’t do you any favors or convince them to let you stay.
→ Avoid Doing These 7 Stealth Camping Mistakes that will give you away!
Don’t Stay for Too Long
We recommend arriving late and leaving early at any overnight location. This helps minimize your time in the parking lot and can help you avoid being in the way. We typically try to stop just before sunset when we’re stopping overnight. This helps ensure we can easily navigate a parking lot or other area with minimal concern.
Overstaying your welcome in a parking lot will begin to attract attention. If the previous shift for security or staff notices you, they might confront you and encourage you to get on your way. Avoid being a burden to the hospital or its staff. Don’t push it when it comes to staying too long.
Pro Tip: Make camping in a hospital parking lot easy with these tips on How to Turn Your Vehicle Into a Stealth Camper.
Is It a Good Idea to Ask for Permission From Hospital Staff?
Some people believe it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. While this may be the case in some situations, it’s likely not a good idea when parking overnight at a hospital.
You may be able to park for several hours before the hospital staff or authorities notice you in the parking lot. However, you could get asked to leave in the middle of the night, which is never ideal. This is why asking for permission before getting too comfortable is important.
Most hospitals have some sort of receptionist or administrative professional that sits at a desk at the entrance to the hospital. If you’re a smooth talker and explain your situation, you may be able to get permission for them to stay. They may go to bat for you if you need security permission or approval and you have just cause to stay. Again, being respectful and courteous can go a long way in these situations.
Is Parking Overnight at a Hospital Worth It?
There are many times while traveling when you just need a safe place to get some sleep before getting back on the road. A hospital parking lot might seem like a good option but we don’t recommend it if you don’t have business there.
However, if you have cause to be there, they are relatively quiet throughout the night and often have security features that reduce the chances of seedy activity happening around you while you get some sleep. Always follow any posted signage and get permission before getting too comfortable.
Have you ever parked overnight at a hospital? Tell us about your experience!
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