One of the biggest and sometimes the most stressful part of van life is figuring out where to park overnight in your van.
After living van life for over a year and a half, here are our tips and go-to’s for where to park your van overnight:
The most obvious answer on where to park overnight is campgrounds! We don’t do this often because the cost can add up fast. However, it’s a great option for when you don’t feel like driving around searching for somewhere to sleep. Most campgrounds range from $20-50 per night depending on the area, and you can often get a cheaper rate if you don’t need hookups.
One of our favorite reasons to actually pay for overnight camping is the ability to hang out with the doors open and not worry about a knock in the middle of the night. We often pay for parking if we are in a “destination” spot like the Oregon coast, California, etc since parking is more strictly enforced.
2) Stealth Camping
Our go-to for parking our van overnight is stealth camping. There are many ways to do this but the best way to figure it out is trial and error. No van lifer is going to tell you the exact street or spot they sleep in due to “ruining” the stealthiness of it.
A great resource for finding possible areas to sleep is the iOverlander app. However, we found that a lot of people put places on the app that aren’t great spots to sleep, so as always use your best judgement on where to park.
3) Friends & Family
When living on the road in a van, you can go visit all of your family and friends across the country! We often made stops to visit family for a day or two along our trips, and no one ever minded if we parked and slept in front of their house.
Another perk of stopping in to visit is that you can get any amazon packages shipped to their house before your arrival. That way when you show up you can pick up some of the essentials you may need.
4) BLM Land
BLM land is a great spot to sleep overnight in a van. Most BLM land allows you to park for up to 14 consecutive days before you have to leave.
Sometimes BLM land can be tricky to get in and out of, so be wary of going too far and getting stuck. We typically stay away from any BLM land that involves going up mountains or going down stretches of long dirt roads since we do not have a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Some of our favorite spots to visit that have great BLM land are Sedona, Arizona and Joshua Tree California.
5) Rest Areas, Truck Stops & Walmart
80% of the time we are on the road we utilize Rest Areas, Truck Stops and Walmart parking lots to park our van overnight. It definitely isn’t the most glamorous part of van life, but if getting a good night sleep is important to you then these will end up being your go-to. After a long day of driving, it’s the best option to know you can get good rest and be safe.
Please note that not all Walmart parking lots allow overnight parking. Check for signs in their parking lot or look for other RVs and vans in the area.
Sometimes Cabelas and other outdoor retailers also allow overnight parking.
6) Airport Overnight Parking Lots
A another place we used a few times for overnight van parking is airport lots. If one of us had an early flight out of town, we would pay the $10-15 for overnight parking at the airport. That way we could get up and catch the shuttle to jump on our flight.
Hopefully these tips help you figure out where to park your van overnight. As always, it comes with trial and error and just figuring it out for yourself.
Our rule of thumb is that if it looks too good to be true then it is. Don’t park overnight if the place you’re at says no overnight parking or you’re bound to get a knock in the middle of the night.