Greetings Girl Campers. Today we’re going to discuss the ins and outs of the unplanned overnight stop. There are many reasons that you might not make it to your scheduled destination; road construction, a wreck somewhere ahead of you, getting started later than you planned or God forbid, mechanical issues. For the purpose of this scenario, it’s after the campground offices have closed. It’s very late in the day.
Where are you going to stop and how do you decide? Thankfully there are some stores and some restaurants that allow overnight parking. The golden rule is to first scope the area and the parking lot out. What is your gut telling you? Is it dirty? Does it appear to be the local hangout for teenagers? Are there cars aimlessly driving around the parking lot with their music blaring? Are there other RV’s in the parking lot? Yes, we’re back to situational awareness, it can save your life.
If the above questions have been answered to your satisfaction, it’s now time to go into the store or restaurant to get the permission of the manager. If the manager agrees, thank them and buy something. Now, to find a spot. The perimeter of the parking lot is best. Park so you cannot be blocked in. Please do not put out your slides or bring out your chairs and BBQ. Remember that it’s at most a place to get some sleep so you can drive safely in the morning.
The next alternative and my least favorite is an interstate rest area. There are several reasons for this. As a firearms instructor, I have worked with many levels of law enforcement. They consider interstate rest areas dangerous for this reason. Interstates in the U.S are drug and human trafficking stops. Not to mention that truckers get ticked when you take a truck parking place, and that truck is inevitably running his truck all night. In many states it’s not legal to overnight in a rest area. On the other hand, there are rest areas where you can stay because they are routinely patrolled BECAUSE they are dangerous. And if your question is “Is there an app for that?” there is! StateLines seems to be reliable, but please remember laws change, zoning changes. Don’t rely entirely on Apps. I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’ll take that parking lot.