Staying A Night In A Business’ Parking Lot

As an RVer, you know that there are sometimes when we need to either make and unscheduled stop and spend the night in a business’ parking lot. Wal-Mart is a good example. If you plan on doing this, whether the stop is planned, or not there are certain thing that you are responsible for as a guest of that business. And yes, you are a guest and should behave as one. We call it our “Good Traveling Neighbor Policy“.

If you are planning on touring and area and thing it’s a good idea to skip out on a traditional camp site so you can essential sat “free” at a local business’ park lot, think again. First of all, you should get permission from the business owners, or manager before you start setting up shop. Many cities actually have ordinances against boondocking at local businesses. So check if you are even allowed to stay there first.

Next, and only if it is “OK”, don’t stay longer than one night. This is not only rude, but it can affect that business’ traffic, which is something you certainly don’t want to do. Being a nuisance will only make those business’ less receptive towards other RVers who are looking for a place to layover in the future. Most complaints by business’ are have to do with both having a giant RV disrupting the aesthetics of their business as well as the abuse of their good nature for even letting you stay the night.

Here’s a good list to keep in mind when you need to boondock at a place other than a designated camping site. It’s a little blurry, but I think you can still read it and, honestly, it’s all common sense.

The bottom line is that if a place of business and the city ordinance allows you to stay a night in a parking lot, use your better judgement. Don’t start blazing your BBQ. Don’t throw a party. Keep you presence as unnoticed as possible. You will not only be doing yourself a favor and earning the trust of those business, but you are also an ambassador for RVers everywhere. If you decide to abuse the kindness of local business, be prepared to be asked to leave.

Here’s a reminder, it’s always a good idea to call ahead instead of just assuming you can stay the night. Laying over in a local lot can either be a Godsend or a nightmare, it’s hat’ entirely up to you…and mare sure you, at the very least, thank them for their generosity. If you have any questions about travel and boondocking at local lot’s, give PPL Motorhomes a call and we can give you more tips and hints. In fact, we probably can help with a few RV friendly places for future layover.

RV Snowbirds, take your motorhome to the desert, really!

Whenever fellow RVers come into PPL Motorhomes to talk about their winter trips, Florida is always a topic of conversation. While Florida is a fabulous destination (we still have our favorite spots)we hear things like: “It’s too crowded. It’s loud. Florida? Isn’t it getting dangerous?” Of course, we get many more positive comments, but that got me to thinking…Why not travel to the southwest? Specifically a Southwestern desert destination!

Basically, if you can’t take the humidity, don’t like the crowds flocking to Disney World, are not a fan of lush foliage and winter rain storms that are common to Florida, try the Mojave and Sonora Deserts in Southeastern California and Southwestern Arizona. No I’m not kidding! I did a little research and came across a good article on Southwestern Desert RVing on blog.rv.net. It sums up the experience much better than this tired old brain could : )

Here’s the rub, RVers head south to the deserts mainly to leave behind the frigid and wet northern winters. Days in most of the low desert destinations will warm to the mid-50s even on the coolest days, while most of the winter rising into the middle and upper 60s and even warmer on both ends of winter. You will experience a few cold days with a cold wind and blowing dust, and snow sometimes will appear on the highest ridges.

But winter rains are generally light, soaking into the soil rather than running off, and don’t last long. Otherwise the deserts might have some of that lush foliage common to Central Florida. Those dangerous desert flash floods that you may have heard about happen mostly during summer thunder storms in areas with steep canyons. This is not usually a winter threat.

But another reason for heading to the deserts is that you can find just about any type of desert camping that you want on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands. You can choose locations with lots of friendly human neighbors, or with only coyotes, jack rabbits, and turkey vultures as your neighbors.

Your boondocking options include:

• Primitive, no hookup campgrounds. Sometimes a water fill station and trash dumpsters. Dump station nearby. No other amenities, other than possibly hiking and birdwatching and enjoyment of the desert landscape.

• Designated campground, un-designated campsites. Usually a large area of  land that has been allocated for boondock camping, sometimes called a Short Term Visitor Area (STVA), with no defined campsites or other amenities. Seldom a trash dumpster. Free but usually limited to two weeks camping, then requiring changing to a location at least 25 miles away.

So there you have it, Snowbirds: options. If you are looking for another destination this year besides Florida, be adventurous and check out destinations in the Southwest. Plus, if you happen to be swinging through Houstonand check out PPL Motorhomes and , maybe even have them give your RV a good “once over” before you continue heading west!