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Old 11-22-2013, 09:54 PM   #1
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can you stop and sleep at highway rest stops?

May be a stupid question but I am new.

I am in the market for a airstream and some of the destinations on our must visit list are quite far away and would require a few days driving. I am not looking forward to finding one night destinations for short stays and paying a bill. I understand many are happy to stop in walmarts and such but considering city regulations it may not be a option.

Just wondering since rest stops are consistent across the country if that is a viable option.

What about truck stop gas centers as well? Do some of those even offer hook ups even? (I understand rest stops would not)

Just beginning my jourmy and dreaming a little as well as trying to budget what I can afford and what my yearly travel expenses will be. I apologize if if was a stupid question
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:11 PM   #2
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May be a stupid question but I am new.


Just wondering since rest stops are consistent across the country if that is a viable option.

What about truck stop gas centers as well? Do some of those even offer hook ups even? (I understand rest stops would not)

Just beginning my jourmy and dreaming a little as well as trying to budget...
First not a stupid question, just needs a lot of research to answer.
Most Rest Areas are posted no overnight parking, they are usually for a quick stop, maybe a couple of hours in daylight.
Walmart will post the same NO overnight when they don't allow, you will find most super walmarts do allow if out of city limits where they have been asked or regulated into banning it.
No hookups at truck stops and a lot of noise, a few have rv sections.

Rework the budget to include real campgrounds for power, water and sewer hookups, you will need them. With planning it could be minimal, compared to gas prices and other costs of rv'ing.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:12 PM   #3
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I've stayed over night at rest stops. Problem is cliental maybe a little on the seedy side. Just be cautious. Staying over night anywhere but a campground can be iffy.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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When traveling cross country for 3 - 5 days we regularly stay at Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Flying J / Pilot, etc. We use an App called iExit to find a stop while we are traveling.

We find them much handier since we can drive later than most RV campgrounds are open. They are usually within 1 mile of the Intersate and easy access. There is almost always restaurants within walking distance, or you can buy anything you need in Walmart.

If you are a light sleeper you may not find this acceptable as there is often some traffic noise at these locations. I have seldom found this to bother me.

For me, it is not about saving money. I simply find it much more efficient when I am trying to travel a couple thousand miles in 3 to 4 days.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:24 PM   #5
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When traveling cross country for 3 - 5 days we regularly stay at Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Flying J / Pilot, etc. We use an App called iExit to find a stop while we are traveling.

We find them much handier since we can drive later than most RV campgrounds are open. They are usually within 1 mile of the Intersate and easy access. There is almost always restaurants within walking distance, or you can buy anything you need in Walmart.

If you are a light sleeper you may not find this acceptable as there is often some traffic noise at these locations. I have seldom found this to bother me.

For me, it is not about saving money. I simply find it much more efficient when I am trying to travel a couple thousand miles in 3 to 4 days.
Efficiency is a big plus here. I want to get off and get back on without checking check out..finding the place etc..

Does this I exit app have a certain rv/camper friendly setting you look for or can you explain that a bit more?
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:55 PM   #6
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If I am traveling a long distance and simply want to get there, like Grand Master I'll stay overnight in rest areas or truck stops such as Flying J or Pilot.

Rest areas in destination states like Florida or in beautiful settings are more likely to prohibit overnight camping. But those along the Interstates, at least in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, typically only limit stops to 10 to 12 hours or so with no limitation on the time of day or night. Of course, they do not want you to set up camp there so don't unpack the lawn chairs. You might check beforehand with the states you intend to travel through to see what their rules are for rest stops.

The beauty of truck stops is their efficiency. They are located at Interstate exits and you can arrive anytime day or night and leave anytime day or night. Most have a few long parking spaces out front or on the side among the car parking that can accommodate a tow vehicle and trailer. A few have marked RV parking among the cars rather than among the 18 wheelers. No hook ups of course, but inside there is a restaurant, rest rooms and a convenience store for everything you need. After a few long days on the road I buy a shower ($10 to $15) at a truck stop to freshen up.

This approach would work very well with an Airstream you just bought and are taking home to repair, renovate or restore. Just make sure the wheel bearings are greased and the exterior lights and brakes work. Take some sleeping bags, blankets and a pillow. Have fun!
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:23 AM   #7
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has anyone used one of these facilities?
Shorepower - Network Locations Truck Stops Rest Stops
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:20 AM   #8
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A big negative aspect of rest areas and trucks stops is this-
Apparently most truckers are lazy and unsanitary-
The whole pavement reeks of urine- like they are too lazy to walk to the building and they just pee beside their trucks-
Anyway, the odor offends my nose and I dread having to stop at one of these places-
I hate for my shoe to touch the urine soaked pavement and then have to go in my trailer or pickup...
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:36 AM   #9
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There are so many County, State and National Parks and most are very inexpensive - some with full hookups - some without. If you are a senior citizen you will get an even better price cut.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:59 AM   #10
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Ever since Michael Jordan's father was murdered at a rest stop, I've been leery about overnighting there. When we're traveling and plan to drive late and leave early, we just use Walmart parking lots. We always choose a 24 hour supercenter. Get the Allstays app for your phone. They have a camping one and a Walmart one but the camping one has Walmarts listed on it to so you don't need both. They have information on Walmarts that don't allow overnight camping and those that might ( it tells you to ask the manager). They don't claim to be 100% accurate but we've had no problems in our travels. Some people add comments such as " we stayed here Oct 2013 etc etc" that also provide additional info.

I like Walmarts as they are well lit, have security cameras, there are usually people coming and going and there are usually other campers there too. We've stayed in Cracker Barrel lots too. I'm a little hesitant to do this though as we are usually the only ones there and the store is closed overnight. Nice to go in to the restaurant in the morning though and have a nice breakfast!

Happy travels!
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:05 AM   #11
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Mhony, certainly some drivers use the parking lot as a urinal. Most professionals don't for the reasons you state here. The pervasive smell usually comes from hog or cattle haulers.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:13 AM   #12
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I overnighted in a rest area along I-20 outside Dallas, during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. In the back end of a Dodge Durango SUV; I didn't have my Airstream yet. Didn't have a lot of choice; no hotel vacancies, and I had been on the road for 23 hours straight, so I simply couldn't drive any farther. Dallas is normally an 8~9-hour drive from New Orleans, but in evacuation traffic, I counted myself lucky it only took 23 hours!

I was so tired I didn't have the energy to worry about thugs and miscreants. As soon as I shut off the key, I zonked out. As soon as I woke up, I hit the restroom and drove the rest of the way to my parents' house in Oklahoma, only to discover that I was temporarily homeless.

Rest areas that include visitor's centers are usually well-patrolled, well-lit, and safe. The fewer and smaller the facilities, the less secure I would feel. My theory is, the more facilities, the more law enforcement presence, because the state will have a vested interest in keeping their facilities safe. I would never stop overnight at a so-called "picnic area" that's a step down from even the most basic rest area, having no facilities at all other than trash cans and picnic tables.

Same reason I would stay in a 24-hour Walmart parking lot, but not in the parking lot of a Walmart that closes for the night.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:16 AM   #13
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I have been using rest areas as overnight stops for over 40 years with never a problem regardless of posted limits. That includes 10 years of delivering trailers so that is a lot of overnight stops.
As anywhere, trust your instincts, but I would be more concerned in town or near major cities than in the rural areas.
My experience has been there are more drug sellers and "business ladies" operating around some of the truck stop chains. While I have never had a problem in a truck stop either, listening to a CB radio late at night can be an education.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:24 AM   #14
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If you want to spend some short nights in parking lots of whatever sort, get some earplugs or a soft-noise machine, get some sleep and move on in the am.

Get one of the good apps out there, like AllStays, to find places close to the interstates when you need to dump your tanks and refill with fresh water.

We like Passport America for overnight stops. Annual membership fee is low and basic campgrounds are often less than $20/night. In hot or cold weather, the electricity is very handy.

Public campgrounds are also inexpensive, but generally not right off the road.

Do what works best for you. It's all out there waiting.

Enjoy, and travel safe,


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