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What Stores Allow Overnight Parking? A Road Tripper’s Guide

Brandyn-Shoemaker

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Navigating the maze of overnight parking options on a road trip can be daunting. As someone who’s road-tripped across America and faced numerous challenges, I understand the importance of finding a safe and legal spot to rest. 

What stores allow overnight parking?

If you’re in a pinch, stores like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and Cabela’s often allow overnight parking. However, policies can vary, so it’s crucial to check with each location. It’s best to call the store directly or check their website for specific overnight parking policies. Some stores even have designated areas for overnight vehicles. When sleeping in your car, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of overnight parking, from where to park to what to avoid, ensuring you’re well-prepared and safe on your journey. For immediate safety concerns, check out our article: Is it safe to sleep in your car?

What Stores Allow Overnight Parking?

I know better than anyone that when you’re on the road and starting to feel tired, you need a place to rest immediately. Fortunately, several stores are known for allowing overnight parking. Here are a few that I’ve utilized in my travels, and some I have on my list of “maybes” if I’m ever in a pinch:

  • Walmart: A popular choice with well-lit parking lots and often 24-hour security. Walmart is my favorite store to use for overnight parking because they have grocery sections for quick food and supply runs. Check out our article on Walmart overnight parking to learn more.
  • Sam’s Club: Sam’s Clubs have the same amenities as Walmart, and many locations offer fuel stations with discounted gas for members. I’ve saved a lot of money on gas over the years fueling up at Sam’s. You don’t need a membership to use their parking lot.
  • Costco: Most Costco’s allow overnight parking, and I’ve used a few in my time. Like Costco, membership typically isn’t required to use their parking lot. They often have high-quality surveillance cameras for added security. Check out our article on Costco overnight parking lot to find out more.
  • Home Depot: Less common but possible; usually without amenities. It’s an ideal spot for those also needing quick access to repair or camping supplies.
  • Cabela’s: Cabela’s typically has designated areas for overnight parking and is a great place to buy camping supplies. Check with the store before you get situated, because I’ve had to pack up and leave a Cabela’s after being spotted by security.
  • Bass Pro Shops: Similar to Cabela’s, check for designated areas. Some locations are near lakes or natural reserves, offering scenic views.
  • Camping World: Very welcoming to road-trippers, and they carry an abundance of camping supplies.
  • Cracker Barrel: Allows overnight parking, and many locations offer early risers a “good morning” breakfast deal. I’ve stayed at Cracker Barrels just so we can have an awesome breakfast before hitting the road again.
  • Anytime Fitness: Some locations allow overnight parking. The benefit is 24-hour access to gym facilities, including showers, for members.
  • 24-Hour Fitness: Membership required; not all locations allow overnight stays. Those that do often have ample parking space.
  • Planet Fitness: Some locations allow overnight parking for members. They usually offer free Wi-Fi and sometimes even free morning coffee for members.

It’s crucial to note that policies can vary by location. Always call ahead or check the store’s website to confirm their overnight parking rules. For more sleeping options, explore our article: places to sleep in your car.

Why is Knowing Where To Sleep Overnight Important?

Knowing where to sleep overnight on a road trip is crucial for safety and peace of mind. A well-lit, secure parking area can make all the difference in the quality of your rest. During one of my trips across America, I parked in an unlit area and had to relocate after I noticed a couple of suspicious people hanging around.

I should’ve done my research to ensure a restful sleep. Being informed also helps you avoid legal complications, which can vary by location. I’ve never had a run-in with the police, but I’ve heard stories from people who have. For more on the legal aspects, read our article:  Is it illegal to sleep in your car?

How to Check Store Policies on Overnight Parking

It is not wise to assume that every branch of a chain store allows overnight parking. On the same trip, I stayed overnight in one Cabela’s parking lot, and was asked to leave the other. Always contact the store and inquire about their policy regarding overnight parking. Some stores have specific policies on their websites, and some even have designated apps for this. 

Additionally, you should look for signs in the parking lot that indicate the rules for overnight parking. Before parking, it’s always advisable to double-check with the store management or security to avoid any potential fines or towing.

Where NOT to Park Overnight

Finding a safe spot for overnight parking is crucial, but knowing where not to park is equally important. Based on my own road trip mishaps, here are some places you should avoid:

  1. Private Property: This one should be fairly obvious. Never park on private property, because trespassing laws can result in hefty fines or even arrest. I once accidentally turned into the wrong driveway on a trip and was met with a warning shot from a shotgun. Always seek permission if you’re considering parking on someone’s land.
  2. Abandoned Parking Lots: The ease of pulling into these lots may seem tempting, but they can be very unsafe. Criminal activity is often higher in deserted areas.
  3. Restricted Zones: Look out for “No Parking” or “Tow-Away Zone” signs. They aren’t always obvious, so look around. You don’t want to wake up to a hefty fine on your windshield or a loud knock on your door.
  4. Schools and Hospitals: Although sometimes an option, these areas often have specific parking regulations and security patrols, making them risky for overnight stays. Plus, the constant sirens at hospitals don’t make for a very relaxing night.

If you find yourself looking for an overnight spot during the winter, check out our article: How to survive winter in your car.

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Tips for Safe and Respectful Overnight Parking

Ensuring a safe and respectful overnight parking experience is crucial, not just for you but also for the communities you visit. Drawing from my own experiences, here are some tried-and-true tips to make your overnight stay as smooth as possible.

  1. Choose Well-Lit Areas: Opt for well-lit parking spots to enhance safety. Well-lit areas are generally more secure and can deter potential break-ins.
  2. Don’t Litter: Always carry a small trash bag in your car. Dispose of your waste responsibly in designated bins the following day. Don’t be the reason stores stop letting people park overnight.
  3. Use Window Shades: For privacy and comfort, use window shades or curtains. This not only provides privacy but also helps in regulating the car’s temperature.
  4. Portable Fans for Ventilation: A small, battery-operated fan can make a world of difference in air circulation, especially during hot nights.
  5. Check for No-Parking Signs: Always look for any no-parking signs or restrictions to avoid fines or towing. It’s better to spend an extra 5 minutes checking than to wake up to a ticket.
  6. Quiet Hours: Keep noise levels down between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. to respect other people in the area and avoid drawing attention to yourself. No one wants to hear your radio at 2 a.m.

Check out our article on car camping ideas for more creative ways to make your car comfortable. If you’re concerned about maintaining hygiene while on the road, our guide on places to shower on the road has got you covered.

Wrapping It Up: What Stores Allow Overnight Parking?

Navigating overnight parking doesn’t have to be stressful. Stores like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and Cabela’s are generally good options when you need a quick night’s rest. Always call ahead or check the store’s website to confirm their specific overnight parking policies.

Some locations even offer designated areas for overnight parking. Planning ahead is crucial for an overnight stop and the rest of your road trip. 

For more comprehensive advice on car camping, explore our Car Camping Advice Category to ensure you’re well-equipped for your journey.

Brandyn-Shoemaker

Brandyn Shoemaker

Author

I'm Brandyn, a contributing writer here at The Road Trip Expert. Over the past three years, my family and I have embraced the nomadic lifestyle, traveling across the U.S. in our RV. We've journeyed from coast to coast three times, making memories in 26 states and countless National and State Parks. From the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Springs to the towering Sea Stacks off the Oregon Coast, we've seen some truly amazing sights.
I'm excited to bring my experiences and travel insights to The Road Trip Expert community. So buckle up, and let's hit the road together!

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