A great way to save money while traveling by RV is by parking overnight - with permission - in retailers' parking lots. Known as boondocking, the practice is wildly popular among the motorhome community. Unfortunately, however, some folks who park their RVs in these lots are unaware of proper etiquette, and retailers and municipalities are increasingly banning the practice. Avoid contributing to the problem by brushing up on our top boondocking etiquette tips.
Certain retailers, like some Walmarts, have a standing policy that allows boondocking. However, always check with an authorized individual to ensure that it is okay to park your class A motorhome in their parking lot for the night. While you're at it, ask about any ground rules that they would like you to obey.
As nice as it is to have a free place to park your toy hauler, the last thing that you should do is overstay your welcome. It is generally understood that boondocking is a one-night-only arrangement. However, in many areas it's possible to find multiple places to park motorhomes overnight, so you may be able to cobble something together that way.
While it certainly isn't required or expected, it's nice to thank the business owner by making some sort of purchase. Make a point of stopping inside to check things out, and buy some stuff to show your appreciation.
Many businesses have posted rules regarding how the parking lot can be used. Read the regulations carefully whenever you stop for the night. Sometimes, gas RV travelers and diesel RV travelers must clear out by a certain time in the morning, for example, or they are required to park in certain sections of the lot.
Hydraulic jacks can cause damage to parking lots--even to asphalt. Therefore, avoid using yours while boondocking with your class C motorhome or other vehicle. It may be less convenient, but the last thing that you want to do is damage the business's parking lot after they showed you so much hospitality.
While boondocking, you're just supposed to park for the night strictly to get some sleep. Campers make a point of taking up as little space as possible. Therefore, don't bust out the grill, table, chairs or awning. Leave everything packed away so that you can get rolling right away the next morning. Besides, your belongings may not be safe if left unattended in a lot.
Finally, you shouldn't just avoid littering while boondocking. You should make a concerted effort to leave your space cleaner than you found it. This is a great way to show retailers that RUV and class A toy hauler travelers are excellent guests, and it increases the odds that they will continue to allowing people to boondock in the future. Prior to leaving, clean up any litter that you see, and avoiding leaving a trace that you were there.
As you can see, proper boondocking etiquette is mostly about being a good, conscientious guest. Remember, you are being allowed to park on someone's property for free. Don't make them regret by breaking the rules of etiquette that are highlighted above.