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Old 12-15-2016, 11:49 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Chance
Cost is not the issue. When driving long distances, like 1,100 + miles from Florida to Texas, I often drive until late -- like midnight. I pull into a rest area, get 5 or 6 hours of sleep, and keep going. A campground wouldn't be practical for us to arrive at midnight. It takes too long to get off the road, find the CG, self-register in the dark, etc... It would be a pain if all I need is sleep.
When we're doing one of those marathon drives when we stop for dinner we figure about how much further we want to go and start calling campgrounds ahead that are at our estimated stopping point. When we find one with room we'll reserve it over the phone thus the "after hours checkin" is usually already handled and you just grab your envelope that is taped to the door (mostly KOA's) go to your spot, plugin and go to sleep.

In a couple of cases we've made our reservations (including paying) before getting there, arrived after hours and left before the store opened and thus never saw any campground staff. Still had power, water, etc. for the morning rituals.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:26 PM   #22
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Travelin'Texans makes some valid points, even though I don't agree with everything he says. And as much as this pains me to type this, Chance also makes some valid points, especially when taken from traveling in a smaller vehicle.


When we were full timing we rarely stopped overnight at a Walmart or C-Barrel. The main reason was due to the fact our fiver did not have a gen set, plus our standard rule was to be off the road by 3pm.


Now we are only part time and have the Challenger with gen set. We have used a Walmart but only pull in at dark. We put slides out but nothing else. This has less to do with saving money and more to do with trip planning. If we have a day where we need to travel from 10am to 6pm then I am not a big fan of pulling into a strange CG after dark. Can't see low hanging branches or electrical lines plus hooking up utilities isn't that much fun at night. If I am using a CG then I am going to enjoy being there from about 3pm to 9am the next day and take advantage of their water, sewer, and electric.


We would never attempt to overnight in our RV in a rest area. We would have to be on the truck parking side and it would be extremely noisy, plus many rest areas are busy at night with over-the-road truckers and I certainly don't want to take a space one of them could use. They are out there making their living and that would be the ultimate rude in my book.


On the other hand, we make at least one 1,350 trip from Florida to Illinois each year. On these trips it is in the SUV and I like to drive the first day from about 10am to 10pm. Depending on where we are, we might sleep 5 or 6 hours in a rest area or a pre-inspected Walmart. The last SUV trip two weeks ago we did one night in an Alabama I-65 Walmart. We pulled in between two large RV's that were already in for the night.


So a statement like "if you can't afford to stop & pay for a site while traveling then maybe rving was the wrong choice" may not fit everyone. I'm sure there are folks on here that paid cash for their rigs and have six figure incomes, then there are probably ones on here that are upside down, struggling, but still love to RV.


I now will probably catch hell for this post, but here goes. For 3 years we traveled through the country in a fiver. We met all kinds of folks in all kinds of places. Some of the most friendly and interesting people I spent time with were campers in 10 year old fivers, or small older TT's or Class C's. Some of the most stand-offish stuckup folks were in larger Class A units. Actually looking back on the friends we made during our RV travels there is not one Class A diesel pusher in the bunch.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:09 PM   #23
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If we have a day where we need to travel from 10am to 6pm then I am not a big fan of pulling into a strange CG after dark. Can't see low hanging branches or electrical lines plus hooking up utilities isn't that much fun at night.
LOL! Well I have a story for you...
We were on our way to Disney with our 5er in early April(spring break) one year doing our "call ahead to find room". Well campground after campground were all full, its getting dark we're getting more tired, etc. Finally a park says "yeah we got room, just knock on the door and we'll set you up". Its now well past dark when we pull up, the staffer happily checks us in and says "follow me", hops in an F-250 and takes off like the Duke boys--I swear I saw all 4 of his tires leave the ground. It was all I could do to keep up and thread the 5er through the trees. He did lead us to a rather close pull-through spot.

In the morning I got to see the path we took (there was only about 2 or 3 campers in the park)...wow glad we made it with no dents; just a few frayed nerves LOL.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:17 PM   #24
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Travelin'Texans makes some valid points, even though I don't agree with everything he says. And as much as this pains me to type this, Chance also makes some valid points, especially when taken from traveling in a smaller vehicle.

....cut.....
Joe, I'm glad to see you can remain objective.


If I had to park in rest areas next to semis I probably wouldn't do it either, although I have to say I've seen my share of large motorhomes parked by the trucks and often they were there when I stopped and were still there when I pulled away.

Being able to go or park just about anywhere is one of the reasons my wife prefers a van-size Class B. And it's hard to argue when it's just the two of us.

Regarding campground costs, we essentially pay whatever it takes within reason to stay where we really want to stay. Lately most of our trips have been short due to family commitments (in range of week to 10 days), so even if we saved $20 to $30 per night on lesser CGs, the total savings wouldn't be that great a part of total trip cost. For that reason we often splurge on CGs.

Having said that, in August we traveled to Maine and a few of the CGs on or near the water were just under $100 a night. I have to admit that gets my attention. For longer trips that would add up very quickly.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:59 PM   #25
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I now will probably catch hell for this post, but here goes. For 3 years we traveled through the country in a fiver. We met all kinds of folks in all kinds of places. Some of the most friendly and interesting people I spent time with were campers in 10 year old fivers, or small older TT's or Class C's. Some of the most stand-offish stuckup folks were in larger Class A units. Actually looking back on the friends we made during our RV travels there is not one Class A diesel pusher in the bunch.
I fully agree with you! I purposely drive an older relatively small (31') class A.
I want to hold on to this unit as long as I can, because it has no slides (eliminating a lot of trouble), and I have remodeled the interior in a way I like it (to fit my needs and the needs of my traveling companion a Rottweiler/Great Dane mix). My motorhome is now a very reliable and well functioning vehicle (and it is fully paid for for many years now), and as I said, I want to keep it as long as I can.
However, when parking next to one of the fancy looking diesel pushers the owners of such a unit very often look at me like at a pariah because I am driving such a small, old unit (in reality, I might be in a better position to afford one of those fancy diesel pushers than some of their owners - I made my living in medical research). What I find really comical is the fact that many of those travelers seem to leave their unit only to get into their car to drive to another indoor event. They have not the least bit of a desire to do try a little bit of "camping".

Another irritating aspect of some diesel pusher drivers is their habit to leave the engine running for a long time when they break camp early in the morning. This noise may sound wonderful to them, but certainly not to me when I am still in bed and have a construction equipment diesel engine running next to me! I have never experienced these kind of habits with owners of class C or "standard" class A motorhomes!
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:23 PM   #26
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I saw a Utube video of a family filming their "camping" spot at Walmart, awnings out, grill/chairs setup, SORRY IMHO that's abusing the privilege. If you "overnight" you stop late & leave early, if "camping" you arrive early see the local sights & leave whenever & again IMHO you shouldn't be doing that at Wal-Mart/Cracker Barrel or anywhere that wasn't designed for that purpose. We've never stayed at WM/CB, rest area, no where we didn't pay something.
I agree that is abusing it... I have never extended awning, slides, or used grill in a Walmart parking lot... If I use the genny at all - it is to briefly power the microwave to heat up something we bought there for dinner... Have always called ahead to ask permission - and once arrived met and thanked the store manager for the privilege.
Don't think my stays have ever exceeded 8 hours... If we got there early - we left early... Just time to refuel (eat) and recharge (sleep) and go.

I have used rest areas on occasion - some states have separate provisions for RVs (OH along I-80 and GA along I-75 come to mind from recent travels)

If we have the time to stop and see areas along the way - then that is always at a 'normal' campground... Not being retired, travel time is often limited - and being able to drive a few extra hours and just have a simple pull in and park for some sleep gives more time at our destination... or gets me back to work without taking time off for the trip.
If I had more 'unlimited time' - I wouldn't do MI to FL trips in 2 days...
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:24 AM   #27
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Have to second Joe-FL's comments (#22) above. I respect TravelinTexans and Chance's opinions, but my experiences and opinions echo Joe-FL's. His comments were well said, so I won't repeat much of it.

We also only started using WMts and CBarrels after we traded our 5th wheel for a Class A with a generator. Our trips since average about 1/3 of our nights in those free parking lots or the driveways of friends and family. Not comfortable about staying in most rest areas or truck stops.

We always ask permission at WMt or CB. WMt usually gets about a hundred $ of our money for groceries and supplies when we stay in their lot. We always eat a meal at CB. We do put our slide out, since the bed folds, but wouldn't consider setting up with awning, grill or chairs, nor have we ever seen that.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:45 AM   #28
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I second what Joe says! I've stayed in a lot of places that weren't designated camping areas, but only after asking permission and have never taken advantage of the privilege. Like most people I have always tried to be a respectful guest and not give a bad image of campers.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:10 PM   #29
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What is it like at CB or WM?

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....cut....

We also only started using WMts and CBarrels after we traded our 5th wheel for a Class A with a generator. Our trips since average about 1/3 of our nights in those free parking lots or the driveways of friends and family. Not comfortable about staying in most rest areas or truck stops.

.....cut....
It is so interesting how our perceptions can be so different. We eat at Cracker Barrels occasionally, but have never parked overnight in large part because I don't feel it would be as safe. I feel safety in numbers, and in not being isolated from others. For whatever reason I feel safer knowing there are dozens of vehicles around me in rest areas, and that if someone was going to be mugged, it would likely be someone stopping to use the restrooms when they are most vulnerable.

Having said that, I may be completely wrong. Maybe parking at a CB is safer -- I honestly don't know.

Perhaps some of you can better explain what it's like at a CB or WM? Do you feel safe and why? How many "campers" typically park overnight? If stopping late after store closes do you just park there? Have you ever been hassled by anyone?

We will continue to use campgrounds most nights because we don't have a generator, plus prefer to relax when time allows. I'd guess we stay in CGs well over 90% of time. Still, it's good to have backup plans.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:31 PM   #30
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It is so interesting how our perceptions can be so different. We eat at Cracker Barrels occasionally, but have never parked overnight in large part because I don't feel it would be as safe. I feel safety in numbers, and in not being isolated from others. For whatever reason I feel safer knowing there are dozens of vehicles around me in rest areas, and that if someone was going to be mugged, it would likely be someone stopping to use the restrooms when they are most vulnerable.

Having said that, I may be completely wrong. Maybe parking at a CB is safer -- I honestly don't know.

Perhaps some of you can better explain what it's like at a CB or WM? Do you feel safe and why? How many "campers" typically park overnight? If stopping late after store closes do you just park there? Have you ever been hassled by anyone?

We will continue to use campgrounds most nights because we don't have a generator, plus prefer to relax when time allows. I'd guess we stay in CGs well over 90% of time. Still, it's good to have backup plans.
Personally haven't used CB yet - no good reason - just hasn't happened.

For WM - where we have stayed were always 24 hour stores... As I said above, I always call and ask first. They have you park in one corner of the lot typically - and in most cases were at least one or two other campers or truckers there... Think the most have have seen were five.
Have never felt 'unsafe' from the area - but always aware of surroundings whether WM, rest area, etc...

Most interesting experience was in Missouri when a rather strong thunderstorm blew threw... We were alone there that time. Maybe between two big rigs in a rest area would have rocked the RV less... (We knew it was coming... weather alerts, watching radar...)

I've never had a generator enter into the question of WM/CB vs campground - but then the only things I am without on 12v is AC, microwave, coffee maker... I've installed 12v fans (like those in the windshield area) in kitchen and bedroom, and bedroom TV/BluRay is 12v. Even having it - it very rarely gets used there.

Now - if I had the time and wanted to relax - would certainly choose the campground option.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:47 PM   #31
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It is so interesting how our perceptions can be so different. We eat at Cracker Barrels occasionally, but have never parked overnight in large part because I don't feel it would be as safe. I feel safety in numbers, and in not being isolated from others. For whatever reason I feel safer knowing there are dozens of vehicles around me in rest areas, and that if someone was going to be mugged, it would likely be someone stopping to use the restrooms when they are most vulnerable.

Having said that, I may be completely wrong. Maybe parking at a CB is safer -- I honestly don't know.

Perhaps some of you can better explain what it's like at a CB or WM? Do you feel safe and why? How many "campers" typically park overnight? If stopping late after store closes do you just park there? Have you ever been hassled by anyone?

We will continue to use campgrounds most nights because we don't have a generator, plus prefer to relax when time allows. I'd guess we stay in CGs well over 90% of time. Still, it's good to have backup plans.
I pre-plan any upcoming stays at a WM or CB. Due to experiences in my prior life my initial thoughts are always toward safety. I pick an approximate night stopping point and locate a WM or CB close to the interstate. I may pinpoint two or three along a 50 miles stretch. I use Crimereports site online to see what crime there is in the area (most agencies report to it). Then I use google earth to check the parking lot situation and also neighborhood street levels. If surrounding neighborhoods look "sketchy" then I pass on that location.

We have never had an issue. I do not let my DW walk into WM, CB, or even a rest area building by herself, we always go together and return to the vehicle together. I can't think of one time we haven't been parked with other RVs when catching Z's in a WM or CB parking lot.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:32 PM   #32
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Joe, I'm just like you, I NEVER let my wife walk alone, ANYWHERE, PERIOD!!! I've stayed at WMs several times, never CB, I always try to park near a light. I use the time at WM to stock up and stretch my legs, plus I figure if they're nice enough to let me stay I'm going to use the store. I'm less inclined to use highway rest stops for parking, prefer to stay somewhere more populated, have on occasion used truck stops but not very often. Parked at a small town police station once, asked first, they were super nice, even recommended a good place to eat! Bottom line, safety and security take preference.
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:16 PM   #33
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On trips to and from certain destinations, I use WM's or lately Cabela's for overnight stops. I prefer Cabela's, because they have an dedicated area for RV's, and most have even a dump station (for a small fee). As far as I know are WM and Cabela's parking areas secured with cameras.
When parking at a WM, I always make sure that the surrounding area looks safe, Cabela's store are mostly out in the sticks and have no housing in the neighborhood.
Prior to settling in for the night, I take my dog for an extensive walk around the parking area, to make sure that everybody can see the beast!
My dog is a Rottweiler/Great Dane mix, and is big enough to ensure everybody that messing with it would not be much fun.
I have never ever experience any problems parking at WM or Cabela's.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:29 AM   #34
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...Perhaps some of you can better explain what it's like at a CB or WM? Do you feel safe and why? How many "campers" typically park overnight? If stopping late after store closes do you just park there? Have you ever been hassled by anyone?...


Given the choice, we'll take CB when near one that allows overnight. The ones where we have stayed have been near major highways, but far enough off to not have excessive road noise. They have been well lit, and after closing we have not seen anyone drive through except the trash truck and maybe an early food delivery truck. (The WMs we have stayed at all have had vehicles coming and going all night, although we have never been frightened.) No, we've never been hassled in any way at CB or WM.

We are almost always the only RV at CB. They tend to be in fringe suburban areas. The stores have a map that shows the CBs with RV/Bus parking. Apps tell us which ones allow overnight. We would drive on if the area looked dicey, but that has yet to happen. If we were going to arrive after closing, I would call to talk to the manager, but that hasn't happened for us.

We normally arrive after the dinner hour, ask permission, then in the morning go in for breakfast. Mrs S sometimes buys some stuff in the shop. Usually, the manager we talked to after dinner is there in the morning. (Those people work really hard and long!) We ask for them again and thank them again. The CB store has books on CD, that you buy and return to another CB for a partial refund. A good audio book helps the miles melt away.

That has been our experience, your results may vary.
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:54 AM   #35
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The app "RV Parky" will show you the locations of both Walmarts and Cracker Barrels (and others), with icons showing whether or not they allow overnight parking.

Or if you prefer to use a computer, you can get even more information at their website RV Parky | RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory, Reviews, PhotosRV Parky | RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory, Reviews, Photos
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Old 12-18-2016, 05:29 PM   #36
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The app "RV Parky" will show you the locations of both Walmarts and Cracker Barrels (and others), with icons showing whether or not they allow overnight parking.

Or if you prefer to use a computer, you can get even more information at their website RV Parky | RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory, Reviews, PhotosRV Parky | RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory, Reviews, Photos
Thanks for the app recommendation. Just installed it on my devices.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:56 PM   #37
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....cut....

We are almost always the only RV at CB. ....cut.....
Mr Sunshine, I appreciate this valuable feedback.

Yeah, that in itself is a deal breaker for us. We always feel safer in numbers.

It's great that through forums like this we can exchange this kind of information without having to try it.
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Old 06-09-2017, 10:27 PM   #38
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Mr Sunshine, I appreciate this valuable feedback.



Yeah, that in itself is a deal breaker for us. We always feel safer in numbers.



It's great that through forums like this we can exchange this kind of information without having to try it.


Agreed.
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Old 06-10-2017, 02:23 AM   #39
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Rethinking that comment about being the only one at CB overnight. That has happened, but sometimes there are 2 or 3. I'll pay better attention on future CB stays.

The reason we feel safer than at WM is because we usually aren't visible from the main highway and there is little to no traffic through the lot. So different at WM, as shoppers and employees come and go all night.
Different strokes for different folks!
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Old 06-10-2017, 02:32 AM   #40
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We use a website to help us pick free and safe spots to spend a night: www.overnightrvparking.com They also have an ap. It's a subscription of $25/yr but it gives reviews besides just telling you which places allow and which don't. It is crowd sourced, and if you review a new spot, or one that hasn't been reviewed for awhile, they add to your subscription.

If previous reviewers indicate unease in a location, we will skip that one. They are map based, and often list places we wouldn't have thought of, like a grocery store or Lowes.
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