This week’s Question of the Week was, “Do you have Parking Lot Addiction Syndrome?”
Fifty-eight readers gave us their full Parking Lot Addiction Syndrome Reader Diagnosis self diagnosis. Some have it bad, others think it’s bad to have, and a few openly confess to being parking lot curious. Get ready for a roller coaster of responses and some of the funniest comments ever on Question of the Week.
“Yes, we have it. We didn’t know what it was called, but now, thanks to Truck Camper Magazine, we have a name for it. We stick mostly to Walmart, truck stops and even a rest stop once in a while. We know Cracker Barrel allows overnighting but we haven’t tried it yet. We have seen other folks overnighting at Kmart and Home Depot..” – John Bull, 2004 Dodge 3500 Quad Diesel Dually, 2004 Lance 920
“Yes, we traveled to Alaska and back from Alabama. We spent the night in turnouts, roadside parks, truck stops, and in an abandoned church parking lot. We met two great people who lived in the old pastorium. In twenty-eight days, we only spent two nights in a campground. Loved it!” – Don Hamilton, 2007 Chevy Silverado 2500, 2007 S&S Ponderosa 9.5 FSB
“I’m not sure we have P.L.A.S. We just returned from a thirty-five day trip up the eastern seaboard, including visits to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and fifteen states as well.
We love staying in Wally Worlds. I figure it saved us around a thousand dollars, and we totally enjoyed the trip. We even stayed in the visitor center parking lot ($7 per night) in Old Savannah, Georgia. We could walk to most of the attractions since Savannah’s attractions are mostly centered around downtown where the visitor center is located.” – Mike Chiles, 1999 Dodge 2500, 2009 Lance 915
“While we don’t have the full blown disease, we do use Walmart and Sam’s Club parking lots for overnight stays while going from point A to point B. And, to get away from the normal traffic patterns, the rear of the buildings can sometimes offer quieter surroundings. The far corners of major truck stops can also offer a quiet one night stay for free. I had not thought about using a mall for one night, but will think about it in the future..” – Robert Hicks, 2008 Chevrolet 3500HD, 2011 Lance 992
“Yes, Walmart and Cracker Barrel.” – Larry Rathburn, 2013 Ford F550, 2012 Chalet TS116
“We prefer nature in remote places.” – Ted and Joan Berger, 2001 Dodge Ram 2500, 2001 Northstar TC650
“Yes, I sure do have P.L.A.S! And my husband hates those type of nights. My favorite spots are city halls in small towns. .” – Denise Hupé, 2004 Ford F250, 2004 Adventurer 810WS
“We often find that the events which we wish to go to are at a distance from a commercial campground which would necessitate breaking camp for the day (or shorter time period). Often the event is quite close to a number of parking lots which will suffice for the period of time required and/or an overnight stay.
We have found Walmart to be our overnight stay of choice since they sell most everything that campers could need, they are well lit, are relatively secure, and are usually much quieter than the truck stops. We often find that there are a number of RVers parked for the night which provides an added sense of security.” – Peter Staples, 2013 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2013 Lance 1172
“We have P.L.A.S. for health reasons. We have multiple allergies, sensitivities to chemicals such as perfumes, (including scented laundry detergent), campfire and barbecue smoke, etc. Where we live, most campsites have campfires. So we camp out in the bush, logging roads, and if traveling, use Walmart or rest areas that allow overnight parking.” – Marian Muir, 2011 Dodge Ram 3500, 2004 Snowbird 8’10”
“First of all, I have to admit that I don’t have P.LA.S. because I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I should go and spend the night at a Walmart to see how its done. I have seen travelers staying overnight. I usually travel close to home but a long trip is in the plans.” – Jeff Hagberg, 2002 Ford F250, 2006 Travel Lite 800SBX
“No.” – Matt Penttila, 2002 GMC Sierra 1500, 2010 KZ Sportsman Classic 19BH
“We went through the same thing you did in our first nights of parking lot camping. We heard every car coming close to the camper and kept checking out the window when we heard a noise.
Now it is a way of life and so convenient. We have had some tense times in city campgrounds and isolated camping areas with rowdies coming in and having a loud drunken party too close for comfort.
I am curious about how many truck campers carry protection of some sort. Since we have done that, we sleep much better. I have a concealed carry permit that is good in most states we travel through.” – Allen Brummel, 2008 Dodge Ram, 2008 Northstar TC650
“I don’t have P.L.A.S. yet. We just purchased out truck and camper after many years of dreaming and looking. I have spent one night in a Walmart in mid Kansas.” – Rochelle Berg, 2013 GMC 3500, 2013 Arctic Fox 992
“Yes, oh yes, we have P.L.A.S. We have done this for many years and always call it “Camp Walmart” on all of our cross-country trips. We make all of our travel days end in a town that has a Super Walmart. Be sure to call ahead to make sure you can park overnight because some cities have ordinances that will not allow overnight parking anywhere in the city limits.
Our favorite spot so far is Bozeman, Montana with all the landscaping in the parking lot. They have more shade than a lot of campgrounds we have stayed in.” – Mike and Nancy Pohl, 1999 Ford F150, 1986 American Pilgrim 8.5
“I have something very close to P.L.A.S. I have, W.C.I.P.18.; Where Can I Park my 18-wheeler for the night? It has developed from over twenty-five years of driving over the road. I have not noticed any bad side effects from this. In fact I believe it has helped from getting P.L.A.S. But I understand that the symptoms are very similar. I have found with simple mental exercise and guidance, it is something that can be lived with without any long term effects. So don’t worry about the occasional parking lot survey, you have nothing to worry about. Keep on trucking!” – Tim May, 1993 Dodge 2500, 1987 Vacationeer 9’10”
“No.” – John Patterson, 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, 2012 Travel Lite 960RX
“Yes, with a disclaimer. I can’t say we really check out parking lots, but I will say that we used them for the first time on our cross-country trip last year. At first we used them with some reluctance, but after a couple of nights, you kind of get the feel for it and realize how convenient it can be for a quick rest.
Choose your parking lot carefully, look for other RVs, and you should be fine. There usually is some noise though; street sweepers, delivery trucks, etc. But, for a quick rest right off the highway, we would do it again.” – Bill Teixeira, 2006 Chevy, 2003 Adventurer 810WS
“I don’t know that we’re addicted per se. We enjoy it because we tend to see sights during the day, drive at night, crash, and hit the road as soon as we rise in the morning. Thus, we rarely take advantage of campground amenities.
However, your article raised one concern I think you should address. Walmart asks that you call the store for permission before parking. You can also use http://www.overnightrvparking.com/ which is updated by members who call the locations. But, please remind readers to somehow get relevant information on usage of the lot, as some cities will not allow parking in lots, even though Walmart, for instance, does allow it. Doing so will alleviate any restlessness, and create a good impression on business owners who offer their lots for use.” – Jim Brain, 2006 Ford F350, 2006 Okanagan 117DBL
“Parking lots are mostly off limits in most places in Canada.” – Leo LaRochelle, 2002 Chevy Silverado, 2500, 2012 FWC Hawk Shell
“Yes, we have chronic P.L.A.S. We traveled for 110 days and we stayed in organized campgrounds only five nights. We are so addicted that we are not members of Good Sam, Passport America, or Escapees. We have a National Park pass for life and we donate at each one we visit. Hope to see you soon somewhere.” – Jake and Sylvie Mathis, 1994 Dodge Ram 2500, 2005 Northern Lite 9Q
“Last year was our first time camping in a parking lot. I had always thought about it, but never did in our fifth wheel. Since our first stop overnight we fell in love with it. We have not done any this year because we have not figured out how to dry camp in hot weather.” – Donna Smith, 2010 Dodge Ram 3500, 2000 Lance
“No.” – Carl Miller, 1991 Ford, 1983 Vacationer
“Yes, we have stayed at both truck stop parking lots and Walmart. There is a free phone app called “ONP Walmart” that tells you what Walmart stores allow overnight RVs in whatever state you are in. Our favorite so far was a Walmart in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. We had fun seeing all the Amish horse and buggies coming to the store; even at night with lights on the buggy.” – Richard Janssen, 2004 Chevy 2500HD, had a 1993 Lance 880
“Yes, definitely. And no, I will not share my favorite spots for obvious reasons.” – MJC Engel, 1992 Iveco 40-10 WM, 2005 Twiga Travel
“Yes, we camp in parking lots all the time. Mostly we park overnight in winter at ski resorts. It’s a great way to have slope-side ski in and out accommodations. Most areas are very amenable to pick-up campers as long as you don’t interfere with plowing. In addition, some (Anthony Lakes in Oregon) actually offers free power hook-ups, but you gotta get there early!” – JT More and Sue Jurf, 2004 Ford F250, 2005 S&S Ponderosa 8.5
“We have been seen at a parking lot now and then when we are enroute and in need of free, easy, and close to shopping overnight accommodations.” – Tim Burk, 2005 Dodge 3500, 2011 Eagle Cap 950
“No. It was creepy enough seeing a half-dozen or more big rigs with folks sitting around with cocktails and appetizers!” – Nancy James, 2010 Ford F-250, 2009 Lance 861
“Most Walmarts are great. I had a bad experience at Walmart in Santa Maria, California with “no parking” signs and we were asked to leave at 11:30pm.
My favorite is movie theater parking lots. Fix dinner, go to the movie, and then walk home to a comfortable bed. For safety, our policy is that we do not respond to knocks on our door after going in for the night, but we do keep appropriate protection within arms reach in case someone decides to forcefully enter our home.
We have just returned from a trip to the Yukon Territory. Rest stops in the Yukon are pleasant, close to the road, with brand new precast smell good pit toilets, which are a great place to dump our cassette toilet. Typically there are no signs against overnight stays. We noticed a few were marked with “no overnight camping” signs, but people stayed overnight anyway.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Yukon are helpful, friendly, and seem to have more important things to do than kick law abiding tourists out of an overnight parking spot.” – F. Schiebout, 2004 Ford F-350, 2013 Northstar 9.5 Igloo U
“No, we have Parking Lot Avoidance Syndrome. We plan ahead to find campgrounds on our route. This is due to seeing many large, expensive RVs spend the entire weekend at our local Walmart with awnings and chairs out. Sometimes more than a dozen at a time, no exaggeration. The question is, where are they dumping grey and black tanks?” – John and Cathy Strasser, 2012 Chevy 2500HD, 2012 Lance 855S
“Yes, it’s funny, I’ve done all those things. Sometimes, when I haven’t had the camper out for a while, I will load it on the truck and drive down to Walmart and park for a while, just to check everything out. The Walmart in Whitehouse, Yukon is unforgettable.” – Ernie Leet, 2006 Ford F350, 1999 BigFoot 10.5
“Yes, and it is an issue that my wife and I are always commenting about. There is an individual in our city that alternates between the Walmart lot and a Harbor Freight Tools lot in another part of town. He/she stays in a really old Winnebago motorhome. The windows are always open and appears to have no air conditioning. How is that possible in the Houston/Galveston area? Not only is it hot, but the mosquitoes would eat you at night. It is so old we dubbed it the Flintstones mobile. But I must add they don’t leave any trace of being there when they move to the next parking lot.” – Selby Blackwell, 1997 Ford F250, 2008 Arctic Fox 815
“Our first experience was entirely unplanned. Enroute to a campground in the westernmost part of Virginia, we were hit by an enormous straight-line windstorm called a Derecho, which blew down hundreds of trees. The final five miles were completely blocked so we drove to Beckley, West Virginia and set up in a Sam’s Club lot with several other refugees. Beckley was without power for the next two weeks.
The next day we managed to find a back way into campground. Since then we’ve stayed in a few other lots and find it a valuable addition to our longer-range trip capabilities. Naturally, we throw a little business their way the next morning before departing.” – Mike Daily, 2010 GMC 2500, Palomino Bronco
“No. Staying overnight night in a parking lot to get some shut eye isn’t camping. If someone thinks it’s camping, they have a real problem.” – Alex Blasingame, 2007 Ford F250, 2002 Lance 815
“I sure wish I had P.L.A.S. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to use the truck camper as often as I had planned. Therefore the poor camper just sits in its storage garage, wishing it could join all its cousins out on the open road.” – Stan Johnson, GMC 2500, Northstar Laredo
“Yes, Walmarts are just about everywhere and a lot of roadside rests are very camper friendly (some even have Wi-Fi). Also, Petro and TA truck stops are good.” – Jeff Yarborough, 2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 2009 Lance 915
“I found a handy website for locating Walmart stores that allow parking and those that don’t. They also have cell phone apps listing many other parking locations, maps, rest areas, low clearances, campgrounds and stores. Link: http://www.allstays.com/c/wal-mart-locations.htm.” – Art Davidson, 2007 Chevrolet 3500 Silverado, 2003 Bigfoot 30C10.11SL
“I have Parking Lot Repulsion Syndrome. The whole concept of P.L.A.S. is so wrong.” – Bob Ragain, 1988 MB Unimog, 1971 Alaskan 10′ NCO
“Yes.” – E. & N. Stackman, 2012 Dodge Ram 3500, 2004 Lance 1050
“Yes, we stay at Cracker Barrel restaurants. Every Cracker Barrel I believe offers overnight parking. The nice thing about this is that their parking lots are not very well suited for larger RVs. Truck campers on the other hand fit right in. Also, I don’t know if Cracker Barrel has a deal with law enforcement, but there are always a few Sheriff and Police cruisers in the parking lots in the morning. We feel extra secure with them around.” – Lucien Langlois, 2012 Ford F250, 2004 Lance 1025
“No, I think it is a slap in the face of campgrounds to stay and then wait a few days and go use their dump.” – Kenneth Wright, 2006 Dodge 2500, Cummins, 2011 Travel Lite 960
“We’re so addicted that we take pride in not paying for any campgrounds on a seven day or shorter trip. We’re both constantly checking out abandoned buildings or newer buildings with no occupant.
We prefer to avoid Walmart due to the noise. There’s always either a lot cleaner or employees driving around all night. Sometimes you can find a quiet place behind a strip mall, Home Depot, or Lowes. Be sure to avoid the loading docks. We even put exceptional places in our GPS saved area for future reference.
We are self-reliant with one 130 watt solar panel and satellite television (which also requires finding a clear southeast exposure when hunting for that night’s free spot). I keep a compass in the console to make sure I have clear shot at 140′ before we stop. It’s fun and makes up a little for $4.20 diesel. See you on the road” – Jim Cornwell, 2011 Chevy Siverado 3500, 2012 Lance 1191
“I have P.L.A.S. I will park in a parking lot overnight without any qualms. I would also be willing to park anywhere off the side of the road if I feel it is safe. Generally, I will park anywhere that I don’t feel funny about staying for the night.” – Bob Chan, 1989 Ford F250, 1988 Lance 780
“No.” – Randall Rice, 2012 GMC 3500, 2002 Bigfoot 10.5
“I do not like when people use the term camping when parking in Walmart or any other parking lot. We are parking and not camping in these lots.” – Marcel Hebert, 2007 Ford F350, 2006 Cardenal 5th wheel
“Not sure if it’s an addiction, but a normal scheduled stopover for us roughly half-way to the annual Camp Grayling Michigan Historic Artillery Match from our home in Pennsylvania is Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan. They have a dedicated parking area for RVs, a dump station, and welcome overnighters. Plus, you get to go shopping at Cabela’s the next morning, and eat at their great cafe, if you choose, before resuming the journey. I believe this is a feature of all the Cabela’s stores, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of it if I was near one of their stores.” – John and Marylou Wells, 2010 Chevy 3500HD, 2012 Chalet Ascent S100F
“Yes, and I’m often just me and a dog (though my mother thinks I’m in a campsite). When I bring along a friend, they often have some worries, but I park my door facing a well lit location and in open view.” – Denise Barber, 2011 Chevy 2500, 2007 Lance 815
“The reason for my reply is my concern for the number of communities and Walmarts that won’t allow overnight rest. I feel the RV community has overdone their welcome by setting up camp at parking lots with tables, chairs, grills and all. Talk about taking advantage of a good thing.” – Chip Collin, 2002 F350, 2005 Adventurer 106DBS
“I have done this on Cape Cod next to Sandwich Marina on the dock with my two dogs. I fish the Cape Cod canal for stripers. When I go to Sandy Neck Beach, it’s an off-road beach that you can camp on for seventy-two hours. Then you have to pull off for twenty-four hours to dump your holding tanks so I dump at the state park down the road. Then I pull in for the night and then go back.
Over the 4th of July, we usually go to the Cape for ten days. Also, as an electrician, I use several park and rides to meet co-workers. In Sturbridge, Massachusetts, at the junction of Route 84 and the Massachusetts Pike, get off Route 20 eastbound. There is a Cracker Barrel and a gas station. In the back of the Cracker Barrel there is a park and ride next to a hotel. There are always a few RVs in there. I think that it’s owned by Cracker Barrel. It seems Cracker Barrel is RV friendly.” – Jonathan Hight, 2001 GMC Sierra 2500, 2004 Adventure 8’10
“Yes, we’ve been staying in Walmarts and other parking lots for years. The money we save on a campsite usually means dinner out. We travel from Maine to North Carolina at least once a year to visit relatives. We know all the best Walmart stops along the I-81 corridor and what restaurants are nearby. We love the Allstays app that clues us in to friendly Walmarts. We even go out of our way for Walmarts near Chinese Buffets!” – Don and Sue Graf, 2008 Ford F350, Arctic Fox 865
“This is to funny that you have this for this week’s question. I was just thinking, “Do I have a problem thinking about how cool some parking lots would be to camp in? It’s good to know that I’m not alone and we felt the same way. We stayed at our first parking lot and now we love it.” – Ken McGill, 1973 Ford F250 Camper Special, 1986 Real Lite 12′
“We check out shopping centers, truck stops, and various places to stop overnight as we travel in our truck camper. We spent the night in a dirt lot next to a couple of tractor trailers in a small town here in Florida. It was very peaceful until the train came down the track just on the other side of the trees. We arrived there after dark and did not see the tracks. What a shock when the train came by about midnight.
We like Walmarts and Love’s truck stops. Love’s has several locations with dump stations which makes it convenient.” – Mike Suan, 2008 Silverado 2500HD, 2010 Lance 830
“I used to park various places with my camper van. I had one attempted break-in and another where they broke into the car parked in front of me. I was poised with a machete waiting to see if mine was next. In the camper van, At least I could have just started up and driven away. You can’t do that in a truck camper.
We have $36,000 into our camper and most of you have more than that. What’s the big deal about spending $25 for a decent campsite? A good, safe night’s sleep is worth $25.” – Vince Kurpan, 2013 Ford F150, Panther Sierra
“Last winter, in Florida, a Walmart had a no parking overnight sign. We went to a Home Depot and asked the store manager if it was okay to park overnight. She said yes!
At around 11:30pm, there was a knock, knock, and “Police, open up. We have an ordinance in this town about no parking overnight.”
We said we asked the store manager and she said okay. He said, “You did the right thing. This is private property and we can’t do anything about parking. What we really knocked for is your license plate comes to a Lincoln Continental”.
I explained, “In our state this same number could be used on four different plates; National Guard, POW, Veteran, and the regular plate”. He ran the National Guard plate number again and we were safe for the night. That was after our heart rate went back to normal.
We have P.L.A.S. all the time and restaurants and church parking lots are favorites (just ask before parking).” – Helen Langlois, 2012 Ford F250, 2004 Lance 1025
“I’ve always been able to find a free park in a nicer area than a parking lot. Where I go there are plenty of national or state parks within a fifteen minute drive.” – Phil Rodacy, 2012 GMC 3500, 2006 Okanagan 90W
“One night in Phoenix I was heading to Lake Pleasant and came across a new center that they were offering for rent. Only a Walgreens was open. It was in a nice new area of town, so I pulled in. The next day was Sunday and I had nothing to do so I stayed all day, and walked through the neighborhood. On Monday morning a lot of cars came in to go to work and part of the center was being used, so I had a peaceful weekend and left when the workers had to go to work.” – Frank, Niehus, 2007 Ford F350, Arctic Fox 1150
“No.” – Eldon Rhodes, 2008 Chevy 3500, 2011 Lance 1050
“Yes, Walmarts! I’ve always found them to be easy to find and usually other services are nearby. If other RVers are there, we feel a bit more secure. Indian Casinos in California that don’t have RV parks are also good places to stay for free and most have reasonably priced restaurants. It helps that I can go into one of these casinos and never gamble. That saves money as well.” – Steve Cilenti, 1999 Ford F350, 2012 Arctic Fox 990
“Yes, we stay in back of motels traveling to Florida. Otherwise, we stay in small campgrounds because a lot of places are closed in the winter.” – Neil Steirer, 2008 Ford F350, 2008 Lance 1181
“Yes, my wife and I are new to RVing and we went out on our first excursion last weekend. After driving for five hours we pulled into Walmart because we heard they allowed overnight RV parking. There were two other RVs in the lot when we arrived and by the end of the evening we were joined by a half dozen more RVs.
It was great to have shopping close by and have the security of a well lit parking lot. I have to say my wife and I now have P.L.A.S. and we are on the constant lookout for the next great place to stay.” – Henry Yoneyama, Ford F350, 2012 Arctic Fox 990
“I stayed at my first Walmart this year. A semi turned on his motor after we setup and ran it all night. The sweeper came by at 4:00am and sounded like a NASCAR track dryer. I got very little sleep. I won’t say never again, but it is not for me.” – Matt Reinker, 2006 Chevy 1500, 2007 Northstar TC650