The do’s and don’ts of parking your motorhome
The feeling of freedom when picking up your motorhome is truly unique. Once those keys are in the ignition and the seatbelt is clicked in, you can go anywhere, at any time, stopping whenever you feel like it, and staying in each place as long as you choose. There really are no other forms of travel quite like it.
Often the only thing stopping would-be campers from setting off on the trip of a lifetime is the idea of parking a giant vehicle. But, we’re here to tell you, fear not! Parking is much simpler than it may seem.
When it comes down to it, there are a number of do’s and don’ts that outline basic rules of thumb for parking your motorhome anywhere in the world. In essence, a little planning is all you really need!
Parking your motorhome: Do
● Know exactly how high your motorhome is. In most cases, you won’t be able to park in multi-level parking buildings or underground where there may be height clearance issues. Some campervans are not much higher than trucks with roof racks however, so knowing exactly how high your roof is can help you decide if you can fit into these spaces. Similarly, know the length of your motorhome as some campsites will have size restrictions.
● Get permission. There are plenty of places where you are permitted to park your motorhome for short and overnight stays provided you get permission, including spots such as WalMart car parks in the US and private land. This means you’ll need to arrive at a reasonable hour (i.e. not midnight) to find the appropriate person, ask permission, and potentially even move on if you are declined a spot.
● Park somewhere you can easily get out of again. When you’re desperate to park for the night or to get out and soak up that sunset, it can be easy to just park anywhere. However, you’ll still need to be able to get out again, and motorhomes are not always known for their manoeuvrability. Look to park somewhere open, rather than next to low items such as rubbish bins, curbs, picnic tables or plants that you might hit when backing out again.
● Lock up your motorhome whenever you leave it. Even if you’re just heading off for a quick stroll, it’s best to secure your possessions and keep your valuables out of sight whenever you’re not nearby.
● Secure your belongings before moving again. Whenever you stop, you might move things around inside the campervan, so it’s important to make sure your cookware and other items aren’t going to fall on the floor as soon as you hit the road again.
● Check for accessibility issues before you arrive. Most campsites will share information about potential accessibility issues, such as gravel roads or steep hills, so you can ensure your motorhome is capable of driving there before you make a booking.
● Prepare whenever possible. If you know where you plan to be at the end of a day on the road, plan ahead and either book a campsite or make a list of a few options. This beats scrambling to find a parking spot at last minute in the dark when many spaces are already taken.
Parking your motorhome: Don’t
● Freedom camp without knowing the local laws. Freedom camping is arguably the hottest topic in motorhome travel right now, and the laws relating to it vary greatly from one country to another. Talk to your rental supplier when you pick up your campervan and read our guides on freedom camping in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Iceland before you get started.
● Park on the side of the road. Simply pulling over is often not enough to create ample room for other vehicles to pass safely. Whether you’re pulling over to take photos, go for a hike, or sleep for the night, you’ll need to find a space where you can properly pull off the road and into a clearing.
● Park on a slope overnight. It might not seem so bad when you pull in and get ready for bed, but you’ll quickly notice the discomfort of sleeping on an angle when you try to get some rest.
● Overstay your welcome. Many rest stops and parking areas will have signposted time limits on campervan stays, which can vary from a single night to several weeks. Make sure you leave within that time frame.
● Park too close to another motorhome. If you can help it, give your neighbour plenty of space when parking to ensure they can’t hear you brush your teeth in the morning.
● Leave a mess. Whether it’s food scraps, litter, or even human waste, messes left behind by motorhome travellers put unnecessary strain on the environment and locals who can eventually use such incidents as a cause for shutting down campervan parking spaces for good.