Road Tripping: Where to sleep when plans fall through

When you’re on the road, and you have a master planned road trip, there’s nothing worse than unexpected twists. These can come in many shapes and forms, but you need to make sure you’re prepared.

On our most recent road trip, we originally had 3 cars total. We planned for months, but at the last minute, one of our friends had car trouble and couldn’t join us anymore. This really threw a wrench in our plans, mainly due to us splitting costs 2 ways, instead of 3. Consequently, we had to quickly cut our trip down to accommodate our new, smaller budget.

With less money, we were scrambling. We cancelled reservations at campgrounds for the end of our trip. Things just didn’t go quite according to plan, and we were stuck with no reservation to camp.

Here are some solutions you can use to find rest on the road.

Last minute camping arrangements.

These resources can be used to plan a great trip, and can also be referred to in a matter of minutes, if needed.

BLM Land

The Bureau of Land Management does exactly what their name implies: Manages Land. Lucky for us, our tax dollars pay for this land, and we get to reap the benefits. They have tons of properties that you have access to, 24/7, for free. They even have designated campgrounds all over the country, available at a moment’s notice.

Campground Locators

There are tons of amazing websites out there to find campgrounds. We use several each time we plan a trip, even just a weekend. Here are some of our favorites.

Campendium

This is probably my favorite trip planning resource, available for free. You can narrow down your needs and preferences for a campsite, including accommodations for RV’s, Tents, and Glamping. You can also see reviews from previous campers, activity recommendations, and even cell phone coverage reports.

Free Campsites

Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, they’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smartphone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use their trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.

The Dyrt

Another user-friendly trip planner, complete with camper reviews, site types, and features.

KOA

Kampgrounds of America is a national classic for camping trips. They offer some of the nicest accommodations for your trip, and they have locations all over the US, allowing you to find a comfortable campground, often last minute.

Recreation.gov

Find campgrounds in National Parks, Forests, Grasslands, and more. They’re here to help you dream up your next trip, figure out the details, and reserve experiences at over 4,200 facilities and 113,000 individual sites across the country. Discover new experiences, historic landmarks, and outdoor escapes right down the road or across the country. From camping, hiking, and horseback riding to wildlife viewing, monument tours, and ranger-led activities – you can find it on Recreation.gov!

Free Parking

Sometimes things just don’t go right. We had to utilize this method twice on the aforementioned trip. When you can’t find a campground, don’t have time, or just need to crash for a bit before getting back on the road. There are a few places that allow you to park on their property overnight. Remember to be respectful of these places, and follow their rules.

Walmart

Most Walmart stores allow RVers, Van Lifers, and Car Campers to sleep on their parking lot overnight. This is my preferred last minute accommodation. The upsides: clean bathroom while the store is open, lights in the parking lot give a sense of safety, many stores have onsite security patrolling the lot, and if you forgot something, well.. you’re at Walmart already.

Cabela’s

Although there is no published corporate policy on the topic, most Cabela’s stores allow overnight RV parking for FREE. The Cabela’s locations that do permit overnight RV parking will have trailer parking (long spots that are specifically designed to fit a trailer or RV). Just to make sure that your intended Cabela’s location permits overnight RV parking, we always recommend that you call ahead of time to confirm with the store. Even if the Cabela’s store has dedicated RV parking on site, the right thing to do once you arrive is to go inside and ask the manager if you can park overnight. They often also offer waste dumping, free water, and it’s also an outdoors store, which helps if you need anything last minute for your trip.

Rest Stops

Rest stops are a great place to spend overnight sleeping in your car if you are still on the way to your destination, but start to get sleepy and tired. You will most likely pass many rest stops driving on highways and interstate roads in the USA. Most rest stops have 24 hour bathroom facilities and some even have picnic tables.

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