Travel Tip: No Overnight Parking
I decided to write this article after a recent trip to West Virginia then on to the Outer Banks of NC. For some of the pictures of my travels visit http://haunted505.blogspot.com or http://nature500.blogspot.com.
I often see these no overnight parking signs in rest areas along major interstates and on occasion in truck stops and of course in parking lots. I've never paid them much attention especially in rest areas. In fact, on more than one occasion I've slept in one of these rest areas that has a no overnight parking sign and even ones patrolled by law enforcement which are most these days unless they have all night security which is most definitely Florida, Tennessee and most of Alabama, Texas and places like that.
What piqued my interest is after leaving West Virginia and heading to the outer banks I saw several rest areas along Highway 168 South which runs from just outside Virginia Beach to Nags Head, NC where Highway 158 picks up. In all the rest areas dotting Hwy 168 there are signs that state no overnight parking and I understandably can see why. They are, for the most part, deserted. I stopped in a couple of them earlier in the day and one later that night around 10 PM when many drivers(especially truckdrivers) have stopped to rest and it was completely empty. I stopped again in one around 5 AM and again completely empty. So it apparent no one stops in these places if they can get out of it. Mainly due to safety. Often times people(truckdrivers, RVer's, etc.) will opt for the walmart parking lot over an an empty rest area.
After coming home and doing a little research I found there are many Walmarts that do not allow overnight parking. Many of these walmarts I've been in and there are no posted signs prohibiting overnight parking. The interesting thing is that the Walmart in Kitty Hawk, NC(Nags Head area) does not allow overnight parking and I've stopped there twice and took a several hour nap and I was never bothered. It is advised to ask the manager if it okay to be o nthe safe side. This isn't something I've never done and probably never will because by the time I stop I'm too tired to drag into the store.
There are many areas that do not have rest areas especially highway routes. One such highway is Hwy 2 West going from St. Ignace, Michigan to Minnesota. At the Minnesota line you can get on I-35. There are two rest areas going down Hwy 2 West. One is right before you get into Naubinway, Michigan and it is quite busy with truckers and RVer's and another on the other side of Manistique and isn't very busy.
There are several places especially in Arizona that are not RV friendly and it would definitely behoove you to do a little research before heading out if you are in an RV. One excellent website/blog for the RVer is the gypsy journal at http://gypsyjournal.net. It offers alot of good information on where to stay for the RVer and information on RV's.
If you are in a passenger vehicle finding a place to stop and take a nap for a few hours(other than conventional lodging) is not nearly as daunting however precautions must still be taken. For the most part you can stop at a rest area even if there are signs stating no overnight parking. You can stop at truck stops but they are usually well lit for safety so finding someplace without too much light so you can nap can be a hassle. Of course, there are always Walmart's and they are usually safe enough to stop and you won't usually have a problem with being bothered by anyone. Most welcome RV's/campers and don't usually mind if someone in a car stops to nap.
However, there are a few places that do. Keep in mind that many Walmart's in Florida are not good places to nap. For one, there's a good chance that the minute you fall asleep you are going to be woken up by a well intending police officer. Even if he says nothing about moving there's a real good chance if you stay you will be woken up in a couple more hours by another police officer.
Big cities are probably not good places to stop in Walmart's for a nap.
My advice is to try and plan as best you can on where you're going to stop by having prior reservations at a hotel/motel. If you don't have that luxury or just want to get where you're going quickly but find you have to stop for a rest, a rest area is the best bet although if it is pretty much deserted I advise not. This is why you won't see any RV's or big trucks in them. It's not that they are not safe but it's safer in numbers so if there are good many RV's/truck's/other tired drivers stopped this is your best bet.
Many rest areas have security or are routinely patrolled by law enforcement.
Truck stops, aside from being overly lit(which is for safety) and often times noisy, are also good places to stop as they are open all night and some of them even have security. Again being busy is key. Most truck stops are busy all the time so this won't be an issue. The best truck stops in my opinion are Pilot/Flying J/Love's/Hess-Wilco travel plazas and there are probably many others but I like these the best. They also usually have clean restrooms. But not always especially if you hit it at a busy time.
Walmart's are a good option if you are in an area that is away from the interstate. I've found the Walmart's in areas where there is no interstate to be good places to stop for a nap as there are usually big trucks and RV's there.
But as always it is best to have reservations already made at a hotel/motel etc. for optimal rest. But if you find yourself in a situation where a quick nap is needed on your travels then one of these options I've outlined might just do the trick.
Whatever you do, if you find you must stop for rest do not stop just anywhere and don't give into the temptation to stop in a parking lot that is not a 24 hour place like Walmart(walmart is best because it is usually busy even in the wee hours of the morning and they have security) or worse on the side of the road or anywhere you think might be a good place for an hour of rest. Be smart and stop where it is open, well lit and there is a good number of people around.