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Can You Sleep At Rest Stops In Your RV?

Taking advantage of rest stops keeps you rested, alert, and safe on the road. Rest stops are great for stretching your legs, having lunch, or having a quick nap but can you sleep at rest stops in your RV? We share everything you need to know about stopping at rest stops and truck stops in your RV.

Parking location sign at entry to rest stop
Rest stops are great for taking a break from your drive, but can you sleep in them in your RV?

Rest stops are located all over our highways and are encouraged to be used by travelers. Basic rest stops are just a one-way lane that pulls off the highway where vehicles park behind one another. More and more rest areas are becoming large parking lots with washroom facilities, enclosed pet areas, and shaded tables for eating.

Think of rest stops as truck stops for us non-truckers. Like truckers, anyone traveling extended miles needs rest. This may be an overnight sleep, a 30-minute nap, or just a walk in the fresh air to relax. Being rested and alert is even more important when towing an RV.

What’s The Difference Between a Rest Stop and a Truck Stop?

Truck stops are actually what many people think of when they think of a rest stop. Although truck stops serve the same purpose as rest areas, there are differences.

The main difference is truck stops are designed (and primarily intended) for truckers. Truck drivers require large open locations to maneuver and park their rigs. Most truck stops are also equipped with services and amenities for professional drivers.

Truck stops commonly have showers, a restaurant, and sometimes a common area with televisions and/or wifi for the drivers. The fuel station and store are also geared toward truckers with log books, truck accessories, and printing and messaging services.

On the other hand, rest stops are intended for the traveling general public. Other than washroom facilities at some, they are a safe place to park and rest. Truckers do use some of the larger rest stops on their routes so it’s a shared area unless otherwise marked.

What’s the Proper Etiquette for Using Rest Stops?

Semi trucks parked in a truck stop in the evening
Follow basic etiquette and use common sense when staying at rest areas and truck stops.

Rest stops are a shared space and so being respectful of other people and the posted signage is key. Upon entering, there may be signs stating things like maximum length, maximum stay, or designated parking areas. Always respect and follow these rules and be courteous of others.

If there are different size spots for small and large vehicles, use the appropriate spot and don’t take up multiple spots. Rest areas are not campsites so limit the extra space you take up.

If using a single-lane rest stop with one lane of parking, pull ahead to the farthest spot allowing for easier parking for the next vehicle to pull in behind you. Park as far off the main access as possible so other large vehicles have room to pass and maneuver.

Be Careful When Using Rest Stops With Smaller Spots

Many newer rest stops are made larger and have parking for longer rigs. Not all are like this, however, so be careful when using a rest stop with smaller spots. If you have a larger rig, you want to be courteous of other’s spaces but also don’t want to get yourself blocked in.

Rest stops aren’t somewhere where people leave their vehicles unattended for long periods. However, you can still find yourself blocked in by someone out for a walk or sleeping. To avoid an unwelcome knock at your RV door at midnight try to position your rig so you are not trapped in your spot.

People with larger rigs can often keep to the outside of the parking area to avoid tight maneuvering. When parked watch for potential issues as people pull in, if you can have someone move ahead or switch spots with someone it’s easier to do it at the moment rather than after you are blocked in.

Be Considerate, Don’t Take Truckers Spots

In short, truckers have priority at truck stops. If there are any signs indicating that it’s for trucker use only then respect these rules. If the truck stop is busy with trucks coming and going, it’s best to leave the spaces for truckers.

If there’s RV parking at the truck stop, use spaces away from the trucks and out of the way of trucks coming and going. The amenities available for professional drivers like showers and entertainment areas should be left for them to use.

Your safety along with the safety of others on the road is priority number one so if stopping at a truck stop is your only option, take it. Professional drivers know better than anyone the importance of being rested and safe on the road. If you think there will be an issue stopping, be polite and courteous and only stay as long as needed to safely resume your travel.

Rest areas are often shown on navigation so try to plan your travel so you can use them. Other areas such as large stores (like Walmart or Cabelas) that allow parking can also be used as an alternative to truck stops.

What States Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in Your RV?

Different locations have different rules regarding rest-stop stays. These rules prevent people from using rest stops as free camping and keep the spots open for tired travelers looking to pull over and recharge.

Most rest stops will have signs stating that there is no overnight sleeping or extended stays where it’s not allowed. If this is the case at a rest stop you’re at, take the time needed to rest before heading back out on the road but don’t overstay. If there are no vehicles around and it’s an area with less traffic, you can extend your stay without inconveniencing other travelers.

No overnight parking and no camping are signs often posted at rest stops. Parking is considered leaving a vehicle unoccupied. This being said, when you’re stopped at a rest stop, sleeping your vehicle is not unoccupied. Sleeping in a vehicle is also not camping. Again when using a rest area, don’t set up camp – use the spot to rest and relax for the time you need.

So, since we aren’t parking or camping can we sleep overnight? In most states, yes, you can sleep in your vehicle at a rest stop. Time limits of 8 and 12 hours are common. Your state, along with the rest area will likely have signage.

There are some states that are more strict with sleeping in these areas including:

  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to sleep at a rest stop, state websites and local authorities can direct you to rules and regulations.

So, Can You Sleep at Rest Stops in Your RV?

For the most part, yes, you can sleep at rest stops in your RV. Remember though – these aren’t free camping areas so don’t set up or spread out.

When using any rest stop or truck stop, be respectful of the rules and regulations and be courteous to others. These are free, shared spaces provided for our safety. Being tired while driving is an unnecessary risk to take so plan your routes and rest when needed.

Have you ever slept at a rest area or truck stop? What was your experience like?

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