Best Places to Park Overnight for Van Life

Part of the challenge of sleeping well during van life is finding a good place to stay overnight.

City streets, while convenient, can be noisy and sometimes illegal to park overnight, while remote locations, like National Parks, although beautiful, have fewer amenities and often require in-depth preparation before traveling.

At Flatline Van Co, we understand the challenges of getting a great night's sleep while on the road, so we've put together a comprehensive list of the best places to stay overnight during your travels to help you get the best night's sleep possible.

Sprinter Vans Camping on BLM Land

Sleeping in Urban Areas

Store Parking Lots

One of the most convenient and popular options for van life parking is staying in Walmart parking lots or other big box store parking lots. Store parking lots are free, easily accessible, and offer a range of amenities and supplies.

Walmart parking lots, Target, & Costco are popular among van lifers because they are ubiquitous nationwide and allow overnight parking (usually for a single night). They are well-lit and often have security personnel, which provides a sense of safety and security. Additionally, most stores offer access to restrooms, Wi-Fi, and supplies, making them super convenient.

While store parking offers great benefits, there are downsides. They can be noisy, have limited privacy, and may be uncomfortable for those who prefer solitude.

Overall, store parking lots can be a very convenient overnight parking spot for van lifers on long road trips looking for a quick place to pull-over and sleep.

If you're interested in staying at store parking lots, here are a few chains to consider:


Safety - 3/5 (somewhat safe)

Cost - 5/5 (free)

Noise - 2/5 (frequent noise)

Rest and Truck Stops

Like store parking lots, rest and truck stops are another excellent option for overnight parking.

One of the biggest benefits of parking at rest and truck stops are the amenities. Many rest/truck stops have designated parking spaces for vehicles like campervans, and they have restrooms, showers, and convenience stores on-site. They are also usually well-lit and have most have security. Another advantage of parking at rest or truck stops is the possibility of interacting with other travelers.

There are downsides though; rest and truck stops can be noisy due to traffic. 

Additionally, availability can be limited during peak travel seasons, and some locations may have time restrictions and can charge you to park overnight.

If you're interested in parking at a rest or truck stop, here are a few chains to consider:


Safety - 3/5 (somewhat safe)

Cost - 4/5 ($10-$20/night)

Noise - 1/5 (very noisy)

Street parking

Street parking is one of the most popular options for van lifers because of its convenience. 

Street parking can be done in most urban areas, which is very convenient when visiting attractions close to cities.

There are downsides however. For one, local regulations may restrict or prohibit overnight parking. Additionally, amenities can be limited compared to dedicated parking locations, and it can be challenging to find suitable spots in densely populated areas (and could potentially be dangerous). 

*Always be sure to check with local laws and regulations before staying somewhere overnight!


Safety - 3/5 (somewhat safe)

Cost - 5/5 (free)

Noise - 3/5 (moderate noise)

Sleeping in Nature

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages millions of acres of public land in the United States, most of which are entirely free to access overnight. These wildlife-rich areas, which provide opportunities for hiking, viewing wildlife, and other outdoor activities, are home to some of the most beautiful regions in the entire country. 

"BLM land provides van lifers with access to some of the best parts of the US" - Taran Causey, Darien Overland

Staying in these remote areas does have downsides, though. There are fewer amenities, so you'll need to prepare supplies to ensure you have enough food, water, power, and toiletries. 

Additionally, camping on BLM land often limits cell phone reception which can be a problem if you need to stay connected for work or other reasons.

If you're interested in checking out all BLM land has to offer, visit the BLM website to learn more:


Safety - 4/5 (fairly safe)

Cost - 5/5 (free)

Noise - 5/5 (very quiet)

BLM Land Camping in Sprinter Van


Campgrounds are a great option for van lifers looking for well-maintained sites that offer restrooms, showers, and picnic areas, and access to outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and swimming.

Campgrounds also offer the opportunity to meet travelers, and they often provide hookups for water and electricity.

On the other hand, campgrounds can be expensive, lack privacy, and might require reservations, especially during peak seasons.


Safety - 4/5 (fairly safe)

Cost - 1-4/5 ($20-$50/night)

Noise - 3/5 (moderate noise)

Harvest Hosts

If you're looking for a unique and diverse place to park overnight, Harvest Hosts might be for you. 

Harvest Hosts is a membership program that provides RVer's and van lifers with overnight access to thousands of wineries, farms, golf courses, breweries, and other attractions across North America.

One of the main advantages of staying at a Harvest Host location is that they provide free or low-cost accommodations in exchange for supporting the host's business which can be a great way to save money on lodging while supporting local businesses.

If you plan to stay at a Harvest Hosts, make sure to do research ahead of time. Some regions have limited availability, and you will likely need to make reservations in advance.

If you're interested in learning more about overnight parking with Harvest Host, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 4/5 (fairly safe)

Cost - 4/5 ($99/year + host donations of ~$20/night)

Noise - 5/5 (very quiet)

Boondockers Welcome

Boondockers Welcome is a platform that connects van lifers with hosts willing to let them park overnight on their property. By staying in the driveway or property of a welcoming host, you get the opportunity to connect with locals, plus, it's generally affordable or free overnight parking that provides a safe and secure place to stay if you're living the van life.

One of the downsides of Boondockers Welcome is that availability depends on the number of hosts in an area. So it's harder to rely on night-to-night when traveling across the country. Additionally, amenities are limited compared to campgrounds or a Walmart parking lot.

Despite these downsides, Boondockers Welcome is an excellent option for travelers who want to stay in a safe and secure environment while getting the chance to meet locals.

If you're interested in learning more about Boondockers Welcome, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 4/5 (fairly safe)

Cost - 4/5 ($79/year + host donations of ~$20/night)

Noise - 5/5 (very quiet)


KOA, or Kampgrounds of America, is a well-established campground chain with locations all across the United States. 

KOA campgrounds are known for their amenities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, and laundry facilities. KOAs are usually close to popular tourist destinations, making them ideal places to stay overnight when traveling to national parks, public lands or cities.

The downsides of KOA are that they may be more expensive than other campgrounds, and availability can be limited during peak seasons. Additionally, due to their popularity, KOA campgrounds may be more crowded than other options.

If you're interested in learning more about KOA, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 5/5 (very safe)

Cost - 2/5 ($50/night)

Noise - 4/5 (some noise)


Jellystone campgrounds are family-friendly campgrounds themed around Yogi Bear and other cartoon characters that offer amenities for kids, such as swimming pools, playgrounds, and organized events.

Jellystone Park campgrounds are located in various scenic areas around the country and are often situated close to National Forest Land or other outdoor attractions, making them convenient for families traveling around the country.

It's important to note that Jellystone campgrounds are primarily catered towards families, which may not suit all travelers. Additionally, Jellystone locations can be pretty expensive compared to other campgrounds, and their availability can be limited.

If you're interested in learning more about Jellystone Campgrounds, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 5/5 (very safe)

Cost - 2/5 ($50/night)

Noise - 4/5 (some noise)

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails is a membership-based campground network with locations across the United States. One of the main benefits of traveling with a Thousand Trails membership is that it provides access to multiple campgrounds within the network for a fixed fee, meaning you can enjoy dozens of locations without worrying about paying individual fees.

Additionally, Thousand Trails campgrounds are often located in great locations, which provide access to popular tourist destinations. You'll also find many locations with amenities like pools, sports facilities, and social events.

The downsides of Thousand Trails campgrounds are that you need a membership to stay, which can be unnecessarily costly for short trips. 

If you're interested in learning more about Thousand Trails, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 5/5 (very safe)

Cost - 3/5 ($630/Year)

Noise - 4/5 (some noise)

Sun Outdoors

Sun Outdoors is a chain of well-maintained campgrounds situated around the United States, with a focus on outdoor activities. These campgrounds are often located near National Parks, or other natural attractions, providing great views and the chance to explore the outdoors.

Staying at a Sun Outdoors campground offers a range of amenities and activities, including boat rentals, fishing, and hiking.

The downsides of Sun Outdoors locations are similar to other networks; availability varies, and the costs are usually higher than standard campgrounds.

If you're interested in learning more about Sun Outdoors, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 5/5 (very safe)

Cost - 1/5 ($80/night)

Noise - 4/5 (some noise)

Good Sam

Good Sam is a membership-based network that offers discounts at affiliated campgrounds. With a Good Sam membership, you can access member-only benefits, including roadside assistance and trip-planning tools.

One benefit of staying at a Good Sam campground is that they are often situated near major highways, making them very convenient when traveling across the country.

Good Sam locations require a membership, and since most are located next to highways, they can be noisy.

If you're interested in learning more about Good Sam, visit their website to learn more:


Safety - 5/5 (very safe)

Cost - 2/5 ($50/night)

Noise - 4/5 (some noise)

Comfort Considerations

When it comes to living the van life, having a functional bed and comfortable mattress is crucial for getting a good night's rest on the road. As a van life enthusiast, you spend significant time traveling and exploring new places. A comfortable bed ensures restful sleep and contributes to your overall well-being and enjoyment of the van life experience.

Our SprinterTransit, and Promaster bed systems are modular and adaptable to different heights and orientations (north to south or east to west facing). We know that you may need to remove your bed panels to haul some gear, or you may want to adjust your bed height to carry mountain bikes or other items underneath, so we ensure each of our bed systems can easily accomplish this. 

Each bed system is made from aluminum and steel with a durable powder-coated finish, so it's built to withstand overland travel. But the bed system is just the first part of the equation - a comfortable and supportive mattress is critical for proper rest and recovery when traveling in your van. We've partnered with RoamRest to create premium mattress options for our Sprinter, Transit, and Promaster bed systems. 

View our line of van bed systems and mattresses here!

Safety Considerations

Overall, dozens of excellent overnight parking locations exist for van lifers traveling nationwide. However, it's important to research and follow basic safety considerations when staying overnight, regardless of where you elect to sleep. 

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Prioritize Staying in Nature: Although camping close to cities can be very convenient, stay in nature whenever possible. Dispersed camping in the wilderness is generally more enjoyable and will limit the concerns of dealing with unwanted attention from curious people.

  • Ask for Permission: One of the easiest ways to get a carefree night of sleep is to ask locals, store owners, or others for permission to park overnight. You'll often be surprised at how warm and welcoming people are to van life travelers! 

  • Use Your Door Locks: Although van life is generally very safe, taking precautions is important. One of the simplest ways to ensure your safety while camping overnight is to lock your doors. Before calling it a night, build a habit of double-checking your door locks.

  • Always Be Careful: Parking on city streets or in neighborhoods overnight (aka stealth camping) can be very tempting because they offer proximity to restaurants and other attractions. If you decide to stay in an urban environment, check local laws first to make sure they allow overnight parking and stay within your welcome. Keep your lights low (or off), keep the noise down, and don't park overnight in one spot for more than a night or two.

  • Use An Alarm: A great way to ensure the safety of your van (and yourself) is to install an alarm system with light indicators. Installing an alarm with a flashing dash light that signals the activation of the alarm can help deter potential theft.

Red Sprinter Van Camping in the Alvord Desert


Finding a great place to stay overnight is one of the biggest challenges of van life. If you prefer to be in nature, the millions of square miles of public forest lands across the country and thousands of campgrounds are excellent options. If you like staying near the action of buzzing cities, consider stealth camping or do your research to find a safe place to park for the night. In the end, regardless of where you prefer to stay, there are plenty of great overnight parking options. 

In the meantime, checkout our line-up of high quality bed systems and mattresses to get your Sprinter, Transit, or Promaster ready for the road!

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