By Jane Kenny
RVers looking for a place to “blacktop boondock” (dry camping, parking lot style - overnight) soon discover there aren’t too many places that allow free overnight RV parking. Most states discourage overnight parking at interstate rest areas, Shopping centers ask RVs to leave at the end of the business day and even some 24-hour supercenters have posted “No Overnight Parking” signs. You can usually stay overnight at a truck stop, but their parking areas tend to be crowded and noisy.
Casino parking lots, on the other hand, are hospitable. Casinos throughout the country welcome adult RVers because they know they might get additional business. And the travelers get a quiet, safe spot to rest for the night without being hassled. Since most casinos are open 24/7, security personnel are on duty all night.
Here are a few safety tips for free overnight RV parking (blacktop boondocking) at casinos:
1. After pulling in, check with security to verify whether you can stay overnight in the parking lot and ask where they want you to park.
2. If the casino has a fee-pay campground as part of the facility, it is essential to check with security to ask about your options for staying overnight. Some casinos will allow you to stay in the parking lot anyway. But there are a number of casinos that require you to pull into their campground if you want to stay for the night
3. Blacktop boondockers: limit your free overnight RV parking to a single 24-hour period.
4. If there is no designated area for large vehicles, park on the perimeter of the lot. Don’t take up spaces intended for cars. (Note that casinos in crowded urban areas do not have space to accommodate RVs. Be sure to get permission before you park.)
5. Don’t abuse the property owner’s hospitality. A parking lot is not a campground. If there’s enough space, it’s OK to open a slideout, but restrict your activity to the inside of your vehicle.
6. Do not leave your RV unattended overnight or for any extended period of time. This may seem like simple, common-sense advice, but you’d be surprised at how many folks park their expensive units in a parking lot and then go off to visit friends for a few days. If you are foolish enough to do this, don’t be surprised upon your return to find your unattended vehicle has been towed away.
“Boondocking” at a casino is convenient. Casinos are located all over the country; many within a mile or two of an interstate exit.**
“Blacktop boondocking” at a casino is comfortable. You have your home with you, so you can either walk or take the shuttle bus to and from the casino. You can play shorter, more relaxing gaming sessions with breaks in between. For couples, when one wants to play cards or slots and the other doesn’t, there’s no problem. And then there’s the obvious benefit: “blacktop boondocking” at RV-Friendly casinos is free!
Jane Kenny’s “Casino Camping, A Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos, 8th edition.” is from Roundabout Publications at TravelBooksUSA.com (800-455-2207).
**Note that it is the only casino guide to specifically identify casinos closest to interstates. Casino Camping is also available at CampingWorld.com and Camping World stores throughout the U.S. and Amazon.com.
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