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There are publications that rate campgrounds such as Trailer Life and Woodalls that some RV'ers use to guide them along their trips. However some campers find that what is a top rated park in the book isn't to them. For example a small ma & pa operation might get a low rating in the book but be a 10 to an RV'er because of the friendliness, cleanliness & woodsy country atmosphere. After January 2005 check out MyRVparks.com, a free online campground guide that also lists fun activities & special events at RV parks all across America. PassportAmerica.com also lists all of their parks online too with detail information.
Flying J truck stops in the USA will allow RVers to park overnight. Make sure to check in for any restrictions, and of course make sure to buy something and say thanks. However for safety purposes & more peace I would recommend finding a campground first and only stay there as a last resort if you could not find any rv parks. Most RV Parks are friendly and care so even when they are full most will find a spot for you to atleast boondock for the night.
One way to save money while RVing is to take advantage of passes. Several agencies sell yearly passes good for multiple attractions. The National Park service offers one for those over 65, one for those with disabilities and one for everyone else. They are good for a years worth of admissions. Also check you local attractions to see if their passes are good elsewhere. Here in Oregon, the OMSI Science Center pass is good at museums and attractions across the country.
If the park you pull into is full and there is not another RV Park close by then you can always ask the park if you could still come in off the road and dry camp in their park.Most campgrounds will find a spot for you to stay the night even if it is 'dry camping' to help get you off the road for the night in a safe environment. If all else fails - I suggest going or calling the local police station to find out 'where' to go. I do not recommend parking lots due to safety-plus some states do not allow it.
If you couldn't get a reservation at the last minute, you may be need to Boondock somewhere. One of the big challenges to being self-contained is conserving resources, and one of those resources is waste tank capacity. Depending on the size of your rig, you may find your gray water tank filling after just a couple of days use, while the black water tank will last for several more. One solution is to use that extra black water tank capacity. Instead of dumping dishwater down the gray drain, try dumping it down the toilet.
Although Wal-Marts allows you to camp free for overnight in their parking lot, Baring any local ordinances, of course. All they ask is that you not 'set up camp', meaning leave the awning rolled up and the lawn chairs away. They also would like you to inform the manager and keep things neat.
For safety purposes I would not recommend this at all except as a last resort without having any other safer place to stay for the night. Plus in some states it is not allowed.
When you are planning for a trip in your RV make sure to call ahead for campground reservations. Most parks in popular areas and during their "in" season (for example south Florida in the winter) fill up way in advance, especially on Holidays also. However, some RV'ers don't make reservations and don't have any trouble finding a place to stay. Some say pulling up to a park late that was full that they sometimes get in due to cancellations.
Go Camping America offers a wonderful site to visit to find RV Parks/Campgrounds to stay at. Their website is www.GocampingAmerica.com They also have trip routing - detail maps and directions. Looking for a great campground & planning a trip- I highly suggest this site. Of course you can also visit others too which are www.passportamerica.com and www.CampUSA.com & myRVparks.com- Enjoy
If you are Boondocking, one of the bigger challenges is finding a good spot to stay. Here are some ideas to use when you are looking:
1. Stop at the local Police station and ask if there is any place around town.
2. Check the local Chamber of Commerce.
3. If you belong to a group such as the Elks Lodge or VFW, check their meeting halls.
4. Look for other RVs parked for an overnight stay.