Here’s the scenario… Suppose you need milk for dinner this evening and you spot a WalMart at the upcoming exit—it’s close to the exit and appears to be easy in and easy out so you decide to pull in. This will be a quickie stop.
So, you pull off the highway and there is a slight rise into their parking lot—enough that you really cannot see the lot so you pull in blind. As soon as you top that rise, you see a vast, busy parking lot—nearly full of cars. What to do? Where can we park? There are a few open areas—some with several parking spaces. You might be able to fit in some of them so you slowly start driving through this mass of cars to try it. Do you really want to drive across this mess just to see if you can park your big RV?
The good new is… you don’t have to. Here’s a 10-minute exercise that will be really helpful in situations like above. You can do this with any RV and it works. Even if you have a pick-up truck, a slide-in unit, and towing your boat, this works.
First, I recommend you find an empty church parking lot about 10:00 AM on a Tuesday morning and then…
- Pull into any large parking lot where you can park your coach and toad across multiple marked car spaces. Have the co-pilot get out and guide you so the front of your vehicle (motorhome or truck or car—whatever you are driving) is pulled forward even with the next parking lot line. It’s like you totally consumed the one space but did not go over the line. When parking across several spaces in a motorhome, make certain your toad’s rear end is not sticking out in the traffic lane. Your RV rig should be straight.
- Next, get out and count the total number of parking spaces you are covering. Our motorhome and toad needs (covers) seven parking spaces. A normal parking space is nine-feet wide. So we need 63 feet to “fit.” That’s great if we had some helicopter to lower us into those seven spaces but—as you know—we have to drive in and out.
- We need 2–3 spaces extra to drive in. You will have to determine your minimum number of spaces for driving in as it may be different for every RV combination. We also need just one space to get out. This, too, you will have to determine for your RV. The rig shown here needs 10 total spaces to get in and out easily (7 + 1 + 2).
Back to the Scenario…
As soon as you top that rise, you see a vast, busy parking lot—nearly full of cars. The copilot looks across the lot, spots a string of open spaces, and counts them! You will know that you can fit before you drive over there. No need to drive around in this maze just guessing. Knowing this is extremely handy if you find yourself entering a busy, crowded parking lot.
Some Additional Help
- Look for fast-food billboards that mention bus/truck/RV parking. These billboards may also have a small “bus” or “truck” illustration on them. Those locations should have ample space for your RV although you may be faced with some pretty rough gravel areas that turn to soupy mud in the rain.
- Use the truck-parking areas in rest stops. Don’t go into the car-parking area unless there is no designation.
- Staying the night in rest areas may not be allowed. Check for signs. Some rest areas will have security. Some states have instituted a program where they are providing nighttime security in selected rest areas. Florida was one of the first states to do this.
- If you see a sign in an official state rest area that read., “No overnight Camping,” they mean no Tents.
- If you do stay in a rest area, try to stay where there are plenty of trucks just for the security of numbers. You may have to put up with the truck engines running all night, or their on-board generators.
Anytime you park in commercial parking lots with painted parking spaces, pull the front end of your vehicle about one foot over the painted line as shown here. This will cause drivers to skip that space and not park next to your front end. Sure, those other drivers may mutter that you can’t stay in the lines but they just don’t know these RV driving tricks.
This will also allow you to drive out as standard parking spaces are 9-feet wide. Hopefully, you have already tested and proven that you need less than that to drive out.
Remember, don’t scratch your RV!