Van Life

Overnight Parking vs Camping – A Simple Explanation

Do you know the difference between overnight parking and camping?

Many people aren’t aware that there is a difference or they’re confused about the differences.

In this post, I’ll explain the differences in simple terms. I’ll also share how I find places to park overnight and/or camp.

Overnight Parking vs Camping

I use a few apps and websites when I’m looking for a place to overnight park or camp…

Most of these resources are free but they may have paid options or become paid services in the future (this seems to be a trend).

These are the 4 resources I use most but there are a multitude of resources available (and more being created all the time).

The resources you use depend how you travel, where you travel and what your needs are.

Overnight Parking – Explained

Parking should be pretty self explanatory.

You pull in, you put it in park, you sleep, you leave.

People may or may not realize you’re in your rig but, for all practical purposes, it should appear as though you’ve simply parked your vehicle.

A Word About Overnight Parking

Sadly, some people don’t care and/or feel entitled to park where they want and do as they please with no regard or respect for other’s.

Our ability to park overnight is a privilege – not an entitlement.

Unfortunately, the rest of us pay the price for those who abuse this privilege as more places are banning overnight RV-Van-Vehicle parking.

Camping – Explained

Camping is very different from overnight parking.

Depending on your rig, when you camp you may:

  • Level your rig
  • Get out the grill 
  • Put out the slides 
  • Pull out the awnings 
  • Set up the lawn chairs 
  • Have a small get-together 
  • Make the place your temporary home 

Your camping activities extend outside of your rig.

The Difference Is Simple

When it comes to overnight parking vs camping, what you do inside your vehicle is up to you.

The difference is whether or not you take your activities outside your vehicle.

  • In an Overnight RV Parking area: Keep your activities inside your vehicle. 
  • In a Camping area: You can extend your activities to the outside world.    


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