Can You Park An RV Overnight At The Airport?
Finding a good place to park and spend the night can be tricky, especially if you’re in a crowded urban area! In some cases, you might look at the parking lot at most airports and wonder if this is a viable solution for camping overnight.
Airport parking rules vary from one place to another, and there aren’t a lot of universal rules that tie these institutions together. Once you get inside the airport you know what to expect, but the parking situation is often a coin flip. If you’re in an RV, there are also a variety of other factors you’ll need to think about.
In general, you can try camping overnight at an airport parking lot, but you’ll still need to pay, and it’s usually more hassle than it’s worth. If you have a specific destination in mind, make sure you look up all the parking rules and regulations for that area. Additionally, some places cannot accommodate RVs, so those are obviously off the table! Below we’ll break down some of the factors that determine whether or not airport RV camping is a viable option.
Restricting factors and drawbacks
One of the main problems you’ll deal with as an RVer is the size restrictions that a lot of airports have. The majority of large airports use parking garages to maximize space. If you have a particularly long, tall, or wide vehicle, you’ll have a hard time getting into these areas!
A lot of airports simply aren’t built for oversized vehicles, and they don’t see a reason to accommodate them. If you want to try camping overnight at one of these locations, you’ll need to look for a place that has RV parking or at least an open-air parking lot that doesn’t require you to travel through narrow parking garages.
Entrance fees (hourly, daily, weekly, etc)
Another potential drawback to airport camping is the parking fees. If you just drive in for pickups and drop-offs, you won’t need to pay anything. But if you want to stay for longer, you’ll need to pay a fee.
There are a variety of options that are offered, from hourly to monthly. Most airports don’t allow you to park there for longer than 30 consecutive days, but again, the time limits vary from place to place. If you just want to stay for a single night, you’ll probably need to pay the flat daily fee. Hourly rates could become problematic if you accidentally sleep in!
It costs money to stay at most RV parks and campgrounds, so this fee might not be a deterrent to some. But you can also park at other places for free, and the airport doesn’t provide a lot of amenities to make it worth the price.
Lack of amenities
Speaking of amenities, airport parking lots don’t provide a lot of comforts. We talk about camping overnight in one of these lots, but in reality, you’ll really just be sleeping in your vehicle. In most cases, you won’t be able to extend the awning, set up camp chairs, or use your outdoor kitchen.
The parking lot also won’t provide hookups or any kind of personal touches. Bathrooms may be located within the airport, but you’ll need to deal with huge crowds every time you want to use these facilities. Airports also aren’t very scenic, so you won’t be able to enjoy a real camping experience when you’re surrounded by cement, cars, and asphalt.
Highly trafficked area
Finally, you’ll have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the airport if you want to try camping overnight in the parking lot. People come and go at all hours of the day. In addition, most parking lots/garages are well-lit, so you won’t be able to enjoy a dark, peaceful environment.
That’s not to mention all the air travel! Planes are notoriously noisy, and you’ll be sleeping right next to them as they land and take off. The noise is considerable, and you’ll also need to deal with other travelers who will walk past your RV. All in all, airport camping isn’t a very comfortable experience.
Benefits of camping overnight at an airport
If you really want to try camping overnight at an airport, there usually aren’t specific rules against it. You’ll need to find a suitable place to park, and you might get flagged if you stay for several days in a row, but you generally won’t get in trouble for climbing into the RV and getting a few hours of sleep.
There are a few benefits to this practice, but you’ll need to weigh them against the drawbacks in order to decide if this practice is truly worthwhile.
Fairly safe and well monitored
First of all, airports are designed to be quite secure. Although the parking lots aren’t nearly as well-monitored as the inside of the building, there are still plenty of security officers who are tasked with keeping the area safe. You should be pretty safe sleeping in your vehicle, although you should still cover your windows and lock the doors just in case.
Convenient for travelers
Overnight camping at an airport is also a good solution for travelers who need to catch a particularly late or early flight. Sometimes you don’t want to book a hotel or pay for a campsite that you know you’ll have to vacate in just a few hours. For those who want to be close to the airport, parking lots are a convenient place to spend the night.
Usually plenty of parking spots
Another benefit of this practice is the fact that airports are built to accommodate large numbers of people. They have plenty of parking, and you should be able to find a spot (if your vehicle fits within the specified size restrictions). You also won’t need to make a reservation ahead of time.
Good for big-city travel
Finally, some people like to camp at airports if they’re exploring a big city. It can be hard to find a good place to park your RV in a metropolis, but airports are convenient options. So, if the location is more important than the amenities, maybe you should consider local airports as potential places to camp.
Alternatives to airport camping
So now we know the basics. Airport camping is technically allowed in some locations, but it might not be the most comfortable solution. Fortunately, there are plenty of other low-cost options to explore if you want to find a place to spend the night.
Some potential destinations for cheap overnight camping include:
- Walmart parking lots
- Rest stops
- BLM Land
- Some public parks
- Some churches
- 24-hour gyms
- Businesses like Cracker Barrel and Cabela’s
You can also roll the dice and try to park on the street This is a bit risky though because each area tends to have its own rules about parking.
If possible, always go into the business or building and ask if you’re allowed to stay there overnight. You might be surprised by how many people will say yes!
Get RV-safe directions
For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.