One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when adjusting to road life is where the hell to park. I quickly learned that campsites are EXPENSIVE, and they are often boring and stale. Below are a list of resources I use regularly to find a place to park the bus that allows me to explore the new place I'm in, while saving money at the same time
1. BLM / USFS Lands.
The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forestry Service is a network of public land that you can stay on for free or with a permit (usually free or just a few bucks depending on the season). Typically it is a 14 day limit. Be warned, often times there is not great cell service and sometimes roads can be a little rough. but some of the most beautiful campgrounds are found here. To find BLM / USFS lands, you can simply use google and there are a few apps specifically to find this kind of camping.
This is a gold mine. We find some really cool off-the-beaten-path options that are completely free. This is a website where for years other van lifers, rv'ers and bus lifers have dropped pins to where they've stayed overnight and written reviews (sometimes with photos!).
3. Harvest Hosts ($79 annual membership)
If you're looking for novelty places to stay, this is your best option. Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, museums, breweries, farm stays, and more that allow you to camp overnight at their place of business (usually 1 night, sometimes 2 or 3). There's an expectation to patron the business, so be prepared to spend a little money. It's such a fantastic way to meet a local and get a taste for the local culture.
Click my link below for 15% off your membership!
4. BoondockersWelcome.com ($30 annual membership)
This membership is a network of private individuals (usually RV'ers or van lifers) that offer up their property or driveway for free. This is a great option especially for more urban settings, where it can be difficult to find parking / access to the city. It's also a great way to meet fellow road dogs.
5. Large Department Stores
Many times Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, Home Depots, and other large stores will let you park overnight in their parking lot. They're everywhere and when you're just trying to get from one place to another, these are generally a safe and easy option to spend the night. However it's always best to go in and ask a manager. Sometimes the managers will warn you that there is a lot of car theft in their lot and point you in the direction of a safer spot.