In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you sleep in McDonald’s parking lot? We will discuss what can happen if you sleep in a McDonald’s parking lot and help you plan your future trip.
Can you sleep in McDonald’s parking lot?
No, you cannot sleep in McDonald’s parking lot. This famous food chain does not offer this option, at least not in the United States or Canada. Things may be different in some parts of Europe or Asia, though.
What will happen if you sleep in McDonald’s parking lot?
Truthfully, nothing bad can happen if you sleep in McDonald’s parking lot. What can happen is that the security guy will most definitely chase you out. If a place prohibits overnight parking, remember that technically you are trespassing on private property, which, if pressed charges, is punishable by law.
Chances are that, if you are meeting one or more of the following criteria, you will be asked to leave almost immediately the McDonald’s parking lot, even if is during the day:
- You parked a large vehicle such as a travel trailer, caravan, truck or another type of RV;
- You are camping in the parking lot;
- You are making noise or disturbing other drivers;
- You are blocking the deliveries entry/exit;
- You are blocking circulation;
- You exceeded your time in the parking lot (most places that is about two hours).
How to find a place to sleep for free in the US
While the McDonald’s parking lot is out of the picture, let’s find together some popular and easy to access places to sleep for free in the US, whether you are travelling in an RV or by car.
We understand that you may need to take a break and rest for a few hours while on the road, but if you plan on sleeping in your vehicle, make sure you are doing it in a legal place. This way you can rest peacefully without disturbing other drivers and without risking a big fat fine.
Sleeping in your vehicle: What apps to use
You cannot take a road trip without these four apps, we promise. Not only they’ll help you find a place to sleep close to you but will also tell you what amenities you can find there and whether it has a free space that you can book online.
- Maps.me: download maps and you will be able to see them without internet, look for the nearest gas station and put a pin on it, write down the places to sleep nearby, the entrance to the National Park or the points of interest.
- Wikicamps: filter your search to get free campsites, put a heart on it to save your favourites, read comments from other campers, find the address and send it to Maps.me to put the pin on it.
- IOverlander – A less attractive but sometimes useful application as a last resort. People write down the places where they have been able to sleep for free and have not been disturbed. We don’t trust it much because it was outdated and with few comments, but you can still find some interesting information.
- GasBuddy: gasoline is cheap in the US but not so much in Canada. In this application you will find the closest gas stations and their prices (it does not work without the internet).
As a bonus, below are some websites that can help you find a place to sleep. If in the previous applications you do not find any place that you like or there is nothing close to where you are, you can use these websites where people are adding paid or free points.
- Freecampsites: find the place that interests you on the map and read the comments. The greens are ours, the free ones. Take a good look at who the lands belong to know where you will spend the night.
- Campendium: the same operation as the previous one, you will be able to see the free or paid sites. On some sites, people add photos and the services they offer.
- AllStays: Find the US state or province that interests you. On this website, you have all the sites where you can legally camp and also private campsites with their prices. More difficult to find free places. It has an application but we found it very expensive and we did not buy it.
Sleep in your vehicle: Boondocking
Boondocking is allowed in the United States in the National Forests or Bureau of Land Management (or BLM). It was very difficult for us to find places to sleep for free on the west coast, near the sea. There are no assigned areas, there are no bathrooms, no tables, or even to make fires. It is simply to get five kilometers away from the main road inland and park or camp wherever you want.
Around the National Parks, there is usually a protection ring and these are usually National Forests where you can camp. Ask the park Ranger or the locals, always pick up your trash and help others to continue enjoying nature for free. Webs: https://www.fs.fed.us and https://www.blm.gov.
Sleep in your vehicle: Supermarkets parking lot
Walmart, the great chain of supermarkets in North America. In some they allow you to sleep in their parking lot always in the areas furthest from the entrance door. Always ask inside the store because, even if they say that it is not allowed, it is usually a municipal regulation, but they do not care and will tell you if they advise you to stay the night or not.
You cannot put up the tent or spend the day as if it were a camping site. Rather it is to be late and leave in the morning. Some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day so you can use the bathrooms, water or even the Wi-Fi if it reaches your car.
Safeway is another supermarket chain that is a little more expensive but with more variety and better presentation of the products. It also has an eating area with tables and food already prepared. It is not as common as Walmart and some managers may not allow overnight staying.
Sleep in your vehicle: Rest areas
Rest areas (truck stops) are also a great option to spend the night in your vehicle. In some there are signs that indicate that you can only stay eight hours, but nobody watches and they are not very strict. You can find very clean areas with restrooms, picnic tables, drinking water, and even vending machines with food and coffee.
Some are noisy from trucks or because they are close to highways, but for spending the night they are fine. You will have to search state by state.
The bottom line
We recommend you, before going on a long journey, consult the above-recommended apps and plan your trip, your stops, small and longer breaks. It is important to be safe on the road and to stop once you feel too tired to drive. Still, make sure you stop in a legal parking spot and that you get a good rest before hitting the road again.
If you have any comments, tips or questions about this article, please let us know.
FAQ on Can you sleep in Mcdonald’s parking lot?
Where can I park an RV?
An RV is perfectly entitled to park in the parking spaces along the roadway. However, its size must allow it, it must not interfere with road traffic or pedestrians. However, due to its size, the motorhome cannot park everywhere.
Where to stop with a motorhome?
A motorhome can stop in town in a parking space and spend the night there. It does not matter whether the motorhome operators are on board or not, as long as they comply with the regulations.
Is it legal to sleep in a Walmart parking lot?
The quick answer is: Yes, it is legal to sleep in a Walmart parking lot. The less quick answer is that it can be done as long as you ask for permission and adhere to the regulations and you are not camping there.