Where To Park
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Finding a place to park can sometimes be a challenge. Some cities have laws prohibiting overnight parking, so even if a business might allow it, the city may not. There have been abuses, such as drivers leaving trash or dumping urine on the parking lot, so some polices have changed.
Many Wal-Marts allow overnight parking ... sometimes for just a day or two. Calling first and asking to speak to a manager might be a good idea. Going inside and asking to speak to a manager is also sometimes good to do If you present yourself well, they might override a no-parking policy. You want to park out of the way in spaces that wouldn't otherwise be used. Position your vehicle in such a way to make it difficult for someone to block you in. Make sure you can leave if things change and the parking lot gets crowded. Leave yourself an out. Prepare to leave by pulling forward. Generally, after being stopped for more than a moment, it's best not to immediately back up without making absolutely sure nothing is in the "blind spot" directly behind you. If you have to back up, it might be best to get out and walk back to see the area not in your mirrors.
Parking at truck stops is certainly an option if you don't mind the smell, noise, and the climate. Smaller vehicles such as vans may not be welcome where the big trucks park. The drivers can have an attitude. When it gets crowded, a driver looking for a spot may resent a van being in "his" space. He figures the van can find another spot more easily than him. His options are limited. Vans aren't as easy to see either. When a big truck is backing into a space where a van is behind him in the adjacent space, he may not even see the van in his mirrors. Accidents occur in truck stops. A truck might clip the mirror of another truck, or back into a vehicle, or side-swipe someone with his trailer. It's close quarters and a lot of traffic. Be aware. Be careful.
Many truck stops prefer vans to be out front. Sometimes there is designated parking specifically for expeditors or RVs. Some don't allow it at all, or they discourage it. Again, asking to speak to a manager and politely asking for permission can override policy.
You want to park where it's safe and legal, and where you are comfortable and secure. Consider the changes that can occur. An empty parking lot at night can fill up during the day. An area that looks okay in the day might be quite dark and intimidating at night. Consider that you may leave your vehicle for hours at a time. Is there security? Is there shopping? Are there restaurants? Are there 24/7 restrooms?
When returning to your vehicle, at least do a partial pre-trip. Look underneath as you approach. Walk around the vehicle. Is there any damage? Is there anything missing? Check the doors, locks on the doors, and if applicable, your load. Check the tires. Check the radio antenna. Check your license plate.