Note: I’ve put most of the general purpose info in this RVwiki article about stealth camping
Stealth camping means sleeping overnight in the vehicle without getting chased off.
Beginners often start in Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lots because they’ve heard of that. I tend to avoid parking lots and other private property as they tend to be patrolled (and loud). An exception might be if I arrive at a 24hr business like Planet Fitness or a fuel stop late at night; I might find a spot on the periphery and get some rest before taking off again the next morning.
my approach to stealthing
scouting new spots
My personal approach is to keep a nav app open when driving in the city and drop a pin whenever I see something promising. When possible I make notes on time/day limitations, levelness, wifi availability, etc. Then I confirm or delete it later and use it to build a rotation (see below).
I tend to focus on streets:
- in industrial areas where employees will be parking
- near apartments where overflow residents will be parking
- near 24 hour businesses where cars might be expected to be present at odd hours. Bonus points for parking between two 24hr spots so each thinks you are at the other one.
- downtown areas on weekends where meters are not active
building a rotation
If I will be in a city a while (weather is cooperating!) I like to build a rotation of 15-30 spots across the area. This keeps me from overusing any particular area and also means that no matter where I am come nightfall there will be a spot within a couple miles.
- arrive after dark, leave before light. An alarm clock will be helpful in getting out before others start milling around.
- watch for painted curbs, road signs, and other indications that parking is forbidden, or is forbidden at certain times or days
- park under streetlights - not only will you be more visible to night drivers but the light will mask any light emitting from your vehicle