Planning to look overnight parking options to sleep in your car? Our guide can help you find a good place to park for the night at your destination property ✅
Hotels often charge exorbitant fees for parking, leaving road trippers and budget travelers wondering if it’s okay to simply sleep in the parking lot overnight instead of getting a room. While it may seem like a convenient and cheap option, is it actually allowed? Here’s what you need to know about sleeping in hotel parking lots.
The Ethics of Hotel Parking Fees
First, why do hotels even charge for parking in the first place? After all, shouldn’t parking be included when you’re already paying for a room? Hotels point out that parking involves costs like maintaining the lot, landscaping, security, insurance, and property taxes. However, critics say parking fees are simply a cash grab and source of extra revenue.
Self-parking fees at hotels now average around $25 per day, with luxury hotels charging as much as $50-70. Ouch! It’s no wonder that travelers look for hotel parking loopholes whenever possible.
Getting Around Parking Fees
If you want to avoid getting hit with hotel parking fees, you have a few options. First, you can look into staying at hotels outside of major cities and away from airports, which typically don’t charge for parking. Ask about parking policies when booking a hotel to avoid surprises.
You can also search for hotels that offer free parking as an amenity. While more rare, they do exist if you hunt around. Apps like HotelTonight can filter by free parking. Valet parking typically costs more than self-parking, so opt to self-park your car whenever possible.
Finally, you may luck out and find street parking near some hotels. This isn’t always feasible in downtown locations, but can work in some suburban or small town hotels. Just make sure to check local parking signs and meters.
The Legality of Sleeping in Hotel Lots
Now, onto the big question – is it actually legal to sleep in a hotel parking lot? The answer is…maybe. Hotel parking lots are private property. If asked to leave by security or staff, you must comply or risk trespassing charges. Hotels only want paying guests parking long-term in their lots.
You’re most likely to run into trouble if a hotel parking area is gated, barricaded, or otherwise closed off. Your car could get towed or booted. Open surface lots are riskier than underground garages. Avoid spots marked as customer-only parking or with warnings against unauthorized vehicles.
Your best bet is a large hotel with a big, open lot. You can try blending in amongst other cars, but beware of security patrols. Park away from the entrance and lobby area to not attract attention. Arrive late at night after check-in ends, and leave early in the morning before daily check-out gets underway.
Many road trippers have reported successfully sleeping in their cars in plain sight in hotel lots without issue. Still, it’s best not to test your luck at upscale or downtown hotels which are more security conscious.
Safety Concerns of Hotel Lots
Most hotels do want their parking areas to be secure, as they can be liable for damages or theft. But not all monitor their lots closely, especially budget chains and motels in low-crime areas. This means hotel parking lots are not guaranteed to be safer than other public parking areas.
If security is a top concern, park only in well-lit spaces within sight of surveillance cameras, if available. Avoid lots with signs of criminal activity or vagrancy. Make sure your doors are locked and valuables are out of sight. Some travelers place sun shades in the windows to obscure vision into the vehicle.
Of course, safety varies dramatically between hotels. So scout online reviews for mentions of car break-ins or unsafe parking before choosing a hotel lot to sleep in. You’re statistically safer at a reputable high-end hotel than a rundown motel. But car burglaries can happen anywhere if given the opportunity.
Other Safe Parking Options
If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping in a hotel lot, consider other options known to be relatively safe for overnight parking:
- Campgrounds – Often allow tent-free overnight parking for a small fee. Nice facilities and security.
- Casinos – Accustomed to RV parking. Well lit, security cameras, and 24 hour activity.
- Rest Areas – Specifically meant for driver breaks and rest. Generally very safe but avoid remote ones.
- Business Parks – Quiet and private at night. Look for well lit spots away from operations.
- 24 Hour Stores – Well lit and public. Ask management first.
With some common sense, sleeping in your car can absolutely be done safely. But laws and norms vary from place to place, so check local regulations. And don’t leave valuables visible – even in hotel lots!