Vanlife: How to Avoid Parking Costs

You may be wondering if creating a "stealth" van conversion is worth it, and how it affects your bottom line. Stealth vans have the advantages of opening up your options on where to park, while simultaneously dropping your costs dramatically. Let's look at a few places I've parked, and what they cost per night:

Lake Fort Smith State Park

1. Lake Fort Smith State Park, Arkansas
$22.05 per night, tax included

Wanderlust RV Park

2. Wanderlust RV Park in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
$36.24 per night, tax included

3. Parking Lot in Tulsa, Oklahoma
$0 per night

4. Lowe's parking lot outside Oklahoma City
$0 per night

Walmart in Taos, New Mexico

5. Walmart in Taos, New Mexico
$0 per night

Parking outside Carson National Forest

6. Some National Forests also allow roadside parking (this was taken outside Carson National Forest near Taos, New Mexico)
$0 per night

Here are a few takeaways:

Takeaway #1: Vehicle cost aside, paying to park every night will add between $661.50 and $1087.20 (numbers from state park and RV park examples above) to your budget every 30 days (RV parks will charge less if you pay for a week or a month, but it's still very expensive). These fees are on top of vehicle costs, insurance, and gas. Bottom line: stealth camping will multiply the duration of your travels several times over.

Takeaway #2: In the "stealth camping" photos above you will notice that I tend to park next to fleet trucks in a parking lot. Parking next to them makes you blend in as part of the fleet.

Takeaway #3: All of the stealth camping photos were taken the morning after (it's not a good idea to open doors once you park for the night).


Question for you: Do you think stealth camping is worth the savings? Let me know in the comments!


50% Complete

Where should I send the Ultimate Van Power Cheat Sheet?