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RV at airport

Can You Park an RV Overnight at an Airport?

Published on January 24th, 2024
Updated on February 6th, 2024

Let’s plunge into a seldom-mentioned topic that can be a real headache: airport parking, particularly for those of us who need an overnight spot.

As a traveler, one of the most daunting tasks can be finding a suitable place to park and stay overnight, especially in crowded urban areas.

This task becomes even more challenging when you are driving an RV and need to park at an airport as they vary widely in their parking rules and facilities, with few universal standards.

So, let’s discuss airport parking and explore alternatives for overnight stays.

The Challenges of Airport Parking

In many cases, airports are not designed to accommodate oversized vehicles. This means that if you’re traveling in an RV, you might find it difficult to find a suitable spot.

Parking garages, which are commonly used at large airports to maximize space, often have height and size restrictions that can exclude larger vehicles.

Furthermore, airport parking generally involves payment, with structures ranging from hourly to weekly rates. For those needing to stay overnight, a flat daily fee is typically required.

Despite the cost, airport parking lots usually lack amenities that make for a comfortable stay. These areas are often surrounded by concrete, with a constant buzz of traffic and air travel noise.

While they may be well-lit, parking lots at airports are not as secure as the interiors of the airports themselves.

Then, there are legal considerations (as outlined in the next section).

10 Legal Considerations

Parking an RV at an airport involves several legal considerations that are important to be aware of. Here are a few key aspects:

1. Size and Weight Regulations

Airports have specific regulations regarding the size and weight of vehicles allowed in their parking lots. It’s essential to ensure your RV complies with these limits. Over-sized vehicles might not be accommodated in standard parking spaces and could require special arrangements.

2. Parking Duration Limits

Some airports impose limits on how long a vehicle can be parked in their facilities. For RVs, which might be parked for extended periods, it’s important to check any maximum duration policies to avoid fines or towing.

3. Parking Fees and Reservations

Be aware of the parking fees, which can vary based on the type of parking spot and duration of stay. Some airports might require or offer reservations for parking spots, which could be especially important for larger vehicles like RVs.

4. Security Regulations

Airports have stringent security measures. Ensure that your RV does not contain anything that might be considered a security risk. Additionally, there might be regulations about leaving a vehicle unattended for long periods.

5. Local and State Laws

Airports operate under local and state laws, so it’s important to be aware of any relevant legal considerations, such as emissions regulations, vehicle registration requirements, and insurance coverage.

6. Overnight Stays

Not all airport parking facilities allow overnight stays in vehicles, including RVs. It’s important to confirm whether the airport permits overnight occupancy in parked vehicles.

7. Accessibility and Safety Regulations

If your RV includes features for accessibility, ensure that these comply with relevant laws and regulations. Also, follow any safety guidelines provided by the airport for parking and staying in your vehicle.

8. Waste Disposal Laws

If your RV is equipped with a toilet or kitchen, be aware of the laws regarding waste disposal. Airports might not have facilities for RV waste disposal, and improper disposal can lead to legal issues.

9. Noise and Light Pollution

Be mindful of laws or regulations concerning noise and light pollution, especially if you plan to stay overnight in your RV. This includes the use of generators, outdoor lighting, and sound systems.

10. Fire Safety Regulations

Follow all fire safety regulations, including guidelines for the use of cooking appliances and heaters inside the RV.

6 Benefits of Parking Your RV at the Airport

1. Cost Savings

Depending on the airport and the length of your trip, parking your RV at the airport might be more economical than other long-term parking options, especially if you compare it to the cost of parking a car plus the cost of accommodations if you were to arrive a day earlier.

2. Convenience for Early Flights

If you have an early flight, staying in your RV in the airport parking lot the night before can be more convenient than waking up extremely early to drive to the airport. This can be especially beneficial if you live far from the airport.

3. Home Comforts

An RV offers the comfort of your own space. You can sleep in your own bed and have access to your own amenities, which is a pleasant alternative to airport hotels or sleeping in terminals during long layovers or unexpected delays.

4. Security for Your Vehicle

Airports often have secure parking facilities. If you are worried about leaving your RV unattended for a long period, an airport parking lot might offer more security than other options.

5. No Need for Additional Transportation

If you park your RV at the airport, you won’t need to arrange for a taxi, shuttle, or other transportation to get to the terminal, as you would if you stayed offsite.

6. Flexibility

For those who live a nomadic lifestyle in their RV, parking at the airport can provide a flexible solution for when they need to fly somewhere, without the need to find a separate place to store the RV.

Airport Infrastructure

Airports are designed primarily for handling large numbers of people and the associated high traffic. This means that while there are extensive parking facilities, they are not necessarily tailored to the needs of those seeking to camp overnight.

Security, an important aspect of airport design, tends to focus more on the terminals and less on the parking areas. Personally, I think they’re still safer than most alternatives, but there are still dangers to consider.

Airport Parking Costs

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The average cost of parking at airports across America can vary significantly depending on the location, the type of parking (e.g., economy, short-term, long-term), and the specific airport facilities. However, I can provide some general insights and examples of parking rates at major airports in some of the top cities in the U.S.

1. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – Los Angeles, CA

LAX offers a range of parking options. Economy parking might cost around $30 per day, while central terminal parking can be more expensive, potentially upwards of $50 per day. I’ve seen cheaper rates nearby, but you’re really gambling with your security.

2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – Atlanta, GA

As one of the busiest airports, ATL’s parking rates can vary. Economy lots may charge around $11-$36 per day while parking closer to the terminals will be more expensive.

3. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – Chicago, IL

Parking at O’Hare varies, with economy lots typically around $22 per day. More convenient parking options closer to the terminals can be significantly higher.

4. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – New York, NY

JFK parking rates can be high due to its location. Long-term parking might cost around $25-$35 per day, while short-term or terminal parking rates can be much higher.

5. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – Dallas, TX

DFW offers various parking options, with economy parking for around $12-$27 per day. Closer terminal parking will be more expensive.

Tips on Airport Parking (Video)

Exploring Alternatives

Given these challenges, it’s worth considering alternatives to airport camping. Options range from paid RV parks and campgrounds to free parking spots at businesses and public spaces like:

  • Walmart (click for more info.)
  • rest stops (click for more info.)
  • casinos (click for more info.)
  • BLM Land
  • public parks
  • churches
  • 24-hour gyms

Each of these alternatives comes with its own set of rules and considerations, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

Street parking is another possibility, but it comes with the risk of falling foul of local regulations. It’s always advisable to ask for permission before settling down for the night.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the choice between airport parking and alternative options depends on individual needs and circumstances.

Airport parking can be convenient for travelers with unusual flight times or those visiting big cities. However, for a more restful and scenic overnight stay, looking outside the airport might be the better option.

In summary, navigating the complexities of airport parking and finding suitable overnight accommodations requires a bit of research and planning.

Whether you opt for the convenience of airport parking or explore alternative options, understanding the rules and regulations of your destination is key to a stress-free journey.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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