How to Avoid Cheapskate Boondocking Disasters

Truck stop boondocking is typically our last resort when we’re on the move. But we had to be at RV America in Longmont, Colorado for an important repair early last Thursday, so we chose to overnight at Johnson’s World Famous Truck Stop, which is conveniently located next door.

You know what you’re in for with truck stop boondocking, but you can often avoid the worst repercussions:

  • Find a parking slot where you’re as far away as you can be from a trucker’s idling engine.
  • Nab a spot on the outskirts, where you can put your slides out.

We found an edge slot and thought life was good. Silly us, we assumed that no trucker would dare squeeze between our extended slide out and a large concrete post just several feet away.

Never Assume What’s in a Trucker’s Brain

As I made dinner and Jim sat working on the couch, I saw him look up from his laptop, and watched as his eyes suddenly popped out of his skull.

A rig’s backup lights were coming closer and closer.

“He’s not going to back up, that would be stupid!”

“He doesn’t want to hit us, he’s going to stop . . . right?”

Finally, when it was about eight feet from the front edge of our slide, the rig’s air brakes came on. Soon afterward a scruffy balding trucker walks over to the back of his rig, looks at our slide, shakes his head and walks away.

Before we could breathe a sigh of relief, the backup lights went on again. He was going to go for it.

“Agggh! HURRY! Pull in the slide!”

We scrambled. At about the same moment that the slide was finally in, the trucker stopped. He was about four feet from our window. Our slide is around four feet deep. There was no way he could’ve fit between us and the post, if our slide was out.

Trucker Man just assumed we would comply with his parking need.

And of course, we did.

Just because we also drive a “rig” and listen to Road Dog Trucking, we’ll never again assume that we think along the same lines when it comes to overnight camping at truck stops.

17 thoughts on “How to Avoid Cheapskate Boondocking Disasters”

  1. Our highways have almost become a “truckers convention”. Highways where never intended for Commercial traffic but for people to travel on from point A to point B. More and more big rigs are involved with non-commercial vehicles with a loss of lives. Government is looking the other way because of the “jobs” the industry creates and taxes collected. It is time to have Commercial traffic relocated to the Rail system or build “special lanes” for the big rigs, who have become a real menace to the rest of the non-commercial motorists.

    • I respect your opinion and suggestions Paul, but the problem is so much bigger than the truckers on the road. They’re out there for a reason, namely, the consumption habits of America. If citizens could let go of their need to accumulate more stuff, the highways would be less crowded with trucks delivering all that cheap plastic crap to Hell Mart.

  2. You know in the same topic I have known truckers parked in rv slots at flying j. So it goes both ways, I don,t think slides should be out but a tired driver in an rv or truck is so dangerous. I pull a trailer and 35 ft. Rv so sometimes need places nap for a couple of hrs.

  3. My rig it not new 1997.
    I’m been looking for a new, but I think I’ll start looking this fall. ANYWAY

    I would have had my video cam out. And would have taped all of it. And no I would not have pulled my slide back in. If your in a legal parking spot… I just would have just sit back and relax.
    I don’t be leave he would have hit your Rig, then again there are bigger asses then me I guess.
    EX Truck Driver now disabled from driving A truck.

  4. as a trucker, seeing an rv parked is one thing,,,but it is very inconsiderate to extend a slide out in a truck stop,,,save that crap for the campsite not in a truck stop

  5. Just a little P.S. to my previous post.

    These types also thieve and cause general mayhem to their trucking brothers and sisters. Siphoning fuel, stealing tire chains, or anything you may have bungeed on the catwalk. Flattening tires, pulling your kingpin. etc.

    Most of the industry now requires us to use a huge paddlock and numbered seal band on the doors of the dry vans. I’ve known drivers who would back into the slots in the back of the lots for the night and take off in the morning only to feel a little “light”. Pull over and open the rear door and find that the load had been stolen in the middle of the night. Unscrupulous thieves will pull a truck in the slot next to you, wait for you to bed down and transfer your load to the other truck.

    It is good to have a dog with you as they can hear and smell what we can’t.

    I’ve been pretty lucky, I guard my karma carefully. But, the stories I have heard over the years. Sheesh!

    I drive local now dragging tankers of cyanide out to the mines. I like being home at night right now, and taking an shower and sleeping in my little house but I’m hoping when I finally have had enough I’ll climb in the MH like I said and chase cars down the highway… ;D

    Keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your a$$… (wink)
    Take care and be aware…

  6. I’ve been a professional driver for 30 years. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, there it is. An old trucker once told me when I started out that if I don’t learn something new everyday while I’m on the road it’s time to quit, and if you think you know it all as a “driver” you need to quit. I learned from the best and have never had a citation, or ticket or wreck in my forty years of having a license. My goal is courtesy and that eveyone makes it home alive.

    As for “civilians” at truck stops, how do I say this in a nice way?… Ahem…
    As a professional driver spending 24 hours a day in a truck the truckstop is our only “normal”. A place to shower, a place to rest, a place to wash laundry and hide from the long line of the road, sometimes watch tv and socialize a bit, and an oppportunity to get out of the truck for awhile.

    Most of us are darn good peeps, with families, and lives. But, we aren’t on vacation, we don’t have kitchens, and restrooms, and all the comforts of home, we have hard deadlines,sometimes in the middle of L.A. at rush hour and every time those wheels turn we are making money. What we do is drive, we don’t sight see, we don’t stop and have picnics, we work. And, it is hard grueling, grinding work. Civilians don’t understand the toll it takes to be a trucker, it’s not an easy job.

    We can’t pull those big commercial rigs over just anywhere and enjoy a park or the river or the view or the wind in the trees or a historical site or whatever. We have the truckstop.

    And, when you pull into a truckstop to spend the night as a “civilian” you could be preventing a trucker who needs that shower or laundry and rest from getting it done and having her(his) normal. A truckstop isn’t a place to camp or a place to slide out your slide outs unless you want to lose them. I’ve known “drivers” who actually get a thrill from ripping off the sides of “slides”.

    Truckstops can be dangerous places for “civilians” in the middle of the night the back row of truckstops are known as “lot lizard lane” (ladies of the night) and there is a lot of unsavory characters wandering around looking for something to steal to buy dope, there are dope deals, and other things I can’t even mention here. And truck stop security is a joke, they will act as lookout for the dealers and the lizards for a little money in their pocket.

    And if you have taken that last slot or two as a “civilian”, that trucker who needs that slot and by law needs to take her(his) required hours of down time can’t because there are no slots, like I said to do her(his) housekeeping and personal thing has nowhere to spend those precious hours to get it all done.

    The casual traveler has many options, all the amenities, and can pull into a fast food joint, grocery store, laundromat, just shopping, rv park, park BLM or forest service land or whatever…

    Truckers can’t. When staying at a truckstop you are on “their turf”.

    You can end up with your tires slashed, fuel tanks drained, items stolen and where you travel with a trailer instead of a motorhome you could have your trailer unhitched in the middle of the night. Basically you are not welcome by a few who aren’t too friendly. The trucker who pulled in beside you was sending you a message and you would have been wise to roll it up and move on. Being in trucking you are a brotherhood (sisterhood) we will stick up for our own because that is how you survive out there on the road.

    I hope that I don’t sound too brash and that I am not speaking for all truckers, but… Truckstops really aren’t the place for camping for civilians. I myself would not stay at a truckstop if I’m in my motorhome and I have practically lived at truckstops for 30 years.

    Hope this helps, just my opinion, and just want everyone to get along and be safe… I’m lucky enough to have lived it and can see both sides of the issue.

    Blessings to all…

    Keep ‘er between the stumps…

    • YOWZA! Ladytrucker I’m so glad you commented, I was hoping you would come here from NuRVers to see it. Thank you for sharing your insight, I just knew you would offer some wisdom. You weren’t too harsh at all.

      While we have never experienced any acts of ill-will at a truck stop like this (nor have any of our friends we’ve talked to), it’s good to know that this can happen. Lesson learned. And that’s the best part about living the full-timing lifestyle, we’re always learning. Life is never boring!

    • Not brash at all ladytrucker, just true, and appreciated. We always do our best to stay way out of the way, and this was the first time we’ve ever put our slide out at a truck stop. We only did it because we were on the end with rough ground next to us and a barrier about six feet away. And there were plenty of “slots” left.

      I’m not trying to justify what we did. I respect that we are on “their turf” when we do this, but we are not “camping” either. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Having once been a trucker (a short but educational career) I know these types are on the road. Fortunately, they’re not the majority, and most are respectful and considerate. This guy was over the top, as are the aggressors who haul-ass at 80+ mph putting everyone in danger. Some of these guys are on uppers, and some seem to think they’re invincible. I’m surprised he didn’t look for a more convenient space to park in. If he’d hit you he would have had to report the damage to his van too, a police report and insurance claim. What kind of thinking was going on (or not) in his cranial shell?

    • Wow Micki, you’ve done everything! Thanks for making me feel a little better. We realize truckers are working crazy hours and it’s a tough job, and we never would’ve purposely blocked a precious parking space.

  8. When we traveled in our Motorhome, once in a while we had to overnight at Walmart or a truck stop. We never put our slides out or unhitched our toad.

    Don’t have to worry in my little trailer.

    • We usually put our our one slide, but stop short of setting out our awning and BBQ.

      I agree, there are many advantages to having a small rig. Thanks for commenting!


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