I know that some readers of this blog are experienced dry campers and stay “off the grid” far more than we do. At the other extreme are RVers whose only dry camping experience is stopping for lunch at a rest area while en-route from one RV resort to the next. In between, and probably more typical, are those who occasionally dry camp overnight at Wal-Mart or Flying-J, or for a few days at a RV rally, etc. Coming from all these different RVing experiences you’ll likely have different notions of what casino camping would be like. I’ll share a few random thoughts with you about how it may differ from things you’ve done before, and maybe get you thinking about how this parking opportunity would (or wouldn’t) fit into your future plans.
Your mindset will determine how good your experience is
For the new casino camper, the best starting point is the RVer Good Neighbor Policy for overnight parking, which has been adopted by major RV clubs and is well covered here on the blog by Jim Obriant. Ask permission, plan to stay only one night, don’t “set up camp”, etc. Some casinos will allow more, but you can’t go wrong as a new casino camper if you follow the Good Neighbor Policy.
The basis for the Good Neighbor policy is that overnight RV parking is a privilege that may be granted or not by the property owner. Once we have that firmly in our mind it’s easier to have an attitude of being flexible. A casino may change policies overnight; they may let some park and send others away; they may park you one place, and then ask you to move somewhere else. Be flexible is the best thing I can tell you.
Considerations for your equipment and your rig
Although casino camping has similarities to other dry camping situations there are also differences in how you can deal with your camping equipment and your rig. If you’re used to setting up camp and using a portable generator you may have to plan differently. Some casino camping situations are like Wal-mart where you’re taking two spaces in a regular parking lot. You’ll need to decide if it’s appropriate for you to pull out the generator. Smaller and quieter is better. Some places that allow “parking” but not “camping” don’t permit generators. In other locations you’ll have a much different situation with a large area dedicated to RVs where everyone does “make camp”. Also consider that you’ll often be parked very close to other RVs and other vehicles and watch where your generator exhaust goes.
How long is your rig? If you have a motorhome and tow a car will you fit? Same question for large 5th wheels. Some casinos, especially those where “camping” isn’t allowed, won’t let you unhook the trailer. It may be a good idea to talk with security first, let them know you’re too long to fit in a single pair of spaces, and ask if they’d rather you unhook or park parallel and take up more spaces.
Is the parking lot un-level? If you’re a veteran Wally-Docker you know how to make do overnight with the coach a little off level. Of course, if you have a diesel with airbag leveling you’re in good shape! Some casinos allow the use of stabilizer jacks, so we carry large pads 16 x 16 inches, to put under our jacks to avoid damaging the asphalt. These are available commercially, but we previously used 12 x 18 inch boards. These also come in handy for leveling the “old fashioned way”. Where you can’t use leveling jacks you can place boards in front of the low side tires and drive up onto them.
Access to your stuff can sometimes be difficult. In some crowded casino parking lots we’ve been side-by-side with another RV where we could easily shake hands through the windows — yes, that was a one night stay! We were so close we couldn’t open the storage bays. Think about what you might need from your storage areas before you park.
Climate considerations will cause some to bypass any kind of blacktop boondocking and head for hookups. Because we dry camp so often in desert areas, we installed a swamp cooler on our RV and it works great! Your situation may differ greatly from ours, but if you plan to dry camp anywhere hot and dry you may want to consider one of these. I’ll write a complete post in the future just about swamp coolers for RVs.
Electric power is another big topic that I’ll only mention briefly this time. If you’re not accustomed to dry overnight parking it’s easy to use too much power at first. Be sure your batteries are charged when you arrive. Solar power is a good option if you’re going to do much dry camping, but the initial expense may be too high if you only intend to be off-the-grid for one or two nights every couple of months.
What tips and equipment ideas do you have? I started this thread in the Open Roads Forum so we can talk and exchange ideas.
Happy travels and good luck in the casinos,