I first talked about urban stealth camping last year when I first really started learning about it. This was also before we went fulltime so I hadn’t tried it out myself. When we started rv’ing fulltime in December, we had a chance to check out stealth rv camping in Austin, TX.
We went to Austin to spend the holidays with my family. Since we don’t have a vehicle with our RV, we wanted to stay as close to my sister as we could so we decided to look into staying in their apartment parking lot!
It might sound weird at first, but it really was an easy way to test out the method in a semi easy environment. My sister spoke with the manager to let them know we would be staying in one of the empty parking spaces and to make sure it was ok.
In fact, we ended up staying in Austin at the apartments for almost 3 weeks before we moved on to our next destination across the US.
While broken down
When our starter went out in Big Bend National Park in Texas just 10 days after leaving Austin, we were towed to the nearest town in Turlingua where we dry boondocked for the night until the owner/mechanic could look at the rig the next day. After determining that it was the starter, he agreed to let us stay at his place of business for the weekend. That was another great free weekend of stealth urban camping (although it was more saving up for the parts and labor in this case). Luckily we had just dumped our tanks when the starter went out and the owner let us fill up on fresh water for the weekend. The weather wasn’t nearly as cold so we handled the weekend quite nicely. As a bonus, his business was pretty centrally located so we could ride our bikes everywhere we went that weekend to enjoy the area while we were out of commission.
Steps to try Urban Stealth Camping
- To get your feet wet, see if you have apartment dwelling friends who will vouch for you to the apartment management.
- If staying at an apartment, make sure they are in a good area of town that you want to visit. Really all this means is to coordinate your stay at a centrally located apartment complex. Obviously our main goal in Austin was to be near my sister, but her complex was also very close to downtown Austin and some public transportation if we needed it.
- Be mindful of the other tenants. We parked in a less crowded spot in the very back. We didn’t put our awning. When we had to run the generator, it was after 9 am when everyone should be awake and gone to work already and we only ran it long enough to quickly charge up the batteries and make coffee for the morning.
- Don’t be afraid to ask business owners if you can stay on their property for the night or weekend. It never hurts to ask.
- Look at public downtown parking. If your rig is bigger than 24-26 feet, you might have to pay for two spots, but the price is much cheaper than a hotel room downtown and some allow overnight parking.
Outcome of Stealth RV Camping
We really liked it, especially spending 3 weeks in the heart of Austin for free. One side note is we are from Florida and Christmas in Austin, TX was cold. We used quite a bit of propane to keep our RV warm at night during the 19 degree weather. We also have large tanks and only had to dump twice during that time, but I think we could get it down even further after more practice of being on the road. Our fresh water holds 50 gallons. Our sewage is 20 gallons and our gray holds 30 gallons.
We definitely are looking to do more stealth camping and even add casino parking to our mix soon. Although that’s more free parking as they totally allow it and advertise for you to stay there.