Stealth camping has become all the rage thanks to the recent flood of influencers traveling in their stealth campervans and expounding the many benefits of being low-key when living on the road, including easy overnight parking, cheaper cost of living, and safety.
For those that are not aware, a stealth campervan is a van, often converted from a passenger or cargo van, that looks normal on the outside, but is stocked on the inside with a kitchen, bed, and wet bath. It has all the necessities for living on the road, but there is no indication of that being the case from the outside.
The purpose of a stealth camper is to be invisible and plain sight or to blend in as a typical van on the street. The high cost of RV parks has contributed to the popularity of Stealth Campers Vans. The difficulty to find somewhere to park overnight in an RV has added to the popularity of the Stealth Camper Vans.
Plus, finding any place to park can be difficult in a RV or travel trailer, especially when close to the city. There is also an extra safety benefit when people can’t tell that a van is a campervan since many RVs are targeted for theft. This article goes into the benefits of stealth camping and explains the advantages that lend to the recent popularity of stealth campervans.
What Is The Point Of Stealth Camping?
The whole idea behind stealth camping is to be able to travel and park freely without the restrictions that many RV owners find themselves facing on the road. Stealth camping enables people with vans to blend in with other commercial vans, as opposed to them being recognized as a recreational vehicle.
This enables them to park virtually anywhere: In the street, in a parking lot, in front of their house, in the city. The best stealth campers don’t attract any attention. The more unnoticeable the van is, the better level of stealth it has. Here are some tips to do this:
- Avoid adding stickers. Although they look great, they’re a dead giveaway that the van is for adventuring.
- If there are solar panels on the campervan, make sure they are concealed or not easily seen.
- If customizing the van is an option, opt for less windows to give the van a more commercial look.
- Try and use the front doors in public spaces rather than the sliding side doors which show that there is a living space inside the van.
- Don’t store anything on the outside of the van, such as bikes or surf board.
The main point of these tips is to keep people around the campervan from recognizing that the van is an RV. This will help avoid complaints from nearby shop owners or residents.
Can Stealth Camping Help With Overnight Parking?
One of the main benefits of stealth camping is the ability to find parking overnight in a city, rather than having to park at an RV park, which can often be far off the beaten path and a trek to get to. Many stealth campervans have no problems with urban boondocking.
Urban boondocking is camping in your. vehicle without external services in a city. People usually end up parking in commercial parking lots or shopping malls. This is harder for big RV’s to do because they take up more space and are much more likely to warrant a complaint. Because of this, many RV owners usually find themselves scrambling to find a place to set up for the night before the sun goes down, and if the RV park they go to is full, they have to drive even further to the next one.
With stealth camping, anywhere is a place to park for the night, which is a huge stress reliever. Instead of searching frantically in the dark for a campsite that might already be full, a stealth camper can simply pull into a parking lot or random dirt road and be all good to go.
One of the main expenses of living in an RV is paying for a camping spot at an RV park or campsite, but with stealth camping, an RV park is not necessary. Most RV parks charge around $25-$35 per night, depending on the park. These costs add up, averaging around $900 a month ($30 x 30 nights).
Stealth campers can avoid most of these costs, if not all of them, by parking elsewhere for free. On top of this, stealth camping allows for campervans to easily park within the city. This in turn lowers the cost of gas to get supplies such as food and water, since there is no need drive back and forth between RV parks and the city for the necessities.
There is also no need to waste gas, and money, driving around looking for an available RV park. As mentioned before, many of these parks can book up fast, so a traveler can end up wasting a lot of money on gas just trying to find a RV park with room for them. A stealth camper on the other hand can simply park where they like and hop in the back to relax on their bed and watch some TV.
Will Stealth Camping Be Safe?
Another great thing about stealth camping is that it can be safer than other recreational vehicles when it comes to avoiding being robbed. Many RVs are often targeted for theft. Robbers recognize that the vehicle probably has a lot of important items inside because it is someone’s home, whether that be permanent or temporary.
This is a huge benefit of stealth campervans; They don’t look like people live in them, which reduces the likelihood the camper will be broken into. Another aspect that helps make them safer is the ability to simply hop in the front seat and drive away if one is ever in a dangerous situation.
With a stealth camper, there is no need to set up or take anything down at each new location. This means campers can arrive and depart without even leaving the van. If in a sticky situation or scary neighborhood, this aspect of stealth camping can be very handy and comforting.
Is Stealth Camping Illegal?
Whether stealth camping is illegal depends on the state or even the county you’re in. Stealthcamp.com does a good job of compiling the stealth camping laws for different states, but it’s always best verify any findings yourself. Many cities, usually big cities, do have laws against stealth camping since it does involve camping within city limits, so make sure to do sufficient research before randomly parking.
Some large stores with big parking lots do allow for RVs to park overnight, such as Walmart, Camping World, or Costco, but these private properties do still have to follow the cities’ law, so make sure to call ahead and check with the store to see if they allow overnight parking. All of this being said, the point of stealth camping if to blend in with the surrounding vehicles, so you could theoretically still park in a city where it is illegal and be fine, you just can’t get caught.
This is especially true in a city that does not enforce their camping laws. Large cities usually have to be on top of these laws due to the higher concentration of homeless people, but small cities or towns are more likely to be relaxed with their boondocking rules. For those in a pinch and are struggling to find a place to park, aim to park farther from the city where you’re less likely to be penalized and where law enforcement won’t really care.