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  1. #1

    Default Spending the night at a truck stop - is it safe?

    Hi,

    I am in the early stages of planning my road trip and I have been reading the ways to save money on lodging, and one of the tips on this site was to sleep at a truck stop and then buy a shower ticket in the morning.

    I am a nineteen-year-old female traveling alone, and so safety is definitely a concern...do you think I would be safe sleeping in my car at a truck stop? Or should I just plan on sticking to motels/camping?

    Thanks in advance,

    Andrea

    P.S. in case it matters...I am planning on going from Seattle, Washington to Salt Lake City, Utah to central Nebraska, to Effingham, Illinois, then to southern Minnesota and finally to Pierre, South Dakota and back home through Montana.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,900

    Default with common sense

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Stopping at a truck stop is about the safest place to stop if you want to sleep in your car. Its probably not quite as safe as being in a motel room, but I wouldn't say its dangerous either. I'd recommend stopping at ones in more rural areas, as truck stops inside cities tend to be in fairly rough areas. One of our frequent contributors, Gen, sleeps in her car at truck stops quite often, so I'd check out her suggestions.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by andrea2008 View Post
    Hi,

    I am in the early stages of planning my road trip and I have been reading the ways to save money on lodging, and one of the tips on this site was to sleep at a truck stop and then buy a shower ticket in the morning.

    I am a nineteen-year-old female traveling alone, and so safety is definitely a concern...do you think I would be safe sleeping in my car at a truck stop? Or should I just plan on sticking to motels/camping?
    It's a great idea if you don't mind sleeping in your car. The showers at the major chain truck stops (now called travel centers because they cater to all drivers) aren't bad at all.. bring your flip flops

    ***Here's a RTA article about using Travel Center amentities***

    As far as security, when you're ready to sleep, you can always pick up one of those cardboard sun shields for your front and/or back window. Or stuff some bags on the back shelf of the car blocking the back window.

    For the sides, you can just get creative. A thin but solid colored towel, or shirt can be rolled into the top of the window.

    Somebody will be less likely to mess with a car they can't see into; rather than one with a single sleeping person, or woman in your case.

    You can also gas up and/or go to the bathroom at a nearby location (but not the truck stop you're gonna sleep at). This will minimize the number of people that see you and know you're alone when you pull in for some zzz's..


    Quote Originally Posted by andrea2008 View Post
    P.S. in case it matters...I am planning on going from Seattle, Washington to Salt Lake City, Utah to central Nebraska, to Effingham, Illinois, then to southern Minnesota and finally to Pierre, South Dakota and back home through Montana.
    check out opinions from those that basically live at these places here..

    http://www.thetruckersreport.com/tru...ruckstops.html
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-21-2009 at 09:47 PM. Reason: added link to RTA article

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default Oooohhh, not sure how helpful that link is

    It seemed to only have complaints, not anything complimentary, about truck stops.

    I've slept in a couple of 'em. I prefer camping but I've done it in a pinch. I've never felt unsafe but my experience is too limited to mean much. However, the link to Gen's suggestions is good and she has done it a lot throughout the US and parts of Canada.

    Just like any situation, you have to use common-sense and what I call your "personal safety radar". If you don't feel safe, move along. I think it's wise policy to let the clerk/wait-staff inside know that you are sleeping there. And park where they can see your car.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,321

    Default

    It's also nice if you give the establishment some business in return for using their lot. Instead of gassing up down the street, gas up at the truck stop on your way out. If you are in the habit of eating breakfast, do so in their restaurant, it should be reasonably priced and halfway decent. Just be considerate and don't go where there's a sign that says professional drivers only.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,687

    Default Mix it up

    I would mix it up a bit, maybe try it on the second night or so to see how you feel about it and if you want to continue. The first day on the road takes some adjusting, and this might just be adding a bit too much to your plate.

    Having said that, you'll be in an area with a lot of activity and a lot of people around, which is a lot better than pulling off into some remote place where nobody could help you if you did run into trouble.

    You'll know by instinct if a place "feels" right or not. If you have any reservations about staying there, find another spot.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PNW Judy View Post
    I think it's wise policy to let the clerk/wait-staff inside know that you are sleeping there. And park where they can see your car.
    I respectfully disagree. I've slept at these places numerous times. More often than not, the parking lot was full, so I had to park wherever I could find a spot. Inside the staff and clerks are busy and the restaurants are often closed late at night. The last thing a 19 yr old girl should do is announce to the clerk that she's staying the night alone while truckers and other strangers are waiting in line.

    Quote Originally Posted by glc
    It's also nice if you give the establishment some business in return for using their lot. Instead of gassing up down the street, gas up at the truck stop on your way out.
    I agree completely. I usually do all my business where I'm crashing for the night but my situation differs from the original poster. I'd recommend she patronize the main store/gas in the morning as an added precaution.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-24-2009 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Unnecessary comment removed & unneccesary attitude removed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,488

    Default Generally very safe

    Over the years, I've stayed overnight in truck plazas dozens of times -- As a general rule there is little to be gained from telling anyone at the fuel desk that you'll be sleeping in the lot. There is ample security on most lots -- remember that at any one time there will be millions of dollars of inventory parked around you and truck stop/travel plaza management is very keen on making everyone feel safe.

    So, pull-in. Use the restroom, purchase whatever you need from the store and then go to bed. No worries.

    It will be obvious where passenger cars are to park -- just make sure you don't park in a space where a truck would be able to park. It's going to be bright and noisy in a travel plaza.

    A good alternative to a noisy truck stop is the parking area for the emergency wing of a hospital -- lots of people will be coming and going, security is good and a sleeping girl won't arouse any suspicion. Generally we don't recommend parking on private property like this, without permission, but for a limited use this works great.

    Mark

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks so much for all your advice. I have decided to try to sleep at a truck stop, but I will have enough of a cushion in my budget so that I can stop at a motel if I don't feel safe at the truck stop or whatever.

  10. #10

    Default Thanks so much.......

    So many interesting viewpoints and all very helpful. I've been inside truck stops, shopping, eating, but never thought to spend the night, always a bit too much activity for me. Now that I'm looking at it differently, I might give it a try, thanks to all of you.

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