You might need to park overnight in a public area for many reasons. Maybe you must rest after a long day of driving, and all the local hotels are booked. Or, you need a safe place to sleep because you’re living out of your car.
One option you may have is to park overnight at a Dollar General. These popular stores are in even the smallest of towns and always seem to be just off major roads. As a bonus, you can shop there in the morning to stock up on essentials. Learn what you need to know before parking overnight at Dollar General.
It might be illegal to park overnight in some cities
In the U.S., it is not illegal to sleep in your parked car. However, you can’t just park and nod off anywhere you’d like. Cities and property owners can have rules that limit or ban overnight parking. It could lead to trespassing if you park on private property.
You’ll need to research before spending the night in your car at a Dollar General. You can call the local police department’s non-emergency number to verify the town’s parking rules. Some cities post their parking rules at the city limits, next to the “Welcome to…” signs.
Take extra care in northern states during cold weather, when special “winter parking” rules may be in effect. Most snow removal is done at night, so it doesn’t interfere with daytime traffic. You don’t want to be woken up by an angry snow plow driver!
Ask first, park later
According to Drivin’ & Vibin’, Dollar General’s corporate office hasn’t released an official statement on whether the chain itself allows overnight parking. They’ve left it up to the managers and local officials at each of their store locations. It never hurts to ask permission before parking overnight at Dollar General. Most stores are open long hours, so it should be easy to track down a manager.
If you arrive at a Dollar General after the store has closed for the day, look around the parking lot for “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs. Stores that explicitly ban or limit overnight parking will usually clarify their rules. And keep in mind that Dollar General parking lots are generally small. You might have a tight squeeze if you’re driving an RV or other large vehicle.
Consider other venues if you’re at a Dollar General that bans overnight parking. Parking overnight at Walmart could be another option, as many are open 24 hours and located right off interstates.
How to stay safe when you park overnight at a Dollar General
Anytime you park in a public location overnight, you must keep safety in mind. Double-check that you lock your car doors and trunk. Cover the windows for privacy if you’re able to. You can tape pieces of cardboard to the inside of your windows if you don’t have car window shades.
If you’re traveling alone, move to the car’s passenger side when you park overnight at Dollar General. This gives any passerby who can see you the impression that you’re waiting for someone and aren’t traveling unaccompanied.
Lastly, don’t make yourself an easy target. Always park overnight in a well-lit area of the parking lot. Stay in the view of Dollar General’s security cameras.