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Where Should You Store Your RV or Camper When Not in Use?

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Your RV or camper can take you to national parks and on cross-country treks, but storing it properly between adventures can be a daunting task for first-time owners. Now that summer is behind us, you may be wondering where you should store your RV when it’s not in use, and what steps to take to ensure it stays in mint condition until you’re ready for your next trip. In this article, we’ll walk through the pros and cons of different storage options as well as tips for proper winterization. 

In This Article:
  1. Storing Your RV or Camper at Home
  2. Storing Your RV or Camper in Self Storage
  3. RV Storage Tips for Every Location

1. Storing Your RV or Camper at Home

When it comes to storing your RV or camper, your first impulse may be to park it on the street or in your driveway, garage or backyard. While undeniably convenient, here are some key things to keep in mind if you’re considering home storage.

Pros of Home Storage

  • It’s cost-effective. Storing your RV on your own property doesn’t come with any additional costs, meaning you can save on storage fees.
  • It’s convenient. Keeping your RV or camper close makes maintenance and monitoring easy, and allows you to access it whenever you need.

Cons of Home Storage

  • It takes up space. In addition to being an eyesore, parking your RV in your driveway, backyard or garage takes up a lot of space. RVs come in a wide range of sizes, clocking in at about 12-to-15 feet long on the smallest end and up to 45 feet on the larger end of the spectrum. Most garages will fit a Class B motorhome, but on the height side, you’ll need 14 feet of clearance to store a Class A motorhome, not to mention 8-to-10 feet of width in any case. And it goes without saying that all of that square footage is storage that you’ll no longer have access to in your garage for home items or recreational use.
  • It may violate local regulations. Some municipalities or homeowners associations may have restrictions on parking an RV or camper long-term in your driveway, which can result in hefty fines. Street parking opens another can of worms entirely, as local parking laws vary widely. You’ll need to check your local ordinances, and you may need to routinely move your RV according to neighborhood parking rules or street sweeping schedules.   
  • It may be exposed to the elements. Any outdoor storage option requires investing in gear like exterior, tire, and roof vent covers. A covered parking space helps but doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for precautions thanks to rain, wind, snow and airborne debris. Outdoors, your RV will be more susceptible to the elements and damaging UV rays, which increases the risk of rust, moisture buildup, leaks and pests. When parking outside, you’ll also need to keep a safe distance between your RV and heavy trees in the event of storms and falling branches.
  • It may not be secure. While your garage or backyard may offer some security, parking your RV in your driveway or on the street puts it at risk of potential break-ins, vandalism or accidental damage from other cars.
Recap: Storing your RV or camper at home can be cost-effective and convenient, but comes with considerations such as space, local HOA/street parking regulations, exposure to the elements, and security risks. If you must store your RV at home, indoor options like your garage are a step up from outdoor options, offering more security and protecting your RV from wear-and-tear related to the elements.

2. Storing Your RV or Camper in Self Storage

Self storage offers an alternative to your driveway, garage or backyard, without many of the headaches that come with home storage. When you park your RV at a self-storage facility, you can choose between outdoor parking (with covered and uncovered options) or indoor parking. 

Outdoor Covered and Uncovered RV Storage

Storing your RV outdoors at a self-storage facility may not seem very different from parking it at home, but there are several important differences. Self-storage parking is fully paved and securely gated, offering better protection for your RV from pests, grime and intruders than a driveway, backyard or public street. At SmartStop, we offer uncovered RV parking spaces up to 12 by 50 feet in size, while our covered RV parking accommodates Class A, B and C RVs as well as motorhomes and toy haulers with individual parking spot lengths of at least 40 feet. While a little more expensive, covered parking presents a mid-budget option that levels up RV protection compared to uncovered spaces, especially in locations with harsher winter climates.

Indoor RV Storage

If you’re looking to house your Class B or C RV, indoor storage units like the 10-by-24 or 10-by-30-foot drive-up storage units are your safest bet. Ultra-secure locks and climate control help keep your RV pristine during its downtime, reducing the need for covers and preserving the battery’s condition and any internal fluid systems. You’ll just need to make sure that your indoor unit has enough headroom before you roll up.

3. RV Storage Tips for Every Location

Finding a place to store your RV or camper is just one part of the puzzle — you’ll also need to think about how to store your RV. No matter where you choose to park your vehicle this off-season, practicing good storage habits and closely following a winterization checklist will extend its life and make the next trip a smoother experience. Be sure to:

  • Disconnect the RV’s batteries, or remove them and keep them in a dry, temperate location.
  • Wash the exterior, remove all perishable items, and clean and disinfect the interior to prevent unwelcome pests from making your RV their winter home.
  • Dry any standing water or dampness and consider using gel packs or occasionally running a dehumidifier to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Keep one roof vent cracked to encourage air circulation (pick up a roof vent cover for outdoor storage options).
  • Cover your camper with an RV-specific cover and fitted tire covers, especially if storing outdoors.

How to Winterize Your RV Before Storing It

Across any type of RV storage location, winterization (or securely prepping your camper for extended vacancy and the often harsh weather of the off-season) is absolutely vital. Though you should check the instructions provided by your manufacturer for a complete list of recommendations, a typical winterization checklist involves the following:

  • Completely drain and flush out your gray and black water tanks and water heater, and drain the fresh tank and low-point drains
  • Bypass the water heater, turn on your water pump and then use a siphoning kit to deliver antifreeze to the water system.
  • Run water through the lowest valve or low-point drain until the water turns pink, indicating that antifreeze is flowing through the system, then work your way to higher external faucets and valves before doing the same in the interior. 
  • Add antifreeze to all p-traps, such as sinks, shower drains and toilets. 

Of course, winterization is just one part of the picture — de-winterization is the process of getting your RV out of hibernation and back on the road. When it’s time to bring your RV or camper out of hibernation next year, check out our full de-winterization guide to set you up for your next spring or summer adventure. 

If you’re ready to find secure RV storage near you, head to our RV storage finder. Just search by your city, state or zip code, and your RV will be on its way to a safe winter hibernation.

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