I sleep in parking lots.
For every beautiful campsite inside a national park or forest, there is a paved parking lot with harsh overhead lighting. I park Dandy outside big box stores and gas stations, with fellow vans and RVs nearby, slide open the windows to let in a cool breeze, and call it a night.
During the last few months, only one night has landed me in a HUGE parking lot all alone. It would be a lie to say I slept soundly all night. Instead, I rolled all around in bed, knowing I was in a safe area and had permission to park, but also quietly wishing another road warrior would roll in. After a few hours of sleep, I woke around 2:00 am and noticed my wish had been granted. A small RV parked several lanes over. Safety in numbers.
There are a few great apps, as there are for everything, with GPS coordinates for parking locations. I tend to go with the ones containing reviews and updates within the last few months. As you might imagine, rules change and some places once welcoming to overnighters no longer allow free parking.
The most memorable night, so far, was outside Quebec City. There were no fewer than 50 vans and RVs, of every size, parked along the entire perimeter of the parking lot. As luck would have it, a concert was going on nearby and we were entertained well into the night with good music and even better company. Couples were dancing in front of their big rigs. Groups of friends sat in circles, strumming their own guitars or ukuleles. I giggled on the phone, describing the scene to my mom.
Most nights, however, are quiet. A discrete nod here and there. Small talk as you pop out of your vehicle to go use the restroom or stock up on whatever may be needed for the next day on the road.
Even though I prefer a campground beneath the trees, free parking on a paved lot allows me to travel for longer periods of time on a small budget. The tradeoff has proven to be well worth the unconventional sleeping locations.