This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy.

Big-Rig Friendly RV Gas Station Alternatives: No Travel Centers or Truck Stops on Your Route? No Problem!

Published on October 5th, 2023

Many RVers don’t know that big rig-friendly RV gas station alternatives exist. Finding them is easier than you think and I’m here to show you how. 

How to Find Big Rig Friendly RV Gas Station Alternatives

I find that most RVers think the only safe, easy places to for big rig RVs to get gas are travel centers and truck stop gas stations along interstates and freeways. You know…the Love’s, Flying J’s, TA Travel Centers, and the like.

Well, after 6-plus years of RVing, including the past 3 years and 34,000 miles of full-time RVing through all of the Lower 48 states and Canada, I say, “Nope, it just isn’t true!

Sign up for the newsletter today!

Please enter a valid email address.

An error occurred. Please try again later.

× logo

Thank you for subscribing to the Let's RV newsletter, keep your eye on your inbox for updates.

What is a Big-Rig RV Friendly Gas Station?

Flying J big rig friendly RV gas station stop (Image: Erik Anderson)
Flying J big rig friendly RV gas station stop (Image: Erik Anderson)

By “big rig” I am referring to pretty much any fairly long RV setup. That could be from any size of motorhome towing a toad, to any size fifth wheel or travel trailer and tow truck combination.

My wife Jeanne and I travel in a 31-foot mid-size Class A motorhome towing our Honda CR-V. We have a combined length of 54-feet. This means we can’t back up when towing. And, guess what? We almost never gas up at the big travel centers and truck stops.

Instead, we easily get fuel at smaller gas stations as close to our destinations as possible.

Let’s get into why we prefer these gas stations. Learn how we find big-rig RV friendly gas stations that are easy to get in and out of, and how you can ditch your fears of fueling up your RV at smaller gas stations.

Why We Avoid Typical Big Rig-Friendly Truck Stops and Gas Stations

SUV towing travel trailer at gas station pump
Sometimes smaller is better for RV fill-ups!

Okay, maybe we are daft for not filling up at big rig-friendly gas stations! We get it. There is a lot to be said for travel centers’ big pump lanes (even dedicated RV lanes), hundreds of pumps (here’s looking at you Buc-ee’s!), and close proximity off major interstate highways.

But, here’s why travel center gas stations are not for us, and maybe not for you either.

1. Travel centers and truck stops can be crowded and hectic.

We don’t like the hustle and bustle of big travel centers. Available parking for larger RV tow combinations can also be a challenge, depending on season and time of day.

2. Backroad travel is often more fun.

We prefer secondary routes and local two-lane highways for our travel days. They are often more scenic, with fewer trucks and less traffic in general than the interstates and freeways.

3. We limit our driving day miles.

Jeanne likes modest travel day mileage, usually no more than 200-250 miles per day. That equates to less than half a tank. So, we never have to fuel up enroute.

4. Arriving at our destination with a full tank is how we roll.

We never have to think about getting gas at the start of our next travel day. We pack up, turn the key, and drive. Gassing up our rig right before our camping or RV park destinations typically means using smaller local gas stations.

How to Relax More and Find Big-Rig Friendly Gas Station Alternatives on Your Route

Believe me, I understand how intimidating it can be thinking about maneuvering your 50-to-60-foot (or longer) RV in and out of the average local, small, corner gas station. This used to freak us out, too! But. we’ve learned a few tricks that calmed our fears. Today, it’s easy for us to avoid truck stops in our RV and find small, RV friendly gas stations.

Follow these 10 steps to easily and safely get your RV in and out of smaller gas stations like a pro

Determine your destination and route. Don’t be afraid of taking secondary scenic routes for fear of not easily getting fuel. Trust us, you can do it!
For planning RV travel routes, we LOVE using RV Trip Wizard, a resource of the RV Life suite of great RVing applications. Not only does RV Trip Wizard make finding RV parks and campgrounds easy for us, but it also has a super handy fuel stop estimating feature. You can program it to your rig’s own thirsty mpg mileage.
Now the fun part for me…playing “RV Gas Station Detective.” The best tools for us to find RV gas stations are the Google Maps Satellite and StreetView features. Start at your destination in Google Maps and then toggle to Satellite view.
Google Satellite View of Exxon Big Rig Friendly Gas Station (Image: Erik Anderson)
Google Satellite View of Exxon Big Rig Friendly Gas Station (Image: Erik Anderson)
Zoom in a bit. Start working your way backward along your route from the destination (i.e. RV park or campground).
As you scan the satellite view of your route, look for the closest gas stations. They are typically labeled (e.g. BP, Shell, Exxon, Valero, Circle K, Mobil, Sunoco, Chevron, Royal Farms, KwikTrip, etc.) and are usually pretty easy to spot from the birds-eye view.

6. Evaluate the gas stations from above, based on these factors

Is it on the right side of the road as you’ll be heading toward your destination? (best)
Relative to the road you’ll be on and the station’s building or store. Are the pump lanes parallel (best)? Perpendicular (challenging)? Or, angled (maybe okay)? If you can’t tell this from the above view, you’ll be able to see it in Google StreetView, which we’ll cover in Step 7.
Does the station have all-around access? Can you drive around to the other side for better access to a good pump lane? Can you drive around to reposition your rig while a vehicle in your desired pump lane finishes?
Are the pump lanes perpendicular (facing) the building/store? Do you see 1 or 2 end lanes that appear to have open access and exits?
If you need diesel fuel, note that the end pump lanes typically have diesel pumps.
Study the pump lanes roof and/or pavement markings. Can you tell how many lanes there are? Which ones may have easier ingress and egress from the roadway?

7. Switch to Google StreetView in front of the gas station.

Google Street View of Exxon Big Rig Friendly Gas Station (Image: Erik Anderson)
Google Street View of Exxon Big Rig Friendly Gas Station (Image: Erik Anderson)

Move up and down the roadway to view the gas station from all angles. Check out access to all of the pump lanes. Determine which will be easiest for you and your rig combination. Zoom in on the end lanes and see how easy, or difficult, it may be to exit them. You can also check for diesel pumps this way.
In StreetView and Satellite view, think about where you can wait with your rig in case all pump lanes are occupied when you arrive. Choosing a gas station that has driving access all around is especially helpful in those situations.

10. Choose the best gas station for your fill up.

Add this station to your GPS route. Make it your next to last stop. You’re set!

Mobil big rig friendly RV gas station stop (Image: Erik Anderson)
Mobil big rig friendly RV gas station stop (Image: Erik Anderson)

Finding Big-Rig Friendly Gas Station Alternatives Gets Easier with Practice

This process sounds a bit tedious at first. But I assure you that after you’ve done it a couple times, it becomes second nature. Locating RV-friendly gas stations is a fun part of our trip planning process. I like the challenge of finding the best local gas stops that we can slip in and out of with ease/

So there you have it. Even smaller, local gas stations away from the main highways can often accommodate bigger RVs. It just takes a little RV trip planning. Then, you can sleep soundly at night. No more worrying about where you’ll fill your big RV’s tank the next day.

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

Support Let's RV

Let's RV is run by RVers who share the most up-to-date and valuable content on camping and RVing every week. We couldn’t do it without the support of our readers just like you.

You can help support the efforts of Let's RV by becoming an RV LIFE Pro subscriber, which gives you access to:

  • RV LIFE App, an RV Safe GPS™ with voice- and lane guidance, even offline.
  • RV LIFE Trip Wizard, a visual RV trip planner with custom RV-safe routes and a comprehensive directory of RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds.
  • RV LIFE Maintenance, a cloud-based service that tracks your RV maintenance and provides reminders, reports, and related documentation.
  • RV LIFE Masterclass, an online educational platform where RV experts share tips and advice on everything you need to know about RVing.

If you value our site and want to see us continue to grow, please consider supporting us by becoming an RV LIFE Pro subscriber today.