Words of Wisdom: “Don't do anything that attracts attention to either yourself or your vehicle. People cannot object to your presence if they do not notice that you are there.” – lennyflank1)
Stealth camping (sometimes called “urban camping”) means finding a place to park your camper and sleep in it with no one knowing. The goals are two-fold:
Common approaches to stealthiness include:
Look for areas where other vehicles are parked: near apartments, businesses, industrial areas, etc.2) If you find a promising spot while on errands mark it in your nav app so you can return some other time.
Avoid areas with schools, residences, etc to avoid riling neighbors. Be certain not to block driveways or ingress/egress of trucks. Watch out for street signs with directional3) or time/day4) restrictions. Avoid painted curbs, typically red (fire lanes), yellow, blue, green, etc.
To avoid accidents you may want to avoid parking on near curves/hills where sightlines are limited, near bars where drunks will be navigating. You might want to park forward of other vehicles to avoid being the first in the chain to be hit. To avoid being blocked in you can park in the first or last legal slot in the row – no one will be able to park close enough to hem you in. If your driver's side mirror folds in you might do so to avoid damage from close passes or vandals.
Some cities or counties forbid sleeping in vehicles, parking RVs, etc.
Famously, the original Los Angeles law against living in a car was struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as being “unconstitutionally vague”.5) Since the 9th Circuit covers much of the west coast this may have special value for snowbirds.6) A similar shift occurred in 1972 when SCOTUS struck down Jacksonville, Florida's vagrancy law.7)
Some cities have their local zoning maps online8)
You may also be able to use Google Maps or other imagery to see where the warehouse/industrial districts are.
It is possible to get a DUI in a parked vehicle.9)
Normal activities like using the toilet or bathing could be considered indecent exposure if witnessed by the public.10) Be discreet!