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10 Unwritten Rules When Staying Overnight At Walmart

Can You Go Camping At Walmart?

Have you ever seen big RV’s in the back of a Walmart parking lot?

It might have been there overnight, as you’re allowed to park overnight at a lot of Walmart locations across the country.

Related Product: Stay powered when dry camping/boondocking with a portable power station and a solar panel like the EcoFlow River Pro (click to view on Amazon)

Unfortunately, it has been getting harder and harder to find a Walmart that will allow it due to people not treating it as an overnight stop but more like a campsite.

So what does this mean?

Well, it means that some people are destroying for everybody else and the best thing we can do about it is to keep treating Walmart as a quick stop for a night’s sleep and a store, nothing more and nothing less.

If you follow these 10 unwritten rules, you won’t have to deal with getting kicked out at 3 am and hopefully still be allowed to do it for years to come.

See Also: The Different Ways Of RV Camping Defined & Explained

travel trailer rv camping in a walmart parking lot
Parking our travel trailer in a Walmart parking lot to get some groceries and spend the night.

10 Unwritten Rules When “Camping” At Walmart

1. Don’t camp at Walmart

Ok, hear me out.

It’s okay to stay at Walmart overnight, and the owner of Walmart encourages people to do so, but there is a difference between camping and parking overnight.

Treat it like a parking spot, not a campsite. Most of the unwritten rules today will be based on this first rule.

2. Ask

Every single time you want to stop at a Walmart overnight you should call ahead or enter the store when you get there and ask the manager or customer support.

They might have changed their policies at the specific location you’re at, and it’s worth it to be 100% sure you’re allowed to stay there.

If you’re allowed to stay you will most likely be told to park as far in the back of the parking lot as possible.

This is something that will be good for both you and the store.

3. Check City/State Laws

Some cities and states do not allow overnight parking and sleeping in a parking lot.

A lot of Walmart managers know whether this is allowed or not.

4. Don’t run a generator

Making a bunch of noise and bothering others might not only get you kicked out but also give campers a bad reputation.

If you need to run your furnace or something like it, start your tow vehicle instead but don’t leave it running for too long.

5. Don’t leave trash

Taking care of your waste is essential, but it’s not a good idea to overfill a trash can in the parking lot or leave trash next to it.

If you can’t fit the garbage in the trash can, bring it with you and throw it away somewhere else.

6. Don’t extend your awning

Extending your awning in a Walmart parking lot is a big no-no. You’re there to stay overnight and then leave, not to have a tailgate party.

7. Don’t put down your stabilizer jacks

Unless necessary, don’t put down your stabilizing jacks.

If you absolutely need to, use large stabilizer pads like the Camco jack pads (click to view on Amazon) so you don’t ruin the parking lot.

I recommend using X-Chocks (click to view on Amazon) when spending the night at Walmart to stabilize your trailer without using your stabilizer jacks.

8. Don’t unhitch

I don’t recommend unhooking from your tow vehicle if you don’t have to.

If you have a fifth wheel, you can leave it on but put down your jacks just to where it takes a little bit of weight of the tow vehicle.

With a bumper pull, you can put down the tongue jack to achieve the same thing.

There is a difference between putting your jacks or tongue jack down and unhitching completely, and staying hitched on but use the jacks/tongue jack to take a little bit of weight off the vehicle.

Make sure also to use a large pad not to destroy the asphalt.

9. Don’t stay more than one night

When staying overnight at a Walmart, it’s recommended to get there late in the evening and leave early in the morning.

I understand that you want to take advantage of a free parking spot but staying there for even 24 hours shows that you’re doing more than overnight parking.

10. Purchase something

Show the store that you appreciate them letting you stay there and purchase something.

The manager might not notice it, but you can do it to show your appreciation anyway.

And how often do you need absolutely nothing from the store between campgrounds?

Frequently Asked Questions About Walmart Camping

How do I know what Walmarts allow overnight parking?

I use Allstay’s app to find Walmarts that allow overnight parking.

They have a website that you can get to right here with all states and Walmarts that allow it.

Like mentioned above, always ask when you get there, either way, to make sure you’re allowed to stay there before you get ready for bed.

Other stores let you park outside of them. Like Camping World, Cracker Barrel, Kmart, Flying J’s and a lot of casinos.

With these stores, follow the same unwritten rules above.

See Also: How To Find Fresh Water And Dump Stations

Can I put my slide out?

I think it’s okay to put your slide out if it’s needed to use the trailer, as long as it doesn’t stick out in the road or take up additional parking spots.

Not unhitching and not staying more than for a nights sleep, are more critical, in my opinion.

Where can I find official information on this subject?

Walmart has a frequently asked questions page where they have answered the question, “Can I park my RV at a Walmart store?”

Their answer is this:

“While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.”

The last thing I want to say is that no matter what you think of Walmart, the fact that they’re letting RVers stay for free at a lot of locations is fantastic.

See Also: Best Portable Solar Panel Charger For RV Camper/Boondocking

They don’t have to offer it and like we have seen some managers are done with it due to people not behaving, so show appreciation for the ones that do and be a good RVer about it.

Have any more questions about “camping” at Walmart? Leave a comment below.

by Jesse
Jesse has always had an interest in camping, technology, and the outdoors. Who knew that growing up in a small town in Sweden with endless forests and lakes would do that to you?

17 thoughts on “10 Unwritten Rules When Staying Overnight At Walmart”

  1. During a recent Hurricane one of the Walmarts went above and beyound. There were about 10 or 12 units. All campgrounds were full. Not only were we allowed to unhook our tow vehicles and put out slides they also allowed generators. Every morning the store manager or assistant store manager would walk through asking if any of us needed anything while offering donuts and having a fresh water hose to top off our tanks. This went on for about a week. To say they were fantastic is an understatment. Before leaving we made sure to get a gift for the store manager and her assistant manager. Always ask if you can stay first.

    • I would add one more item, assuming you have the time. Since I am an early riser relative to my wife, I grab a couple kitchen trash bags and rubber gloves, and pickup trash in the parking lot. It’s just my way of saying ‘thank you’ to Walmart.

  2. We have stayed at Walmarts many times. We appreciate being able to stay after a long drive, pulling in late, and being able to replenish supplies. I remember the first night we had our RV. We had no sheets, blankets or pillows. We were so happy to be able to go in and shop for these items to get us a good nights sleep! We always ask first and follow the rules. Love Walmart!

  3. The Chico CA store also allowed camping after the 2018 fire in Paradise. Many people stayed a couple weeks and they were generous about it.

  4. Forget about the State of New Hampshire, they are very unfriendly to passing campers and have ordinances throughout the state prohibiting overnight parking. This was especially troublesome to my wife and I this past year as we were hosting all summer at a State Park on the coast of Maine. We stayed after the campground closed to button up for the winter, then headed south. We got in to Nashua, NH about 6pm and pulled in to Amherst Walmart, where there were big signs posted all over “No Overnight Parking”! So we continued to head west, and my wife called ahead to the Keene, NH Walmart; the person who answered the phone was very nice and said yes, just park out at the edge! We did and were rudely awakened at 4 in the morning by the police, and told there was no overnight parking allowed by city ordinance. He also rousted the 2 truck drivers who were sleeping there. The main problem was, we had looked for campgrounds; but because it was so late in the season, they were all closed. Vermont has no big box stores, or truck stops that we could find, so we ended up driving non-stop, on little sleep to NY State.

  5. During the last hurricane we went north of Atlanta to the red top mountain state park. There were no available camping spots but we were welcome to stay in the parking lot of the picnic areas. What a beautiful place. They were welcoming evacuees of the storm ,the staff was nice. Lakes, mountains and wonderful people what more could you ask for.
    Our thanks to them and recommendations to anyone looking for a beautiful quiet state park.

  6. I drove back n forth from West Iowa to North Carolina, in a mini van, left the back seat behind and tossed in my sleeping bag. I hoped to sleep at a Walmart, as I was really hoping to not have to pay for motel. I went in and asked both times, was assured I would be fine, park near the Rvs and no should bother me. Was great to save. Was grateful.


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