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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 grill party.
- 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 when spending the night at Walmart to stabilize your trailer without using your stabilizer jacks.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
You can always ask at a specific Walmart what is okay to do there and not.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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. 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. Safe travels!