Is RV Parking at Walmart a Good Idea?

Apr 21 2015

RVers like much of the same things: nature, community and family. None of those things can be found in the parking lot of a Walmart.

But when it’s pouring outside and you’re 60 miles from your campground (and 600 miles from home), the empty parking lot of a Walmart can be heaven-sent.

Walmart locations can be found in nearly every town and city in America, and each offers a large amount of parking. And for decades, Walmart has been kind enough to offer its excess parking spots to RV tourists at no cost.

But camping at Walmart does come with a catch – and not all stores support this common practice. Here’s what RVers need to know about parking lot camping, and when the appropriate time to do it is.

WHEN TO PARK

You bought your RV because you want to enjoy it. You won’t be getting the most out of your RV if you’re staying in a parking lot with no hook-ups, no grass and a bunch of people giving you confused looks.

  • Stay the night at a Walmart in emergency situations only. If the road or weather conditions are unsafe, if you or one of your fellow travelers are feeling ill or you’re too tired to be behind the wheel safely, don’t hesitate to pull over until your situation is resolved.

  • When you do arrive, go inside the store, grab a sandwich and introduce yourself to the store manager. They’ll be happy to know who is staying in their parking lot, and you’ll be setting a good example for all other RVers who might stop by.

  • It’s just as important to know when not to park. Is everyone in your party in good health? Is the sun shining? Then don’t push your luck.

  • The type of RV you have is also important. You’re OK if you have a motorhome, truck camper or other towable RV. But pop-up campers and tents should steer clear – it’s hard to remain inconspicuous in one of these.

  • Don’t forget about safety: most Walmart stores are in satisfactory neighborhoods, but some aren’t. Use common sense and don’t spend the night anywhere you feel uncomfortable. Don’t ever open your door unless the person on the other side is police, store security or a store employee.

HOW TO BEHAVE

Parking your RV at Walmart is a last resort. Accordingly, it’s not something to have fun with. There are no pine trees, no sandy seashores and no fishing holes.

  • Keep your lawn chairs inside, and don’t even think about getting a barbecue going.

  • Picking up after yourself is a must; leaving trash behind makes you look bad, and gives RVers everywhere a bad image.

  • When you’re deciding on a place to park, don’t choose a spot close to the store. Instead, find somewhere inconspicuous near the back of the parking lot.

  • Focus on blending in with your surroundings – other cars. Don’t stand out from the pack.

  • Stay only one night. Only stay a second night if there is an emergency.

  • Don’t pull out your slide-outs or your awning.

  • Waste dumping is enormously rude and should never be considered.

Walmart has been kind enough to offer RVers a place to stay overnight. Don’t be a bad guest and ruin it for others.

OTHER PLACES

Walmart is not the only business that offers RVers a short respite from the road. Here’s a short list of places RVers could stop in an emergency. (Of course, asking a manager for permission is important.)

  • Truck stops

  • RV Dealerships

  • K Mart

  • Highway Rest Areas

  • Casinos

Photo courtesy jeepersmedia