Camping at Walmart

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Minn Wagon Master

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May 23, 2022
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Minnesota
We have spent hundreds of night at Walmart truck stops any place there is a shopping center with overhead lights in the parking lot. We find the farthest light away from the building and park and within hours there's five or six other campers and trucks surrounding us for security. Being ex law enforcement every state has a castle doctrine which is that you have the right to protect your home. When you're camping your camper is your home. I carry a double barrel shotgun have never had to use it but it always is there in case. When we stop at Walmart we usually go in and buy 40 to $60 worth of stuff so it's more expensive than camping at a campground. If Walmart does not want you to camp there they're just playing losing money.
 

Oldgator73

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Dec 28, 2017
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Dover, DE & Mouth of Wilson, VA
Many times it’s not Walmart saying you cannot park in their lot overnight. The city has an ordinance banning it. As for protecting yourself and your castle, to each their own. If you feel safe with the shotgun then by all means carry it. And yes, it is in all RVers interest to spend some money at the establishment that allows you to sleep in their parking lot.
 

Ex-Calif

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May 15, 2020
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NorthCentral Florida
One way we used to determine the "better" parts of town for selecting motels was to search for the nearest Borders book store. Not to many of them were every put in the dodgy part of town.

As they disappear you can look for similar establishments. The other clue was a congregation of car dealerships. These areas tend to be remote and deserted at night.

If you see a Walmart and it's near the freeway exit and there is a selection of "decent" restaurants it is probably a decent bet for an overnight stop.

I remember driving across Texas east bound and it had been a really long stretch. Probably Albuquerque to Elk City. Like 10+ hours. I got in around 11PM and drove by the Motel 6. Elk City was a mudhole and the Motel 6 looked like a crack house.

I drove by and pushed on the Ok City.

Later in hindsight I probably could have picked a better hotel in town. I picked the cheapest and the gps took me through some bad areas on the way so I probably didn't see the bet of Elk City. Since then Motel 6 is off my list of even considering.
 

Ray-IN

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Mar 16, 2014
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942
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North America-somewhere
Do most hotels allow RV parking/camping in the parking lot as long as you pay a fee?
Nope, I've never encountered one. I suppose if you paid the going rate for a motel room they might allow RV overnight parking if they have room.
That is one reason Pilot/Flying J truck stops are so popular, they have specific overnight RV parking spots that are free. PFJ also has a propane fill station, RV dump station(fee) and fresh water fill point. Oh, and dumpsters for trash.
Since I need fuel anyway, this is very convenient.
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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Cedar Falls, IA
Our method of finding the ”nicer” Walmarts (if that isn’t too much of a oxymoron) is to look in smaller towns. We have had better luck than in large cities where neighborhoods are more segregated by income. The time it partially failed us was in Hannigal, MO. Turns out the local HS kids like to drive through the parking lot for hours. It was dangerous, just a bunch of silly kids who liked loud cars. They stopped about midnight and went to the nearby fast food place. We might have left, but there really wasn’t anyplace else to go on a Friday night. All the campgrounds we had called were full.
 

whiteva

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Feb 15, 2012
Posts
540
Location
North Florida
Find a church with a large parking lot. I usually call the phone number listed and ask permission. Haven't been turned down yet. Sometimes electricity 20 amp is available by request.
 

LMHS

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Joined
Jun 3, 2022
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27
Location
NM
I "ONP" (Over Night Park) in few places. #1 Sam's Club (courtesy extended to members - was once invited to spend a week in a Sam's parking lot by the store managers) and I've only run into 2 that did not allow overnight parking (ABQ) and I would not want to park overnight in ANY Albuquerque NM parking lot. And I'm not too sure about their RV parks! #2 is Cracker Barrel (supper then breakfast). #3 is a public park and #4 is Walmart. I have stayed in a few Wal-Marts. But I had a bad experience in a Wal-Mart and I'm just a tad uncomfortable in them for ONP'ing. And as far as I'm concerned, you can call it "camping" if you want. Or any of a number of other terms. Most folks pretty much know what you mean.
 

Domo

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Nov 8, 2018
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512
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Fort Myers, FL
I don't understand if OP had a question or just simple comments.

OUR (read; collective RV community) courtesy at Walmart, or any other facility, is to call and verify that they allow overnight and then ask where in the parking lot that can be done.

As far as NOT being allowed to camp overnight, that can be local ordinance (as stated by others), insurance coverage issues, land owner requirements, etc.

We shop at Walmart all the time, even if not allowed overnight. They have the products we have (sadly) become used to...
 

Luckystar

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2014
Posts
10
Exactly, we overnighted at a Walmart in Colby, KS. Nice, by the way. Very crowded. Someone pulled out their grill. I shook my head and said they were going to ruin it for everyone.
 

Matt_C

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Mar 4, 2019
Posts
711
Location
SE - Mich
As we are travelers (going somewhere and not staying someplace), we have used the courtesy of many establishments for a level place to spend the night. Walmart is a last choice, but I will also admit that it true terms, it does not save us much money. They are usually conveniently located. So are Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro and Cabela's.
An non-RV acquaintance once told me that he thought I was just too cheap to buy a slip in a cramp ground.
To this I replied that all I was looking for was a level and quiet place for the night and I didn't think that the convenient places were the right price for that. He looked surprised when I asked him what he had purchased that he did not need or want?
Matt
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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3,267
Location
Cedar Falls, IA
Like Matt, we use parking lots for convenience, not money saving. But, like Matt, we think it pretty silly to pay $40-$60 to get 10-12 hours of electricity. That’s generally the only thing we connect when traveling. I would love to patronize a ”parking site” with electricity and a level spot for $10-$20. No water, no dump, no restrooms, just a safe spot to stay.
 

pampercamper

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Jun 14, 2022
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3
Location
Americus , GA
We have spent hundreds of night at Walmart truck stops any place there is a shopping center with overhead lights in the parking lot. We find the farthest light away from the building and park and within hours there's five or six other campers and trucks surrounding us for security. Being ex law enforcement every state has a castle doctrine which is that you have the right to protect your home. When you're camping your camper is your home. I carry a double barrel shotgun have never had to use it but it always is there in case. When we stop at Walmart we usually go in and buy 40 to $60 worth of stuff so it's more expensive than camping at a campground. If Walmart does not want you to camp there they're just playing losing money.
Couldn't agree more. My family earns their nights at Walmart with all we buy when we're there.
 

Ex-Calif

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May 15, 2020
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3,378
Location
NorthCentral Florida
When we are traveling - getting from Area A to Area B - we rarely stop more than 5-6 hours. Especially with 2 drivers.

The only parking lot I've stayed in was a camping world in Arizona. It was shoulder to shoulder but it was fine. We usually pick a rest stop on the highway and park with the truckers. The only times it gets problematic-ish is the weekend nights when all the worker types are traveling.

So if it is a Friday or Saturday night we will often guestimate our range and pick the cheapest site we can find. Usually $30-$40. Then we take advantage and stay around till mid-morning.
 

DutchmenSport

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Oct 30, 2021
Posts
277
Location
Anderson, Indiana
We've never overnighted at a Wall Mart and hope I never have to. We did overnight once at a grocery store parking long, some 37 years ago. We were traveling in a pick-up truck with a shell. I had a foam mattress on the bed of the truck and all our stuff was piled in the front seat. In the middle of the night police were standing around the truck running my license plate. Mind you ... my wife and I were butt naked under all those blankets. We did not move or make a sound or even breathe. The police did not get any reports on a stolen vehicle I suppose, and eventually left. We look back and laugh at the experience, but it taught us parking lot over-nighting is nothing we ever wanted to do again. When we purchased our first pop-up, and later trailers, and later again fifth wheel, the most we do is pull into a parking lot and have lunch, and move on.
 

Onyrlef

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Joined
Jun 27, 2022
Posts
3
Location
Plano, Tx
I "ONP" (Over Night Park) in few places. #1 Sam's Club (courtesy extended to members - was once invited to spend a week in a Sam's parking lot by the store managers) and I've only run into 2 that did not allow overnight parking (ABQ) and I would not want to park overnight in ANY Albuquerque NM parking lot. And I'm not too sure about their RV parks! #2 is Cracker Barrel (supper then breakfast). #3 is a public park and #4 is Walmart. I have stayed in a few Wal-Marts. But I had a bad experience in a Wal-Mart and I'm just a tad uncomfortable in them for ONP'ing. And as far as I'm concerned, you can call it "camping" if you want. Or any of a number of other terms. Most folks pretty much know what you mean.
I do 5-6 mo's temp. gigs at Sam's Clubs and there were often several RV's parked on the lot every morning. No one ever gave it a second thought. They were always parked way out on the boundaries where no one ever parked anyway, even when we were at our busiest and besides they were usually gone by 9 or 10am.
 

Babe2201

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Joined
Jul 9, 2021
Posts
448
Location
Walpole, NH
One way we used to determine the "better" parts of town for selecting motels was to search for the nearest Borders book store. Not to many of them were every put in the dodgy part of town.

As they disappear you can look for similar establishments. The other clue was a congregation of car dealerships. These areas tend to be remote and deserted at night.

If you see a Walmart and it's near the freeway exit and there is a selection of "decent" restaurants it is probably a decent bet for an overnight stop.

I remember driving across Texas east bound and it had been a really long stretch. Probably Albuquerque to Elk City. Like 10+ hours. I got in around 11PM and drove by the Motel 6. Elk City was a mudhole and the Motel 6 looked like a crack house.

I drove by and pushed on the Ok City.

Later in hindsight I probably could have picked a better hotel in town. I picked the cheapest and the gps took me through some bad areas on the way so I probably didn't see the bet of Elk City. Since then Motel 6 is off my list of even considering.
That is a great idea and one I never thought of. Both the Borders and decent restaurants should be good indications of decent neighborhood. Not fool proof by any means but a start.
 

Babe2201

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 9, 2021
Posts
448
Location
Walpole, NH
Many times it’s not Walmart saying you cannot park in their lot overnight. The city has an ordinance banning it. As for protecting yourself and your castle, to each their own. If you feel safe with the shotgun then by all means carry it. And yes, it is in all RVers interest to spend some money at the establishment that allows you to sleep in their parking lot.
So you don't protect your home?
 

Viajeros

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Joined
Apr 19, 2015
Posts
908
We have overnighted at superchargers from time to time at the end of a long day on the road. And quite often they are co-located with a Walmart or equivalent. Handy. 0FEE8F0F-4F0F-45B7-B598-47BA3B451FB6.jpeg
 

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