The Don’ts of Walmart Camping
Walmart camping is a rite of passage for RVers in America. It’s free, it’s widely available, and you can buy late-night snacks!
However, there are essential rules you must follow when you overnight at Walmart.
The consequence of not following these rules results in more overnight parking restrictions across the USA.
Today we’re sharing 7 “don’ts” of Walmart camping. If you abide by these rules, you (and all RVers) will benefit.
Let’s dive in!
Don’t Show Up Without Researching
Camping isn’t allowed at every Walmart. Only an estimated 50% of Walmarts allow overnight parking.
It’s essential to research the specific location before you arrive. There are two tools we find valuable for studying Walmart’s camping rules.
AllStays: This is a smartphone app that allows you to filter Walmarts that don’t allow camping and Walmarts that may allow camping. In the app’s review section of individual stores, you can get a good understanding if camping is allowed.
RV Parky: This is a website that has many reviews of overnight camping locations. If we’re near a computer, it’s our go-to tool for Walmart camping research.
Don’t Get Comfy
Once you find a Walmart that allows overnight camping, you want to make sure not to get comfy. Don’t set up your patio gear or your outdoor grill.
These parking lots are lovely for catching sleep in between long travel days. They’re not a substitute for an RV park.
If you have ample room, you can extend your slides. Nothing more.
Don’t Extend Your Stay
Walmart camping is for one night and one night only.
You really shouldn’t stay for more than 12 hours. Arriving in the evening and leaving in the morning is standard procedure. This way, you don’t interfere with their daily business.
Don’t Skip A Hot Breakfast On The Way Out
One of the beauties of camping at Walmart is nearby access to hot food. On travel days, the last thing you want to do is dirty the RV kitchen.
Whether it’s located inside Walmart or near the surrounding parking lot, a hot breakfast should be within walking distance.
Use this to your benefit!
Don’t Let The Bright Lights Disrupt Your Sleep
The fact is, Walmart parking lots are well lit. The lighting is excellent for feeling secure, but it can do a number on your sleep.
If exterior light can seep into your RV, arrive with a gameplan. Either block the windows with blackout curtains or bring a sleep mask with you.
You need a good night sleep in between long travel days. Learn from our mistakes, and come prepared!
Don’t Hesitate To Set Up Orange Cones
Always keep safety in mind! We travel with small orange cones for overnight camping situations.
Set up a cone or two near the corners or your RV and by your exterior steps.
These small road cones will help other drivers avoid slide swiping your RV or parking too close to your front door.
Use the cones with common sense. Don’t place them wider than is necessary. They aren’t for claiming space. The cones are for improving your visual presence.
Don’t Rely On Walmart
Walmart overnight camping is comfortable, but don’t rely on it. If you’re in the western half of the USA, you can probably find much better free camping options.
Texas has an abundance of city & county parks that allow free camping. Arizona’s BLM land (thousands of acres) usually allows free camping. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada all have ample free camping options other than Walmart.
Use Walmart when it makes sense, but no more than that.
We also recommend front end research when planning an RV trip. Let Walmat be a Plan B, rather than your go-to campground.
The Best Free Camping in America
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy). You should give it a try! A matter of fact, these free campsites are yours.
Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
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