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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 smartphone app 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! 

Hot breakfast before a long travel day.

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 20 Best Free Campsites in America

Here’s a List of Businesses that MAY Offer Overnight Parking as Well

Cracker Barrel – Some Cracker Barrel locations allow overnight RV parking in their parking lots. However, it’s essential to check with the specific location before assuming it’s allowed.

Camping World – Camping World is a chain of RV supply stores that may allow overnight RV parking in their lots. Again, it’s important to check with the specific location first.

Flying J and Pilot Travel Centers – These truck stops often offer overnight RV parking and may have amenities like dump stations and propane filling.

Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops – Some Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops locations allow overnight RV parking in their lots. As always, checking with the specific location before assuming it’s allowed is best.

Home Depot and Lowe’s – While not all locations allow it, some Home Depot and Lowe’s stores may allow overnight RV parking in their lots.

Rest areas – As mentioned before, many rest areas along highways and interstates allow overnight RV parking.

Casinos – Some allow RVers to park overnight for free, although this may depend on the specific casino and its policies.

Walgreens – Some Walgreens stores may allow overnight RV parking in their lots, but it’s important to check with the specific location first.

Sam’s Club and Costco – Some Sam’s Club and Costco locations may allow overnight RV parking, but it’s important to check with the specific location first.

      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.

      Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

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      1. Bob says:

        I’ve been using Walmart since they opened up. When you could overnight at all of them. Since before you ha smartphones to check anything.maybe before you were even born since you look so young. During these decades I have seen so much abuse. Just like I see in dispersed camping in NF or BLM land and has also resulted in closures. Some people just think other people are born to pick up after them!

      2. Ed Bickford says:

        Prefer Cracker Barrel whenever available. We usually call and ask first and are never told no. All of the managers we have met are extremely friendly and several have sat down with us at dinner or breakfast while we were waiting on our food and asked us about our travels. Have never had one that said we couldn’t spend the night and they always remind us to stop in before we leave for breakfast.

      3. Shirlo says:

        My tiny trailer has an icebox instead of a fridge, and it seems like Walmart always has the cheapest ice in town, no matter which town!

      4. We like to take advantage of the Walmart restrooms, but always purchase something before leaving the store.

      5. Nicholas Velvet says:

        Walmart’s in many areas have turned into truck stops for truckers supplying these stores and impossible to sleep at. Cracker Barrels make efforts to accodomate RV’s and have signage specifically saying “no trucks”. We always call ahead, get the name of the manager and purchase dinner or breakfast. We have never been turned away and in one instance had a manager go above and beyond to “fit us in”. A thank you email to Cracker Barrel corporate hqs. in that case had a call back to us. That Cracker Barrel is near and dear to us. Another RV friend made. These are near impossible times for full timers and supporting Cracker Barrel is VERY important.

      6. W. Carl Hepker says:

        Often when Walmart does not allow overnight RV stays, it is not Walmart that is disallowing that. Often it is the municipality or the county. Walmart cannot keep the police or the sheriff from checking the parking lot and kicking out anybody staying overnight. I prefer Cracker Barrel because they have dedicated RV parking spots, always welcome RV’rs, and are ready to serve us breakfast in the morning before we hit the road.

      7. Deborah Kerr says:

        Good information – thank you!

      8. Howie Deboer says:

        Some Walmarts in the last year have started booting RV and Semis for staying in their parking lots over night. When you go inside to have boot removed they are telling you its a $300 fee whether or not you have/will buy anything from them. Speaking from personell experience IF THERE IS A SIGN THAT SAYS NO OVERNMIGHT PARKING YOU RISK GETTING BOOTED AND $300 FINE.

      9. Richard Owens says:

        Does that mean if you stop to buy some groceries and you’re in an RV they might boot you and charge you $300 before you can leave just because you pulled in in an RV

      10. Dale C says:

        We have been ‘Walmart Campers’ for almost 30 years and don’t rely on an app to get information. Instead, by mid-afternoon we choose the store we want to stop at, and we call the store to be sure that camping is acceptable. One store we called said overnight camping was acceptable, but the area where the RVs parked was closed for “striping,” and another location was suggested. One time we called a store we had camped at previously, but a few days earlier the city where it was located had passed an ordinance prohibiting overnight parking. A call generally gets you much better information than an app does.