You’d be hard-pressed to find an RVer who hasn’t parked overnight at Walmart at least once. It’s a free, convenient, and (usually) safe place to sleep while traveling from one destination to another.
As campers we have parked overnight at Walmart and we’re certainly not the minority. It’s so common that there’s even a name for it in RV terminology: Wallydocking!
We are all very thankful Walmart extends this courtesy to RVers but we have to remember that it’s exactly that: a courtesy! To ensure wallydocking continues to be offered, we need to follow the unwritten rules of parking overnight at Walmart.
So then, what are those rules?
According to their website “Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers.”
Walmart doesn’t ask anything in return for their free parking spaces but there are some unspoken expectations.
By the way, this is one article in a series of UNWRITTEN Rules. You should also read:
- UNWRITTEN Rules for Camping with a Dog
- UNWRITTEN Rules for RV Parking Overnight at Truck Stops (coming soon)
- UNWRITTEN Rules for Parking Overnight at Cracker Barrel (coming soon)
- UNWRITTEN Boondocking Etiquette Tips (coming soon)
1. Check each location for overnight parking
Not all Walmarts allow overnight parking! In fact, only about 50 percent of them do. This number has been declining as zoning laws and city ordinances are increasingly banning overnight parking.
Store managers may also not allow it. According to Walmart’s website “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.”
You can either call management before you arrive. Or, you can use your Allstays app to filter Walmarts that might allow overnight parking. In the app’s review section of individual stores, you can get a better understanding if it’s allowed.
2. Park out-of-the-way (but not too far)
It’s considered bad boondocking etiquette to take prime parking. You don’t want to take parking spots right up front that customers who are going in and out can use.
At the same time, you need to park strategically for safety. Parking near lights and away from back alleys is always recommended. I also recommend keeping your day/night shades closed.
So, basically, this rule is to park SAFELY out-of-the-way.
3. Take up as little space as possible
Try to take up as few parking spaces as possible. For instance, you shouldn’t park perpendicular and take up several spaces when you can just pull through and take up two.
If your RV requires you to extend a slide to reach the sleeping quarters, try to find an end spot where you won’t overlap into the next parking space and/or only extend it the minimum amount to get through.
4. Don’t set up camp
It’s very important to note that Walmart allows overnight parking, not camping! You should not extend your awning, set out your favorite camping chairs, or even extend your slides if you can help it.
You certainly don’t want to bust out your grill. Just relax inside your RV and get a good night’s rest before the next leg of your journey.
5. Arrive late and leave early
There isn’t a set arrival and departure time for wallydocking. However, the rule of thumb is to arrive later in the day and leave in the morning. That doesn’t mean you have to arrive at 10 pm and be out at the crack of dawn. It just means you shouldn’t linger unnecessarily.
6. Only stay one night
Speaking of lingering, parking overnight at Walmart is meant to be overnight. As in one night!
Staying a prolonged time is one of the surest ways to hurt all boondockers because Walmart management and the city don’t want to deal with squatters. The more people abuse this courtesy, the more it will become regulated.
So, only stay one night whenever you’re parking overnight at Walmart or any other form of lot docking.
7. Buy something
Last but not least, you should always buy something at Walmart when you stay overnight in their parking lot. It’s a way of paying and saying thank you for a free place to stay overnight.
Chances are you need to buy something anyway. Since they have so much from groceries to clothes to entertainment, this is probably one of the easiest UNWRITTEN rules to follow! Besides, who doesn’t shop Walmart, anyway?
That covers all the rules for parking overnight at Walmart specifically but I want to leave you with some more tips.
I love Wal-Mart. You can put that down. I love Wal-Mart. My husband and I hang out there.