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8 Rules for Camping at Walmart: Etiquette for RVers Who Need a Quick Overnight Stay

Published on June 1st, 2023 by Chelsea Gonzales

As more RVers hit the road, we are seeing the number of RVs camping at Walmart climb. This is just fine with us. After all, there is plenty of room for everyone, and the more the merrier, right? 

Unfortunately, there are a few bad eggs that are ruining it for everyone. Perhaps these campers just don’t understand the etiquette that should be used when camping in Walmart parking lot spaces. In any case, their less-than-thoughtful actions are causing Walmart locations to turn away RVers who’d like to stay overnight, causing some serious issues for those who just need a place to sleep for the night. 

In an effort to help solve this problem and ensure that quick and easy overnight camping opportunities remain available, we are using this article to help readers understand the unspoken rules that should be followed when camping at Walmart. 

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Why Camp at Walmart?

First, let’s take just a minute to talk about why somebody might want to camp at Walmart. No, Walmart is not the quietest of places, nor is it pretty. A Walmart parking lot does not have anything to offer in the way of amenities, and you probably aren’t going to find a friendly and welcoming community there. So what is the draw? 

The answer is simple:
Camping at Walmart is convenient, easy, and free.

When you’ve been driving all day and just need a place to sleep for a few hours, Walmart is the perfect option.

There are Walmarts in most bigger towns and all cities, so these parking lots are readily available.

Additionally, most Walmart parking lots are large, offering an easy place to get into and back out of. RVers also appreciate that they don’t have to unhitch to camp at Walmart. 

We don’t know any RVers who’d want to stay in a Walmart parking lot for more than a single night, but they sure are handy when all you need is a quick overnight stay.  

Prevost at sunrise in the Walmart parking lot. (Image: R. Agredano)
Sunrise in the Walmart parking lot. (Image: R. Agredano)

8 Rules for Camping at Walmart

Think you might want to use Walmart for overnight RV parking? As mentioned above, there are some simple unspoken etiquette rules that you will want to follow when camping at Walmart. 

We’ve listed these eight rules below so you can be sure you’re being a good Walmart camper.

1. Always Ask Permission

You should always, always ask permission before parking anywhere overnight. Even if other RVers have told you that they’ve stayed at this Walmart recently, you will still want to head inside and chat with the manager on duty to ensure staying the night is okay. If you think you’ll arrive after the store closes, call before closing time to confirm you can sleep in their lot.

Of course, you will want to respect whatever answer you get, and if the manager makes certain requests of you (such as parking in a certain area), be sure to respect those as well. 

2. Choose a Far Corner

If you are not told where to park, the best rule of thumb is to choose a spot in a far, out-of-the-way corner. You definitely don’t want to be taking up prime parking spots for other customers, and you don’t want to block the path for those who might need to get through. Keep in mind that semi trucks may need to pass by you too. Leave enough room!

3. Limit Your Stay to One Night

We mentioned earlier that we don’t know anyone who’d want to stay in a Walmart parking lot for more than a single night. That said, if you do feel tempted, resist that temptation and move along. If you absolutely must stay a second night because of an emergency, get permission from the manager again and be sure to move on as soon as you can the next day. 

4. Keep Slides Out of the Way

You might be tempted to put your slides out. Some people recommend against this entirely, but in our opinion, it is okay to put your slides out as long as they aren’t in anyone’s way. The best option is to park against the curb and put your slide out over the grass, if such an option exists.

5. Skip the Campsite Setup

What you don’t want to do is set up your campsite the way you would in a campground. Things like outdoor rugs, camp chairs, grills, and other outdoor items should stay packed away until you arrive at an actual campground. Setting up camp outside of your RV is seen as rude and you will likely be asked to leave. 

6. Be Quiet Campers

Another thing that’s rude? Being the loud neighbors. Many times there will be more than one camper in a parking lot overnight, and sometimes you will be camped out near semi trucks. Even when there are no other campers, there are other customers to think about.

For this reason, it’s important to keep your volume down and avoid running your generator late at night, early in the morning, or for long periods of time. 

7. Do Your Shopping

While you’re parked at Walmart, go ahead and head inside to get some shopping done. Not only is it easier to stock up on groceries when your home-on-wheels is waiting in the parking lot, but shopping at the Walmart you are using for overnight parking is a great way of saying thanks.  

8. Pack It In, Pack It Out

Lastly, you will want to leave the Walmart parking lot the way you found it. Never, ever dump wastewater on the ground when camping at Walmart (or anywhere for that matter), avoid dumping food on the ground, and make sure all of your trash makes it into a trash can or rolls out with you. 

Alternatives to Camping in Walmart Parking Lot

Sometimes a Walmart that allows overnight camping is not readily available. Not to worry, as this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck paying for a campground. There are many other free overnight RV parking options to try.

We recommend looking for the following businesses if you need a place to sleep and can’t find a suitable Walmart:

Cracker Barrel
Camping World
Sam’s Club
Some truck stop chains
Some rest areas (watch for signs forbidding this, as some states have laws against it)

Of course, all of the etiquette guidelines mentioned above apply when staying at these places too. Be sure to mind your manners and show the world just how amazing RVers are in order to ensure these places remain available to us for years to come!

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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