RV Overnights in Walmart Parking Lots
Long cross-country trips are pretty typical when it comes to full-time RV life. They can be extremely tiring and perhaps a little boring, but there are joys to be found in those moments, too. Like the moment when your head can finally hit your own pillow for a long night’s rest! When we are doing these long drives, it is really nice to have a place to stay for the night that we don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for AND doesn’t require us to spend too much time setting up our spot before packing up and heading off again in the morning.
In these instances, we LOVE to do overnight stays in Walmart parking lots! Staying in parking lots doesn’t take too much skill if boondocking isn’t something you have tried yet, and you can find a Walmart at almost every exit along the interstate. Want to give Walmart parking lots a chance on your next road trip?
Here are a few of our best tips!
Probably our best advice ever is to call ahead! We know that we have said this before for many other things, but that is because we truly believe in the power of phone calls. It is always nice to call the Walmart you will be stopping ahead of time to ask them both if you can park there and where they would prefer for you to park. Some people might say it’s better to ask forgiveness, not permission, but we would much prefer to ask for permission ahead of time instead of getting ready to lay down for the night and having someone come to our door and tell us we need to leave.
In general, we have found that we don’t want to pull into the parking lot when there is a lot going on. We like arriving a bit later in the evening when we can and when it makes sense because it makes the process go a lot smoother! This makes pulling into a spot where we can park for the night much easier. Some people advocate for leaving in the early morning as well as arriving late, but we know how important a good night’s sleep is on a cross-country road trip! We find that when we arrive later, it’s usually okay to stay a little longer in the morning to get the extra sleep we need. In our experience, most Walmarts aren’t usually swarming with people in the morning, so we can sleep and get out pretty easily.
Everyone knows we cook pretty much everything we eat, but the only problem with arriving late is needing to eat and get to bed quickly. The Wild Hixsons dinner strategy is running into Walmart and grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the deli because it is both delicious and our healthiest option in a pinch. But beware that the later you arrive, the greater chance there will be NO hot food left… When we stay at Walmart, we always like to have a backup plan like grabbing some deli meat or perhaps some steaks to cook up quickly if we can get into our kitchen.
The Great Slide Debate
There is a big debate in the RV community when it comes to overnight stays in Walmart parking lots. How set up is too set up? There is a weird balance between setting up enough to eat and sleep comfortably for the night while not overly taking advantage of the free place to stay for the night. We never want to make a Walmart manager feel like we were a nuisance and because of that, decide not to let others stay there in the future.
What we like to do is put out our kitchen slide while we are cooking and then we put it back in before we go to bed. When it comes to the jacks, we usually leave everything hooked up to the truck and lift the tongue jack up just enough to make the RV level so we aren’t sleeping upside down. No one likes to have blood rushing to their head all night. 😂 This has been the perfect balance for us because it helps us stay contained and readily available to pick up and move if and when we need to.
The one downfall of the overnight stays in Walmart lots is definitely not having a power hook up, but there are ways to make it work! Having some sort of additional power setup can be a game-changer. A typical RVer is probably fine just using the battery, but with our deep freezer, we have an inverter that we can simply plug our power cord into, which allows us to run battery power and invert it to AC power to run appliances or whatever else we might need at that moment.
Walmart parking lots are lit up with street lights, and they are BRIGHT at night! That can be a good thing for safety, but can also be not so fun when trying to sleep. A sleep mask could be your best friend for those nights when you find yourself sleeping in a parking lot!
As a place to stay that is free overnight and easily accessible to food, it is really hard to beat Walmart parking lots on a cross-country road trip!
Tyler & Andrea
We are full-time adventure seekers taking on the world in our East to West RV! We have seen so much personal growth during our first year of nomad life that we wanted a way to capture all of those moments and share them with you! Our goal is to inspire everyone to chase after their dreams and always seek adventure in whatever they do.
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