When you think of living the #vanlife Walmart overnight parking isn’t exactly the dream. However, it can be pretty handy and an easy, safe place to stop for the night in between long drives. After all, it can’t all be beautiful beaches or mountain top vistas. 

But are you actually allowed to sleep at Walmart? If you’re not a seasoned vanlifer, then the thought of sleeping in a supermarket car park is probably pretty weird. It’s not what most people are at Walmart to do. So, today we’re going to dive in and take a look at the ins and outs of Walmart Overnight Parking. 

Featured Image Credit: FamVenturesTravel

Why Would You Want To Sleep At Walmart?

Front of a walmart store

Free 

The main reason people choose to stay overnight at a supermarket is because it’s free. If you simply want to head to bed and wake up early for a long drive, then you don’t really want to have to pay for the pleasure. When you’re in a van, you are entirely self-contained. You don’t need water, electricity or toilets for one night, so Walmart is a good option. 

Secure 

As well as being free, Walmart Overnight Parking is reasonably safe. As it’s a reputable business, you’re unlikely to have any problems throughout the night. People know that CCTV is in operation, so they are unlikely to come to a supermarket to hang out. The parking lot is also well lit, so you will always be able to see what is going on around you. 

On Your Route 

There are so many Walmart’s throughout the USA; it is pretty likely that there will be one close to your route. This means that you don’t have to waste time that could otherwise be spent reaching your final destination searching for a campsite. Supermarkets can also be useful if you want to sleep closer to a big city, where boondocking options are minimal. 

Easy To Park 

Whatever the size or your RV, you’ll be able to find somewhere to park it at Walmart. They are huge, so easy parking isn’t a problem. 

Grab Supplies 

Sleeping at the food store is pretty convenient if you need to stock up with food for your trip. If you can sleep at Walmart, the number of jobs you have to do in one day minimises as you don’t have to spend time searching for a campground.

Grabbing something to eat in the evenings at Walmart is also a cheaper option compared to fast food or eating out, so you can save more for the fun stuff.  

Vehicle Maintenance 

Many Walmart stores have a vehicle maintenance section. If you require an oil change, new tyres or replacement batteries, then you’ll be able to find them at some store. This is handy, especially if you’re not in your hometown and do not have a local mechanic. 

Is It Legal?

This is a difficult question as the answer varies from place to place. While, generally, Walmart itself allows RV overnight parking, some cities do not allow overnight parking in parking lots. This means that the police can ask you to leave and/or write a citation. 

How Do You Know If It’s Permitted?

An excellent first check to know if Walmart overnight parking is permitted in your chosen city is to look on the All Stays Camp and RV app. This app has a Walmart filter which, when selected, will show you where all the Walmarts are. From here, you can click through and read other user’s comments on their experience. If other people have unsuccessfully tried staying at a certain store, then the same rules will apply to you. 

Once you have checked on the app, it’s good practice to ring ahead and confirm with the store you have chosen. A quick phone call saves a wasted journey, and you’re likely to get useful information from the staff members. If you haven’t phoned ahead, then it’s still worth asking if Walmart overnight parking is permitted once you get there, you don’t want to get woken up in the night!

You should make sure that overnight parking is permitted each time you use that particular store. Don’t assume that just because you’ve parked there before, it’s still okay to do so now. Rules can change, and with more vanlifers using Walmarts, many stores have been changing theirs due to misuse or just too many RVs. It’s always best to double-check!  

What To Expect 

Walmart overnight parking - van parked for the night
© @a_hurtle

Once you’ve got the go-ahead from the store, Walmart overnight parking is pretty straightforward. As many stores are open 24hrs a day, you can always pop in for a snack or to use the facilities. The parking lot is likely to be well lit all night. This is great for security, but you might want to make sure you have some good curtains if you want to sleep well!

Noise is also to be expected. This will die down through the night, but still expect the sound of customers coming and going. You’re sleeping in a car park, not a remote campground! 

You may also get some curious looks from other customers. If you’re in a van, you might be able to stealth camp to avoid this, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think! Nine times out of ten, people are interested in what you’re doing and wish they could do the same! 

Where To Park 

Some Walmart’s will have designated RV parking. If you can see this signposted in the parking lot, then it’s best to stick to that area; otherwise, you might get asked to move there. If not, then it’s best to find a quiet corner to yourself. Look for somewhere with little traffic going past it for the most peaceful stay. 

If you do choose to call ahead to check you are allowed to park overnight, then you can gather some information about where to park. Some stores won’t mind; others would prefer you kept to a specific area. 

Be Respectful 

Vanlife has seen a recent rise in popularity, particularly long term tips and full-timers. With this, more and more people are choosing to spend the night at Walmart thanks to its free parking. As a result, some stores are bringing in rules banning overnight parking due to misuse. 

To ensure this service stays available in the future, make sure you are respectful when you sleep at Walmart. Take everything away with you, don’t get awnings or chairs out and buy something in the store. 

What About In Other Countries? 

Across Canada, the rules for Walmart overnight parking are similar to that in the USA. If you have permission from the store, then you’re good to go. 

In Europe, the rules vary from country to country, so it’s worth checking the law before you try camping in a supermarket.

Certain countries are better than others. For example, in Portugal, many Intermarché supermarkets not only allow campervan parking but also have free water and dump services. This is an excellent one-stop-shop for food shopping, filling your water tanks and getting a good night’s sleep.

However, in England, overnight parking in supermarkets is nor generally permitted, and you will be asked to leave. In fact, lots of supermarkets have a two-hour parking rule, and you will get a fine if you exceed this. 

Final Thoughts… 

Walmart is a super convenient stopover when you’re on long road trips. It may feel a little nerve-wracking the first time you sleep in a parking lot, but you soon get used to it. It may not be beautiful, but when you have your rolling home with you, it’s fantastic to be able to kick back and relax inside at the end of a drive. 

Don’t forget to join the Van Clan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more vanlife tips and tricks. 

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