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Overnight Parking at Walmart (Full Guide)

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Are you looking for a convenient place to stop at night while on a road trip? 

If you are lucky enough to own an RV or van, you probably have beds built into your vehicle. However, you still need to find somewhere safe to stop for the night without running the risk of getting towed. 

This can be tricky if you find yourself in an unknown town or city close to nightfall. Fortunately, Walmart has a reputation for being hospitable to members of the RV community and other road trippers.

 So, let’s find out all about the policy on overnight parking at Walmart and go through some tips for a safe stay.

The Company’s Parking Policy

The Company’s Parking Policy

One of the great things about Walmart stores is that they offer customers free parking. There are more than four thousand stores scattered across the United States. Generally speaking, RV and truck owners are given a warm welcome and are invited to park for prolonged periods.

However, there is no official policy about customers and other people sleeping in their vehicles. Whether or not this practice is allowed is generally up to the store manager to decide. The store’s after-hours security guard may also lay down the law about whether or not this is permitted. 

Overnight Parking At Walmart – Reasons It May Be Prohibited

Overnight Parking At Walmart - Reasons It May Be Prohibited

There are some cases where you may not be allowed to keep your vehicle in a lot throughout the nighttime. Some managers have established a strict policy against this practice and may take action against vehicle owners who break it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons it may be prohibited. 

Local laws

There are laws in some parts of the country against people sleeping in their vehicles. These laws usually apply to the lots in medium and large-sized cities. Law enforcement officers regularly patrol the lots of these areas and evict people breaking these laws. Because this is likely to give the store a negative image, the store managers tend to be proactive. 

Stores in shopping centers

If the store is located in a large shopping mall, the store is not responsible for the lot. The managers of the shopping malls are responsible for setting their own rules. As a result, staying at night may not be permitted, and security is hired to enforce the rules. 

High traffic volume

Some lots receive a high number of vehicles, and it is important to make sure there is space for them. RVs can take up a lot of valuable space, especially if they stop for prolonged periods. As a result, you may be asked to move on if the lot is already crowded. 

Which Lots You Can Stop At

Not all stores will allow you to sleep in your vehicle. The chances of being allowed to do this mainly depend on the location of the store. Here is an overview of your chances of being permitted to sleep in parking lots in different locations

Free-standing stores

Free-standing stores

If the store has its own lot, there is a good chance you will be permitted to leave your vehicle there. This is most common with lots that are not located close to a major highway. The lot you choose should have plenty of available spaces for other vehicles. 

Small town stores

There is a good chance you will be permitted to sleep in your vehicle in one of these lots. The lot should be privately owned by the store and not close to a major highway. 

Stores in cities

There is a 50-50 chance that you will be permitted to sleep in your vehicle. In these parking lots, check to see if there are a lot of available spaces. If you are asked to move your vehicle, be polite and do it straight away. 

Stores in the suburbs

If the store is located on the outskirts of a large city, there is a good chance you will be moved on. This is especially likely if the store is situated close to a major highway. 

Staying Safe

Walmarts parking lots are covered by CCTV and often feature security guards who work around the clock. These safety features are likely to make you feel safe and sound. However, you should still take precautions to ensure you are safe while getting some shuteye. 

Lock up

Even though there is a security guard, you choose to stop in a spot at your own risk. The store will not be liable for any damage that occurs to your vehicle while you are sleeping. Make sure you lock your vehicle before putting your head down for the night. 

Remain visible

When you need to park your vehicle out of the way, avoid shady corners of the lot. If your vehicle is parked in a shadowy area, the security guard may have trouble seeing it. However, opportunist thieves are likely to see your vehicle as a target. 

Getting towed

The last thing you want is for your vehicle to get towed while you are catching a few zees. If you leave your vehicle in a spot for more than two nights, there is a good chance that this will happen. If you are a heavy sleeper, you may not even know your vehicle has been towed until you wake up. 

The Benefits Of This Practice

A store lot may not be the most picturesque place to spend the night. However, they can provide very convenient places to stop in unfamiliar areas. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of choosing to stop at a Walmart parking lot.

Getting some sleep

Getting some sleep

Driving late at night can be dangerous, especially if you are on your own. Pulling over for the night and getting some sleep will help to make sure you are fresh the next day. Not only will the drive be more enjoyable, but it will also be safer for yourself and the other people on the road. 

Breaking up your journey  

It is a good idea to take regular breaks while you are on a long road trip. This gives you the chance to have a good rest. You can also use this opportunity to work out the next stages of your journey. 

Easy access to supplies

Having a store a few feet from your vehicle is sure to be very convenient. You can take the opportunity to buy anything you are likely to need for the next few days. These stores stock thousands of products and are famous for their low prices and regular deals. 

It’s All About The Etiquette

It's All About The Etiquette

If you choose this method of camping out, it is best to be as polite and unobtrusive as possible. Act as you would if you were a guest in someone else’s home. Here is the etiquette you should follow to make sure your presence is appreciated.

Ask permission

Don’t just assume that you will be welcome to stay anywhere you choose. Once you have found a safe and convenient location, it is best to ask to speak to the store manager. Politely ask the manager for permission and make it clear that you will be leaving the next day. Manners can go a long way, and the manager is more likely to let you stay if you ask permission. 

Don’t spread out too much

It is always important to be mindful of the image of the store and the space around you. Try to make sure that you only take up a single space in an unobtrusive spot. Having a cookout and setting out camping chairs is likely to raise tempers as well as a few eyebrows. 

Keep the noise down

Be mindful of the people around you and the reputation of the store. The store’s customers are unlikely to enjoy being blasted by your loud music when they arrive. Sleeping in your RV is one thing; throwing a party is another.

Limit your stay

The last thing you want to do is overstay your welcome. While you may be welcome to stop for one night or perhaps two, there has to be a limit. If you stay for longer than a couple of nights, it may look like you are using the space as a home base. If you want to use lots for several nights, it is best to choose a few and move your vehicle each evening. 

Show gratitude

The bottom line for any business is making a profit. While you won’t be charged for sleeping in your vehicle, it is polite to spend a little money in the store. This is a good opportunity to stock up on some groceries or other items that you need for your journey.

Books About Walmart Parking Lots!

We found some peculiar books online about Walmart parking lots, such as the Three Years in a Walmart Parking Lot, the Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, as well as How to Not Have Your Car Explode in a Walmart Parking Lot, available online in 2023.

But that’s not all! Check out the oddly named Canned Soup in a Walmart Parking Lot, or how to Escape the Walmart parking lot!, the Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, and the How to Not Have Your Car Explode in a Walmart Parking Lot: A Car Care Pocket-Guide.

On a more serious note is the economic effect of Walmart, which can be seen in The People’s Republic of Walmart: How the World’s Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism, and finally, The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works–and How It’s Transforming the American Economy also available online today.

Overnight Parking At Walmart – Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have a problem leaving your vehicle in a Walmart parking lot at night time. 

This is completely free of charge and a much safer option than trying to navigate a strange city after dark. It will also save you the hassle and expense of trying to track down an official RV campsite.

However, it should be noted that not all store managers look favorably on this practice. It is a good idea to purchase something for the store first and ask permission before stopping at night. And, if you are asked to move your vehicle, it is best to do so straight away.

So, sleep tight and remember to stay safe!

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