Walmart parking lots have a reputation as go-to free places for RVers, road trippers, and vanlifers to stop and rest overnight while traveling across America. With over 4,000 stores nationwide, Walmart offers convenient and well-lit locations to park at night. However, as more people discover the perks of sleeping in their vehicles, it has become harder to find available spots at some popular stores.
In this comprehensive 2800+ word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about overnight parking at Walmart in 2022 as an RV or car owner, including:
- Is it legal to park overnight?
- How many nights can you stay?
- Unwritten rules and etiquette to follow
- Tips for finding the best Walmart spots
- Pros and cons compared to other options like campsites
- Real experiences from vanlife experts
- How this Amazon seller prepares his vehicle for optimal overnight stays
Let’s start by looking at the legality and official policies around parking at Walmart stores overnight:
Is It Legal to Sleep in Your Vehicle Overnight at Walmart?
The good news is yes, it is perfectly legal to sleep in your RV, car, truck, or van overnight in Walmart parking lots across the United States.
Walmart corporate policy allows and welcomes RVers in particular to park their motorhomes and trailers overnight at stores nationwide. There is no law prohibiting sleeping in your vehicle overnight when parked at a Walmart. As long as you have permission from the store manager, you can rest easy without worrying about legal issues.
In the Walmart Corporate Policy guidebook, they specifically state:
"Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we welcome RV travelers to park overnight at any 24-hour Walmart store."
This corporate policy acts as a blanket permission — but it’s still wise to touch base with each store before parking overnight. More on proper etiquette shortly.
- Walmart corporate officially allows and welcomes overnight parking
- You are not breaking any laws by sleeping in your vehicle
- Check with each store‘s manager first as a courtesy
Knowing that you have the legal go-ahead to park overnight can give you peace of mind on your road trips across the country.
How Many Nights in a Row Can You Stay at a Walmart Parking Lot?
Walmart technically allows RVers to park overnight for unlimited nights as long as the store manager gives permission. However, there is an unwritten 1-night rule that most locations follow.
The generally accepted policy is you should only stay for a maximum of 1 night at each Walmart location. It is then considered polite to move to a different Walmart parking lot the following night, rather than staying multiples nights in a row.
This give other travelers a chance to utilize that spot. Plus, the store managers tend to frown upon guests who try to turn their parking lot into a personal campground for an extended period of time.
Of course, if the lot is totally empty, the manager may allow you to stay an extra night or two — always ask first!
But in summary:
- The standard etiquette is a 1 night stay limit per store
- Ask the manager if you hope to stay for 2+ nights
- Otherwise, move to a new Walmart location each night
By hopping between Walmart stores, RVers can often stay for weeks or months for free in parking lots nationwide. But make sure to follow the 1 night rule as a courtesy.
Unwritten Rules for Overnight Parking Etiquette at Walmart
Free overnight parking at Walmart is an amazing perk for travelers — but there are a few key etiquette guidelines to follow in order to not wear out your welcome:
1. Ask the manager for permission before parking
As mentioned, you should always touch base with the store‘s manager and make sure overnight parking is allowed at that specific location. Calling ahead or asking at customer service helps avoid surprises.
2. No loud noise or parties in the parking lot
Be respectful to others who may be sleeping nearby. Keep voices and music low, don’t honk, etc. Also, late night gatherings/parties outside vehicles are frowned upon.
3. Don‘t litter — leave your area clean
Trash cans are provided near entrances. Make use of them and don’t leave behind junk or waste. Watmart lots should look the same before and after your stay.
4. Follow all posted signs
Some locations have signs indicating where RVs can park or if overnight parking is prohibited. Obey these signs.
5. Be respectful of the store and other customers
Shop inside if possible and park neatly within space lines. Basically, don’t do anything to cause problems for the store or other guests.
6. Limit your stay to 1 night
Then move to a different Walmart parking lot to allow others to rotate in and take advantage of the overnight parking as well.
By following these common courtesy rules, we can help keep the free Walmart parking options available for all travelers long into the future.
How Safe is Overnight Parking at Walmart Stores?
Safety is often a top concern when parking and sleeping overnight with valuables and family members in unknown places. Here’s a look at the typical safety precautions and risks to be aware of:
The Good – Safety Features
- 24/7 security cameras in parking lots
- Routine patrols by security guards
- Well-lit lots discourage crime
- Higher traffic areas tend to be safer
- Ability to park closer to entrances
- Isolated/rural locations may have increased crime rates
- Loud trucks or trains can disrupt sleep
- Need security for pets and belongings if leaving vehicle
Overall, most Walmart parking lots provide decent security due to the 24-hour surveillance and guard patrols. As always, use common sense when choosing an overnight parking spot:
- Park under security cameras and lights when possible
- Scope out the area inside the store and parking lot first
- Avoid isolated back corners of lots or spots blocked by other vehicles
- Move location if you feel uncomfortable overnight
Take simple precautions like locking your doors and you should feel relatively safe in your vehicle overnight. Of course, parking and sleeping in any public location involves some inherent risks.
Do You Have to Pay for Overnight Parking at Walmart?
One of the best perks of Walmart’s overnight parking policy is that it is 100% free. There are no fees required whatsoever to park your RV, car, truck, or van overnight.
You never have to pay for a “camping spot”, unlike if you stayed at an RV park or campground. This saves travelers a ton of money on lodging costs during road trips.
Walmart does hope you’ll come inside and purchase food, supplies, or other items from the 24-hour store. But there is no obligation to buy anything during your stay.
The free overnight parking policy also makes Walmart lots popular for car dwellers and homeless individuals looking for safe places to sleep in their vehicles.
So unlike many other businesses, Walmart happily welcomes RVers and travelers to their parking lots without expecting payment. Keep this policy in mind if you need a free place to rest on your next road trip adventure!
Will My Vehicle Get Towed if Left Overnight?
If you follow the proper overnight parking etiquette, your vehicle should not get towed while parked at any Walmart location. However, here are some tips to avoid getting towed:
- Never park overnight without asking the store manager first
- Avoid leaving vehicles unattended for more than 1 night in a row
- Do not park illegally in reserved handicap spots or fire lanes
- Make sure license plate tags are up to date to avoid being towed as an abandoned vehicle
Essentially if you communicate with the staff and follow all posted signs, your vehicle should remain safe and undisturbed during your overnight stay.
Be aware that improperly parked or abandoned vehicles may get towed at the manager‘s discretion. So always touch base with the store upon arrival and avoid leaving your vehicle unattended for multiple days.
Benefits of Overnight Parking at Walmart vs. Campsites, Truck Stops, etc.
Overnight parking at Walmart parking lots offers many advantages compared to alternatives like campsites, RV parks, rest stops, and truck stops.
Here are some of the top benefits of choosing Walmart:
- Free – No nightly fees like campsites which average $25-$50/night
- Accessible – Walmarts are everywhere along highways and main roads already
- Well-lit – Bright security lights provide safety and visibility
- Surveillance – Constant security cameras and guard patrols
- 24-hour Access – Ability to go inside anytime for bathroom, food, etc
- RV Services – Some locations have RV dump stations, propane, etc
- Peaceful – Typically less noisy than rowdy campgrounds or truck stops
- Flexible – No need for reservations like most campsites
The combination of free overnight parking, security, and 24-hour conveniences makes Walmart an appealing option for many travelers.
However, Walmart parking does have some downsides to consider compared to campsites or RV parks:
- Can be hard to find available parking spots
- No hookups for water/electric/sewer like at RV sites
- Need self-contained RV to park overnight
- Not designed for camping like campgrounds
- Less scenic and private than state/national park campsites
Overall though, the pros of Walmart parking often outweigh the cons of staying at campgrounds for travelers on a budget.
Tips for Finding the Best Walmart Locations to Park Overnight
With over 4,000 Walmart stores in the US, you’re likely to find one in most towns along your travel route already. However, the policies and availability for parking overnight can vary greatly between Walmart locations.
Here are some tips for finding the best Walmart stores to park at overnight:
- Search apps like AllStays Camp & RV to check recent reviews and spot availability
- Call ahead to ask the manager about overnight parking rules and space
- Look for Supercenter locations with large dedicated parking lots
- Avoid Walmarts with signs prohibiting overnight parking
- Seek out less busy stores away from downtown/crowded areas
- Check satellite views in Google Maps to scout out potential spots to park
Ideally look for a Supercenter Walmart in a quiet suburban area with an RV section and recent positive reviews from fellow travelers.
As an avid RV owner myself, I have learned to strategically plot my route based on the best Walmart overnight parking locations determined through research. By planning ahead using tips like these, you can save yourself the frustration of arriving late at night to a full parking lot with no vacancies.
A little extra preparation goes a long way towards ensuring you have a great parking spot for your next overnight rest stop at Walmart.
Real Experiences from Vanlifers, RVers and Car Campers
To give a better idea of what parking overnight at Walmart is really like, here are some first-hand experiences from intrepid travelers, nomads and vanlifers who frequently use Walmart lots to rest on their journeys:
“We prefer parking at 24 hour Walmarts to sleep in our van while traveling across the country. The lots are well-lit and make me feel safer as a solo female traveler. I scope out potential spots on Google Maps sat view and then call ahead to double check it’s ok. The ability to run inside anytime to use clean bathrooms and grab snacks is a total game changer compared to rest areas too!” — Alyssa R., @vanlifeadventures
“I’ve slept in hundreds of Walmart parking lots over the years in my RV. My strategy is to find Supercenters along my route using the app AllStays and focus on ones with dedicated RV parking sections. If I’m tired, I’ll ask the manager when I check-in if it’s okay to stay two nights. Some say yes if they aren’t too busy. The only downsides are occasional bright security lights shining in the windows and early morning noise from deliveries.” — Gary S., @aimlesstravels
“Parking overnight at Walmart works great in my truck camper 90% of the time. But a few locations have signs up now saying ‘No Overnight Parking’ so always walk the lot before settling in for the night. I tend to look for stores in quiet suburbs rather than busy cities and prefer spots near the garden center away from lights and noise.” — Rick J., @truckcamperadventures
These real experiences help show the variety of vehicles successfully using Walmart for free overnight lodging as well as the value of checking individual store policies. With smart preparation using tips from fellow travelers, your next Walmart stop can be smooth, stress-free and provide a good night’s rest!
How This Amazon Seller Optimizes His Vehicle for Overnight Stays
As an active seller on Amazon for over 10 years, I have mastered organization, efficiency and preparation in my business to maximize success. I take the same approach when it comes to preparing my vehicle for overnight stays.
Here are a few tips on how I optimize my RV for overnight parking using techniques honed from my Amazon selling experience:
- Pack strategically – make sure needed items are easily accessible, just like optimizing inventory
- Keep fresh water tank full and empty holding tanks to be self-contained
- Bring blackout curtains and comfy bedding to ensure a good rest
- Use Prime delivery to securely get packages sent to Walmart stores as needed
- Have phone chargers, batteries, and backup power sources ready
- Plan next day’s route the night before for efficiency
- Take notes on parking experiences to inform future stops
By properly planning and equipping my RV, I can enjoy a comfortable, hassle-free experience parking overnight. My Amazon seller experience proves that being prepared and organized makes a huge difference!
Overnight parking at Walmart provides travelers, vanlifers, nomads, and RVers with a convenient, free option for resting overnight while crossing the country. By following proper etiquette around length of stay, asking permission, and maintaining cleanliness, guests can continue benefiting from Walmart’s parking policies for years to come.
Finding the optimal parking locations and properly equipping your vehicle helps ensure positive overnight stays. Remember to check individual store policies, park near entrances and security cameras, review recent parking reports, and be respectful.
With over 4,000 options nationwide and the legal right to sleep in your vehicle, Walmart parking is sure to remain a top choice for thousands of road trippers and mobile adventurers. Safe travels!