A great many RV’ers take advantage of Walmart’s kindness in allowing RV’ers to park for a night on one of their parking lots; it’s a nice thing to do and I’m sure that in the long run Walmart has made more money off RV’ers because of it, than they would had they been hardnosed and prohibited the practice.
Even though we are not active RV’ers any longer, I wanted to use this post to encourage folks to consider using the AllStays Walmart Overnight Parking App. We used it when we were RV’ing — although we didn’t stay at the stores’ locations very often. It’s easy to use, and it offers a wealth of information that just makes RV’ing easier.
There are some matters of courtesy that should be followed: checking in with the store, finding out WHERE on the lot they would prefer you park, NOT putting down leveling jacks (which tend to tear up the parking ot) and not putting out your slides (which makes it look like you’re intending on staying more than one night).
And it’s important to note that the lenient national corporate policy is sometimes overruled by local ordinances. Some cities do not want RV’ers parking on Walmart lots overnight: for fear that local businesses (RV parks / hotels) will lose business; for issues of transients or public safety. So checking with the local store can be exceedingly important if you want to avoid being awakened in the middle of the night by the local constabulary and forced to move, or be given a ticket.
The APP shows you periodically updated lists of Walmarts allowing overnight parking AND Walmarts NOT allowing overnight parking — that alone is reason enough to get and use the app. But also included are RV’er comments about their stays, and nearby services.
Given the difficulty of maneuvering a long RV and possibly a towed automobile in city traffic I always figured that it was better to have too much GOOD information than not enough bad information!
All of this came about because a friend recently had a bad experience finding a place to stop at the end of the day. I have to admit that the growing popularity of RV’ing is one of the reasons that we chose to get out when we did. I’ve mentioned in the past that because of the growth in numbers of retired Baby Boomers it has gotten harder to find suitable campsites for the larger and larger RV’s out there without having reservations. And if you are using reservations you have probably discovered that over the past 5 years you have had to make reservations earlier and earlier to obtain the sites you want on the dates you want. The U.S. is now home to some +/-350 million people and a lot of them love to go camping — with our without an RV. New public parks are not being built. Private campgrounds are going up but not at a pace that keeps track with the increase in usage, and not at economical rates — most of the new RV campgrounds want to charge premium rates whether or not they are offering premium services.
My word of warning to new RV’ers is simple: plan ahead and stay flexible. I know for a fact that many parks see the same campers return multiple times during the same season. If they have a favorite park — or parks — it should not be surprising to see them wanting to return throughout the summer camping season. Also, there are logical routes for people to follow in their fulltime RV annual sojourns. Winter snowbirds are going to head back North in the Spring and head South in the fall. Given the established highway system it’s not surprising that the best campgrounds along the way suffer peak usage during those migrations even if one might thing that it’s “off season” and reservations aren’t needed.
Being an RV’er is not guaranteed to be a cheaper way to live. I know a lot of folks, and I keep running into more of them, who see full time RV’ing as a cheaper way to retire — but that is not necessarily the case — and it may not necessarily be the case in the future. The price of overnight stays continues to rise; whether companies like Walmart and Cabelas will continue allowing overnight stops is questionable; and vehicles and fuel aren’t getting cheaper!
I don’t want to actively discourage folks from RV’ing. But I do think that some folks go into RV’ing with “rose colored” expectations that they quickly find shattered.