Tuesday, October 3, 2023


If overnight RV stays at Walmart and similar stores were banned, would it affect your RVing?

Our reader surveys through the years have revealed that many of our readers spend at least an occasional night in a Walmart parking lot in their RVs. Some do it to save money. For others, it’s mostly for convenience.

And now, because of a lawsuit, the question is being asked is it possible the practice could be banned?

In 2020, more than 3,744 of our readers reported on how often they stay in a Walmart parking lot. About 13 percent did so at least once a month. Another 31 percent stayed “very rarely.” Others reported they never stayed in a Walmart parking lot.

We know, though, that on any given night in America, thousands, if not tens of thousands of RVers, spend a night in a Walmart parking lot in their RVs. Others hole up in other accommodating parking lots — Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel restaurants, Sam’s Club, Costco and many other retailers with large parking areas.

How about you? If Walmart and similar stores should post “no overnight” parking signs, would it matter to you? Or would it make no difference in your RVing? That’s our question.

Please leave a comment. We may want to quote you in a follow-up article.

RV Travel
RV Travel
Our goal at RVtravel.com, now in our 22nd year of continuous online publication, is to provide a comprehensive source of quality news, advice, and information about RVs and the RV lifestyle. Our writers are all (human) RVing experts who write for you, not advertisers, stockholders or Google rankings. You won't find more valuable information about RVing anywhere else—and with no spam, ever.


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Kiki D
4 months ago

Why in the world is nobody mentioning the fact that this lady left her kids sleeping in a car alone? Isn’t that the real story here? She actually has the nerve to sue Walmart. When she left her kids sleeping alone in a car? That’s the biggest crime of all. And she is responsible for her child’s death. Way more so than the man who inadvertently started the fire. You don’t leave your kids alone in a car. Anything could’ve happened to them.

Lynn M
8 months ago

I stopped using Walmart for overnight stays because many of the stores no longer permit the practice. I stick to highway rest areas and Cracker Barrel restaurants. Given what I have seen left in Walmart parking lots by RVers, I most certainly understand Walmart discontinuing the practice of allowing overnight stays.

Jim Bornemann
1 year ago

IT is SO nice of the stores and restaurants to let us stay and yes, I DO patronize them! it’s peace of mind for me, to go to a lake, to go jet skiing, at the spur of the moment, and know I have a place to sleep, and maybe I’m weird, but I find watching people come and go and observing some of the silly things they do, very entertaining.

Rich K.
1 year ago

Wouldn’t affect us in the least. If I stop at Walmart with our trailer hooked up ,it’s just long enough to get supplies and then we leave. If we HAVE to stop for the night, it’s going to be someplace where we won’t get sideways looks for setting up our popup! Besides, in some locations some rather unsavory types tend to hang out in Walmart (or other business) parking lots at night…

1 year ago

If it would be a financial burden if you were not able to stay at a Walmart then maybe you shouldn’t be RVing. Over 7 years full time and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve stayed at Walmart or similar location. It was a convenience issue not I can’t afford to camp

1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

I could afford to stay wherever I want, but WalMarts are ubiquitous and usually close to the highway, plus, there’s usually something to buy.

Wayne Mitchell
1 year ago

I have never camped at a Walmart parking lot and have absolutely no plans to do so.

John Oglesby
1 year ago

It would probably end all our long trips. Camp grounds are too expensive for a one night, leaving early morning. We always stay at Walmart the first night and stock up. Usually $100 or more groceries. After a long trip we always stay at least one night at a Walmart to buy for our house supplies. Another $100 or more.

1 year ago

We stay at Walmart and any other place that allows you to park overnight. I always check with the business first, as some allow it, some don’t and as a common courtesy. But if you pull in after dark and leave before sunup what’s the harm? We always shop the Walmart, eat at Cracker Barrel and truck stops so it is also good for those businesses. We generally are on our way to a park where we plan to spend more than a few days, and drive until we are tired. So we don’t make reservations at a campground as we don’t know how far we will get at any given time. Often it is difficult to find a campground later in the day and sometimes the office isn’t open past 5 pm so you have no way to stop and ask about open spots. Plus it is generally a short stay where you don’t even hook up so why spend $50++ to stay at a campground. We seldom put a slide out, never set up a grill. It’s just sleep time.

1 year ago

I’ve never seen a walmart parking lot packed at 6am. Usually a handful of cars and no reason to park near anyone, let alone close to a camper van and leave your kids in the car. It almost seems like there’s more to this story

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Lance

She apparently parked there first, on her way home from an early trip to the airport, and he moved from another location in the parking lot and parked next to her. Have a good night, Lance. 🙂 –Diane

Neal Davis
1 year ago

We have spent the night at a Cracker Barrel restaurant on three occassions over the past 6 years, but never stayed at a Walmart. Generally we prefer the perceived security of a campground over that of a business’ parking lot.

Last edited 1 year ago by Neal Davis
1 year ago

I do not often park at Walmarts overnight, as I often travel alone and am concerned about safety…but having that as an option is really nice, I would hate to see it go away!!

Ted Broom
1 year ago

Walmart is not a campground. It will be ruined by those that out the slides pull out the bbqs and set up a camp site. We do not. We pull in, shop a little and go to bed without looking like we are camping. I’ve seen what looks like jamborees going on in some lots. No wonder locals get upset.

Al the camper
1 year ago

So negligent parents who left their children in a car while they shopped should be rewarded for their action. Of course there’s always an ambulance chaser ready and willing to continue to destroy businesses that they see as a piggybank..
As long as we have these blood suckers around common sense will be thrashed. Although I feel sorry for the family I don’t think they deserve to be compensated for their part in this tragedy.

1 year ago
Reply to  Al the camper

well said

1 year ago

Van lifers/ homeless ruining it for the rest of us. Dumping human waste in shopping bags, open cooking on their trunks or open doors. Using the store bathrooms like a private bath. shrugs, lots of entitlement

Of course you have the monster 5th wheels putting jacks down, deploying slide outs and running generators all night. Parking a crossed 12 or more parking spaces and blocking marked travel lanes. Putting your rv house hold trash in the parking lot trash cans. Even seen dumped or really leaky tanks on lots.

I think this might speed the process up a bit. With the bad behavior they were going to ban RVer’s sooner or later.

1 year ago

I find knowing the availability of these sites are a comfort to me in the face of diminishing opportunities in otherwise crowded campgrounds. And, additionally, its a comfort to know that as I travel, when I discover I’m sleepy, those places are available for a brief respite.

1 year ago

Iam new to rving traveling and already hit 3 states in a 22 ft rv . 3 sticky tags on my windowes from law enforcement in California and Oregon security pulled up to me before I even came to a stop in my parking spot to go into Walmart and told me I had 2 hours to leave . California only allowed one night , so I believe it depends on what state. If those options were not there , it would definitely be harder . Not too bad if they weren’t . But nowadays yes unfortunately it’s a bad few apples I agree

1 year ago

Walmart is good for a lay over between destination , it’s always a few bad Penny’s that ruin it for everyone.

Doug k
1 year ago

Have only been RVing for a bit over a year now. We have been very successful finding some along the road RV sites or the best luck is state parks and the mostly free camp grounds in towns along the small highways. Not the interstate system.

1 year ago

We stayed at a Cracker Barrel as a last resort after finding that not one of the 4 hotels at the exit had a parking lot big enough for us (truck + 28 TT) It was so comfortable and easy compared to hauling overnight bags & dog into a motel room that we’ve used CB ever since. Always enjoy a nice supper & a good sleep. Illinois in February means campgrounds are closed, but CB is always available.

1 year ago

I don’t stay at one of those places often. But, it is nice to know if I get in a bind it’s there to fall back on. I travel in the summer and spend the winter at one location. Last summer I spent one night in a Cracker Barrel

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