What is Wallydocking – Boondocking at Walmart
To understand Wallydocking, you need to know what boondocking is. Boondocking is a term used in the RV world to describe a situation where you are without connections. Typically this means you will not be connected to electric, water, or sewer. Some people also call this dry camping.
Wallydocking is a term I had never heard until a year or two ago. I guess I’m not “hip” to all the vernacular being used nowadays. But, I have been enlightened. Wallydocking is the word used to describe boondocking at Walmart overnight.
Why stay overnight at Walmart in an RV
There are a lot of reasons to do this. Let’s take a look at a few.
A big reason to boondock at Walmart is to save money. The dollars really add up as you sprinkle these stays into your trip. As enticing at this sounds, I would encourage you to not abuse this with Walmart.
There are a lot of other businesses you can boondock for free so you don’t wear out your welcome at any one place. Walmart is very popular because of the sheer number of locations and accessibility. As such, some locations can seem a little overcrowded with RVs. We don’t want this to cause local management to shut down their access. Use your discretion and spread the love to other locations as well.
Didn’t make it to your next stop
Another reason you may find your self camping at Walmart overnight is that you didn’t make it quite as far as you had planned. This is very common.
We are all eager and very optimistic when it comes to how far we can make it between stops. But, the reality is we don’t adequately factor in things like late starts, the number of pit stops, or how fast we will actually be traveling.
All of these add up and really shorten the distance we are able to travel during the day. As the day drags on and it starts getting dark it may be time to count your losses. With locations everywhere, there is usually a Walmart within reach. Odds are, a Walmart may be much closer than the RV park or campground you are trying to reach.
Restocking and resupplying is another big perk. It doesn’t hurt to plan overnight stays according to when you need to restock or get supplies.
This especially comes in handy if you are heading to an area where you will not have access to necessities. You can load up on fuel, food, toiletries, maintenance supplies, and more with one stop. Not to mention, you are supporting a business that is letting stay for free. It shoulds like a fair trade to me.
Increased safety can be another huge benefit. When folks are looking for places to boondock they can get desperate at times. As the hours roll on and you haven’t located a suitable spot you may be tempted to stop just about anywhere.
However, you need to look at things like local crime, the type of neighborhood, are you parking on a busy street, is there a chance you will be blind to moving traffic, and more.
Walmart, for the most part, is going to be a pretty safe place to stay. There are some exceptions to this and we will address those further down. However, the traffic they have, the number of security cameras, and the amount of sufficient lighting all help to deter crime. Take advantage of this when you need to.
Is Parking an RV at Walmart Banned?
No. Camping overnight at Walmart in your RV is not over! You are still allowed to RV overnight in most places, but there may be a few where you won’t be able to stay.
There have been a lot of rumors floating around that Walmart no longer allows overnight camping for RVs, camper trailers, travel trailers, etc. While this may have some elements of truth to it, the overall statement is false.
This information has largely come from folks who have been denied from parking their RVs overnight. It is true, this has happened. There have also been folks who have set up and then been told to leave.
However, this is an exception to the rule. The number of people staying overnight at Walmart far outweighs the number who are being denied. We just don’t hear about it.
I can drive by my local Walmart on any given night and see a minimum of 2-3 rigs spread out over the parking lot. This has been a constant for as long as I can remember.
Can I Park my RV at Walmart During the Day?
Absolutely. Walmart encourages this and they want you to be there during the day. Why? Because it generates revenue. They have tons of stuff specifically for RVs of all types.
You check out the RV Parts and Accessories section of their site to get a good idea of all the stuff they offer. They may not be your first choice when it comes to finding what you need for your RV, but in a pinch, they can be a life-saver.
As such, they have adequate parking even during busy daytime hours. That doesn’t mean you will always find a spot, nothing is guaranteed. However, most of the time it won’t be an issue.
Can I Camp in my RV at Walmart at night?
Yes, you can park you RV at Walmart overnight. But, as we have mentioned, they are exceptions. Keep in mind, you are boondocking or dry camping and as such, there are no hookups. This may not work for you, and if not, you need to plan on staying somewhere else.
Also, while Walmart does offer overnight camping to RVers, it is subject to available space. There may be a situation where there is simply no room for you. You may roll in expecting to crash for the night only to find the lot is full. This is extremely rare, but you need to have contingencies just in case.
Local ordinances may also prevent you from staying overnight. Some cities are very particular and do no allow boondocking or dry camping at commercial properties not designated for those activities.
There are a number of cities that have passed ordinances prohibiting overnight RV parking city-wide. A lot of these are targeting homelessness, but they affect RV travelers all the same? Some go as far as requiring written permission from business owners stating your right to be there.
Another important thing to consider is permission to stay overnight is ultimately decided by the local store manager. They factor in a number of things relative to their particular location and situation and base their RV policy on what they feel is best. It is up to their discretion.
Let’s take a look at the official Walmart Corporate policy related to overnight RV stays.
Walmart RV and Camper Overnight Policy
What types of RVs can camp overnight at Walmart?
There is no official list of what is and is not allowed to stay overnight at Walmart. However, from my personal experience, I have seen the following types of RVs set up overnight:
- Slide-in Truck Campers
- Pop-up Campers
- Teardrop Trailers
- Toy Haulers
- Travel Trailers
- Fifth Wheels
- Class C (Camper Vans)
- Super C
- Class B and B+
- Class A
I’ve pretty much seen every type of rig you can imagine. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s just what I can recall seeing as of late.
How to Plan an Overnight Walmart Stay
The best way to plan a Walmart stay ahead of time requires you to put in some legwork. However, there are some websites and apps that can help make this process a little easier.
Take a look at Allstays, for example. They offer a guide to Walmart locations for states and provinces. This information is fueled by data they get from travelers who report on their experiences.
You can search by location see what recent travelers have said. Keep in mind, as good as this information may be, things change. This leads us to our next suggestion.
Contact Walmart and Ask!
The best thing you can do to determine if you will be able to camp in your RV overnight at Walmart is to call the location you want to stay at.
Use the Store Finder at Walmart.com and enter in the zip code or city/state of where you want to stay. Once it pulls up a listing and map of nearby locations, select “Details” to get the phone number at that particular location. Give them a call and ask about their policy. They will either give you a yes or no. This is the only surefire way to know for sure if you will be allowed or not.
Overnight Alternatives to Walmart
If you denied an overnight stay at Walmart, what are some alternatives you should look at?
Truck stops are a great alternative to Walmart in terms of access. They are set up for overnight stays and typically have lots of parking. They are usually accomodating to all types of rigs.
Keep in mind, the downside to truck stops is the amount of traffic and noise you will experience. Big rigs will be coming and going all hours of the night and the ones that are set up will more than likely have their big diesel engines running.
However, if you’re willing to deal with the noise and traffic, they are solid options to consider.
Big Box Stores
When looking for alternatives to Walmart, consider other big box stores. Think of places like:
- Home Depot
- Sam’s Club
Again, while there may not be corporate policies, each store location may have different rules. Like Walmart, store managers are usually the ones making the decisions.
Another option, which is not as widespread, is restaurants. Places like Cracker Barrel are very accomodating to RVs. Keep in mind, Cracker Barrel has a business model built around travelers and they are open to that type of business. They are typically on highways or interstates which allow easy in and out access.
Roadside parks are another good option for those who are looking for a location with less traffic and noise. However, this is not always the case. Some roadside parks fill up and get really busy. However, if you are desperate, these will work just fine. Some offer more amenities than others, but again, beggars can’t be choosers.
In summary, yes, you can stay in your RV overnight at Walmart. However, this may not be the case at all locations. For a definitive answer, call the store and check their individual policy.
If you are denied by Walmart, remember to consider other big box stores, truck stops, restaurants, and roadside parks, as alternatives.
Planning can go a long way, but being flexible is equally as important. Remember, if you get denied by a location, just mozy on down the road and find another place. Don’t let it ruin your trip.