RV Camping. We are just departing from a Walmart where we spent the night. We’ve had quite a bit of experience, staying in Walmarts, over the years. Some of them pretty interesting. We thought we\’d share with you today what we’ve learned in some of our stories. ! We thought we would divide this up into Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to camp at Walmart type of article.
First off, “The Who!” Well, the who is a band and it’s also you being the traveler, and Walmart. And as a traveler, Walmarts are very, very valuable. Now, granted, they’re not our first choice of places to camp for the night but when you’re traveling, your friend the Walmart is always going to be there. Moving right along, let’s talk about “What” First of all, “What is it?” It’s free, easy camping. Just about anywhere that you can find a Walmart! What do we like about it? Well, turns out the list was pretty long when we started writing out all the things we like about Walmarts.
Shopping on an RV camping site
So. Lets talk about this a little bit. First of all, how convenient is it to be able to do some of your shopping right there wherever you’re camped for the night? And this is something that has improved over time.
We’re pretty big on shopping Organic and when we first started traveling, there wasn’t really an option at Walmart. But we’ve seen a pretty significant improvement the last year and a half, and as long as you know your brands, you can definitely pick up a few things that are organic! They have red boxes at the entrances of the Walmarts so you can catch a movie while you’re staying there for the night!
Usually they are located in areas with lots of other amenities like restaurants, movie theaters, a place to get your hair and your nails done. All sorts of cool things are usually in their shopping centers. It’s generally safe. The Lots are usually well lit, there’s grass for the puppy dogs and It’s always kind of nice to take a little walk with the dogs around the perimeter of the shopping center. Something that the Russos taught us, is that, if you are able to park by the garden center, you’re able to tap into the Wi-Fi that Walmart usually have inside.
Finding a Walmart
Alright I’m going to take on the “When” and the “Where” because they’re kind of tightly related. But the “When” is anytime you want because you can always find a Walmart! And the “Where” is pretty much everywhere because you can always find a Walmart! We have even camped in Walmarts in British Columbia. Now I do have the idea of a video of Walmart camping in Mexico. . .Haven’t tried that one yet but it’s definitely going to be on the list of things we want to do when we’re down there next. So in relation to the “Where” part, you will find that some areas are more and less friendly for RVers camping at their Walmart.
Just for example, in the Flagstaff area, the Walmart on the West end of town had unfavorable reviews for
in the night but the Walmart on the East end of town, Well you just saw it in the morning! It is like a variable campground. Well I think with the “Why” you’re going to find a trend in what we’re saying here. But why would you do this? Well, because you can always find a Walmart. But more importantly, sometimes it really saves you! You end up in a town you weren’t expecting to be in because of weather or breakdowns.
RV camping etiquette
We’ve had both happen. Sometimes you can’t find a place to stay. We’ve had that happen and Walmart is a great backup to have in your pocket. It’s also really nice to embrace that spirit of freedom. Sometimes you just need a place to park and you don’t need all of the amenities of the campground or an RV park. So you can just pull into a Walmart! It’s a great option.
Now it’s my turn to talk about the “How” and the “How” you have to talk about is etiquette! Now some people are super, gung-ho Walmart rule-following campers and you have to kind of take everything with a grain of salt. There is definitely an etiquette and a respect factor to pull into a Walmart for the night. Okay! Let’s talk about “Jacks”. I think in my personal and professional opinion as an RVer, that putting your jacks down, as long as it’s not like 110 degrees out, and we’re going to like leave indentations in the blacktop, I think it’s harmless and I would be lying if I said “We’ve never put our jacks down at Walmart!” And I’d also be lying if I said “We’ve never put our slide-out, out at a Walmart!”
Running your generator
But you always want to make sure you do that one kind of tactfully. Maybe even park over one of those little grassy areas or just make sure your popout is not sticking into the Elena traffic! So another big one to talk about is, “Calling the manager.” You know, if we see on the Allstays app that it’s like totally, you know, a good welcoming Walmart, we don’t call the manager. Come on now! Like last night, we pulled into the place and there were at least 20 RVs. I’m not calling the manager for that! I have better things to do with my time.
But we will call and talk to the manager or one of the employees, if we don’t see any reviews on Allstays. That way, we know ahead of time, when we’re searching for a place to pull in for the night, if it’s an option.
So you can’t talk about etiquette without talking about generators for RVs. And unless you have a full-blown solar setup, you’re probably going to have to run your generators. But there’s a chance you won’t have to run your generator if you’ve been driving all day and charging your batteries that way. Just use the basic common sense, 6am to to 10 pm. And truthfully,those are a bit on the extreme side.
You know, when we camp and you know, if we’re like staying at a place for several days, not Walmarts. we’ll try to charge our batteries in the middle of the day so when people are eating dinner, watching a movie, trying to put their kids down, you don’t have a generator running until 10 o’clock at night! So I touched on this one a little bit when I talked about the slides. But always try to park near the back of the lot or if the Allstays app on the reviews say “Hey!They want you to park over near the garden center or park near the root beer. You know, follow those directions. So always try to be a good house guest. And I say that meaning, go into the store and buy a little something!
Even if you don’t need anything, there’s always some little thing you can find at Walmart. That’s not even going to be wasteful. Like, “Hey! I need to have an extra quart of oil on board!” You know, just kind of pay for it and you know, spend a little money there! And lastly for etiquette, “Signs.” Signs are everywhere. Do you always have to obey the signs? . . . No! Clearly, at the Walmart we stayed at last night, there were signs everywhere. I think there were more signs than there were RVers but you know what? There’s power in numbers and there’s safety in numbers, so we completely disregarded the signs. Well you know you always get full disclosure from us.
The Allstays campsite app
I’m going to finish this up with a list of resources. Just a couple that will help you to find your Walmarts and know whether or not it’s okay to stay there! So we’re not huge fans of the Allstays app but when it comes to Walmart camping, we really like it because we can always find Walmarts on the Allstays app and members are great about posting their experiences, whether positive or negative. So that you know what to anticipate and whether or not to even waste your time going there.
That’s always a frustrating challenge as you know, if you show up at a place and then they tell you no. So it’s better to call ahead and check your Allstays app. The other thing that I’ve really found useful over the years is to check Google reviews for the Walmart itself! Sometimes, like for example, when we stayed in Fresno to look at the expedition vehicle earlier this winter, I actually looked at google reviews to see which ones sounded like they were in safe neighborhoods and good areas. We ended up in a great one because I did that.
Best and worst Walmart experience
Alright. So now it’s Walmart story time and I’m sure you guys have some amazing stories! So feel free to put those in the comments below. But we’re going to start off with the SHADIEST Walmart! The shadiest Walmart we’ve ever stayed at was in Cortez, Colorado. And it’s borderline looked like a junkyard. It was bad! It was so bad that I was like, “Hey hun, you probably shouldn’t get out of the RV. Let me just go take care of the dog.” So that was our roughest, shadiest Walmart!. . . . .
I’m going to share our best Walmart experience and that was in Kalispell, Montana. First of all, it’s a beautiful city! So you’re surrounded by incredible views. The Walmart itself, was awesome. Had great stuff and I found some rugs for the RV in there. But the highlight had to do with the surroundings. So we found a Mongolian Grill and we love to eat at Mongolian Grills. There was a movie theater across the street, so we went and saw a movie. Just doesn’t really get any better than that.
Our longest Walmart stay
The last Walmart story has to do with our longest stay. This happened on our last RV road trip around the country. And it was a very, very, rough time for us. A tree had fallen on the motor home in Northern California so we had to get body work done. As we were pulling into this area of a Tigard, Oregon where this RV body shop was, the left rear brake caliper locked up. And so it was just, grinding like you know, grinding bad! You know, not really a good state to drive and the timing of it all, was on Eastern Spring Break week! So all of the RV parks were occupied. They had no space at all. Even on weekdays.
So we checked out this Walmart nearby and well,just as the story goes, we called and they said “No!” But we went there to go shopping because you know, we shop at Walmart too. We saw a handful of RVs in the lot and they were definitely kind of settled in the inside. So we decided to just, “Hey you know, we’re going to take a shot in the dark here. “Because it was only like a half mile from the RV body shop and we decided to stay the night. Well, since there was nowhere else to go and we literally had no other options, we decided to stay another night, another night and another night. Well it’s like a whole week at a Walmart. And we literally were trapped.
Just outside Albuquerque
We’re just a few miles outside of Albuquerque and I had looked at Allstays early this morning and picked out two different Walmarts that were close to the 25 and the 40 because we’re coming in on the 40 and we’re going to turn North on the 25. We kind of wanted a movie theater nearby, in case we have the opportunity to go see a movie this evening. So I googled both of the Walmarts that I had picked out for location and found the one that is close to a huge mall. And it has the United Artists cinema there. So we’re going to take that.
Then I went back to the Allstays and had a look. There’s some instructions there about where to park. They want you to park by the garden center in this one. Which will be good for the WIFI hopefully, which they do mention having. Secondly, I also read in the comments that someone else had called the operator and told them “Just go ahead and park, there’s no need to check in with us. “Alright guys! Here it is, our spot at a Walmart in Albuquerque for the night!
We’re calling it quits kind of early today. Got some RV camping videos to edit and really don’t want to drive too much! And like from here on know, we’re going to start heading northeast and we’re really going to slow things down. So we kind of drove like mad through California, Arizona just to get to this point. And also this afternoon, we need to decide which way do we want to go and where do we want to go, now that we’re going to slow things down!