Seems that many folks aren’t aware that there are quite a few places where an RVer can park the rig overnight for free. No hookups of course, but when you’re pooped out after a long day of driving, anything can look like the Hilton. And you can’t beat the price.
WalMart is known for being nice to RVers and allowing them to park overnight. Good capitalists that they are, they figure that most overnighters will shop there too, so why not let ’em. A word of caution, more and more locations are banning this practice due to long term campers checking in. Check for listings of WalMarts that don’t allow camping.
We had not tried boondocking in a parking lot until just recently, when we were halfway to Appalachia. The reason is because until now it had been too hot, and since we don’t have an internal generator, we aren’t able to run the air conditioner. Now it’s getting cold (really cold) here in the East, so we were willing to give it a shot. Here’s what we discovered:
- In general, it seems like parking lot camping in a motorhome or bus is easier than in a 5th wheel. It’s less conspicuous. And if you choose to, you can see out the front window and know what’s really going on outside, if anything. In a 5th wheel like ours, you can’t see directly in front of you. I thought that was creepy.
- Keep an eye on your battery levels when running your heater (or AC) if you don’t have an internal generator. Ours is external, so if we wanted to run our heater for a long time, we’d have to pull out the generator in the parking lot. Not exactly being inconspicuous by doing that!
- Be cautious about where you park, and consider what kind of traffic will be going around you at all hours. We parked near loading docks, because we thought it would be darker at night. But the problem was that delivery trucks were showing up at all hours. WalMart doesn’t sleep!
- Parking lot boondocking is not the place to put out your grassy mat or bust out with the BBQ. We put our dish out this time due to work commitments, but aren’t making a habit of it. Keeping your slide outs in is probably a good idea too. Just pull in, sleep (if you can), and leave early.
When we arrived at our spot at WalMart in Virginia, we found what looked like parking spaces for horse buggies. Sure enough, in the morning an Amish couple arrived in their buggy to do some shopping. Go figure!