RV Parking at Walmart & Truck Stops — the Right Way

RV Parking at Walmart & Truck Stops — the Right Way

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Walmart and truck stops are RV havens that give drivers and passengers a place to rest overnight without the hassle of finding and paying for an RV park or campground.

The problem with relying on taking a break at a truck stop, Walmart, or other business is that many companies are now turning away RV overnight parking because guests aren’t following rules.

To help RV newcomers learn the do’s and don’ts for parking at truck stops or Walmarts, I put all the information in this guide so that you can avoid problems.

Free overnight parking is a fantastic perk for RV enthusiasts, so stay here for tips on how to do it the right way!

Overnight Walmart RV Parking

I’m sure everyone knows Walmart allows overnight RV parking for free, but most don’t know the written and unwritten rules for doing so.

With Walmart having over 4,600 stores nationwide, it’s one of the most popular choices for a simple overnight RV stay, especially since it gives you a chance to stock up on camping supplies and use the bathroom.

To help clarify all the details about RV Walmart parking, I’ll first answer some common questions about the practice and then follow up with a shortlist of do’s and don’ts, so your stay goes off without a hitch for both you and Walmart.

Do All Walmarts Allow Overnight RV Parking?

Overnight RV parking at Walmart

No, it’s a myth that every Walmart offers RV parking to sleep overnight.

Only specific Walmarts allow overnight parking for RVs, but many of the ones you could stay at before are now making it illegal.

Why?

The biggest reason is that many RV guests aren’t following basic rules and creating problems the store doesn’t have the workforce or resources to deal with, like people dumping waste tanks on the pavement or staying for days on end.

Another reason Walmart won’t allow RVs to park overnight is that local ordinances forbid businesses to let anyone, in a camper or car, sleep in a parking lot.

I know from experience that any Walmart near major tourist attractions won’t allow RV parking because many people would use the lot as a free campground to avoid the high rates at local RV parks.

How Do You Know if a Walmart Allows RV Parking?

I know how glorious it feels after a weary day of RV travel to spot the Walmart sign off the highway, and you finally feel like you can get some rest!

But, if you’ve been traveling in your camper for a while now, you know the store may not allow overnight parking, and there’s still some trepidation as you pull your RV into the lot.

Countless articles post links to RV-friendly Walmart locations, but I find many of them have incorrect information. The only way to know if a Walmart allows RVs overnight is to check with the store manager.

Walmart Supercenters are more likely to allow RV parking than their smaller Walmart Marketplace stores, so keep it in mind when looking for a place to take a break.

Before you bother parking your camper and going into the Walmart, keep your eyes open for signage around the entrances and outer perimeter of the lot.

If the store does not allow RV overnight parking, there will be signs posting this, but they are small and easy to miss.

Don’t assume that just because you see other RVs already in the lot, you’re good to go.

I’m guilty of this maneuver back in my early RVing days. Until one night waking from a cop pounding on my door telling me I had to move on.

It turns out the city didn’t allow overnight parking at that Walmart and had signs posting this. The store manager gave up patrolling the lot and would wait for the police to come through and run off any RVs.

Lesson learned!

To ensure you can park your RV at any Walmart location, go inside and ask to speak to a manager. The manager will inform you of the store RV parking policy, and if they do allow you to stay, they will tell you where to park.

Many RVers travel to or live in Canada and wonder if Walmart Canada allows overnight RV parking.

The answer is yes. Overnight RV parking at Walmarts in Canada is legal.

While Canada has laws making it illegal to spend the night in shopping mall parking lots, they have given an exception to Walmart stores.

Do follow the rule to ask a manager for permission to park before you crash for the night.

Walmart RV Parking Do’s and Don’ts

RVs parked at Walmart

Walmart RV Parking Do’s:

  • Do ask permission from store manager at every location
  • Do keep your RV spot clean – pick up trash, even if not yours
  • Do shop for supplies in the store
  • Do park in designated area
  • Do give other RVs a wide berth
  • Do keep noise down
  • Do keep blinds shut

Walmart Parking Don’ts:

  • Don’t open the awning or set out chairs
  • Don’t run the generator unless absolutely necessary
  • Don’t open slides if your near other cars, RVs, or roadways
  • Don’t dump any waste tanks
  • Don’t forget to lock up bikes or gear outside your RV or in truck bed
  • Don’t stay for more than one night

All RVers need to work as a team to keep as many Walmart parking lots available for free overnight stays.

When you follow the rules above, you can do your part to keep store managers and local authorities happy to have us as guests.

If you try to make Walmart your permanent camping location or make a mess, you’ll be ruining it for everyone else when the store decides to stop RV parking.

Is Free Overnight RV Parking at Walmart Allowed? (Video)

Overnight RV Parking at Truck Stops or Travel Centers

Are Loves, Pilot, TA, and Flying J truck stops RV friendly? This question is another common one I get from RV newbies.

Yes, most major truck stops allow RV parking, but the rules are more strict. There are also critical unwritten rules to follow if you don’t want problems with annoyed truck drivers just trying to do their job.

Many truck stops offer RV-friendly amenities Walmart doesn’t, such as:

  • Dump stations
  • Restaurants
  • Wi-Fi
  • Showers
  • Propane fills
  • Weigh scales
  • Very roomy gas pumps

Do expect to pay a fee to enjoy some of the services above.

Before I detail all the do’s and don’ts of parking your RV at a truck stop, let me answer some other frequently asked questions.

Truck Stop RV Parking FAQS

RVs at the truck stop

Are Showers Free at Truck Stops?

First, not every truck stop will have showers, so don’t expect it. The places that do offer showers to non-truckers are not free.

Charges for a shower, including towels, washcloth, shampoo, and soap, can range from $10-$17. This fee may seem pricey, but you can share a shower with another person to lower the cost.

You can also earn free or discount showers by signing up for loyalty rewards programs through the truck stop and earning points through purchases.

Do bring any toiletries you want, and make sure you wear some flip-flops or water shoes to ensure you don’t pick up any bacteria from the floor from other guests.

Other unwritten rules for taking a truck stop shower are:

  • If there’s a long line, come back later – let the truckers have first dibs
  • Do not linger – again, there can be very tired truckers wanting to get clean and go to sleep
  • Be nice to staff and truckers

You pay for showers at the register, receive a PIN to open the door, and wait for them to call your number. There’s no time limit for your shower, but be courteous and make it as quick as possible.

How Much Does It Cost to Dump an RV at Flying J or Other Truck Stop?

The standard fee to dump your RV waste tanks at Flying J is $10. However, you can use your loyalty rewards card to get discounts.

Most truck stops charge $5-$10 to dump tanks. Many RV parks that are way further off the highway often charge $10-$20 for the same service.

Where Do I Park My RV at Truck Stops?

When you pull into truck stops, you can’t just pick any open slot and set up for the night. Doing this can get you into a tight spot with both the truck stop management and actual truckers who are on the job.

Please verify with a manager that they allow RVs to park because not every truck stop or travel center does.

Some truck stops have designated free parking for RVs with signage to direct you to the correct location. In addition, some places will have a first-come, first-served system for free RV spots, with a fee for other sites.

Whatever you do, never park in any of the long parking spots that are obviously for semi-trailer trucks.

Look for smaller spots away from the trucks, so they have plenty of room to maneuver without your camper in the way.

All RVers who plan to use truck stops as a free place to catch up on some sleep need to understand that modern-day truck drivers have a very regulated schedule.

Do note that while both drivers of big rigs and RVs are tired after a long haul down the road, truckers are on the job and deserve consideration.

The driver can easily suffer fines or other loss of income if they don’t shut down their rig before their work clocks run down.

Trucks now have integrated GPS and timer systems that ensure drivers are getting enough breaks and sleep hours, which is an excellent thing for safety, but it doesn’t allow the driver to alter or stop the clocks in any way.

If a truck driver is feeling great because they are pulling into a truck stop with 20 minutes to spare and you’ve parked your camper in the last available truck-parking spot, things could get ugly.

Even if you arrive and see lots of open truck parking slots, that doesn’t mean you should park there unless a manager tells you it’s okay. Later in the day, there may be a rush of truckers looking for a place to sleep.

The average user doesn’t give a truck driver’s stringent driving rules much thought, but you need to.

Just remember that anytime you pull into a truck stop or travel center, you’re on their turf, so stay out of their way.

Let drivers go ahead of you for food, showers, restroom, or other needs. You can even thank them for keeping our country’s supply chain running.

Truck Stop RV Parking Do’s and Don’ts

Trucks parked at the truck stop

Truck Stop RV Parking Do’s:

  • Do ask permission from store manager at every location
  • Do park your RV on the car side of the truck stop or in designated RV spots
  • Do eat inside or shop for supplies in the store
  • Do let truck drivers have first service for amenities
  • Do expect a constant stream of noise – have earplugs ready
  • Do back into your spot so you can pull out easier and faster
  • Do check RV travel apps for reviews before stopping

Truck Stop Parking Don’ts:

  • Don’t open the awning or slideouts
  • Don’t throw trash on the ground
  • Don’t dump any waste tanks outside the dump station
  • Don’t forget there will be a constant stream of strangers roaming around, so lock up any outdoor gear
  • Try to leave before 10 am the next morning
  • Don’t grill or generally hang outside the camper
  • Don’t stay if you feel uneasy for any reason

If you need to open slides to use your RV for sleeping, you should pass on staying for free at truck stops.

Most do not allow you to open slides for liability reasons, as they are a hazard for the truck drivers and people walking by, especially after dark, as they are hard to see and easy to hit.

Do download some travel apps like the Pilot Flying J Plus, Allstays, and Gas Buddy that will locate truck stops and gas stations (many that are part of Walmart Supercenters) to help you out during RV travel.

You can also use RV travel apps to read reviews of free RV parking locations along your route to make sure there aren’t alerts about stealing or other serious issues so you can bypass that stop.

Should RVs Park Overnight at Truck Stops? (Video)

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Final Thoughts

RV parking at Walmarts and truck stops is a fantastic way to stretch your camping budget and stock up on supplies and fuel at the same time.

As you’ve now read, Walmarts are a more RV-friendly overnight location, but truck stops offer a wider range of amenities that RVers may find helpful during long road trips.

Whichever free boondock location you choose, please follow the rules to avoid any issues that could ruin your vacation or someone else’s day.

I use the tools above all the time in my full-time RV life, and I hope you find the tips invaluable too!

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QUOTE:
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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