Boondocking at WalMart

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by TJ-RV, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    I meet a lot of folks, both online and in person, who rave about the fact that they can camp in WalMart parking lots for free. We also have a number of friends who tell me they use WalMarts to save campground fees.

    Things sometimes get heated when I suggest they should stay at a campground rather than try to save $30. I hear/read lots of rationale about how they spend that $30 in the WalMart store, so they're not trying to save money; That they're only staying to get a few hours sleep before moving on; That WalMart encourages them to stay there; How they're really safe because WalMart security comes and checks on them frequently; etc.

    They really get mad when I explain that WalMart hires the security folks to protect the stores, not the folks who camp in their parking lots. They also don't like it when I suggest that extending the slideouts, putting out the fake grass, deckchairs, barbeque and satellite dish doesn't sound like a brief stay for a nap.

    It's true that WalMart's policy is to allow RVers to stay overnight in their parking lots, although the final decision is up to the individual store manager.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2008
  2. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    I split this into several messages, hoping it will be a little easier to digest. There really are several episodes to the story ....

    A couple of years ago, a country and western singer/song writer named Cliff Boyd observed some of this WalMart-related dialogue and wrote a song he initially called "Tom's waltzing through WalMart". Quite clever and entertaining. He subsequently dropped the association with my name and published the song on one of his CDs. You can listen to the first verse of the song here. Samples of Cliff's other RV-related songs are on his web site here.

    Note that I've never met Cliff in person, nor do I have any commercial or other association with him. I did buy a couple of his CDs and occasionally listen to them. I also received his permission to print copies of the lyrics of 'Waltzing through WalMart' to hand out at a rally so we could have a group singsong. The folks at the rally enjoyed that one.
     
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  3. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    We choose not to stay in WalMart or other store parking lots. Occasionally, near the end of an unusually long day of driving , my wife might say "let's just stop at that WalMart for the night". We're driving through a strange town, and have no idea if this is the better part of town or a bad area. So, I'll politely say "Honey, we'll stop at the next campground".

    Personally, I've seen way too many problems in store parking lots. They're a magnet for drug dealing and gangs. People get shot and all kinds of other bad things happen. But the WalMart'ers are adamant that they're safe. There's even a Yahoo group called "WalMart Bound". I've never visited the group, but I see some of their members walking around with large "club" buttons on their shirts.

    You may have read the story a year or so ago about the family from Florida, travelling to southern California in their very nice RV, who stayed overnight at a WalMart. Some time late in the evening someone knocked on the door, and they foolishly opened it. There was an altercation and the owner of the RV, trying to protect his wife and kids, shot the other person and he subsequently died.

    In addition to being traumatised by the event, the family was asked to hang around for several days (maybe a week) while police investigated. They were eventually allowed to go on their way. Last time I checked, the family of the dead man was suing the RVer, presumably for wrongful death.

    In addition to ruining the family's holiday, I suspect this episode turned them off the RV lifestyle and could well have financial and emotional repercussions for a long time to come.
     
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  4. Road Runner

    Road Runner Read Only Funster

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    Now that's taking the pi$$:RollEyes:
     
  5. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    LOL John, I wouldn't take the Michael. But the die hard WalMart'ers get really mad with me because I confuse (challenge) their rationale with facts :RollEyes:
     
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  6. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Another in the "don't overnight here" category .....

    Back in the 80's we were attending an event with one of our boats clubs. We had 80 visiting boats participating in a salmon fishing tournament outside the Golden Gate, and I was designated dockmaster for the weekend. I figured I'd be too busy docking boats to be able to do any fishing, so we took our motorhome and parked/camped at the perimeter of the marina.

    Around 2.00am I was awakened by some very loud banging on the door. When I saw the bright light illuminating the coach, I knew it was the local cops. I figured I'd just lay there quietly, pretending nobody was home, and they'd go away.

    That's when my wife woke up and started shouting at the top of her voice "Tom, Tom, there's someone at door". I had no choice but to answer and, when I tried to explain "I'm with that boat club over there", they just said move on in no uncertain terms.

    By 2.30am we were checked into a room at the Mariott Hotel at the marina, with the motorhome in their back parking lot.

    Security issues aside, many cities in the U.S. expressly prohibit overnight camping anywhere besides official campgrounds. They enforce it with cops in uniform and guns on their belts.
     
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  7. martyn

    martyn Read Only Funster

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    A bit off topic i know but in the early 80s, I was a truck driver,and having just returned from doing 2 trips to Italy (away for 3 weeks) my wife asked me to take her shopping.We went to our local ASDA who, I think are now owned by Wal-Mart,while we were shopping a chap came up to me quoting my registration number.Whats the problem i said, he told me i was taking up 2 spaces in the car park,looking at the 2 trolleys we had full of shopping,i said we would probably need the truck (just the tractor unit) to take it home.He wouldn't stop ranting about taking up 2 spaces,although it was mid-week and approx.100 empty parking spaces.So i told him,if that was his attitude,he could put his shopping back on the shelves.I've not used ASDA since. I would hate to think what his attitude would be if someone turned up in a Motorhome and started camping in his car park.He would probably have a coronary.:Rofl1::swear:
     
  8. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Martyn,

    I think I would have had the same reaction as you in those circumstances. There's really no reason for that kind of attitude towards customers, especially since there was so much additional space in the parking lot.
     
  9. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    When I first heard of the Walmart policy I sent a message to Asda through their web site asking if the policy was going to be extended to this country - and never received a reply.

    A little over a year ago I contacted all the major supermarket groups to ask about daytime parking facilities for motorhomes for my web site. Asda replied "We were very interested to hear your suggestion and have passed it onto the relevant team here at ASDA House who will look into the ethics of having this on our website." I haven't seen or heard any indication of any subsequent action.

    We have never had a problem using supermarket car parks when shopping (though our van is only 18 feet long) but we are careful to park in the less busy areas. The only problem I have actually heard of was some friends, who then had a van about 20 feet long, who were berated by an attendant at Sainsbury's in Market Harborough about 18 months ago.

    One word of caution. Some supermarket car parks are administered by parking companies which reputedly require their staff to issue a set number of tickets in a given period - so it is worth checking any displayed restrictions before parking.

    Graham
     
  10. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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    :Cool: Having been Wild-Campers (Boondockers) for over 7 years. It wasn't for the saving of Money. It was to choose who our neighbours were. We are now in our second year on a campsite. When we did our 3 month tour of the USA, we mainly stayed on Flying 'J' truck stops. But did avail ourselves of Walmart on 3 occasions. :Wink:
     
  11. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi TJ this reminds me of the "its unsafe to stay on French Aries" debate, thousands do it without trouble, but occasionally some get robbed. Just as some people living at home get robbed/murdered.

    Is a campsite any safer? I suppose statistically it is, but then statistically, flying is a far safer way to go on holiday, yet we continue to drive, perhaps hiding our head in the sand to this fact?

    We haven't done much wildcamping, but others who have like JSW said "if it feels bad move on".

    Olley
     
  12. Road Runner

    Road Runner Read Only Funster

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    As seen on Ice road truckers:Wink::Laughing::Rofl1:
     
  13. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    LOL John, does that mean there's a better class of RVers staying at WalMart?

    Lots of people do that, and I'd think it would be safer than staying at WM. Some folks don't like truck stops because of the noise. The truck parking at the nearest FJ to us is nearly always full, due it being the first one southbound on that interstate for many miles. I've often thought it would upset truckers who couldn't park there if some RVs were taking up the space.

    Being only 50 miles or so from home, we obviously wouldn't stay overnight there. But it is a regular fuel stop for us if we're coming home from the north. On the rare occasion I've wanted to park there (e.g. to buy something in their store), all the pullthrough spaces were used and I can't back the motorhome/car combination into any of the back-in spaces.
     
  14. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    I'm reminded of a TV program I watched a few years ago that caused me to write this up elsewhere:

    The world's best truck stops
    The following information was gleaned from a Travel channel feature on "the world's best truck stops". A fascinating program that had one wanting to be a trucker (or an RVer stopping over). Here's their top 10, but please remember, I've never visited any of these truck stops, and none of the comments/observations are mine:

    • Autohof Strohofer, Geisynd, Germany - biggest truck stop in Europe, in-the-buff spa, drive through.
    • Lodi Travel Center, Lodi, OH - Starbucks, marble showers and internet hookups.
    • Highlands Petro, Racine, WI - has a full time chiropractor who, in addition to taking care of neck and back pains, is qualified to perform the DOT required physicals.
    • Derrick Travel Plaza, Salisbury - has a 'trucker's chapel'.
    • Jubatz Travel Plaza, Portland, OR - has a hotel with suites, cinema, and formal upscale dining. Claimed to be the classiest.
    • Rip Griffin Travel Center, San Antonio, TX - they pick you up from your rig in a limo.
    • Ayer Keroh, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - the most exotic.
    • Alamo Travel Center, Sparks, NV. All the gambling you could ask for.
    • Iowa 80 - claims to be the biggest.South of The Border, on I95 at the NC/SC border.
     
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  15. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Hi Olley,

    Understood, and it's obviously a psychological thing to some extent. After that experience with cops waking me at 2.00am and telling me to move on, I have a hard time sleeping if we're not in a campground :Sad:
     
  16. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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    :Rofl1: Not really. But there were some noisy ones on the campground we stayed at.

    We prefer the noise of Trucks than the screaming of drunken yobs. We also had a week Boondocking at the Wild West Truck stop in LV along with hundreds of other truckers. The only problem was one night we were invited to join in the 'Chase the Lady' game. Didn't fall for that one. :Wink:
     
  17. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Sounds like you've had some unfortunate campground experiences John. Sorry to hear that. I believe we've run into that once, around 1982/3; We were in a tent, so all noises seemed that much louder.

    Most folks we've met in campgrounds across the U.S. and eastern Canada are quite civilised, and many campgrounds enforce quiet hours. We had a knock on the door one evening, around 6.00pm, and the (armed) state park ranger asked "Are you having generator problems?" I said "yes, and the darned thing was backfiring before I shut it down". She said "Phew! thank goodness for that; I had a report of shooting down here".

    If you want to see/hear some drunken yobs, stand outside the chippie around the corner from any pub in the UK :Wink:

    Maybe I don't want to ask what that was :Blush:
     
  18. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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  19. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    I eventually figured out; Just a bit slow on the uptake. I don't play card games, so wasn't thinking along those lines :Blush:
     
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