I would not park in a Walmart parking lot overnight with kids. They can't get outside. If I chose to do so alone, I would make sure the door was locked before dark and not open it until daytime when other people are in the lot. I have read stories about RVers getting knocks on the door at night by drunks or druggies. If so, I would certainly NOT open the door and I would call 911. The doors of a camper are not very secure and can be pried opened easily unless they have a dead bolt. If they still choose to stay overnight one suggestion we heard was to keep a can of wasp spray where you can get it if someone comes in. Although most have security cameras (no help at all except to catch who done it) and security patrols, they can't be everywhere at once. I would plot the trip so they stay at safe campgrounds.
Lonny & Diane
2004 Country Coach Allure 33' "Big Blue"
Towing 2008 Chev Colorado 4x4
Consider hospital parking lots, it's open 24/7. A lot of cars park there overnight, especially the spaces close to ER. Use Google map sattelite view if they have open parking spaces (not the multi storey car parks) before heading. I've done it few times, even use there cafeteria for a quick coffee and snacks.
We have stayed in Walmart and Sam's lots many times. Safety doesn't seem to be the issue, keeping 4 kids happy cooped up in a RV would be. They are convenient, nice to swing in and top off the groceries, save your black water tank, etc. That said, they are also sometimes noisy and very lighted at night, sometimes making sleep difficult. If money is not the issue, with four kids, I would look for a campground with amenities. Stop early enough in the day to get a CG, I suspect the kids will be ready to anyway. You can always find a Walmart as a last resort.
I totally agree with this. When we took our 2 kids cross-country, we quickly discounted staying at Flying Js and Walmarts. Why? Because after driving 6-8 hours straight i wanted them to be able to get out of the SUV and run around SAFELY. Maybe even jump in a pool or lake for an hour. And sleep without A/C? *shudder*
We stayed in some state parks, a few national parks, and some KOAs and other private parks. Only once did I think we could have done better staying at a Walmart. Butte,MT. Now that it's just me and the hubby, I'd probably try Walmart or Flying J. But not with kids and definitely NOT in the summer out west!
"Those who dwell...among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life."--Rachel Carson, environmentalist, 1956
2009 Ford F250 XL
2006 Dutchmen 25F
Me & DH in non-parenting mode!
One caution after reading your post - Probably not a good idea to park your RV Trailer at a Walmart and run off and do some sigthseeing etc. If your vehicle is not with your RV trailer at all times the Walmart Security may call the police to check you guys out.
Some Walmarts have signs up about RV parking. We always check-in with Walmart when we arrive and let them know we are spending the night. This is a good idea finding out early on any particulars about staying there. We too have never had any issues parking at a Walmart. Havent done it alot but have done it. Its win-win for Walmart... You shop for groceries and supplies everytime you stop...
My Posts are IMHO based on my experiences - PM me Roy and Carolyn
RETIRED DOAF/DON/DOD/CONTR RADIO TECH (42yrs)
K9PHT (Since 1957) 146.52M
2010 F150, 5.4,3:73 Gears,SCab
2008 Starcraft 14RT EU2000i GEN
2005 Flagstaff 8528RESS
I have no problem with overnighting at Walmart although we have never done so...yet. HOWEVER, I would be concerned about safety. Let me explain: I live within 15 mins. of 4 Super Walmarts. All 4 allow overnight stays. I would NOT overnight in 3 of the Walmarts. The area they are in is not a good one and I would be concerned for my safety! They all have 24 hr. security and are close to police stations. However they are in high/higher crime areas.
I know my area because I have lived here all my life but I don't know areas all over the country. You can't always tell if the area is safe just by looking at it either as the 3 Walmarts I would not stay at look like they are in good areas!
I would say that if you choose to overnight at Walmart not only ask for the manager's permission but also ask him/her if the area is safe. Just be careful.
Standard quote "In my humble opinion". You may be overplanning your trip. We never make reservations unless it is on the weekend over a holiday. We have never had any trouble just showing up a campground and getting a space. Even if it is the campgrounds worst space it will still be better than a walmart parking lot.
There isn't always a campground anywhere near the interstate or the heavily trafficked roads RVers mostly use. Why drive 20 or more miles looking for a CG when the Wal*Marts are right by the interstates? Rarely more than a miles or two away. We've never had a problem in a Wal*Mart lot or a Flying -J or any other place RVs tend to spend the night. Also, not only do we not want to drive many miles looking for a CG at night in a strange place, but it's a waste to pay $25 to $35 a night just to sleep.
I believe a lot of posters here have interjected their own sidelines on your post. There is nothing inherently safer about a campground. Wal-Mart is safe, and I did not see where you want to have the kids running around a parking lot, a place to store the RV while you disappear for a day, just a place to sleep and move on. To hear some of these cautions, I would be fearful of even shopping at Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon with friends in a car. Stay in the Super Wal-Marts, do a little shopping for supplies if you're not too tired. They may be a little apprehensive at the first one, but you get use to the lit lots and noise after one or two Wal-Mart.
When I bought my fifth-wheel trailer, it did not have a generator or a dome type satellite dish. In the years I have had it, I have renovated it and added the genny and the dome. I can pull into a Walmart, park at the far end of the lot, run the microwave for cooking as well as the stove, watch TV in minutes just by pushing a few buttons on the dome controller, and as I always travel with full water tanks, can even take a Navy shower. As for ridding myself of the waste water that accumulates, Pilot/Flying J is reasonable for their dump site, some of the states have dump sites on interstate rest areas where you can still dump free. As for kids, there are some Walmarts that do have grassy areas that the kids can play in if you are able to park near them. As it is now only the wife and I and our pets, we can drive as far as we wish and pull over at a Walmart for a few hours rest and restocking the larder. Be aware and alert in your surroundings and you will be fine. Have fun!
Richard L. Ray
SSgt USAF (Retired) Life Member DAV
W4RLR 146.52 mhz
2005 Ford F-250 Lariat Crew Cab
1995 Jayco Eagle 277RBSS fifth-wheel
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