Can you park your car at Walmart overnight?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you park your car at Walmart overnight? We will give you advice on how to sleep in your car comfortably, safely and legally. 

Can you park your car at Walmart overnight?

Yes, you can park your car at Walmart overnight, you can even sleep in it, as long as the store manager has nothing to say about it or if there is a “NO OVERNIGHT PARKING” sign. 

It’s a fact, there is nothing new about parking and sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. However, the privilege of sleeping there offered by some stores is very practical. Often located on the outskirts of highways, open in the cold season and often 24 hours, they are easy stops to rest on long journeys.

Here are some tips:

  • Many Walmart parking lots have “No Night Parking” signs. According to some, these signs are for tractor-trailers, according to others, they are put for the end of insurance or to avoid great traffic of motorized vehicles.

 In order to have peace of mind, all you have to do is walk into the store and get informed by wearing your best smile. If you are allowed to stay overnight, staff will direct you to the appropriate location.

  • If you don’t want to come to the store to request overnight parking clearance, it’s best to call.
  •  To find store locations and get a feel for sleepiness in advance, use these two mobile apps: Allstays Truck and Travel and RV Parky. If these two apps tell you that overnight parking is allowed at the location you are targeting, then you have a plan. Otherwise, read the comments of other users and get an idea. In addition, the Allstays app tells us how many miles to drive to the chosen Walmart.
  • If you have a choice of two or three stores a few miles apart, choose the furthest from the highway. The possibilities for it to be open 24 hours a day decrease and by the same token, the chances of peace and quiet increase.
  • On-site, keep your extension closed. Try to be as discreet as possible.

More advice on parking your car at Walmart overnight

Sam Walton (the owner and CEO of Wal-Mart) has said he doesn’t mind car and RV camping in his parking lots. This is true for Wal-Mart locations across the country.

Be a gracious nomad, however. Do not go beyond your welcome. My rule is never to stay more than one night in the same parking lot. Try to arrive later in the evening, wake up and go out early in the morning. And park at the back of the lot!

Please don’t bother cooking dinner in the parking lot either. No need to treat this like your pre-game tailgate. It will ruin that privilege for the rest of us.

As a courtesy, if you have to use the bathroom inside the store, also purchase something small from the store.

Note: While Walton has made it clear that all Wal-Mart’s should allow overnight camping, some store managers are against this practice. They will post “No Overnight Camping” signs in their car parks. Obey these signs and go to the next Wal-Mart.

Where else can you park your car overnight?

If you are not able to find a Walmart store that allows overnight parking close enough, here are other options:

  • BLM zones: “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. They administer more than 247.3 million acres (1,001,000 km2) of public land in the United States. This constitutes one-eighth of the country’s landmass. “

This land is public and 100% free for everyone. It’s in a good location and is generally the best camping scenery you can find for free. To learn more, visit this page.

  • Highway stops: The most famous place to park cars is the rest areas. These can also be the most convenient as they are located along the highway and you hardly have to deviate from your route.

All travellers are welcome to rest here. Sleeping through the night is not really their goal. Rest areas can be found all over the country, especially in the West. You can locate them in the Atlas of Rand McNally (Wal-Mart are also marked).

  • Designated campgrounds: Designated campgrounds are easy to find in each state. Typically, you will pay between $ 7 and $ 30 per night. Despite what you might think, this is the least affordable option. Yet, they are still in some of the most beautiful parts of the state. It can be nice to wake up in the middle of nature. But who wants to pay for camping by car?
  • Residential parking or highway parking: While we DO NOT recommend stopping on a residential street overnight, you can use this spot as a desperate measure. Late at night when your eyes are heavy and you can’t find any of the above locations, use this one as a last resort.

If you must, do not delay leaving in the morning. If residents see a mysterious car outside for too long, they may be quick to call the police.

Highway shoulder camping is by far the most dangerous. Only do this when you are putting yourself at greater risk by driving tired. Do your best to find a wide shoulder and park as far from the freeway as possible.

As your experience progresses, you will be surprised at what places you feel comfortable with, especially compared to your first night in your car. At the end of your trip, you will be delighted with your decision to drive camping. Not to mention that you will have saved money for other enjoyable experiences!

Is it illegal to sleep in your car in the US? 

No, it is not illegal to sleep in your car in the US, unless you are drunk, trespassing or you fall asleep while driving! 

The law is the first to recommend stopping to rest every two hours or so on long journeys since one of the main causes of accidents is fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel. Therefore, if we notice that fatigue is winning the game, it is totally legal to park the car on a safe road and take a nap.

Counting on this premise and paying attention to the detail that a vehicle is a private space, we can affirm that sleeping in the car is totally legal. However, there are a series of conditions that we must meet if we do not want to be penalized and that in the end, the holidays turn out to be more expensive than they should. Take note!

First of all, we must make sure that the vehicle is correctly parked. That is to say, that it does not exceed the road markings or its time limit. 

Second, we must be careful not to cross the line between spending the night in the car and camping. Inside the vehicle, we can do any activity (always within the law), but this cannot be taken outside under any circumstances.

Spending the night in the car means developing all the activity within it. Taking furniture outside, opening casement windows, awnings, making noise or dirtying the space is already considered camping and is totally prohibited if the area is not equipped for it. 

Conclusions

There is no instruction manual for sleeping at Walmart. Every store is free to choose and we would say that every manager has the final say.  Do you have Walmart overnight experiences or know of a Walmart that has a great location? Share them with us in the comments!

FAQ on Can you park your car at Walmart overnight?

The quick answer is: Yes, it is legal to sleep in a Walmart parking lot. The less quick answer is that it can be done as long as you ask for permission and adhere to the regulations and you are not camping there. 

Can you sleep in a parked car?

The quick answer is yes, it is totally possible to sleep in a stationary car, as long as it has been parked correctly and in compliance with the Highway rules. Sleeping in your car is, in fact, highly recommended after driving for many hours. It is advisable to stop for a nap if fatigue takes over. Fatigue is one of the main accident risks and there are quite a few deaths from falling asleep at the wheel and getting off the road.

Can cars sleep at truck stops?

It is not prohibited for cars to sleep at truck stops. The parking spots, however, are on a first-come-first-served basis, so you must think well and plan ahead your rest time on a long journey. 

Where is it forbidden to sleep in the car?

It is forbidden to sleep in the car in national parks. These are protected areas and therefore it is totally forbidden to camp and sleep (even in the car) in them.

References

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