Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Walmart camping

After reading so much about Walmart camping, I finally decided to give it a try. This isn't really "camping" so much as it is just overnight parking. It's for those times when you just need a safe, convenient place to park overnight while catching some z's. With camp sites in private campgrounds and even in state parks costing $25 and up per night, the opportunity to park somewhere for free just to sleep a few a hours sounds like a good deal.

Turns out, it's great. For example, yesterday I worked an extra shift from 11 am to 7 pm. This gave me enough time in the morning to pack up My Way and drive it to work. After work I drove to Seffner to gas up (Flying J over there has the cheapest gas in the area) and then drove down to Arcadia, FL, about an hour and a half drive. The Escapees Chapter 15 is having a rally down here and I wanted to come down and join them for a couple of days. But at $29 per night for a campsite at the rally campground, I really didn't want to pull in at 10:30 pm and pay that much money just to fall into bed and sleep. Walmart camping to the rescue.

The Walmart Supercenter in Arcadia is right on SR 70 and has a nice, big parking lot. There's a Subway sandwich shop right next to it, so I grabbed a $5 footlong Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub and parked in the back of the parking lot near two other RVs who were obviously parked for the night. I closed the curtains, turned on a little light and ate my sub while listening to the radio. Then I hit the rack. It was very quiet at this Walmart; they didn't even have a noisy parking lot cleaning truck come by at 3 am, like some other Walmarts I've stayed at. At 6:30 this morning I awoke to the sweet sounds of birds chirping in the trees. I got up, got dressed, walked over to the store and bought some veggies for tonight's pot luck dinner. Then I drove over to the campground where the rally is and joined the group just in time for coffee and bagels.

This is now the third time I've camped at a Walmart and every time has been just great. I agree with suggestions I've read at online sites to try to be as unobtrusive as possible, meaning I don't put out any chairs, put up my Winegard or run my generator. I don't look like I'm camping, because I'm not. I'm just parking for a few hours. I pretty much show up after 9 pm and am up and at 'em by 7 am. With a Class B, it's even easier for me to blend in, but I do park right among the other, larger RVs, so it's obvious I'm not just parking while shopping. I didn't check with this Walmart's manager for approval to park, but I did so with the first one I stayed at. I figure if there are already a couple of rigs there, it must be okay to park overnight. And I do always go in and spend money in the store the next day. It's not something I'd do every night out, but for those times when I really just need a place to sleep for the night, I'm all for Walmart camping.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you got a photo too. Photos are so important for blogging. It's perfect.