Chapter 7 : Wal-Mart and other
Free Places to Camp
"Do you know about Wal-Mart camping?" We didn't
know, but the old man at the campground in Florida insisted Wal-Mart
not only allowed RVs and vans to park overnight, but encouraged
it. "Free camping," he told us, and we didn't wait
long to take advantage of this new knowledge.
Somewhere in northern Georgia we pulled into a Wal-Mart, and
sure enough, we saw RVs off to one side of the parking lot, looking
like they were there for the night. We were heading back to Michigan
in our conversion van, and free camping sounded good to us. We
parked, plugged in our 5-inch television, and settled in for
Nobody bothered us. It was even quieter than you might think.
In the morning we used the bathrooms inside, and bought some
The next night we camped for free again, this time at a "Flying
J" truck stop. There were RVs camping there as well. You'll
find Flying J Truck stops all over, and they actively court the
RV crowd, counting on gas and other sales. We filled our tank
there in the morning, and bought some food as well. As long as
campers stay out of the way of the truckers, free camping is
likely to continue.
Other Free Camping Places
Generally, you can camp free on any BLM (Bureau of Land Management)
land, unless it's specifically forbidden in an area. This is
also true of National Forest lands. In both cases you're limited
to a stay of two weeks in one place, though this rule is not
always enforced, and the next two-week place might have to be
only a hundred yards away.
State forest lands are usually open to free camping without
permits, but policies vary by state. The two-week rule seems
to be common.
We camped in our van for ten days at Williams Landing, east
of Tallahassee, Florida, on Lake Talquin. It's a beautiful place,
with hot showers. Our cost? Zero, and you can stay up to two
weeks. There are free campgrounds scattered around the country.
Ask an RVer about this, or buy a Woodall's Campground Directory
from any large RV dealer.
Wal-Mart seems to encourage the campers, except in coastal
areas where too many RVer's want to live in a parking lot. Don't
roll out the carpet and put out lawn furniture like one traveler
we heard about. You may ruin it for all.
Some people stay for a week at a time. They go out all day
to see the sights - and so they don't wear out their welcome.
Wal-Mart gets business from the campers, but they'll only continue
their policy if they don't have problems, so keep it low-key.
To find a Wal-Mart in the area you're traveling to, visit
Walmart.com. Scroll down to the "store finder" link
to search. Thank you for camping at Wal-Mart!
Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry.
- Dave Barry
Continue with Chapter 8 here: Travel
Note: This chapter on Wal-Mart camping was part of
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