Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Road: Walmart Camping

English: Exterior of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in...
English: Exterior of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Madison Heights, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although I have never camped outside a Walmart, I know some who have participated in this activity. What is Walmart camping? When they drive a substantial distance or just need a place to stay, some people seek to save money on lodging by sleeping in their cars or campers in a Walmart parking lot. These travelers use the restrooms at the 24-hour Walmart SuperCenter and repay the store for the opportunity to use the parking lot by buying food and supplies at the store. Now that I know about this practice, I have noticed the trucks and campers in the parking lots all the time.

I have to admit that I thought the store would not be happy about this situation, but it turns out Walmart camping has been going on for decades with Walmart's blessing.  When I looked at the message boards for this topic, I found that travelers checked with the store manager to see if the particular store was cool with having overnight guests. Some were not onboard, but those stores who did permit this activity saw the advantage of it. Having travelers camp in the parking lot discouraged various types of illegal activity. In addition, the campers gave the store their patronage.

The campers who frequent the Walmart stores want this opportunity to continue and they use message boards and blogs to inform newbies of guidelines and also to give advice to potential campers to make sure their experience is a success. For example, travelers should check out the surrounding neighborhood of the Walmart to make sure it is safe and should park away from the doors of the building. For those who want to consider Walmart camping as an option, researching this topic on the web will provide a wealth of information.
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