My most common sleeping location, after friends’ couches, was in my van in Walmart parking lots. Walmart has a corporate policy of allowing travelers in RVs to park overnight in their lot. Most Walmarts are fine with this, but a few stray from the corporate policy and ban overnight parking.
The general protocol is that RVers go inside, talk to a manager, and confirm that overnight parking is allowed. I tried this once and got nothing but blank stares, so after that I didn’t bother. I figured if anyone said anything to me, I could claim ignorance. And usually, I would see RVs or campers in the lot, and park in their general vicinity, as if we’re all in this together.
I never had any problems parking overnight at Walmart, though sometimes I had to visit 2 or 3 Walmarts before I found one that I could stay at. Some Walmarts actually hire security to drive around the parking lot 24/7. Any time I pulled into a Walmart and spotted the security car with the blinking light, I moved on to the next Walmart. There was one Walmart that had signs that said, “No overnight RV parking.” Since I wasn’t an RV, I parked there.
It’s an unwritten rule among Walmart RVers that those who park overnight in the lot should buy something in the morning as a thank you to the company. I did this at first, but after a while, I got frustrated that a lot of Walmarts didn’t allow overnight parking, so I stopped doing this. In the morning, I would go inside to use their restroom, then get back in the van and move on.
I also dislike Walmart because of the way they bully their way into small towns, even those that don’t want them. In Logan, West Virginia, Walmart blew away the side of a mountain in order to create a flat space to build a store (see top picture.)
So, I didn’t have any moral qualms about using Walmart for their bathrooms. In fact, towards the end of the trip, it brought me great joy to sleep in Walmart lots, then drive to Target to spend money there, at Walmart’s competitor.