Camping-in-Canada-Hack: Camping at Walmart

by Elske
Renting your own RV

In our second blogpost about our upcoming Canada adventure, we got you up to speed on boondocking, which is a fancy word for camping outside of paid campsites, often even in people’s backyard. Now there is another surprising option to camp on a shoestring in Canada, or to get through the night when you aren’t able to find a campsite before darkness: Camp Wally. So let’s find out what it’s like: camping at the parking lot of Walmart.

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Although camping in the wild sparks the imagination, you’ll find that it’s not always as romantic as it seems. As far as the National Parks go, camping outside of the designated areas is strictly forbidden. Luckily there’s always the Crown Lands you can turn to for that wilderness feeling. But what if you are just passing through and keeping your demands low? Walmart’s got you.

Why camp at Walmart?!

Not only do you get to restock your supplies, their parking lots are also relatively safe ánd there’s clean bathrooms available. Of course, you’re not meant to install your little porch and make a cosy campfire. But sometimes a good night’s sleep is the only thing you need while on the road. If you’re planning on packing up and leaving right after breakfast, there’s no need to pay for a campsite.

Just follow the next steps:

  • Download your Walmart app, and search for ‘Possible Parkings’ near you.
  • Make sure you check the reviews before you pick a parking lot, and head up to the place you like best.
  • Pull up to any of the other camper vans you spot over there.
  • Talking to a manager and doing some groceries will be appreciated. Even if you found a Walmart that says ‘no parking’, they will let you stay if you’re polite.

How to do it right and convenient

We tracked down some good advice to make your overnight’s stay as comfortable as possible. Keep them in mind and you’re all set:

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  • Don’t park where customers park or where they drive in or around. These lots are noisy and you don’t want to get in anyone’s way.
  • Walmart Garden Centers are oftentimes nice. Just stay away from the loading docks keep arriving at all hours.
  • Don’t go near any tractor-trailers. They tend to run their engines all night.
  • Use ear plugs!
  • Choose an RV parking near the street lights for safety and convenience.
  • Lock your camper van and keep everything that is of value out of sight.
  • Preferably, don’t run your generator. Especially not after 9pm.
  • Don’t stay for longer amounts of time, and don’t just leave your vehicle at Walmart’s parking lot to go do something else.

Of course, safety is not 100% guaranteed. One Walmart can be very different from the other, depending on which region you’re driving through. All Walmarts have surveillance cameras and sometimes even security guards. Still it’s best to trust your instincts, and see how the place feels to you.

Big tip: treat yourself to something nice while you’re there, to make the best of camping at a parking lot. Take out some yummy food and snuggle up with some nice music and a good book. For example She Explores, a guide to the wilderness we will be reviewing in the next couple of weeks.

Sounds not too bad, right? We will definitely try out camping at Walmart during our travels through Canada. Want to stay informed about our adventures, book reviews and other articles to come? Sign up for our newsletter!

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