Discount retailers allow free RV parking - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Discount retailers allow free RV parking

Updated: Sep 9, 2011 03:26 PM EDT
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By Elaine Zimmermann

Phil and Phyllis: We are planning a trip to Florida in our RV. I have been told there are some stores that will allow you to park in their parking lots for free. Do you know which stores allow this?

Elaine: Walmart has been the leader in allowing RV owners to park overnight in their lots at no charge. But they are not alone. K-Mart, Costco and Flying J truck stops do as well. But Walmart remains the most popular choice among RV'ers. With campgrounds and RV parks charging $25 to $40 per night, the savings over a long trip can be substantial.

A seasoned overnight Walmart parking lot guest offers this advice. "For your safety and peace of mind, select Walmarts that are open 24 hours a day. There will always be shoppers and security in the lot even in the middle of the night."

Some Walmarts do not allow overnight parking due to local restrictions. These stores usually post signs that state this policy. You may find these restrictions more prevalent in tourist attraction destinations. For example in Orlando, you may have to park in a Walmart as far as 30 miles away from the city and its theme parks.

Walmart is so accustomed to allowing overnight RV parking in their lots that most have designated areas for RV's and campers. (no 18-wheelers) Their security personnel are trained to direct RV'ers to these areas and brief the occupants on the conditions for overnight parking.

Most Walmarts allow you to leave your vehicle in their designated areas for 24 hours a day for as many as a few weeks to as few as three days -- extremely popular destinations usually have shorter stay maximums.

Just as with a campground, in Walmart lots you may come and go as you please throughout the day. But Walmart lots do not provide all the amenities of campgrounds.

Those Walmart locations that accept overnight parking by RV's and campers do not provide power -- but most RV's have fuel tank powered generators. Water is available only at those Walmart locations that also sell gasoline and sometimes at the auto bays of Walmart stores.

Also there are no facilities to dispose of waste water, commonly referred to as "black water." According to many Walmart overnight guests, this can be properly disposed of at no charge at many state rest stops.

"Gray water," the water from showers and sinks cannot be disposed of in Walmart lots either. This can be properly disposed of at no charge at most camp grounds and rest stops.

Most RV'ers have experienced an occasion when they could not find a place to park in any Walmart, K-Mart or other retail location. In this instance, most elect to park in a truck stop.

The advantage of large truck stops is that many have shower facilities and restaurants. The disadvantage is the noise. Many who have stayed overnight at truck stops say the diesel engines make sleep impossible.

Elaine Zimmermann is a personal finance expert who was written about everyday ways to save money on cars, homes, vacations and more. For information on investing in foreclosed real estate you can visit her website at www.AskElaineZ.com.

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