Can You Sleep in a Walmart Parking Lot? Safety & Legal Issues

When traveling around in your car or RV, sometimes you don’t know where to sleep. Ideally, you’ll want to find an official camping area or RV park, but that isn’t always possible. You might consider sleeping in the Walmart parking lot, but is that even possible?

You can sleep in Walmart parking lots as long as you have permission to do so. However, it may not always be the best idea because although the parking lots have security cameras, you won’t be protected against robbery or assault in the case of an emergency.

Now let’s get into the specifics of how to sleep in a Walmart parking lot, their specific regulations regarding sleeping in the parking lot, and some good alternatives. After that, I’ll go over some useful tips on how to stay safe sleeping in your car, no matter where you decide to do it.

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Is It Legal To Sleep in Walmart Parking Lots?

It is legal to sleep in Walmart parking lots, but first, you need to get the individual store’s permission. That way, you aren’t woken up by a tow truck first thing in the morning. Not everyone follows the rule, but that doesn’t mean you should do the same.

You may notice many signs that say you’re not allowed to do so. But much of the time, this isn’t the case. These signs are simply there to discourage the use of the parking lot by truckers and to keep it from becoming a frequent overnight zone instead of just being for stranded travelers.

If you decide you want to stay in a Walmart parking lot and you don’t want to risk being towed in the morning, you need to go into the store and ask them if you can. That way, they can pass that message on to whoever is monitoring the cameras and parking lot throughout the night and early morning.

If you don’t do this, they may begin to tow your car in the morning without realizing that you’re sleeping in it. They’ll likely say yes as long as you ask nicely, so just make sure to be as polite as possible and explain your situation.

The official policy of Walmart is that welcoming or turning away overnighters is an individual decision that the manager can make of each store. They’re known as an extremely friendly chain when it comes to overnighters, with some even hosting special events or amenities. So if you’re nervous about having somewhere to sleep, chances are Walmart will take you in for the night.

Is It Safe To Sleep in a Walmart Parking Lot?

It’s usually safe to sleep in a Walmart parking lot. Walmarts have security cameras and often have security guards available who can contact authorities. These parking lots usually have overnighters. So if you’re worried about sleeping in a quiet area alone, you may consider a Walmart parking lot.

Sleeping in a parking lot is never ideal. That’s why you have designated overnight rest stops, truck stops, RV parks, and campgrounds. While you should be able to plan your trip, so you’re always stopping near one of those, sometimes things happen, you’re running late, or you’re too tired to drive safely, and you need to stop for the night without a campsite in sight. In these cases, you’ll need to pick a parking lot to stop in, and for many, that’s Walmart.

As far as parking lots go, Walmart is usually a pretty safe option. They have security cameras throughout the parking lot and have overnight security guards. Also, they close pretty late and are typically open very early in the morning as well, which helps with the security aspect as it limits the amount of time that the store is unoccupied.

Walmart parking lots are also well lit all night long. While other stores may have security cameras, they turn their lights off overnight, which makes it harder for the cameras to pick up on faces. Walmart keeping their lights on allows their security cameras to be more effective, which will help discourage any crime as it makes any criminals more likely to be caught.

What if They Say No?

Walmart won’t say no to you unless there are no spaces left in the parking lots. Not every place has Walmart, so the parking lots can sometimes be unavailable. If the parking lot is full and Walmart turns you down, you may consider sleeping outside 24-hour casinos or cities with many safe lots.

It’s important to keep some alternative options in mind when you’re stopping for the night.

You can do overnight parking at a 24-hour casino. Many towns have them, and just like Walmart, they have the benefit of having public bathrooms and food options that are open most of the day. They may not have as good of security, but because employees are there 24/7, you’ll at least have someone ready to notify the authorities when there’s an emergency.

Many cities also have a safe parking program where certain lots throughout the city are designated for overnight parkers. Security cameras and the local police also monitor these, so they’re as safe as possible.

How To Sleep Safely In Your Car

If you want to sleep in your car safely, there are several things you’ll need to keep in mind no matter where you park. Some of these things are parking by a light and security camera, turning your car off before going to sleep, and locking the car.

Park Near a Light and Camera

When you go to park in a parking lot overnight, you’ll want to select your spot carefully. After all, if you’re trying to keep yourself safe, parking in the dark, dingy back corner of the parking lot probably isn’t the best bet.

Ideally, you’ll want to park as close to the front of the store as possible because that’s where the security guards are. That way, if something happens, help isn’t far away.

You’ll also want to try and park within a couple of spaces of light and a security camera. The light will help discourage criminal activity, as will the security camera. Plus, the light will help illuminate anything near the car better and in the security camera’s view.

Lock Your Car and Close the Windows

This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised as to what people forget to do. Before you go to sleep, you should make sure that you’ve locked the doors of your car. That way, if someone runs up and tries to yank your car door open, you’ll be woken by the noise instead of your door flying open.

The window tip needs a bit more explanation. A lot of the time, people want to keep their windows open while they’re sleeping because of concerns about the oxygen levels in the car. However, keeping your windows cracked can actually be more dangerous than keeping them open. If you keep your windows cracked, it can make your car vulnerable to robbery even a little bit.

When the windows are cracked, a robber can easily reach into the crack and push the window down into the door. It then leaves your car open to robbery and causes damage to your window to the point where you’ll need to get it replaced. As for the oxygen issue, this really isn’t something that you should be worrying about.

Cars aren’t submarines. They’re not made to be airtight. So even if you keep your windows and doors closed, air will still be circulating through the air vents and around the minuscule cracks between the doors and windows. Plus, humans don’t actually use that much oxygen. We only take a small percentage out of the air we breathe, meaning we can breathe the same air repeatedly before it becomes dangerous.

Turn Your Car Off

The last thing you’ll want to remember before sleeping in your car is to turn your car off before you go to sleep. It can be tempting to keep your vehicle on, especially if you’re sleeping in an area that’s really hot or cold, but it’s a dangerous practice.

When your car is left running, it produces dangerous gas. The gas is known as carbon monoxide. When you’re awake, it’s easier to notice the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, but if you’re asleep when it begins, the consequences can be deadly as you won’t notice the buildup until it’s too late.

If you do decide to keep your car running, just make sure that you’re in a well-ventilated area where it’ll be difficult for the gas to build up in and around your car.

See also: Is It Legal to Live in a Car?

To Sum Up

Technically, yes, you can sleep in a Walmart parking lot, but you’ll need to get the individual store’s permission first. If you don’t get the store’s permission, then you risk being towed in the morning when they realize you spent the night without consent.

If you decide to sleep in the parking lot, there are also a couple of other things you’ll want to keep in mind to stay safe. These include parking near a light and security camera, locking your doors and windows, as well as turning your car off before you fall asleep.

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