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Which is safer: spending the night at Walmart or at a rest area?

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When asked if it was safer to stay overnight at Walmart or at a rest stop, hundreds of our Facebook RV Lifestyle members responded. They shared their experiences and their alternatives…

Recently, one of our RV Lifestyle Facebook group contacted our members. Christy recently spoke to another RVer about staying overnight in Walmart parking lots versus rest areas. She said she felt safer at rest areas since most have surveillance cameras and sometimes security personnel.

Her acquaintance said she felt safer parking overnight in Walmart parking lots. She posed this question to the rest of our members:

“What’s everyone’s favorite thing to do when traveling?” she asked and received hundreds of responses.

I’ll give you the gist of their answers below and provide resources and tips to help you figure out where you should stay.

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Which is safer: spending the night at Walmart or at a rest area?

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Safety is one of the biggest concerns of “lot docking” or spending the night in a parking lot or rest area. Is it safe to park overnight at Walmart? What about rest areas? How to be as safe as possible?

To directly answer the question, everyone’s safety depends on their location. I know that’s a vague and frustrating answer, but it’s the truth. A Walmart in a nice neighborhood is probably safer than a rest stop in a bad neighborhood, and vice versa.

Jennifer and I happily stayed at Walmarts and rest stops and felt safe. Although there were times when we stopped and got out right away because we didn’t feel safe. The key is to pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts.

Below I will outline more safety guidelines to follow as well as overnight parking alternatives. But first, here are some related articles for your reference:

7 Unwritten Rules for RVers Who Park Overnight at Walmart

General safety guidelines when staying overnight in your RV

Here are some general guidelines to help you stay safe while spending the night in a parking lot or rest area. Although they don’t guarantee your safety, they can help deter thieves and thieves.

follow your instincts

It is essential to follow your instincts whenever you find yourself in a new area. Listen to yourself if something is wrong in a parking lot or rest area. Leave the site and find a safer place.

Configure a camera

The cameras are dissuasive, even when they do not record anything. Consider installing a camera on your RV so potential thieves think they are being recorded.

You can also check out these RV security systems.

Check the crime in the area

It is always best to check if the place you want to see at night is in a high crime area. Although it can’t protect you from everything, it can give you a better chance that you won’t have any problems.

Lock your doors and windows

Before sleeping in for the night, make sure all safety precautions are in place. Lock your doors and store all valuables out of sight.

Don’t forget your windows! Make sure they’re locked, and it’s usually best to close your curtains so no one can peek in and be tempted to steal.

security systems

Get ready for a quick exit

In an emergency, you want to be ready to go at any time. This means you want to be setup in the easiest way possible. Refrain from opening in the morning or disposing of chairs or other personal effects.

These are safety precautions, but also good etiquette whenever you dock often. You are there to sleep, not to camp!

Get a dog

This may sound like a humorous suggestion. But one of our members mentioned it, and I think it’s a great idea!

Samantha said she has two big dogs that “deter crackpots really well.” If you are considering getting a pet, you might want to consider a loyal dog that can help protect you. Even their presence is a deterrent.

I remember one survey asking convicted thieves what the biggest deterrent was, and the majority answered dogs. They said the security system signs weren’t as deterrent because people usually forget to alert them. Dogs are much more unpredictable and no one wanted the chance to get bitten.

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Where real caravanners like to park when they spend the night

True RVers provide a wealth of knowledge on all things travelling. Where to spend the night is no exception!

Many responded to Christy’s question by suggesting overnight alternatives to Walmart and rest stops. So I thought I’d share some of their suggestions below.

Truck stops

Truck stops are great places to stay for a night. That’s because, according to Deanna, they “have cameras and traffic.” This means there are lots of people and videos around, making it less likely that something terrible will happen.

This healthy thought can also be used when staying at a Walmart or a rest stop. If either has cameras or a lot of traffic, they can give you extra protection. Look for locations on a busy road or on a visible part of the highway. The idea is to be close to other people or surveillance equipment.

Planet Fitness

Another RV Lifestyle member had a great suggestion. Denise, who used to stay at Walmart but hasn’t since the pandemic began, is staying in her RV in the Planet Fitness parking lots.

They have a Planet Fitness membership (which costs $25 per month to access all Planet Fitness locations). In the morning, they wake up and shower in the gym. What inventiveness!

Knowledge The importance of staying healthy in VRJennifer would also suggest incorporating a quick workout.

As an added safety bonus, many Planet Fitness locations are open 24/7.

Cracker Barrel

Many people have commented on staying in a Cracker Barrel parking lot overnight. What could be better than having a hot breakfast prepared by someone else in the morning?

We have already mentioned Cracker Barrel. We wrote an article about the unwritten rules during the night in this restaurant. You should check it out!

7 Unwritten Rules for Overnight Parking at Cracker Barrel

Casino Campgrounds

Another option that has come up a lot: spend the night on the casino grounds. Many locations allow you to park for free overnight or have inexpensive campgrounds.

Some casinos offer a free stay at their campsites if you sign up for their casino card.

Letitia said she enjoys camping at the casino because “they’re often very cheap, and some have new, clean, full sites.”

For example, one person mentioned Indigo Sky Casino in Missouri. If you get their casino card, you pay $15 to camp overnight. It’s a no frills car park but there are water and electricity hook ups. Although this option is not free, it is a clean and possibly safer choice for RVers traveling long distances.

Another member, Georgiann, joked that she enjoyed casino camping because her husband “walked in (to the casino) with $20 and walked out with $300.” Wouldn’t it be nice if it was always like this!

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