We recently spent our first night “boon docking” in a parking lot. It was not as bad as I had feared and was a good learning experience. It was on our recent trip to Texas at a Walmart in Fort Payne, Alabama. Our original plan was to boondock at the Alabama Welcome Center at Valley Head, but after a late start it was full when we arrived. So we opted for the nearest Walmart. The Fort Payne Walmart is located about a half mile off the interstate and is easily accessible from the main road.
We tried to follow all the urban boondocking etiquette : (RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy)
- Stay one night only! Check
- Obtain permission. Check
- Obey posted regulations. Check
- No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills outside your RV. Don’t setup camp. Check
- Always leave an area cleaner than you found it. Check
- Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a thank you. Check
- Be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe. Check
- Park out of the way. Check – sort of.
We followed all the rules and parked in a spot we felt was out of the way. We slid our slide out just enough for the girls to sleep and still access the restroom without going outside the camper. We all settled down for a couple hours sleep. Since there were no hookups we opened the vents a little and it was comfortable. We did not unhook form our tow vehicle but did lower our jack just for stability. Despite being next to a busy road we slept really well. So well in fact we woke at 10, when we intended to be back on the road by 8. OPPS!!
Hannah and I woke up the next morning and did a bit of food shopping. It is a great Walmart. Setup well, excellent variety, clean and very friendly staff. We made our purchase and came out to find that our out of the way parking space was not so out of the way. It was empty when we arrived and it was located in the back left corner. This was actually where the day shift employees park. We were fixing to be blocked in one space separated us from the cars. Chris and Madison hurried getting everything ready to go, while Hannah and I made a sandwich lunch so we could hit the road. Overall it was a good experience.
What we learned:
-Make sure you park in an area that will clearly you will not be in the way.
-If you need to extend your slide, be sure to park in an area to accommodate that.
-For us we will be investing in upgraded fans for the vents to make “boondocking” more comfortable.
-Don’t sweat it! Or Knock it until you try it!