The RV Lifestyle: Is Wallydocking a Real Thing?

Many a new RV owner has been caught off guard by terms that were not clearly understood. Like anything else, the RV lifestyle has its own jargon that can take some getting used to. Take the term ‘Wallydocking’. Only an avid RV owner would be expected to know what it means. Someone new to the RV lifestyle would have to read about it or have it come up in conversation to learn about it.

For starters, Wallydocking is a real thing. It is a specific type of boondocking which, if you are not familiar with the RV lifestyle, you might not know anything about. Wallydocking has been a pretty popular practice among full-time RVers for years. Unfortunately, it looks as though the practice may be on its way out.

  • The Boondocking Principal

If Wallydocking is just a form of boondocking, what is boondocking? Imagine you are brand-new RV owner on your first trip. It is going to take you two days to get to your destination. Where do you park overnight on that first day? If you choose any location other than campground or a wilderness site in the middle of nowhere, you are boondocking.

Boondocking is essentially engaging in a brief stay in a location not normally reserved for camping. RV owners boondock in parking lots and on city streets. They might boondock at the beach, a county park, or the side yard of a friend’s house. As long as their parking spot is not in a campground or a remote wilderness location, they are boondocking.

Also note that boondocking is a short stay practice. Generally, it’s one night at a time. Two nights would be the limit. Generally, boondockers just park and hit the sack. They don’t put out their lawn chairs and picnic tables. They do not set up their AirSkirts inflatable RV skirting, put down the awning, or set up the portable Gazebo. Rather, they park long enough for a bite to eat and catch eight hours of sleep.

That brings us to the practice of Wallydocking. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Wallydocking is boondocking in a Walmart parking lot. Yes, it is a real thing.

  • Walmarts Welcome RV Owners

Wallydocking is not a new thing. RV owners have been doing it for decades. Traditionally, local Walmarts have been very welcoming to RV owners because it is good for business. RVers looking to boondock for the night are also likely to come into the store and buy their next round of supplies. So it’s a win-win for both parties.

Unfortunately, some local Walmarts have been less accommodating of boondocking over the last two or three years. Concerns about crime being perpetrated against RV owners is a big issue. Then there are local ordinances that prevent boondocking. Finally, some local managers have simply decided they don’t want RVs in their parking lots overnight.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Despite some Walmarts no longer being amenable to boondocking, it never hurts to ask. As a side note, you should not boondock anywhere without getting permission first. And even with permission, remember that you are just passing through. Do not set up camp in a Walmart parking lot and hang out for three or four days.

The RV community appreciates the fact that Walmarts have been so welcoming for so long. It has been such a good arrangement that our peers came up with the term Wallydocking. Hopefully, the practice isn’t on its way to being banned across the country. That would be a shame for both RV owners and the nation’s most recognizable department store chain.


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