RV Repair Manual
for the RV Do-It-Yourselfer
By Jack Kean
I bet every time a campground owner stops by Wal-Mart and sees an RV parked there it feels like money lost. Sure that RV could be nestled in a campground and paying the $30 or more charged and getting the benefits of electricity and water. Instead it is parked on pavement at Wal-Mart, paying nothing and receiving only a space in which to stop. On the surface it seems like a bad deal for campground owners everywhere. My objective is to clearly explain why it is, in fact, often a money making proposition for RV campground owners.
The first observation might be that it is counter intuitive to see RVs parked at Wal-Mart and think somehow that helps campgrounds. However, using my experiences and budget as an example, I will point out what is obvious to me if not campground owners who try and get Wal-Mart RV overnight parking made a violation of law.
Those of us who use free RV parking at Wal-Mart know the benefits we often bring not only to the Wal-Mart, but to surrounding businesses. In addition to shopping at Wal-Mart my wife and I have gone to movie theaters located in the same area and often eaten at local restaurants. We have also found interesting historical places to visit in the community. The bottom line is that we often spend money, even if it is not at the campground. Communities considering passing an ordinance prohibiting such activity should know that we bypass them by and find communities that are more welcoming in which to spend our money.
Back to how parking at Wal-Mart helps campground owners. It is really a matter of economics. If I had to spend every night in a campground it would be difficult or impossible to travel for long periods of time. The ability to sometimes use Wal-Mart and other free parking areas means we can be on the road for weeks or months.
It is not as if we only park at Wal-Mart. Most often we use a free parking area about once every three or four days. Sometimes we might spend a couple of nights in a row at a free parking area, but then we are likely to be in a campground for a week or so.
Because we can hold down the cost of getting places, we are able to spend a longer period of time in campgrounds. To put it another way: if we had to pay every night at campgrounds a trip might last for a couple of weeks. But when we can pace ourselves it is possible to stay on the road for a month or more. This means that we will be spending at least the same amount of time in paid campgrounds, but over a longer period of time.
Possibly of even more potential concern to campground owners is that without the ability to sometimes park for free we might have to choose not going at all. When that happens we lose the fun of travel and owning an RV and campground owners lose revenue. We love staying at campgrounds, but unless we are able to save by spending the night for free every few days, we might well find ourselves at home.
So in conclusion campground owners, when you see us in a Wal-Mart parking lot that just means we will be spending one more night on the road and probably in a campground. We need campgrounds and often support you with our business even if you see us at Wal-Mart.
RV Fun and Facts
Jack is an author and columnist who has owned and written about RVs for eight years. Find out how much it costs to own an RV. Solar panels for your RV? Inexpensive repairs and great RV travel photographs also on the site. Click on RV Fun and Facts for all that and more.