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Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Is Your Opinion?

I’m not going to start a debate on overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J or other parking lots where RVers are welcome.  Instead, I wonder what you think about the Parking Etiquette Letter that is found in each issue of the Escapees magazine.

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I understand the idea behind the letter, to educate RVers that are doing things in these free parking areas in poor taste that potentially could result in RVs no longer being welcome.  A few ruining a good thing for everyone.

Things such as staying for many days, parking in areas that are too close to the store entrances blocking customers, taking up way too many spaces, or the famous allegations that you read about in some RV forums, like setting up barbecues, and dumping tanks on the pavement.  I’ve never seen anyone set up a barbecue, chairs or dump their tanks, I think the tank dumping is an urban legend (with the exception of the Dave Matthews Band tour bus dumping its tanks off a bridge, which was well publicized and which they received a huge fine for).

If you are far away from store entrances in the corner of the parking lot, what does it matter if you put out a slide?  I conducted a non scientific poll once, in four Walmarts that I overnighted at, when I asked for permission, I asked if they would mind if I extended my slides.  Three of the four managers had no idea what a slide was, the fourth said no problem.

Common sense rules, I treat the privilege of staying overnight as I’m guest.  Sometimes I’ll pick up some trash on my way into the store, or move some shopping carts from outlying areas of the lot to the cart corrals.  I also spend money in the store (often way more than the cost of a campsite!).

What I’m not going to do is print out the Parking Etiquette letter and go around sticking it on RV’s windshields if I see their slide out, or if they’re parked wrong, or whatever.  I’m not the parking police, I’m not going to tell somebody else what they should or shouldn’t be doing.  That’s a good way to hear some unpleasant words at the least, or earn a black eye or more from someone that doesn’t appreciate my attempts to “educate” them. 

What do you think?  Should we go around and place this letter on RV’s windshields?  Isn’t overnight parking something better discussed around the campfire or on an RV forum?  Sure there’ll always be that one person that pushes the envelope of good taste, but that is something the store manager should handle.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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27 comments:

  1. I agree with you 100%. I have stayed in many Walmart parking lots from Virginia to California and never have I seen anyone doing the dumping and I always open a slide if I am parked against acorb so my bed is easier to get into. At 6'4" i need all the room I can get. And no I would not pass out the rules.

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  2. Mike said it all. Anyway, I am too short to put rules on windshields of motorhomes.

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  3. I wouldn't bother passing out the rules and I've never seen one doing anything that would bother any other customers. We've never stayed at a Walmart ourselves.

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  4. Haven't done the sort of camping that you mention ... yet. If the manager could care less whether our slides are extended or not, and as long as we're out of the way, we would extend our slides to get into places that might otherwise be inaccessible. If some "parking lot camping police" wants to politely approach us and ask us not to do something, that's one thing. We'll be happy to oblige, or explain that we have permission to do so. But going around stealthily and sticking letters on windshields is a big no-no and is cowardly to boot.

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    1. P.S. It would never even enter our minds to set up a barbecue or dump our tanks ... as for chairs ... well if we were lucky enough to find a parking lot with a view (yeah right), might do that ... but again, as long as the manager didn't care one way or the other, and we were out of the way. And of course, we would never leave the chairs out overnight ;-)

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  5. I am not a full time RV'er and have never stayed at a Walmart and I am not a member of Escapees Club however I took a closer look at the page you posted and I couldn't see where it said to post these "etiquette" rules on other folks RV's. Maybe I missed something there since I am not a member. I completely agree with your observation and pose this question. Is it possible that the Escapees Club puts that page in every monthly magazine because there may be new members joining each month and they may not be seasoned RV'er who are aware of these unwritten rules? As I said I do get your point and I would not print this page and stick it on anyone elses RV either. Just a comment. I enjoy your blog and look forward to my time for full timing. Curt

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  6. A smart manager might have some of those letter to use himself but would more likely ask the offenders to leave. I have never seen RVers doing the things mentioned. I might put out my bedroom slide over my 5th wheel. It only goes out about about 15-20 inches and has windows which might be necessary if it was warm. I'm wondering if those "offenders" are really RVers or people from the local area looking for a long-time free ride. California has had some really bad issues with RVs doing bad things in some areas but again, they are not RVers traveling about but people who moved into an old RV because they had no place else to go and don't really care how they affect the community. I don't care if an RV is older but I don't want to park in some RV park with broken down trashy looking permanent trailers or motorhomes. They are no longer RVs and there is a big difference between age and trashy looking. Sorry to get off track but I think the "problems" overlap.

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  7. Some people out there will take advantage and abuse privileges wherever they can, so they need to be reminded of etiquette. But those people wouldnt belong to an RV club... so they wouldnt see the rules in the magazine anyway. The only thing I had a problem with when reading your post was the thing about the slides. But when I read the rules from the magazine, it didnt say anything about slides. So I guess I dont have a problem with any of the rules. But I dont think there is reason to post it in an Rvers magazine.

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  8. An awning doesn't need to be out, but in alot of cases you have to put out your slides in order to even get into your rig. I know we do. So sometimes you have to put out at least one of your slides. Those that are not necessary should stay in, IMHO.

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  9. We've shopped at more than 100 Walmarts in our travels. But, we've yet to stay overnight at one. We will someday. When we do, we'll park far away from the doors and put out a slide. And, we won't be placing any "rules" on windshields. (That sounds like a good way to get your RV "keyed"!)

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  10. I agree with you 100%. And would not approach anyone else parked there about rules. We do not even open our slide and do stock up at Walmarts when we park for the night. It is a nice privilege to be able to stop there for night, in a secure place with the store right there.

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  11. Ditto the "IL Camper" comment. I did not see on that letter any instructions to post the etiquette on another person's RV. It sounded like a good reminder. We have never overnighted in a Walmart parking lot (yet), but we welcome the etiquette so we know what to do (or not do) should we find ourselves needing to use a business parking lot.

    What's that old saying, "Don't get your panties in a knot."

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  12. I've seen this Code of Conduct before but I won't be posting it on anyone's windshield that's for sure.

    I'm not too concerned about it because I've never stayed overnight in a Walmart parking lot nor do I ever plan to.

    I'm not an Escapee Club member either so I don't give them any more relevance for establishing rules of etiquette than Joe Camper down the road from me.

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  13. After reading the letter a couple times, I also did not see where they were requesting RVer's to police their fellow boondockers by placing a copy of this letter on anyone's windshield. It appears to be a general letter spelling out the proper etiquette when boondocking to their subscribers.

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  14. We don't stay in Walmart parking lots nor do we shop at Walmart. I'd rather give my money to a state or federal park to pay for a site to overnight. They need the money much more than Walmart.
    But, no, we are not the parking police and I would not put the rules on someones windshield.

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  15. We are new FTers and Lifetime members of the Escapees Club for several years now. This "rules of conduct" page has appeared in every one of their magazines which I have read. Like IL Camper above, I see nowhere in the Escapees page where it suggests that anyone should distribute these "rules" (especially by placing them on a rig's windshield).
    I retired from many years in law enforcement and I would be of the opinion that doing the above would not be well received by the majority of parking lot campers.
    Now after stating the above position, I can only say that we have used a Walmart for an overnight stop one time. We asked permission first of the store's management, then parked on the extreme edge of the lot against the curb for our extended slides NOT to be extended into the parking lot. We sat up nothing outside, and were on our way early the next morning.
    Unlike several other posters, I have seen rigs with chairs, their mat, barbecue set up, and treating the parking lot like a campsite. I thought this might have been a one night occurrence, but these "parkers" were here for several nights in a row.
    ......so, if Walmart ever comes implements a NO PARKING at any Walmart policy, I won't be surprised. The Escapees article is only meant to help all of us out in the long run.

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  16. I've read a few blogs in the past where this code of conduct was mentioned. In one particular case the writer even took it upon himself to tell people they were in the wrong. I think Escapees has stated an opinion and that's all it is. We've also checked with Walmart in the past and been told slides were no problem. We park away from the door and on a curb if possible. We don't put out a mat, extend awnings, a bbq or a chair. We will put up the satellite dish on top of the motorhome. Isn't that also a no-no according to some?

    We will stop at these overnight places when enroute from one location to another. It's easy in, easy out and it gives us a chance to stock up on supplies. We have seen folks put out chairs, mats and TVs. I would guess most of those are weekenders and not members of Escapees.

    There will always be those that think they should monitor everyone else.

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  17. NO, I wouldn't print and post the letter. When we stop overnight at a Walmart, it's usually after 5PM, we put out our bedroom slide, buy stuff at the store, watch TV and go to bed.
    No awnings, chairs, BBQs, etc.
    Rule of common courtesy apply.

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  18. Over the years we have stopped in a few Walmarts, primarily when that PDD virus flared up, and always found a place out of the way so that could open our bedroom slide. In our old rig the bed was situated differently so we didn't need to open the slide but sadly that has changed. Over the time we have enjoyed Walmart hospitality we have also showered them with our business. I hazard we have spent enough there to buy a campground not just rent a site. In fact after our first circumnavigation of the USA I felt like we had been on a tour of the nations Walmarts, shopping, not camping. Sure hope some bad actors don't spoil it for the rest of us but I am not about to wander around sticking notes on folks rigs. I would rather demonstrate by example.

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  19. My opinion is the same as Gail's. Thanks Gail, this is one time getting late to the party made it easier.

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  20. As you know, we've stayed at Walmarts and Flying J's. I've never felt comfortable putting our slides out, we inched one out a bit for comfort in the bedroom, but it was over a curb area. I wouldn't put a flyer on anyone's windshield, it's not my place to do that. We will only lead by example :)

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  21. nothing wrong with parking at a Walmart or a Cracker Barrel overnight..we have done the Walmart thing and found it to be convenient stop just for a night's sleep and to purchase supplies..as for witnessing a few of the unwritten rules?..that we have seen..chairs, awnings, slides..camped out for the weekend etc!

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  22. Most of this stuff is just common sense-don't take up a lot of space, ask the manager for permission, don't make a mess. If someone does not have the sense or has a disregard for "unwritten rules" I don't think it would be wise to put something on their windshield. You never know what kind of reaction you may get and you could put yourself in a dangerous situation.

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  23. butterbean carpenterFebruary 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Howdy Chief,
    Like everyone else I'm not going to bother someone who doesn't have enough sense to not build a 'camp' on anybody's parking lot!! I did see a 40' Monaco in a Walmart lot, UP ON ALL 4 JACKS CLEARING THE PAVEMENT, who stayed like that over the weekend, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARKING SPACES!!! THAT'S REALLY BLATANT AND STUPID!!! The jacks went into the asphalt!!!

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  24. After reading the "rules", I think they are trying to let people know that there are some areas that wish to ban "wally-docking" By being conscious of your behavior when doing so, you may prevent them from having a case for banning it. If locals see that allowing overnight parking at businesses brings money into their community and no negative results they are less likely to pursue a ban on it. As with most things, a few bad apples can spoil it for everyone.

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  25. The ones that are blatantly breaking the rules of common sense are going to tear up the letters anyway. I would never do it myself, but I do agree that it's a subject for general conversation around the campgrounds.

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  26. Although publishing these rules in the Escapee magazine is kind of like preaching to the choir, I do see some value in reminding people to be considerate and remember the parking lot is not an RV park. I have seen some objectionable behavior, including dumping of grey water. I do think in our best interest, it needs to be pointed out (tactfully) to obvious offenders that Walmart could reverse their policy and we would all lose.

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