Road trip hack: sleeping at Walmart


We were in Eureka, California, which is not a beautiful place. It was day ten or so of our Guinness World Record road trip.

I was under the notion that there were only three places you could legally sleep for free when you’re on the road (in the USA): Rest areas, truck stops, and Walmart parking lots. But here’s the thing about Walmart parking lots that I didn’t know at the time: the Walmart needs to own the land that the parking lot is on, or else you can’t sleep there. You’ll know if it’s legit if you pull up to the parking lot and there’s at least one RV. If there are no RVs, you’re probably fucked till the next Walmart.

There’s a saying on the road… “Fucked till the next Walmart.”

I just made that saying up but feel free to Tweet it out anyway and make it a thing. But the point is, it was nighttime and we were parked outside a Walmart. The shit from the back of the Subaru was in the front seats with both seats pushed as far forward as possible so that all my belongings were being crushed between the backrest and steering wheel. The backseats were down; the air mattress was blown up; the curtains were velcro’d to the windows; the Samsung Galaxy was magnetized to the clamp that was suctioned to the back window so we could watch TV; Shameless was on (even though that show sucks after four seasons of watching the same poor white family going through the same old shit), and my ex-girlfriend and I were as snuggled up as we always were… and by snuggled up, I mean we were in separate sleeping bags not touching each other.


I looked up through grogginess, “the fuck is that?”

It was a cop. He told me to open the window in a muffled voice. But the thing about opening the window was it wasn’t so easy. Here’s what had to happen… I had to find the keys, which were wedged between the headrest and the top of the seat–hidden from sight–then I had to reach over the seats from the back and turn the ignition on, then I had to hurl myself over the center console but keep the seat as far pushed forward as possible or else it might pop the air mattress, then I could take the curtain off the velcro of the driver’s side window and open it up with my head pressed against the steering wheel.

So I did all that.

“Hey officer, is there a problem?”

“Can’t sleep here.”

“But I thought it was legal to sleep in Walmart parking lots.”

“Not this one, try the K-mart on the other side of town, it’s one exit up.”

So I drove the car with my ex still on the air mattress and with the curtains still up. She was rollin around back there on every turn. I pulled into the cop-advised K-mart on the other side of town, threw that bitch in park and hopped back in the back and put Shameless back on–even though it sucks–and we fell asleep there. But it was illegal. Can’t sleep at a K-mart, but apparently the cop didn’t know that.

What I’m tryin to say here is this: Don’t watch too many seasons of Shameless, it’s simply not that good.

About the author


I'm a high school dropout who escaped reform school when I was sixteen and hitchhiked the country as a homeless teen till I finally made sense of the world. I now work as a travel writer, marketer, publicist, I published a book and broke the guinness world record for longest road trip. I've done some other crazy shit too. But I'm still alive and seven years sober. Enjoy my insanity...

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