We prefer Wallydocking at Sam's Clubs.
#1) we have stayed overnight there when it wasn't allowed at the WalMart next door (there are exceptions to this like the Sams Club on Eubank in Albuquerque.. due to a tiny poorly laid out parking lot, they ask that you park in the rest of the parking lot that is a strip mall anchored by a Wal-mart on the far end). We believe it is allowed because the store is a members only type store.
#2) Sam's Club has security that patrols the parking lot. We feel safer there.
#3) We shop there all the time anyway and see nothing wrong with stopping in to ask if we can stay and while in the store either buy a pizza at the cafe (already cooked) or pick up one of their rotisserie chickens for our supper.
#40 We have a business membership ($35) not only is it cheaper than a regular membership but we can get in the store early and get the free coffee and sometimes they have free danishes &/or fruit. Free food.
On our trip from NC to NM... we stayed overnight at many Sam's Clubs (in AL on I-59 outside of B'ham... they invited us to stay for a week because their little town was having a town celebration the following weekend). Other places we wallydocked at were, WalMart, large shopping center parking lots, Cracker Barrel, Tractor Supply, truck stops (don't use their showers, they are EXPENSIVE), state rest areas. We were invited to stay overnight at a Lowes - declined offer. We sat in their parking lot and built a radiator mister from parts we had and had to buy a few more drip emitters plus fill a water tank with water from the garden center. Nice place.
When we travel we have found that we can spend two or three nights in parking lots "wallydocking" and pull into a cheap campground to dump tanks and refill fresh water. Number of wallydocking nights depends on availability of a cheap campground. Since we prefer to travel US Highways, we can often find a Wal-mart/Kmart in most towns. We have also found "The Next Exit"book is very handy. It is set up for Interstates. When we travel on Interstate Highways, I can "see" farther down the road and use it to locate our next stop. I also use the same book when we are on the US Highways. These roads cross over/under Interstates. I can see where we will be crossing the Interstate and look in The Next Exit to see what is at that exit. Or at the next exit up or down from where we will cross over at. We like to eat at Cracker Barrel. We have found that Cracker Barrel for supper (part of supper tends to get saved for a light lunch or snack for the next day), ask to spend the night either in their parking lot or the lot adjacent to them, then breakfast at Cracker Barrel the next morning means we simply don't eat lunch. That saves a lot of money. Coming out here in 2009, we averaged $10 per meal per person (including tips... we tip $1 per person or 10% which tends to work out to $1 per person). That was what we had budgeted. Some meals were a dollar or two high, others were a few dollars under. CB will bring you plates of biscuits. We have gotten an extra plate of biscuits and put them in a to go container along with the dish of butter packs and the jellies. They don't mind. It's not like we go in and do nothing but drink sweet ice tea and suck down a couple plates of biscuits (yep, seen well dressed couple do that... then they stiffed them on the bill. They drove a new caddy. Go figure). Those biscuits resulted in a few snacks. We put them in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave. Anyway, CB's tend to be on interstate exits.
Don Wrights Free & Cheap Campgrounds Directory (There are two.. Eastern and Western... I have both now) is a great thing to have. I have found free and very low priced public campgrounds in them that I haven't found anyplace else. Even if we don't get a full hookup site, most, if not all, campgrounds have a free dump station for guests and we can use their showers.
What we do is roll in, go up to the service desk ASK FOR A MANAGER. What we generally say is.... "Hi, we've traveled 500 miles just to ask you if we can stay overnight in your parking lot in our RV." Usually gets a laugh and an affirmative answer. Then we ask them where they would like us to park at (usually "We're parked out (where) and is that okay with you or is there someplace in particular you want us to park"). Most places are okay where we park, but we park out at the far edges of the parking lot, along a curb preferably. Now the Rockpot-Fulton Wal-mart (TX) had a specific place the overnighters parked. So we parked there, along with all the others. Also we ask if it's okay if we (sit outside in our chairs, cook burgers on a grill, run the generator for a couple of hours or overnight, etc) THEN we buy something. Sometimes it's food, sometimes supplies, sometimes a movie. I also rent Redbox movies while traveling. You can return them in another state with no problem.
Many stores & hotels have open wifi connections. You would need to invest in an antenna to get the best reception. Some of the signals get weak as they are really for people INSIDE their stores. I have an Alfa AWUS036H
"Upgraded to 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g High Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi network Adapter with 5dBi Rubber Antenna and a 7dBi Panel Antenna - for Wardriving & Range Extension". There are places on the internet where you can see a directory of open wifi spots. I did but only to get an idea of what was out there. We were hitting open wifi in places that were not listed as having an open wifi.
To come out west, a very long trip that we were making with very little money, and on roads we had never traveled on.... I used The Next Exit to locate 3 potential stops. Night blindness was a factor in our stopping times. So we were getting on the road around 9AM and off around 5PM. This allowed us to miss the morning & evening heavy traffic. The "Early stop".... in case something was wrong and for some reason we either mad bad time or needed to stop early. The "Planned stop"... this was to be our target stop. Then there was the "late stop"... this stop was our back up in case the planned stop would not allow us to stay overnight or if we really made good time and the planned stop was too early to stop. We traveled 200-300 miles per day. 300 miles was pushing it in the summer heat. But we only did that once or twice. Mostly get out of a large city. We tried to stay on the outskirts of the larger cities. We were dumping and taking on potable water at the state rest stops. We only stayed in two campgrounds in the 1700+ miles... Ft Worth's Benbrook COE and Harry McAdams State Park in Hobbs NM. I think we were only told once we couldn't stay the night. We also moved farther down the road once because the area made me & Stacey uneasy.
The key to wallydocking is to have an alternative stop farther down the road. Do not drive until late unless you are driving on roads that you are familiar with and have a place you know you can stay at already located. And have ear plugs (I got mine from Home Depot... 3M type memory foam). Secure EVERYTHING that you don't want to walk away. I have "lost" a cheapie gas grill off the back of the Class C (it was there when I went in the store, gone when I came out). Before you leave out the next morning, walk around your rig to make sure everything is still hooked up, no low tires, no leaks, no missing safety chains or missing hitch pins, all lights work. Do the walk around at every stop. Once when you stop, once before you pull out on the road again. DO NOT ADVERTISE THAT YOU HAVE A GUN. You are trying to keep a low profile. Not only do you not want cops to hassle you, but you don't want thieves to rob you either. So don't flash your money or jewelry, don't leave the lights on/curtains open so folks can see everything you have inside, no bumper stickers telling thieves that you have a gun hidden in the bus while you and the family are sitting inside a restaurant eating. Keep your cell phone on all night and write down your location on a piece of paper before you go to bed. In case you need to call 911 (not the store), you will need to be able to tell someone where you are. Don't be chicken and think "maybe they will go away", call 911 if there is any problem. They patrol all night, give them something to do.