At the end of my last post, I mentioned that Matthew and I ended up being unexpectedly cheaper than planned during our stay in Charleston. As promised, I will give you all the details:
So, after a wonderful day exploring downtown Charleston, we made our way to our campground — James Island County Park — pretty late into the night.
Side Note: When we were planning our trip to Charleston, we were hesitant to camp here, because it was $25 a night (which we thought was ridiculous for a campground, especially since you can camp for free on the Appalachian trail), but my sister and her boyfriend told us how much they enjoyed it when they camped there last year, plus it was cheaper than any other place we could find. Frugal tip: Campgrounds will almost always be cheaper than any hotel you can find — if you’re up for a night sleeping outside under the stars, I strongly suggest camping to become one with nature and to save some money.
When we arrived at the campground, we were excited to see the biking paths, beautiful lake, and the well-kept area — we began to think that this campsite may be worth the $25. However, when we checked in to the campsite, received our ticket, and listened to the lady explain the rules, our plans shattered when she mentioned that the primitive camping site only allowed tent camping — no hammocks. We looked at each other. All we had were hammocks. When Matthew told her, she said it was not allowed. I asked if we could just sleep on the ground without a tent and she said no. There was no way around this small issue, except to get our money back and find another place to stay.
Yep. That’s right. Cuddled up with blankets and all, we slept in Matthew’s trusty (but small) Scion tC in the James Island County Walmart parking lot. I may be cheap, but I can promise you that this was a totally new experience to me. As it turns out, Walmarts across the world allow road travelers to camp out in their parking lots — and we clearly were not the only ones who knew this, as there were various other cars and RVs parked out there with us into the late hours of the night. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and check out this New York Times Article. Oh, and there is also a website and an app for roadtrippers to search which Walmarts do not allow overnight camping.
Although you really cannot get any more cheaper than free, I would only suggest sleeping in a Walmart parking lot if you are in a similar desperate situation or have an actual RV to sleep in. Otherwise, find a campground (and bring a tent) or Airbnb, because sleeping in cars is extremely uncomfortable (especially when you have a back full of bikes and such so that you can’t lay down in the back), and Matthew and I only got 3 hours of sleep that night.
However, of course we made the most of this unfortunate situation. After discovering our campground mishap, we went back to downtown Charleston to walk around and experience the nightlife, and drove back to sleep at Walmart at around 1AM. Then, we woke up at 4AM to go to Waffle House, where I got my free birthday waffle and hashbrowns (Matthew had the hashbrowns, I had the waffle 🙂 ).
Afterwards, we went to Folly Beach to watch the sunrise at 6:15AM. Then, we laid out our blankets and pillows and enjoyed some quality sleep on the beach.
Expenses of the Day:
Sleeping in the Walmart Parking Lot: -$25
Watching the Sunrise: $0
Sleeping on the beach: $0
Be sure to check back here soon to read about the final, exciting events during our Charleston road trip and my adventurous birthday!