How To Sleep Comfortably In Your Car
Ian SwanMay 10, 2016
Whether you are traveling alone and need to pull over for a quick rest or camping out in a rural area, knowing how to properly make camp in your car is an invaluable skill. Sleeping in your car, in general, is not advised. A car provides only a basic level of security, and the windows leave the occupants fairly exposed in most instances.
However, being in a car does have its advantages. If you ever feel uncomfortable, you can start it up and drive away. It also provides a great shelter from the rain. The key to making a suitable bed inside of your car is to make something that can be packed up quickly once you wake up so you can resume your journey. The right technique depends on the layout of the seats.
Where Where Camping In Your Car Is Legal Best Spots Safety
Sleeping in your car is a good option for those that dont want to spend the extra money it takes to get the more expensive items involved in camping, such as a tent, proper sleeping bags, a cot, etc. As for whether it is legal or not to sleep in your car, there are three things you need to consider:
- Where are you planning to stay?
- Are you willing to pay, or not willing to pay?
- How uncomfortable are you willing to be?;
The US has hundreds of designated campgrounds for tent, car, and RV camping. These types of campgrounds usually have some sort of area with a fire pit, water sources, bathrooms, a picnic table, and even electricity. These are sometimes called back-in sites.;
An extra pro tip: Dispersed Camping is camping done outside a campground where you can live out of your own car or backpack for up to a bit more than two weeks. This sort of camping comes with no human amenities, like restrooms, water sources, trash collection, etc. This is also known as Primitive Camping and guess what: ITS FREE.;
Consider checking the DMV website and this FindLaw website to look up the specific vehicle codes for each state and even for specific cities that might have other laws against car camping. These are laws in place to protect the city against homelessness, so even if a city says not to car camp, there might be exceptions for car campers in National Forests, Parks, etc.;
Just remember the saying I just made up: Go ahead and stay in the Lot but not a lot.
How To Stay Cool When Sleeping In A Car
While planning my summer trip, which I would embark on in my RAV4 camper conversion, I came to terms with the fact I would have to sleep in some of the;countrys hottest places. Most of us who go out on extended road trips do so in the summer months for various reasons, and therefore: how to stay cool when sleeping in a car becomes a very important thing to think about.;In this article Ill share some of the techniques and systems I built before leaving to prepare for places still in the 90s with the sun down.
With just a few strategically placed fans, enough open windows, knowledge on how to cool your own body naturally, and picking proper bedding materials, sleeping in extremely hot and humid places becomes bearable, if not sometimes enjoyable.
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Set Up Before You Arrive
If you know youre going to be rolling into a trailhead or another camping spot after dark, you can save yourself a lot of fumbling around, as well as remain more inconspicuous, by setting everything up before you arrive. Pull over ahead of time at a well-lit gas station or other open spot and get your bed set up, put your PJs on and prep your rig for nighttime.
If you have light-blocking curtains, keep them open while you drive but pull over a few hundred yards short of your final sleep destination to set them up. That way, when you arrive you wont be emitting light, nor will you be rooting around outside the vehicle with the headlights on, disturbing others and drawing more attention to yourself. This strategy will make your sleep routine smoother and also prevent you from being hassled.
How Cold Is Too Cold For Sleeping In Your Car
I have lived in Michigan for my entire life. I have traveled to Canada for dozens of camping trips with and without a tent, so I have some ability to speak to what is simply too cold to car camp in. I would conclude that anything less than -30 degrees would be unwise. Wind chill can make this factor change by a good amount of degrees, but either way, you should probably not allow yourself to be caught in this sort of cold weather; and if you do, you will have the supplies to last you through the late night because you have read this guide through and through.;
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Sleeping In The Car Top Tips
Here are my top 5 tips for sleeping in the car.
- Do not leave the AC/engine running as there is a risk of poor air quality or even carbon monoxide poisoning .
- Cover the windows for privacy but leave a small opening for ventilation
- Check out our equipment guide to make a cozy bed and have all the car essentials you need.
- Follow our safety tips and info on where to park to sleep in the car
- Always lock the doors and NEVER park on the side of a road.
A few other notes before we get started. Your aim whilst car sleeping is to be as discreet and respectful as possible.
Make sure your car is clean and tidy and that you are presentable. You dont want anyone to give the car a second glance!
If you do get disturbed its better if its an authority figure than someone who might do you harm.
Safety always comes first.
Dont leave rubbish behind and aim to use the bathroom before you get set up for the night.
Staying With Generous Friends
Often on road trips, some friends will let us stay in their house, while we asked others/acquaintances if we could simply park in front;of their house for a safe place to sleep. Always say thank you and offer to return the favor in the future. The rules of how to be a good house guest still apply, if youd like a safe place to sleep in your car in the future!
People from all over the internet will share their spots and knowledge about where to go car camping for free. Many will also share details about what to expect and maybe even photos, too!
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Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car
If you are looking to sleep in your car in the USA then that answer is, it depends. The rules vary from state to state and many cities have specifically banned sleeping in your car.
Before you try it, it is important to know if it is illegal to sleep in your car.
I would recommend googling whether it is legal in the specific location you are in. You should continue to do so if you are planning to move from state to state.
Its always important to remember that if you do choose to do this then you must park legally. In addition, do not sleep in the car whilst intoxicated as you may be charged with DUI.
Create A Familiar Environment
If youre one of those who has trouble falling asleep in an unfamiliar environment, creating a home-like atmosphere can help you fall asleep faster.
Simple tricks like turning on soothing music, reading a bed-time story, or even meditating in the car can help you get used to the new sleeping environment more quickly and comfortably.
Turn off the lights in the car at night and cover up the windows if you are sleeping during the day. It gives you both privacy and a healthy sleep environment.
Dont forget to pack some water and food with you as you will always need it.
Follow the above tips to turn your car into a safe and cosy mobile bedroom, but a hotel or your house is always your top option for a worry-free nights sleep.
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Sleeping In The Car: Is It Legal
The answer is It depends. Different states have different laws, and this is what makes all the difference when it comes to sleeping in your car legally.
Sleeping in itself is not an offense. It all depends on where, when, and how youre doing it.
If youre taking a long drive, its close to impossible to avoid having at least a short nap in your car. As long as you follow the rules of the state youre driving in, youll be A-okay.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Anxiety In The Car
If you can enlist a helper to ride beside your dog and give positive rewards as you travel, even better. When you start venturing away from home, choose destinations you know your dog will enjoy. For example, drive to the park a few blocks away or the woods outside of your neighborhood.
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How To Sleep In A Car Comfortably On A Road Trip
Going on a road trip can be everyones dream budget trip, where one can enjoy the flexibility and tranquillity of driving their own car.
To further reduce the budget of a road trip, or when the time is of the essence, one might need to sleep in their own car.
But there might be some concerns as to the comfort and safety of sleeping in ones car.
There are some preparations one should take to ensure sleeping in the car does not compromise their safety or sleep quality.
Can A Candle Heat A Car
I have searched for many hours trying to get a straight answer on this one, and while I had hoped this was actually a helpful way to heat up an enclosed space in an emergency situation, it truly does not seem too helpful. I suppose that it is up to the reader to try this out for him or herself, but remember a few things before trying this idea out:;
- Candles do not give out a good amount of heat energy. They give out about 80 BTUs per hour, as opposed to a propane heater which is able to give out about 12,000 BTUs.
- Burning an open flame in a closed area is never truly a good idea, especially when you have flammable items all around you, and you might fall asleep when these are being used, so that would be no fun.
- The emission of CO2 inside of a closed area is not good for anyone breathing nearby .
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Gear For Sleeping In Your Car
There isnt a whole lot of gear that you need to sleep in your car, but certain items definitely make the whole experience a lot more cozy and safe. Below are the gear items I would recommend for sleeping in your car, along with lightweight options for when you are traveling overseas and need to pack minimally:
Comfy sleeping pad
Having a comfy sleeping pad makes all the difference! There are essentially three different avenues you can take. The first is to use a lightweight inflatable sleeping pad that you would use in the backcountry and packs down super small. This option is perfect for when you flying to your destination and renting a car or if you dont want to invest in extra gear and already own a camping pad.
The second avenue is to use a thicker and bulkier car camping mattress. These are generally comfier, often cheaper, but do take up much more room in your vehicle when not in use. They are also too large to travel on planes with. This option is my go-to for car camping trips if I am driving from my home and dont need to fly.
Sleeping bag / blankets
Airbnb / Hip Camp / Glamping Hub
Sharing housing sites like Airbnb, Hip Camp, or Glamping Hub are a good way to find cheap and last-minute accommodations for car camping. Sometimes you just need a shower or a cozy bed, and thats okay!
You can go as cheap as paying for a room in a house, or even a couch to sleep on!
Important Note:; Sometimes its okay to bail on plans sleep in your car if a place doesnt feel particularly safe. When we stayed in Stanley, Idaho, the temperatures dropped to below zero at night and we didnt have the proper gear to keep warm for car camping. So
we opted for a hotel and we were so thankful we did! Everything in the car that night was completely FROZEN by morning. Use your best judgment and know that its okay to do what is best for you its your trip!
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Where Can You Park Up And Sleep Overnight
Where you choose to park your car is another great consideration.
Alex Garner, a Road Traffic Specialise from Stephensons Solicitors, says:
Its not an offence to sleep in your car, but its the location thats important.
For example, you cant expect to pull up and park on double yellow lines.;
Look for a safe place to park. It is legal to do so on residential streets but be aware of any parking restrictions.
Be careful with car parks too. Some may lock their gates overnight or have a 24-hour charging system in place which could make for an expensive nights stay.
Some car parks also implement local bylaws that prevent overnight stays, especially in town centres or coastal locations.;
While it is legal to park on residential street, remember, as Alison Ashworth warns:
Sleeping in your vehicle is likely to attract attention. She adds, Worried residents may fear for your safety, or their own, and call the police.
“And trespassing onto private land could lead to a rude awakening from the police if youre reported.;;
What Makes A Car Great For Sleeping In
As I discuss in our article on sleeping in the car, there are several factors that make a vehicle perfect for getting a good nights sleep.
Comfort, safety, and privacy are the main priorities when finding the best car for sleeping in.
The size of the car is important up to a point; there is more space in a large car. The trade-off is that vehicle price and fuel costs will usually be higher!
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How To Sleep Comfortably In A Car While Car
Sleeping in a car never sounded comfortable to me, but I realized how comfortable it could be once I tried it. All you need are a few comfort items, some common sense, and a great overnight parking spot to appreciate the joys of sleeping in a car. I learned so much about car camping after a 3-month solo cross-country car-camping road trip. I lived out of my car for weeks on end and enjoyed the ease and freedom of car camping. Car camping is a great way to see the country while saving a TON of money. Whether you are going on a cross-country road trip or only a few hours from home, sleeping in a car can be a comfortable experience, as long as you know what to do.
Here are nine tips to help you get the best nights rest while sleeping in a car.
Consider What Time You Will Need To Wakeup Given Your Location
You need to consider how likely you are to be disturbed in the morning at your chosen location.
Set your alarm early if you think its likely that you will run into the authorities. For example, if you are in a shopping center car park you need to be aware that it will get busy around the time the store opens.
Face your car in an appropriate direction so as to give yourself the most privacy.
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A Few Instances When Its Always Illegal To Sleep In Your Car
Sometimes, it is just downright illegal to sleep in your car. Here are some examples when you shouldnt be sleeping in a vehicle at all:
When youre intoxicated. Depending on state laws, you could be arrested for DUI if youre sleeping in your car while drunk. The point is to stop someone from turning the key and driving away while still intoxicated.
On private property. Obviously, you cant just park on private property and expect it to be legal. Read signs carefully and choose a place to park wisely.
When signs expressly forbid it. Its definitely illegal to sleep in your car in areas that are clearly marked. Some cities now have laws against car camping in particular areas, especially in areas prone to homeless problems.
Opening The Windows When Sleeping In The Car
In order to create adequate ventilation, I recommend leaving a few windows slightly open to allow airflow.
If you have a sunroof then this can be a great way to get some ventilation without attracting attention. Its better to open a few windows a small amount each than attract attention with a big gap in one window.
Do not use the AC or leave the engine running.
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