Not everyone can experience what it’s like to sleep in a van. If you want to try, you can start by sleeping in the car. Contrary to what others think, you can rest comfortably in your vehicle. Once you get the hang of it, you might find yourself sleeping in your car even when you are at home.
To make your car camping as comfortable as possible, here are some tips and hacks that you can follow. Some suggestions could be familiar to you, while others are common-sense safety practices. One important thing that you should bear in mind, “never sleep in your vehicle with the engine running.”
FIND A SAFE PLACE TO PARK
The very first thing you need to find is a safe place to park. Some apps can help you in figuring out the areas where you can park legally. You can check out Hipcamp or AllStays apps to help you find one. These apps will direct you to both free and paid locations to park for the night.
Also, most U.S. Forest Service roads welcome overnight parking and camping. Park in an area that will not block the way for others. Don’t forget to display the needed permits and passes.
PREPARE YOUR CAMPSITE
Now that you have found a perfect spot to spend your night, it is time to prepare your campsite. Set up your camp in a flat, shaded area. Unload the vehicle and make sure you are not disturbing other campers nearby. Ensure that you have brought everything you need to have a comfy night in your car.
POSITION YOURSELF COMFORTABLY IN THE CAR
Sometimes, you will not be able to find a flat area on windy Forest Service roads. If this is the case, you can position the car in a way where your head is above your feet. The best sleeping position is your head facing the front of the vehicle. You can move comfortably in this position, and it will also give you more room.
DON’T FORGET THE TEN ESSENTIALS
Make sure to pack the Ten Essentials in your car before leaving the house. This is as vital on the road as on a trail. If possible, always take them with you.
KEEP YOUR DEVICES FULLY CHARGED
There are several ways to charge your electronics. One is to charge your gadgets while the car is running. Also, you can use a solar panel on the dashboard or a power bank. These power supplies can keep your tablet, camera, phone, and other electronics charged throughout your trip
KEEP YOUR FOOD IN A COOLER
You will not be sleeping all the time in your car while camping. You also need to eat. To keep your food fresh, even after long hours of driving, place it in a cooler or any other suitable container.
Check out the camp kitchen checklist, so you will have an idea of what utensils and food to bring with you on your trip. Keeping perishables like eggs, milk, meat, and cheese in the cooler will prevent them from spoiling.
BUY A COMFORTABLE BED
There’s no need to carry a bed on your back since you can pack it in the car. So, you can bring more comfortable mats, blankets, and pillows. If you want, you can bring along plush air mattresses so you can sleep as comfortably as your bed at home.
You can choose a compact camping pillow or bring a full-size pillow. Cars can get very cold at night, so make sure to bring along an insulated blanket like a temperature-rated or a Rumpi sleeping bag. You can ask for expert help on finding the best sleeping bag and sleeping pad for your car camping.
BRING ALONG SOMETHING TO ENTERTAIN YOU
Watch a movie to unwind from a long day of driving with a film on your smart device. Make sure you have downloaded all the content before heading to the camping site as you might not have access to the internet.
TAKE A HEADLAMP OR HANG LANTERNS WITH YOU
You don’t just hit the sack as soon as you’ve parked. You might want to read some books, snuggle with your favorite pillow or organize your things before sleeping.
Use headlamps or hang lanterns to illuminate your area. The headlights can also provide light to light up your way when nature calls in the middle of the night.
DON’T FORGET YOUR HYGIENE
Sleeping in your car means you will not have access to showers and sinks. You need to equip yourself with the toiletries you need like hand sanitizer and no-rinse shampoo.
VENTILATION IS KEY
Sleeping in a vehicle can fog up the car windows, and moisture is retained. Ventilation is important. Open your car’s sunroof or the window wide enough to get the ventilation needed or keep the animals away. Cut a mesh two to three inches wider than the opening. Place it on the edges around the open space to keep the bugs and moisture out.
Another way to keep the area ventilated is to place Damprid under the seats and get less moisture-absorbing packets to store with gear. Do not put your wet clothes inside the car as it attracts mosquitoes and other insects.
WAKE UP ANYTIME YOU WANT
You might get distracted by early risers or late arrivals. To block the noise, you can use earplugs. To keep the sun out and also create privacy, you can use bungees or cordage for your curtains on windows and glass on the front seats. The curtains will make you feel as if you are in your bedroom.
CREATE YOUR PORTABLE SHOWER
After a long bike ride or hike, indulge yourself in a warm shower to make you feel fantastic. Carry that feeling on the road with you by creating your portable camp shower. You can check some DIY project online.
If you need some camping advice, you can check out some of our articles. We provide lots of information on various topics from tips on setting up a tent to building a campfire.