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  1. Default PHX to Seattle - is sleeping in your car safe?

    hello! i'm new to this, but the forum seems like a GREAT place to gather info! next week i will be leaving phoenix to head to seattle for a couple months. i have never been up the coast before and am looking forward to the drive, for the scenery if nothing else. i have no concrete plans on how long i'll spend on the road, probably about 2 weeks including my stops in LA, San Fran and Portland. i am VERY low on cash and have friend's with spare couches in these cities but in-between i have no lodging plans - i figured i'd just end up sleeping in my car, or i'd unroll my bedroll somewhere. when i shared this plan with my dear father yesterday he expressed some concerns about his 22 year old daughter sleeping alone and vulnerable in her car in strange and dangerous cities. any suggestions on how to car-sleep/camp safely?

    also, from sanfran to portland i originally planned to go pacific coast highway (for the views), but now i'm wondering if the whole way will get a little too windy for me. any suggestions on places to see/stop from people who've made this drive before? again, i've never ever been in this part of the country and want to soak up everything (which is impossible, i know). i don't really know how to start planning because i don't know the area at all.

  2. Default

    I've slept in my car before and it doesn't seem dangerous, but I remember seeing some commercials here in California a few years ago, warning drivers that crooks will often search out cars parked on the side of the road to ask for help only to rob the person, steal the car, or worst. I guess it's one of the biggest scams out there.

    The commercial also noted that bringing a sleeping bag, leaving the car, and sleeping 100 yards off the road is actually safer than sleeping in your car. That way at least crooks will think the car is abandoned.

    Then you being a 22-year old female only makes you more of a victim :(

    But I've done it and will do it again if I have to! :) Just park in well lit, public areas.

  3. Default All sorts of options....

    You can spend the night free at most WalMart or Sam's Club parking lots. Do you have AAA? There are some cheap/free campgrounds listed in the Campbooks.

    Personally, I have slept in parking lots and sides of roads from one end of the country to the other for many of my 50 years. My daughter just rode her bike across the country by herself and is still alive. A few years ago she hiked for almost 6 months, camping on the trail and other places....mostly alone.

    Just stay alert to what's around you. If anyone comes by, say your HUGE boyfriend just stepped out and will be right back. I've always had a dog with me and feel secure. Wendy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Sleeping --

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTripper701
    next week i will be leaving phoenix to head to seattle for a couple months.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! This is a popular topic on this Forum. There are a variety of opinions on it. To find the whole list, use the search funtion and search by "sleeping in your car" But a typical response can be read here. But, in general, we don't recommend it. You can camp very inexpensively in many areas of the country and getting up and out of car is much, much safer for you in the long run.

    If you find you need a quick day nap -- hospital parking lots work OK, just be courteous of the space -- just like parking in Walmarts -- you would be using private property....


  5. Default Good page of info...

    This page gives many good ideas...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default We recommend very few of these ideas

    Bob Wells' articles are sometimes quite good -- but we do not recommend that anyone follow his suggestions here without careful consideration!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Truck Fueling Stations work for this

    Many long-haul truckers sleep in their rigs at fueling stations designed for truckers. Although these won't really be found along the Pacific Coast Hwy, you could still use the same idea and it should be fairly safe.

    Just find a well-lit, fairly busy 24-hour gas station and tell the attendant that you will be taking a nap in your car. Buy something, be nice, and ask them to keep an eye on you.

    One of our regular contributors does this quite a bit and it seems to work well for her on her solo roadtrips.

    Personally, I'd camp in an established campground. I just sleep better stretched out in a tent than in a car.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default Chicks who car camp

    While I really enjoy going on canoe-camping trips, I don't necessarily like the idea of having to put up a tent and all my camping gear after a long day of driving -- and most importantly having to fold it and put everything back in the car the next morning!:oP That's why I often prefer sleeping in the car.

    Lazy? Totally! When road tripping at least! I'm pretty skinny so it's easy for me to fit in a car and be comfy. I enjoy the comfort and space of my tent too like Judy pointed but I also happen to drive at night. Usually, I don't crash in bed before 11 or midnight (or later if I go out) on road trips so it can be kind of tricky to find a nice campground at that hour. I usually head to 24/7 truck stops, put my special curtains in the car windows which stick with suction cups (got rid of the velcro it was too messy), open one window just a quarter inch, fold the back seat, put a mattress, my sleeping bag and zzzZZzz.

    For the noise, I use ear plugs. For safety, I keep a pepper spray on me and before I go to bed, I'll have a tea or hot chocolate at the restaurant and tell a friendly waitress about my plans to sleep in the car. If she's nice (and you're a good tipper:-), chances are she'll tell the other girls to keep an eye on you. Never had any trouble.

    Here are a couple of websites where you can find ideas of places to sleep in the car. I didn't personally try many of these places myself and I don't believe all of them are necessarily recommandable since they are mostly on private properties but some might be useful to you :

    Links for camping for $10 or less
    One Guy's tips for sleeping
    BLM: Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA)

    Some highly questionable practices are recommended by various travelers here:
    Over-night camping
    Places to sleep in your car
    More places to camp under $10/night
    Equipping your vehicle for sleeping
    A list of strange places to sleep

    And when you get a little tired, cheap motel rooms aren't too far away.

    A fun book to have with you on the road is The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road. It can be kind of lame and cheesy from time to time, but it'll help you keep the faith and keep smiling while facing odd situations. Some of the tips provided in the book can even be helpful!:o) Please learn some basics before you leave : oil levels, change flat tires, etc and bring tools!

    Have fun!

    Then you being a 22-year old female only makes you more of a victim :(
    Not if you don't act like one and play low profile!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-29-2006 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Added titles for the links

  9. Default thanks!

    thanks for all the suggestions! since i'll be going up the PCH for most of oregon i'm going to looking into more camping options. and gen, i loved your post, thanks for all the links! i actually already own the bad girl's guide to the open road hehe, it's fun. happy road tripping to everyone!

  10. #10

    Default Done it, lots....

    I'm not familiar with that particular area, and whether or not its safe to sleep in your car there.....but on other roadtrip's I've taken through the US I have quite often slept in my car.

    I've always been selective about where I've stopped. I have often times pulled off, not liked the area or place, and continued on to somewhere that made me feel safer. Walmarts are great, roadside rest stops, state visitor centers, as well as 24hr stores. I usually don't stay any longer than 4 hrs before moving on. I always try to sleep where I am less likely to be seen. I never get out of my car when I stop, just hop in the back, cover up, and sleep. That makes me feel a little better anyways.

    Never leave anything in plain view that would show you're a girl or that you have anything valuable (lipsticks, purse, wallets, girly stuff, etc.). Keep your cell phone on and right next you (not sure if it would do anything, but it makes you feel better). Keep your keys close, and the drivers seat open so you can easily pull out if something makes you feel uncomfortable.

    If you're feeling a little uncomfortable about where you're staying, call a friend and tell them exactly where you're stopping, and call back when you leave. Any ?s, PM me
    Last edited by staceykozak; 01-30-2007 at 10:32 PM. Reason: Added some whitespace for readability

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