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  1. Default Sleeping in my car

    Hi RTA! First time on this site.

    I'm going to be leaving on a really, really long road trip soon (might actually be more accurate to say I'm going to be living out of my car for a few months) and I'd like to avoid the costs of hotels as much as possible. I'm going to try to spend most nights sleeping in my car, a little Honda coupe :(, and I was looking for some advice! Where are good, safe places to park and sleep, where can I find cheap showers, any tricks you guys know to make the experience more tolerable. I'm getting a tent and sleeping bag so I'll be able to camp when possible, but other than that, not sure what my best course of action is.

    Thanks!
    Gem

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The biggest challenge of sleeping in a car - other than the obvious fact that a subcompact car isn't big enough for most people to get a good nights sleep - is finding a safe and legal place to park.

    Campgrounds aren't free, but they generally are your best bet - and often have showers. Even if a campground doesn't have showers, they generally will be able to direct you to a place where you can get one relatively cheaply.

    Your next best bet is truck stops. Many of them are welcoming to those who want to sleep in a car, and they have showers available for a fee. Of course, any time you use a business for parking, you need to get permission first, and it's generally expected that you spend some money there.

    Beyond that, it gets quite difficult to find a spot that is safe and legal. This topic has come up many times before, like this thread, as well as this one. You can use the search function to find many more similar discussions.

  3. Default

    Great, thanks so much!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I'm getting a tent and sleeping bag so I'll be able to camp when possible, but other than that, not sure what my best course of action is.
    To me, this is your best bet. There are few places in the country where you won't be able to find a state park with a campground, some BLM land, or a national forest campground. Get out a map of where you're going to be and look. State parks ($10-20/night) and national forests ($10-15/night) will be on the map. BLM lands will have to be found via the internet and other sources. On all three, you'll be able to pitch your tent.

    One thing I caution against: don't just drive into a "safe looking neighborhood", park and go to sleep. You will probably be woken up by law enforcement, asking you to "move on". We had a car dealership being built near us one time, and this same car parked in front of one of the houses on the other side of the street, for several nights running. There was always a guy sleeping in the back seat. However, after three nights, he was no longer there. I think he was a little surprised to find out he'd parked in front of the house owned by one of our local cops. He had been a worker on the car dealership, lived 50 miles away and didn't want to commute every day, so he was trying this route. Don't know what he was doing about a shower, though. We don't have truck stops nearby.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default It can be done, but takes some effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by writergem View Post
    I'm going to be leaving on a really, really long road trip soon (might actually be more accurate to say I'm going to be living out of my car for a few months) and I'd like to avoid the costs of hotels as much as possible. I'm going to try to spend most nights sleeping in my car, a little Honda coupe :(, and I was looking for some advice! Where are good, safe places to park and sleep, where can I find cheap showers, any tricks you guys know to make the experience more tolerable. I'm getting a tent and sleeping bag so I'll be able to camp when possible, but other than that, not sure what my best course of action is.
    The way I find campspots in State Parks/Forests and on BLM lands is to call in at the local Rangers or Forestry office and the BLM whenever I find one. These people are very knowledgeable about what is available in their area, and will often give you many hints as well, for places to visit and local gems you may not have thought about.

    It can be tricky at times to find these offices, and they are not always on the web.... or the web is inaccurate. But if you ask at the local visitor centre, welcome centre, or tourism bureau, they will tell you if there is one of these offices locally, and where to find it. Don't expect to find those offices in every place you visit. Sometimes they can be few and far between. But don't give up.

    Another great resource is the local law enforcement. If you happen to run into an officer at the pump or in a truck stop or shop, just ask them. If you are friendly, and do not come across as a lout, you will find they can be very helpful.

    Even a small Honda can be fitted out for a good nights rest, but it takes some doing. I suggest you check out some of the vandweller sites, and see how they have converted vehicles - anything from a VW Bug to a Box truck. They are very helpful, but I would be wary of their ideas of stealth camping. Regardless of what they suggest, you as a stranger in the neighbourhood are more likely to get into trouble.

    Regardless of the size of the vehicle, there is nothing quite so liberating as living off the grid. Good Luck

    Lifey

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