sleeping in your car....safe? Yay or nay?
Next Saturday I leave for a road trip (spring break), from Arkansas to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Boston. I am staying with a friend in Boston and for one night in Hartford, have a motel room booked in Rhode Island, but a night or two I have nowhere to stay and honestly, no extra $$$. Soooo...
What do you think? Is it safe to sleep in your car? If so, where would you recommend parking and sleeping? It makes me a bit uneasy but I've got to sleep somehow, and in my car seems like the only way.
Two places I would recommend for over-night sleeping would be the auto parking lot at truck stops and hospital parking lots. Both locations tends to monitored and both have tolerance for someone grabbing a few hours of sleep.
Another idea...what about parking in a hotel lot and sleeping? Just trying to keep my options open.
Places to sleep
A motel parking lot is a private property, you could get in trouble if you get caught and more and more owners hire security guards (especially on the east coast). But, as long as you don't get caught, that might be a possibility. I sometimes sleep in truck stops parking lots, it's pretty noisy sometimes, but I just put my ear plugs.
You should definitely stay out of secluded areas unless you plan to sleep at a campground. Busy areas are usually the safest because there are always people around if something happens, 24/7 truck stops (FlyingJ, TA,...) are great for that. There are of course certain inconvenients, but when you get up, there is food and a hot shower right accross the parking lot, which is a great thing to my opinion. Be sure to have a cell phone with you and maybe a pepper spray, just in case.
Unfortunately, there are less and less truck stops in the east and they are very busy. So maybe you should really consider Mark's suggestion (hospital), as you go east, the cities get bigger and you're more likely to find hospital parking lots that won't do round check ups to see if someone's sleeping in a car. Plus it's easy to find an excuse (a relative is sick, you're worried and you're from out of town...).
There are other threads on this forum about cheap and free lodging just do a research. Here are some websites that might give you some ideas :
-Strange places : www.sleepinginairports.net/strange.htm
-Long term visitors areas :
A good way to get arrested
Like Gen says, parking in hotel lot (when you are not a paying guest) constitutes trespassing and is one of the best ways of getting arrested. I wouldn't do it.
Uncle Bob weighs in...
I hate to express a dissenting view, but in my opinion it is very dangerous for a traveler to sleep in a car, and I'd rarely do it, especially if I were a solo woman. But it is not always less dangerous for men, either.
I won't sleep in any public place where I am left oblivious to approaching danger, giving the potential bad guy all the advantage for a quick and successful attack. If I camp in a dispersed area, for example, I try to plan my location so that people have to make noise to get near me (like on top of a hill where an approaching vehicle has to downshift, which then wakes me up).
My recommendation is to sleep (in your car if you wish) in a CAMPGROUND, either public or private, where other people are doing the same thing. Perhaps it is just an illusion, but I usually feel safer that way. Bob
Thanks for the input, guys. I don't feel utterly safe sleeping in my car either, but I kinda don't have a whole lot of options. One night of my trip I was supposed to stay w/ a friend who recently told me he'll be out of town so I've been scrambling to come up with something.
Rest stops, truck stops...guys are you sure they're safe?? It seems sketchy. The truck stops liking Flying J might be okay but rest stops, no way, they're scary.
I';ve been trying to find a campgound for free but a lot of them say their camping season is like May-Sep so what to do??
If you have no choice, try to sleep light, and use the suggestions Mark and Gen have given -- but avoid sleeping in rest areas. They ARE much less safe and as has been said before on this forum, it is not usually legal to stay overnight in one. Truck stops and hospitals would be better for the reasons already stated. Have you considered hostels? Perhaps you can find a couple of those close to your route? Bob
Like Bob said DON'T EVER sleep in a rest area, especially on the east coast they are NOT safe at all and it is often illegal. Some things happened to people I know there during daytime and they weren't even sleeping (thank God). Maybe you should consider borrowing some extra cash for this trip so you'll be able to sleep safely in a fairly decent motel room or campground. When it is a matter of safety, I think busting your budget a little bit is a reasonnable choice to make, I'm sure your family would agree.
Like I said, I slept in a few truck stops before, but I was prepared for it, I had blinds in the windows and everything and I only did this when I felt completely safe (the occasions were pretty rare actually). You know saving money on a trip is a great goal but sleeping is also a necessity and if you cannot sleep because you don't feel safe or worse, if you get attacked, then your trip will probably be ruined or at least definitely less interesting and tiring. I don't want to sound pessimistic and say that it'll happen but it's up to you. If you decide to go for it, I'd say trust your INSTINCTS and if I were you, I would try to borrow extra cash anyway or bring a credit card, just in case.
Well, first of all, let me say that everyone has made some great points. I've done this before, and my thoughts are to go to a place that has a fair amount of activity and good lighting. If the signs say "no sleeping" or something like that, move on! The same goes for your level of comfort.
Now, my concern would be something that our friends in Southern states may not concern themselves with so much this time of year: The weather, one reason why Boston isn't tops on the list as a Spring Break destination. Our Spring usually starts in late April to mid-May in this corner of the world.
As I write this at 11:30pm EST, it is 7 degrees Fahrenheit outside, with a wind chill bringing it into negative territory. The daytime highs around Central Mass. have been around 30 degrees, though Monday it was nice...Tuesday brought a very strong snowstorm and a subsequent 20 degree drop in temperature in about an hour and a half, with 40-50mph winds. It took me a half an hour to clean my car off after work, and I STILL have ice up in the wheel wells. I watched the storm come in at a grocery store parking lot. When I got there it was fairly warm, when I left, all my windows were starting to ice up.
I would find some form of lodging that would allow one to be comfortable. Spend the extra cash and avoid pneumonia. You'll be glad you did.