Sleeping in the car is safe if done properly
I have personally slept in my car on cross-country road trips and ski trips for years. Only twice was I awakened by a police officer. Both times were early in my car-sleeping career, in poorly chosen parking spots, and in the deep south. I have had no other unpleasant experiences sleeping in the car except for locking my keys in the car after waking up and stepping outside without my key ring.
For me sleeping in the car means an air mattress and subzero sleeping bag in the back with the rear seats folded forward in a Honda Civic. Yes, it is not as comfortable as a hotel, and I will usually find a cheap hotel/public shower to visit every now and then to freshen up, but as a means to save money when traveling, it comes second only to crashing friends' couches (also highly recommended).
My first experiment with sleeping in the car came on a 45 day round-the-US road trip, where I spent about 35 of the 45 days sleeping in the vehicle. Even at the cheapest hotels, I would have spent over $1000.00 on lodging alone for those days - money much better spent on fuel, food, and entertainment/recreation.
My next experiment was car-camping in the parking lot at a ski area (in the designated overnight area). Having found this to be surprisingly comfortable (and convenient), I have gone on to spend the last two years camping inside the car on most of my snowboarding trips, with no problems.
Keys to being safe are choosing a good parking spot, making sure you have sufficient fuel/food/facilities at hand, and being prepared for the conditions. Make sure you have a plan for where to pee in the morning, and you should be fine. Just don't park in residential zones, on dead-end roads, or anywhere that you are an obvious target for police/criminals.
I have had success with highway viewpoints, city streets, and many areas in between. It is no problem to sleep in the middle of the city if you are tired enough, and have a sun-shade to block any street lights. I would recommend an area with access to a restroom if possible, but if none is available, just make sure you have some t.p. or other appropriate wiping device at hand.
Feel free to touch base with me if you have questions about the ins and outs, or anything specific to sleeping in the car in snow zones. Remember that snow plows are big and heavy, and you are not - plan appropriately.
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.
Last edited by AZBuck; 04-27-2009 at 07:31 PM.
Reason: Signature removed. Self promotion is an earned privilege.
Have you read through this entire thread?
There were several good posts within this discussion that talks about how to do it safely. I think most of us agree that you will seldom sleep as good as you would stretched out in a bed or tent, but it's safe as long as you use good common sense. If you have any questions of how to do it safely, ask again. But I think you can find the answers with a thorough read-through.
Of course, we can't guarantee that nothing will happen but it's about as safe as anything else when done with common-sense.
Hope that helps a bit.
Very good thread
Thanks for all the helpful and thoughtful suggestions. Really great advice here.
I am reading this thread having slept in my car last night. The rain was heavy, and pitching the tent just did not seem an option.
The car is a Dodge Caravan with the seats removed. There is a space of almost 7' x 4'+. Three Thermarests and a good down sleeping bag and pillow, I must have been comfortable, since it was almost 8am when I awoke.
While having a great meal at the TA truck stop (I-90 exit 35 PA) last night, I got to chatting to a truck driving couple, who convinced me that if I joined the other RVs parked out there, I would be fine. It was brightly lit, but not even the lights diisturbed me through the night. In the morning there was a shower and a hearty breakfast. A great start to the day!
Having taken all the normal precautions to safeguard my valuables meant that even as a solo senior female I had no concerns at all for my safety.
It is tempting!!
So glad you mentioned the solo senior female part....
Here I was thinking this was written by a young healthy, strapping male and saying to my monitor, "Yeah, that's easy for you to talk to truckers and have them suggest where you spend the night...." and then I got to the part where you're *gasp* FEMALE. Yes! My kinda gal!
I'm getting ready for my big road trip and keep wondering, "Do I really want to so spend a night so close to truckers (and whatnot)? I don't even like being close to trucks on the road." *rolleyes* Dangerous bruts, ya' know. *wink, wink*
I suppose I could give it a try one night, pretend to be resting my eyes for a few minutes, that sort of thing, and if it gets too eerie, I could be on my way, no one the wiser.
Thanks for the encouragement.
I was called on the carpet for me above post....
A pro trucker who belongs to this forum took offense to my above comments about truckers. I can't edit it, so I'll remark here that I meant no offense to truckers. I was jesting, thereby, I wrote "wink, wink" thinking others would know it was in jest. Obviously, I offended someone, which I did not mean to do. I've met many truckers in my many years of life, and most of them were kind and helpful, only a very few, a true minority, were crass or obnoxious.
Truth be told, I just didn't know how comfortable I would be on "truckers' turf". I did stop at a truck stop the other night for gas, and I stayed for about a half an hour longer, just to check out the atmosphere. While I took my break from driving, people were just buying gas, driving up to the attached Sonic, and other similar activities. The place was also clean and appeared new. I was impressed to see a laudromat on the property. The truckstop in the next block had a chapel on its grounds.
While I haven't slept overnight in a truckstop yet, I've taken more notice of the ones I've passed on the highway.
No such place exists anymore....
Truck Stops that only cater to truckers are just about extinct in the USA -- such places just don't exist any more. Most have changed their names to some version of "Travel Plaza" as recognition that they welcome and seek the business of all parts of the traveling public -- There's always going to be a section reserved for professional drivers, but there is not place that is strictly "trucker's turf" anymore.
Originally Posted by Alexa
Last night I stayed at the TA travel center in Sayre, OK. Obviously, they cater not only to truckers but car traffic, and others, as well. They had fuel pumps just for "gasoline" and some bigger ones for "diesel". Also, the attached Taco Bell's drive through wasn't tall enough for 18 wheeler trailers, so yes, I'm sure they expect lots of "civilian" traffic, not just pro truckers.
I got there about 9:15pm. I bought a few items from their store, used their restrooms three times (twice they had just cleaned it), and purchased fuel before I left in the morning.
I parked my car between the gas pumps and the Taco Bell drive-up menu speaker (they closed about 10pm). Other cars were parked where I was, mostly truckstop workers' cars. I just put my travel pillow against the window of the drivers' side where I was sleeping to block out the overhead lights from the pumps, and it was good. I must have fallen asleep after midnight and awkened by 5:30 am. I was on the road by 6:15, after I rearranged my car for travel, and purchased the gasoline. I didn't shower there because I had showered late the morning before and would arrive at my next motel early.
So, it wasn't a bad experience at all, and the people were nice. As truckstops go, it was smallish, and appeared to have been there a few years, unlike the one I stopped at on I-20 heading to Dallas which appeared almost brand new and was larger.
Incidentally, there was more noise from the trucks passing by on the interstate than there was from the ones coming and going into the truckstop during the night.
You're now a pro! I'm glad it was a good experience.