Skip to Content

19 Places You Can Legally Sleep In Your Car And Park Overnight

Lisa Hurd Profile Image

To learn how this content was created please read our Editorial Guidelines.

Sometimes on a long car ride, you need to get some well-earned rest. In this article, I’ll be outlining 19 of the best places to sleep in your car on a road trip. Ideally, you want to stop somewhere that is safe, quiet, and free of charge. It’s also important to have access to facilities such as using the bathroom or taking a shower in the morning.

I’ll be discussing how to find overnight parking nearby for you to stop and spend the night. There will be options that involve sleeping in your vehicle and others that involve pitching a tent or taking advantage of cheap accommodation. There are often many easy places you can park overnight and have at least a few hours of sleep before continuing your journey.

All of the locations discussed below are places where you can sleep in your car legally, so read on for full information on each one. You should always check the law in the state you are in before following the advice in this article. I’ll also be discussing sleeping at rest stops, Walmart, and other safe spots.

Useful Articles On The Road Trip Expert

Affiliate Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please see our advertising disclosure for more details.

Rest Stops & Truck Stops

sleeping in your car at rest stops

Rest Stops are probably the first thing that comes to mind when people consider where to pull over for the night on a long road trip. Easy to find, usually well-lit, access to facilities and food, and a great place to top up on gas, these are the natural place to stop…and rest!

It is one of the first choices people think of when they are looking for safe places to sleep in a car while traveling. If you are considering doing this, make sure you assess the environment carefully and look for any risks or safety concerns before choosing to do so.

It can be loud and busy at a rest stop with lots of other visitors filtering in and out, or it can be desolate to the point of slightly unnerving. Don’t wait until you’re too tired to drive to pull over; you want to be able to check out the rest stop and make sure it has the right balance of security and privacy for you before making a commitment.

Key Information

  • Legal: This can vary from state to state in the USA
  • Secure: Varies from stop to stop, choose one with good lighting and park near other cars if possible.
  • Access to Facilities: Yes! Most rest stops will have 24/hr access to toilet facilities and should have someplace where food and drink can be purchased.
  • Convenience: It’s a great idea to check on your route and note where the best/biggest rest stops are. Rest stops are easy to come by, but if you’ve just passed one there may not be another for quite a few miles. Know your limits and your route and stop when you need to.
  • Free/Fee: Most rest stops are completely free!
  • Traffic Frequency: Vehicle and foot traffic can be tricky at a rest stop. You want to park in a safe/populated space, but give yourself enough room from the big rigs and the main entrance of any convenience store or gas facilities to help minimize the noise outside the car.
  • How to find: A quick Google of your route before you head off is going to show all of the major rest stops on your drive. Rest stops are usually well posted on the route itself as well, so you should have plenty of billboards alerting you to upcoming stops.

Walmart Parking Lots

sleeping in your car at walmart

You’ve heard the rumors, and we can confirm, it is absolutely, 100% legal to sleep overnight in the Walmart parking lot! With 24/hr access to facilities, food, and let’s face it, entertainment, Walmart can be a great place to rest for the night or stay for a day or two if it’s located in one of your road trip destinations.

Remember to be a courteous guest, parking in a safe space but not a space that’s too close to the main entrance as these are really reserved for the shoppers. Walmart parking lots are one of the most easy-to-find legal places to sleep in your car.

Find out what stores allow overnight parking with this handy guide we’ve put together. We also have a specific guide to parking overnight at Costco.

Key Information

  • Legal: Yes, it is legal to spend the night, or even several nights, sleeping in your car in the Walmart parking lot. However, be safe! Minimize the number of times you come in and out of your vehicle and try not to park in predictable patterns.
  • Secure: With its own lighting and security personnel, Walmart is a pretty safe place with other humans around to ask for help if the situation arises.
  • Access to Facilities: Yes, during opening hours.
  • Convenience: Good for cities.
  • Free/Fee: Definitely free, but it wouldn’t hurt to buy a few snacks and essentials as you’re stopping in to use the facilities.
  • Traffic Frequency: Bright lights and 24/hr shopping means there can be traffic around at any time of the night. It’s also possible to get rowdy teenagers or employees coming off their shift talking and hanging around, so make sure you’ve got some earplugs and an eye mask to get you through.
  • How to Find: A quick Google will turn up all of the Walmarts in your area.

The prospect of spending so much time in your car can be daunting, so make sure you have the right vehicle for the job. We’ve made this list of the Best Cars to Sleep In to help you out.

Casino Parking Lots

safe places to sleep in your car

This is one of those you might not have thought of but have some definite benefits. Casinos are open 24/hr and have regular patrons coming in and out at all hours, which means you’ll have access to bathroom facilities no matter the time of night, and food is usually pretty cheap. It’s a great spot to consider if you’re passing through Las Vegas.

While they have great security, they may or may not look kindly upon non-patrons sleeping in their parking lot. The key here is to be considerate and inconspicuous, try not to come in and out of your car too much, park well back from the main entrance, and you probably shouldn’t do any cooking outside the car. Casinos are used to guests coming and staying long hours during the night, but you don’t want to call unwanted attention to yourself.

The fact that casinos have good security can be a help or a hindrance. You may be more likely to be disturbed however you also have a set of eyes watching over the area. This adds weight to the argument that it’s an example of a safe parking lot to sleep in, but you should always make choices like this at your own risk. The safest option is to book a room for the night at a hotel.

Key Information

  • Legal: While this isn’t expressly illegal, the Casino will have the right to ask you to leave if you make a nuisance of yourself; so remember, considerate and inconspicuous is the key!
  • Secure: Very secure, Casinos are known for their abundance of lights and security.
  • Access to Facilities: Casinos are open 24/7, which means you always have access to toilets and food.
  • Convenience: Not very convenient, gambling is illegal in the vast majority of the USA so it’s unlikely you’ll come across one unless you are going through Las Vegas or a Native American Reservation.
  • Free/Fee: Free to park, but again be considerate of where you are.
  • Traffic Frequency: Casinos have visitors at all hours of the night and in all stages of sobriety, so be prepared for some interesting stories to come out of a stay here.
  • How to Find: Map out your route and check if there are any casinos along the way that could help you out in a pinch. If you’re the gambling kind, you may even enjoy making a Casino part of your trip.

Welcome/Information Center’s

sleeping in your car while traveling

Information centers are good examples of free places to sleep in your car. They usually offer free overnight parking, but always review the website and any signage before making a decision.

When you’re crossing state lines or entering national parks, there is almost always a Welcome/Information Center. These are great spots to get some information and advice, stop for a rest, and use the toilets. Spending a night here is an option, as they tend to be safe and well-lit, but the centers usually operate under limited hours so all it has to offer won’t always be available to you (something to consider for those middle-of-the-night restroom runs).

Key Information

  • Legal: Another grey area. It doesn’t hurt to pop in the center and ask, they may know of a better place to park for the night nearby or have no problem with you staying there.
  • Secure: Usually in a well-lit and maintained area. They don’t always have security so it may be a little daunting to stay there overnight after they have closed and you’re alone in the parking lot.
  • Access to Facilities: Limited, while there is access to toilets and refreshments (as well as maps and information) this will only be available during its hours of operation.
  • Convenience: As they are only at borders, they aren’t particularly convenient but they can be planned into your trip if you look ahead of time.
  • Free/Fee: Usually free to park.
  • Traffic Frequency: Usually quieter as they normally have set hours of operation.
  • How to Find: Google, of course, can tell you where along your journey has welcome/information centers but you should also keep your eyes out for signs when coming through a border.

Religious Buildings

places where you can sleep in your car

Religious buildings are another example of a place where you can sleep in your car.

Traditionally, religious buildings were seen as a place of refugee, a place you could come in and seek some assistance. Religious communities, of any faith, are often happy to help out someone in need so it’s worth opening the big doors and looking for someone to ask if it’s alright to use the parking lot. If it’s not their day of worship (many religions hold services between Friday and Sunday), they may be happy to oblige!

A fairly safe option, with pretty good lighting, depending on the location, but there probably won’t be any facilities to use. Most religious buildings will be closed during the week except for a small staff of personnel that are only operating under limited hours.

Key Information

  • Legal: Another grey area, religious buildings may be on private or public land so it’s a good idea to ask permission where possible. They are also regularly empty outside of services so if you keep yourself to yourself and leave no trace, it can be permissible.
  • Secure: Usually well-lit, but not many personnel. Larger religious meeting places will have a large, lit parking lot and a staff of security, but smaller ones can be less looked after.
  • Access to Facilities: It’s unlikely you’ll have access to any facilities as they are usually closed outside of service hours. Even during service hours, you might feel a bit weird strolling in your jammies with a toiletries bag tucked under your arm.
  • Convenience: This can be tricky, houses of worship may not always be obvious for what they are, or you may not recognize one if it is outside of any faiths you know of personally. However, you can be sure that where ever people gather, there will be religious houses.
  • Free/Fee: Free, religious buildings almost never charge to park at their location.
  • Traffic Frequency: Outside of services, religious buildings are virtually ghost towns with little to no traffic of any kind.
  • How to Find: This will be a more nuanced Google search as a religious house can include churches, mosques, or Shinto temples.

Bureau of Land Management-BLM Land

sleeping in your car on BLM land

Beautiful scenery and connecting with the simpler side of life is what a road trip is all about and staying on BLM Land can keep you in the moment instead of having to step out of the adventure atmosphere and into a Motel 6.

BLM Land is national land maintained by the national government for the preservation of nature and the enjoyment of people. While they do have maintained campsites and facilities, you are also free to rough it on your own, but this does mean no access to furbished facilities. It can also be a little daunting, especially if you’re road-tripping on your own, to be so isolated.

Have you got an idea of your own? Feel free to recommend additional locations you think are the best places to sleep in your car while traveling.

Key Information

  • Legal: Legal as long as you stay away from designated campsites and major trailheads. Signage will usually indicate where you shouldn’t park. It’s also important to be mindful of protected areas/nature reserves on the land, but these should also be signposted.
  • Secure: Being close to nature is a beautiful way to spend the night, with nothing but the night sky and nature to keep you company. This also means that there is nothing but the night sky and nature to keep you company, there will be no lighting or other people around in case of emergency.
  • Access to Facilities: The great outdoors is open to you 24/7, make sure you bring your own environmentally-friendly toiletries and clean up after yourself.
  • Convenience: If you aren’t road-tripping in the western united states, then you can pretty much forget about it.
  • Free/Fee: Free, but there is also the option to snag a spot in their developed campsites for more security and comfort for a small fee.
  • Traffic Frequency: Very quiet with little foot or vehicle traffic. Nature can get pretty crazy and you want to make sure you scout out some level/solid ground to avoid getting a flat tire or a stuck car.
  • How to Find: If you want to find out more about visiting or camping on BLM Land, then check out their website at the Bureau of Land Management.

Residential Neighborhoods

sleeping in your car in residential areas

Know a friend of a friend? Second cousin twice removed? That one guy you met well road-tripping through somewhere else who said “Hey, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods…” then you could have a spot on their street (if not their couch)!

Residential neighborhoods can be very safe (depending on the area), with little traffic or late-night noise. Find a place that feels safe, but remember you are a guest near other people’s homes, you want them to feel safe too. So if you don’t know anyone in the area, find a safe spot and settle in for the night, keeping in mind once you’re in your car, you’re probably stuck there for the night.

Key Information

  • Legal: It is legal to park on the street, just check for any signs indicating restricted parking or parking permits required.
  • Secure: Make sure you check the crime stats for the local area and use your best judgment if the area feels secure to you. A clean, well-lit neighborhood is usually a sign that people look after the area and expect you to do the same.
  • Access to Facilities: Unfortunately, unless you are parked out front of a friend’s house, there will be no facilities so you’ll have to find another place to get bed ready before you park up, and have a plan of action for your morning routine.
  • Convenience: People live everywhere, there is always a neighborhood to wander into, but safety, safety, safety!
  • Free/Fee: Free
  • Traffic Frequency: Suburban neighborhoods tend to be quieter, with fewer road/pedestrian noises during the night. City neighborhoods can be full of life and action at all hours, so consider your location wisely.
  • How to Find: Neighborhoods are tricky because you want to feel safe, and you want the people who live there to feel safe too. Take the time to scout out several different locations so you have options, be respectful, and try not to draw attention to yourself, you don’t want any of the local residents suspecting you of nefarious motives.

Street Parking In The City

overnight city street parking

Sleeping in your car on the city streets is one of the more adventurous options available to you, you are right there in the middle of all the action. If you’re the kind that likes a little less ambiance, select your location wisely. Bonus points if you can find a stretch of parking along an empty lot or a blank concrete wall as you’re less likely to attract the attention of passersby.

This is one of our least favorite places to sleep in your car.

While it can be safe, it is important to use common sense and trust your intuition, if an area doesn’t feel right, scout out another option or spend the extra cash to have a safe night’s sleep. You are worth it.

Key Information

  • Legal: While not illegal, you can easily be moved on by police or security in public streets. Limit the number of times you come in and out of the car, keep the windows covered, and (everyone now!) be courteous and conscientious! Definitely not the place to be cooking outside your car.
  • Secure: Lots of lighting and plenty of people around can be very secure, but be mindful of the city you are in and the street you are on. A quick Google search can give you crime stats and information on the city you are in. It’s worth taking the time to scout out several locations and note how safe they appear, especially at night, before committing to a spot. Being inconspicuous around your car isn’t just about flying below the radar, but personal safety as well.
  • Access to Facilities: There will be no immediate access to facilities so you’ll have to have a plan for the midnight pee. Usually, cities have some 24/hr businesses that will have toilets you can use, but you’ll probably need to buy something and you want to be very careful about how many times you enter and exit your car.
  • Convenience: You can always find a place to park in a city, but remember, safety is the most important thing. So if it doesn’t feel right, it’s totally worth it to spend the night in a cheap motel.
  • Free/Fee: Late-night parking in cities is usually free, but make sure you check signage and are aware of parking restrictions and meters.
  • Traffic Frequency: Busy, busy, busy. A city always has people going by, traffic, noisy pets, and any other number of things going on. It is also a possibility to be woken up by someone attempting to burgle the car, believing it to be empty.
  • How to Find: City care sleeping may not be the best night’s sleep you ever had, so do your research and check the cities you are passing through. Know the safer/quieter areas, practice personal safety, and always have a backup plan.

Large Shopping Centres and Parking Lots

legal places to sleep in your car

We know our article is called “19 Places you can Legally Park Overnight” but we know these are the big locations everyone thinks of first and we have to give you the bad news, these locations are illegal and you have a high probability of not only being moved along but possibly receiving a ticket as well.

These locations tend to be secure and well-lit, with access to facilities and food during business hours, but the risk of being disturbed by security or someone looking to cause a little mischief around a car they believe to be empty is pretty high. If you are in a smaller town, it can be worth popping into a local business with a large parking lot and asking permission first. You could rest easy knowing you have their permission to be there!

Trying to figure out what exactly is and isn’t legal can be stressful, check out our Is It Legal to Sleep in your Car post to get more answers.

Key Information

  • Legal: Definitely not legal, if you are desperate and just can’t drive another mile, remember to be discreet and safe and respond respectfully to anyone who might come to move you along. They are just doing their job.
  • Secure: Well-lit and generally very secure.
  • Access to Facilities: Access to bathrooms, food, and supplies can make these locations a great place to have a quick stop and maybe grab a short nap.
  • Convenience: Every city or town, no matter the size, will have some retail or grocery store parking available. They are definitely around if you are in dire straits.
  • Free/Fee: Technically free, but could come at the cost of a good night’s sleep or a ticket.
  • Traffic Frequency: As these businesses are usually closed overnight, it should be fairly quiet. Though a quiet parking lot is a magnet for teenagers looking to participate in some low-level anarchy, so beware.
  • How to Find: Trusty Google will let you know which stores are in your area.

Traditional Campgrounds/ Airbnb

safest places to sleep in your car overnight

When all else fails, remember, we live in the golden age of Airbnb. If you are tired of being in your car, you don’t feel safe, or just have a little extra cash to throw around, booking into a campsite, AirBNB, or Motel gives you the opportunity to have a genuine rest with glorious facilities that you don’t have to feel slightly awkward about using.

Campgrounds are one of the safest places to sleep in your car. Even if you pay a small fee to stay there, you have the peace of mind that you are staying in a campground instead of a parking lot.

Key Information

  • Legal: Definitely legal!
  • Secure: Arguably the most secure option, staying in a maintained campsite means there are plenty of other people around. Airbnb and Motels are incredibly safe as you have your own, lockable space.
  • Access to Facilities: All these places come with access to 24/7 facilities so you can shower, use the restroom, and cook with ease and comfort.
  • Convenience: Campsites can be out of the way, and sometimes book on a first come first serve basis, so do your research and pre-book where possible (especially in busy seasons). Airbnbs also require some pre-planning, but when all else fails, there is always room at the Motel!
  • Free/Fee: The drawback to all these facilities and security? The fee. Price ranges from roughing-it-with-the-bare-essentials to staying in an actual hotel. Know your budget and come prepared! When you haven’t booked ahead, or done your research, you are at the mercy of the first place you find.
  • Traffic Frequency: In the case of a campsite, most other campers, like you, will be looking for some peace and quiet…but you can never be sure. Motels & Airbnb obviously give you significantly more control over your environment
  • How to Find: Airbnb’s website lets you specify your location, price range, and needed amenities. Google can help you sort through motels along your route. The Dyrt Pro is a free app that helps you locate campsites near you. If you are a regular road tripper, you may want to invest in their pro subscription and get access to all their road trip and camping tools.

Hotel Parking Lot

A hotel parking lot is a great place to stop and rest for the night, and one I have personally used! Hotels are used to guests coming and going and all kinds of cars being in the parking lot. Select an inconspicuous space, well away from the main entrance, and keep yourself to yourself. You wouldn’t want to stay more than 1, two nights tops as some hotels do ask guests to register their license plates upon check-in.

Key Information

  • Legal: Not exactly illegal, but you can be moved on.
  • Secure: Plenty of people come and go at all hours and they usually have cameras, lighting, and security.
  • Access to Facilities: Most hotels have a restroom in the lobby and some even boast lobby bars, convenience stands, and restaurants. As well as information on local attractions!
  • Convenience: There are hotels of varying star ratings EVERYWHERE. Very easy to come by.
  • Free/Fee: Most hotels have free parking lots, but some are gated and require reservations or room keys to enter.
  • Traffic Frequency: People and vehicles are coming and going at all hours, but traffic does tend to die down overnight.
  • How to Find: Trusty Google can show you what hotels and motels are in your area. Street view can let you scope out the parking situation ahead of time as well.

Safe Parking Program

With the cost of living rising, and pay rates staying the same, more and more people are living in their cars full-time. Some cities and states have responded by creating Safe Parking Programs. These tell you where in the city you can safely, and legally, park and sleep in your car overnight.

Key Information

  • Legal: YES!
  • Secure: These areas are designed to support the growing community of car dwellers. Some sites may have more security than others.
  • Access to Facilities: This will vary from location to location, so you will have to either google it ahead of time or give yourself time to scope it out before bedding down for the night.
  • Convenience: While more and more of these are popping up, they are a relatively new social service and may only be available in more metropolitan areas.
  • Free/Fee:  Most are free
  • Traffic Frequency:  There will be plenty of other car dwellers around, coming and going at all times.
  • How to Find:  Google “safe parking programs near me” or near your destination to see what comes up.

24 Hr Gyms

24-hour gyms are a great place to park overnight as you constantly have people coming and going and most of the time they aren’t keeping track of cars in the parking lot.  You want to remain discreet here as this is another grey area legally.  You can be moved on if you are causing a disturbance.  It’s a great idea to actually purchase a membership so you have access to the facilities and can form relationships of trust with the owners or people who work there.

Key Information

  • Legal: Not exactly.
  • Secure: Yes, there are plenty of people coming and going and the parking lots are usually well-lit.
  • Access to Facilities: If you have a membership, you will have full access to showers, restrooms, and sometimes even a spa!
  • Convenience: Though most cities have a 24-hour gym, they aren’t as regular to come by.  Especially in rural areas.  So do your research ahead of time!
  • Free/Fee: Usually free to park, but worth the membership to get access to those facilities, trust us!
  • Traffic Frequency:  People are usually coming and going all hours, but it does get quiet overnight.  Vehicle traffic is pretty reduced unless the gym is located along a busy main road.
  • How to Find: Trusty Google will tell you what gyms are in your area and you can check their websites for hours of operation.

Rent a driveway/parking space

Rent a parking space to sleep overnight

City dwellers may find it easier to get around on public transportation rather than deal with the daily hassle of traffic and parking fees.  If their home or apartment comes with free, off-road parking, they may rent it out for a little side hustle.  This is great news for people living in their cars.  You get a safe and consistent place to park with no chance of being disturbed overnight.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Key Information

  • Legal: Yes!
  • Secure: Depending on the neighborhood, this can be a very secure option.    
  • Access to Facilities: Usually no, but you never know what kind of relationship or arrangement you can make with the person you are renting from! 
  • Convenience:  This is more popular in big, metropolitan cities like NY, LA, or Chicago.
  • Free/Fee:  A fee, whether it be monthly, weekly, or daily, will be required.
  • Traffic Frequency:  Residential areas are usually very quiet overnight.   
  • How to Find: Google, Facebook marketplace, Craig’s List, asking friends and family; there are all kinds of platforms you can use to scout out a parking rental.

Cracker Barrel

Who knew???  This classic, southern general store usually doesn’t mind allowing overnight parking around the back of the building.  You may want to check in with the store manager on arrival, but there is always the do first, ask for forgiveness later option.  People have been allowed to keep their vehicles or even RVs there overnight without a fee.    

Key Information

  • Legal: As far as we know, yes!
  • Secure:  Usually some lighting and cameras, but generally no security team or people coming and going overnight.
  • Access to Facilities: During hours of operation, you’ll have access to a restroom and all the fabulous food and treasures that the cracker barrel provides.  Especially those fabulous porch rocking chairs!
  • Convenience: Not very common unless you are living or driving through the south.
  • Free/Fee: Free!
  • Traffic Frequency: Quiet overnight, but very popular during business hours.
  • How to Find: Google will let you know if you have any Cracker Barrels in your area or along your route.

Apartment Complexes

Apartment complexes are usually pretty secure, with gates and assigned parking.  Some, however, are very open and boast several guest parking spaces that remain largely empty.  You’ll want to be on your best discrete and good neighbor behavior if you find a worthy complex as this could be a great place you could come back to more than once and possibly stay a few nights in a row as people will assume you are a friend/family member of a resident.  Who knows…maybe you could MAKE a friend there! 

Key Information

  • Legal: It says Guest parking…right?  This one is another risky spot where you could get asked to leave.
  • Secure:  Usually very secure with lots of lights, a security team, cameras, and people coming and going.
  • Access to Facilities: Unfortunately, no facilities.  Unless, of course, you make friends with the residents!
  • Convenience: I’d have to say these aren’t very convenient.  Though apartment complexes are everywhere; finding one that is safe, has spare guest parking, and minimal scrutiny can be tricky.  This would be one to really look around for if you plan to maintain a permanent residence in the area.
  • Free/Fee:  Free, but high risk.
  • Traffic Frequency: Usually low traffic, just people coming and going from their homes.
  • How to Find: Google to the rescue!  You can also ask friends and family members who are apartment dwellers if they might be willing to give you a hot tip.

Police Stations

park at the police station

Police station?  Are we crazy?  Stay with us for just a minute.  These are incredibly secure locations that operate 24/7 with lots of people coming and going.  Though this may not be a go-to or recurring location, it can be a safe option if you are just out of money, on your own, and desperate for a safe night’s sleep.  We recommend going into the station and checking with the officers on duty if they wouldn’t mind you crashing in their parking lot.  Though be prepared, they will want your details and will run them through the system.  

Key Information

  • Legal: If you ask first, yes!
  • Secure: There is no more secure location.
  • Access to Facilities: Probably not.  While the station probably has a bathroom, best not to push your luck with their hospitality unless they offer it up.
  • Convenience: Maybe not as convenient as you would think.  While every city and town has a police station, they aren’t always centrally located.
  • Free/Fee: Yes
  • Traffic Frequency: Officers will always be coming and going, but it shouldn’t be to loud or chaotic.
  • How to Find: Google always knows.

24 hr Business

park overnight at a 24-hour business

Businesses that are open 24 hours naturally expect to have parked cars and customers coming and going at all hours.  If you keep to yourself and be a courteous guest, there is no reason you should draw any unwanted attention.  Pick a space far from the main doors, but not suspiciously far.  Why would someone park in the farthest back corner in the middle of the night? 

Key Information

  • Legal: You can be moved on if you draw unwanted attention from security or management.
  • Secure: Usually well-lit, plenty of people, and some form of on sight security.
  • Access to Facilities: Yes!  24 hr business means you can use the restroom and buy supplies any time. 
  • Convenience: 24-hour business are not as common as you think, most places do close (even if it’s just to restock between midnight and 6 am).  However, most big cities do have several 24 businesses in operation: fast food, gyms, Walgreens, Rite Aid, convenience stores, etc.
  • Free/Fee: Yes!
  • Traffic Frequency: People will be coming and going, so be prepared for an early wake-up!
  • How to Find: Keep your eyes out for 24/hr signs during the day and scout out locations before the evening actually arrives. 

Industrial Parks

park overnight in industrial parks

Industrial parks are ghost towns after 5 pm on a weekday and all through the weekend.  Usually in out-of-the-way places with plenty of gate-free parking.  Speaking as a former security officer, do your research on what types of businesses are in the park.  If it is a bank headquarters or a major software/tech company, forget about it.  Security will be on you in seconds and they will move you on.  You want companies where people sit at desks, file papers, and go home and the end of the day.  Usually well-lit and quiet, though these locations can attract young people looking for a little mischief in their cars or on their skateboards.

  • Legal: Security is well within their rights to ask you to leave or call the police if necessary. 
  • Secure: Usually there is security and good lighting, but the isolation may or may not make you feel safe.
  • Access to Facilities: None, and you are usually a ways away from amenities; so be prepared to lock down for the night!
  • Convenience: Tricky to find as they are usually on the outskirts of cities and towns. 
  • Free/Fee: Yes
  • Traffic Frequency: Once people have gone home for the day, the only traffic you will have is the security team (if they have one).
  • How to Find: This is a weird one to Google, you may have to do a little driving around yourself to see what’s out there.  Though, again, we strongly recommend you research what kind of companies are in the park to get an indication of what kind of security they will have. 

Are you ready to get to your next adventure?

With all these options, it’s impossible not to get excited about hitting the road and having nothing but you and your car to get you to the next adventure, so let us leave you with some final thoughts:

  • Variety! All of these options are good options, and it is a great idea to mix them up. The more places you have in your back pocket, the more flexible you are. Variety also keeps you safe, if people don’t know your pattern, they can’t catch you off guard.
  • Courteous and Conscientious! I can not stress this enough that if you want people to leave you be, be liveable! Don’t leave a mess, don’t blast the radio or whip out the old BBQ in the middle of someone’s street or place of business, and be discreet. Most people aren’t bothered by a parked car, but someone in a parked car can make some people nervous. Cover your windows and limit the times you come in and out of the car. We’ve said it before, but this doubles as safety precautions for you.

Want more advice before committing? Then check out our Ultimate Guide to Sleeping in your Car.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Lisa Hurd Profile Image

Lisa Hurd


Lisa Hurd is a born and raised Californian currently living with her husband, daughter, and labrador in the UK. She enjoys road trips with her family and has fond memories of cross-country adventures with her 3 sisters while growing up. She loves to write about a variety of camping-related and road trip topics. In her spare time, she’s an avid reader of books. She misses the sun… send vitamin D and quality Mexican food ASAP!


Kelley G Faulkner

Monday 13th of November 2023

Thank you for this article

Jmarie Newton

Monday 21st of August 2023

Thank you for valuable information, some places I would have never thought about.

Katrina Reid

Thursday 29th of June 2023

Thank you for this valuable information. It is right on time since I'm preparing for a road trip.

Suzanne Moon

Sunday 11th of June 2023

VERY helpful information. I've always thought of sleeping on the road for an adventure of sort but worried that I might be breaking a law if I did. Thank you, Lisa.


Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

This has helped me more than you know. Thank you so much!!!