If you are looking for some top sleeping in the car tips then you’ve come to the right place!
Below I’ve written 10 detailed pieces of advice that anyone can follow to have a comfier, safer, and more enjoyable night’s sleep in their vehicle!
If you want to know how to sleep in a car safely, then read on! From finding the right location to making a warm bed, this guide has got you covered.
Before you get your head down for the night always remember to check that you have LOCKED the doors! Let’s jump into these tips for sleeping in your car comfortably
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Quick List of Sleeping in the Car Tips
- Keep warm by making a comfy bed
- Follow this advice to find a safe place to park
- Get the best gadgets to stay entertained
- Don’t leave the engine running
- Leave a window slightly open
- Cover the windows to have some privacy
- Make sure it’s legal to sleep in the car where you are located
- Have a story prepared in case you need to speed to the authorities
- Make sure you use the bathroom before settling for the night.
- Consider what time you’ll need to wake up given your location
Keep warm by making a comfy bed
Making a warm bed is one of the most important sleeping in the car tips. Getting cold during the night can ruin the whole experience!
When sleeping in the car you may be tempted to lay down the front passenger seat and sleep there. This is OK I’d suggest putting the rear seats flat and making a proper bed using a sleeping bag and sleeping matt.
Sleep with your feet at the back of the car. If you are tall like me you may need to position yourself diagonally!
It may get cold at night so you should invest in some warm clothes to go with the sleeping bag and matt.
This HiHiker Sleeping Bag comes with a travel pillow and a compact bag so it’s perfect for sleeping in the car! It’s lightweight, warm, and washable.
If you want a really comfortable night’s sleep you can consider checking out this inflatable mattress from HiHiker too.
Follow this advice to find a safe place to park
If you are planning to sleep in your car, we have a full article outlining 19 Places You Can Legally Sleep In Your Car.
When finding a safe place to park to sleep in the car there are generally things to consider.
- If you can park there legally for free without receiving a ticket.
- How much privacy you have and how likely you are to be disturbed
- Safety of the location from threats such as crime or intruders.
A few locations you can consider checking are shopping areas, residential streets, or religious buildings. These can often have free parking and are in areas busy enough to avoid a safety concern.
Do not pull over on the side of a road as this puts you at major risk of collision with another vehicle! Always make sure you are parked in a location away from fast-moving traffic.
Get the best gadgets to stay entertained and comfortable
It can be a long night when sleeping in the car so here is my top list of items to ensure you are prepared and entertained!
Don’t leave the engine running
I know you are tempted to leave the engine running to heat the car up but do not do this! It can be dangerous because of the enclosed nature of where you are sleeping. If the air becomes contaminated with carbon monoxide it can be extremely dangerous.
Unfortunately, you will need to stay warm the old-fashioned way with a comfy bed in the back!
It’s also worth noting that leaving the engine running might get expensive. This is one of the most important sleeping in the car tips as safety should be your priority.
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Leave a window slightly open
To make sure you have adequate ventilation I’d suggest having some small gaps in one or two windows. The last thing you want is to wake up uncomfortable with condensation covering the windows.
Open the front two passenger windows slightly to let some air in. I prefer using these windows because it isn’t right next to my head. In addition, the rear passenger windows are best used to trap/hold up material to create privacy.
If you have a sunroof this is also a great way to get some ventilation without it being obvious to any other people.
Cover the windows to have some privacy
There are a couple of options when it comes to privacy. The most obvious one is to order a tarp and cover the entire vehicle. This is great to enclose your personal space but it can draw attention from authorities.
Tarps attract attention
If you go for this option make sure you’ve parked in a location where you’re unlikely to be disturbed in the morning
Cover off rear windows by hanging material
My preferred option is to just block off the windows. If you are sleeping with your feet at the back of the car then you will have some privacy from the front seats. The main area to block off will be the rear passenger windows near where your head is.
I suggest doing this by either hanging something from the handles or using the windows to trap some material that hangs down.
I’d also recommend keeping valuables hidden and the car clean, so as to attract less attention from passers-by. Keep as much of the vehicle as possible between you and the public.
Make sure it’s legal to sleep in the car where you are located
In certain states in the USA, it’s illegal to sleep in the car. Additionally, in Europe, it varies.
The best way to find out if it’s legal or not is to have a good Google search beforehand to find out!
If you find that it is illegal and you choose to do it anyway then make sure you have a convincing story as discussed in the following section!
You should also try to park in a more discreet location so you are less likely to be disturbed. That being said, I would not recommend parking somewhere too quiet for safety reasons.
Check out Allstays for possible locations.
Perhaps you are researching sleeping in the car but would also consider camping? We’ve written a road trip camping packing list that may be of use to you.
Have a story prepared in case you need to speed to the authorities
Generally speaking, it’s a great idea to be reasonably well presented just in case you get approached by the authorities.
It’s also a great idea to have an idea in advance of what reason you are going to give for being there. You may find people that are unhappy with you sleeping there will be more reasonable with you.
For example, you could say that you are making a long drive and you felt tired so stopped for a rest. If you have a long drive ahead you might be interested in our article on how to stay awake while driving.
To avoid confrontation, if someone asks you to move on its best to get out of there and find another spot. There are plenty of locations where you can sleep without trouble so its not worth the hassle in my view.
Make sure you use the bathroom before settling for the night.
There is nothing worse than finding a comfortable spot, settling into your bed only to need the loo 5 minutes after you put your head down!
Make sure you find a gas station or somewhere similar to use the bathroom before you park up for the evening. You don’t want to be restricted when finding somewhere to park and being near a bathroom creates a bigger challenge.
Use Google Maps to find a service station.
Of course, you can urinate outside if it’s urgent, but there are usually enough 24-hour service stations to avoid this. You can also pick up some much-needed supplies for the night.
This is one of the sleeping in the car tips you will be glad you remembered!
Consider what time you will need to wakeup given your location
You need to consider how likely you are to be disturbed in the morning at your chosen location.
Set your alarm early if you think it’s likely that you will run into the authorities. For example, if you are in a shopping center car park you need to be aware that it will get busy around the time the store opens.
Face your car in an appropriate direction so as to give yourself the most privacy.
Check out our ultimate guide for further information
This guide is aimed at giving you some top sleeping in the car tips that you can quickly read. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide then check out our ultimate guide to sleeping in the car!
If you have any tips then please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.
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.
Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. Iain writes about a variety of topics including backpacking, planning road trips, and car camping.