Sleeping in your car at a campground can be fun. Let’s learn how to do it right!
Camping gives you a chance to connect with nature. You can sit out and watch the stars or camp out under the night sky.
But on most days, you would need a protective shelter to spend the night. Most people prefer to stay in tents while they go camping. While that is a good option, you can also go camping if you don’t have a tent.
You can camp inside your car. You can use your four-wheeler to sleep at night. Camping in your car can be a lot of fun if you are only doing it for a few nights. You don’t have to carry around tents and other equipment, and since you’re sleeping inside, there is no risk of small animals crawling in and insects biting you at night.
In this article, let us talk about sleeping in your car at a campground. I will help you plan your next camping trip by giving you ideas and tips to make the car more comfortable.
Benefits Of Sleeping Car At Campground
While it’s a bit unconventional, there are several advantages to sleeping in your car. Let’s talk about the upsides a bit.
#1. Better Insulation
Your four-wheeler vehicle has inbuilt insulation, which traps heat inside the car. It does not get cool as quickly as a tent. So if you are planning to camp out in the cold, sleeping inside the car on a camping ground is a pretty good option.
#2. Protects From Chill Weather
Not only is it insulated, but your car can also protect you from cold air. Many tents have mesh windows that let in the cold air at night, and it’s not always a great idea to cover the tent with a rainfly because it can get really stuffy inside. Instead, you can comfortably sleep inside your car.
#3. No Fear Of Animals
You don’t find bugs, spiders, mosquitoes, or small animals like snakes and rats entering your bed when you sleep inside the car. But in a tent, you always have a fear of stray animals and insects crawling inside.
#4. Protection From Thieves and Drunks
Campgrounds can be a happy camping ground (yeah, I know it’s a bad pun!) for thieves. Your car can lock from the inside, protecting you from thieves, bums, and drunks.
Sleeping in the car at the campground is cheaper in comparison to sleeping in a tent. Even 1-person tents can cost you upwards of $200. On the other hand, all you need is a pillow, blanket, and a mattress to use your car for sleeping. You can even take a sleeping pad and sleeping bag for more comfort.
#6. Setup Is Easy
Car camping is relatively easy to set up. You have to lay your sleeping pad and bag in the back of your car. You just need to set it up once. You can leave your setup as it is and can drive from one camping location to another.
But if you choose to spend time in a tent, you need to pack your tent and other safety gear to move from one camping site to another, which is usually time-consuming.
#7. Enables You To have Stealth Camping
Sometimes you need to camp at places where you are not allowed to stay overnight. You can do stealth camping (camping secretly) by using your four-wheel vehicle.
Just cover the windows of your car so that no one can see you! Don’t make too much noise while you are inside your car. Stealth camping saves money because you don’t have to pay to stay in the hotel, you can just park your car in a motel near the campground, and that’s it.
#8. Easy To Find a Camping Ground
You can park your four-wheeler wherever you want and stay overnight inside the car. You don’t have to bother about muddy roads. You don’t even have to worry about rain. You are 100 percent safe if you use your car to stay overnight in the camping ground.
#9. Allows You To Charge Your Electric Devices
You can charge your mobiles and tabs quickly using the car battery.
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Car Camping Essentials
For car camping, you don’t need to invest a lot of money. But if you take a few essential things along with you, then you can enjoy your car camping in a better way. That’s why I have listed below a few basic things which will help you on your trip.
#1. Camping Cooler
You need a Camping Cooler to store all your perishable food. The warm air inside your car can quickly make your food stale. So, you need to keep the food items in an enclosed space that is lower than the surrounding temperature.
We suggest using the Lunica collapsible large cooler bag. You can use this bag both as a cooler and an insulated bag to store your food while camping. The outer portion of the bag uses jacquard fabric which is very soft. There are hooks in the bag where you can hang your keys and a front pocket to keep essential items. The shoulder strap in the bag is easily adjustable, and the bottom of the bag has a PE support plate to carry hot and cold containers.
But, for those who have a cooler bag at home, you can bring it along with you to store food during camping. You don’t have to spend money on buying a separate cooler bag for camping.
#2. Sleeping Gear
To sleep comfortably in your car, you should take pillows, mattresses, and blankets from your home. Don’t try to sleep on your car seat directly. It can be uncomfortable and cold, especially if you have leather upholstery.
If you are looking for a sleeping bag, I would suggest using a Sleepingo camping sleeping pad which weighs only 14.5 ounces and packs down to the size of just a thin water bottle. It’s a reasonably priced product.
If you need a mattress as well, I suggest you choose the Willpo Certipur camping mattress. It is portable, lightweight, and waterproof.
#3. Stove And Cooking
You must carry a camping stove, lighter, plates, thermos flask, knife, cup or mug, cutting board, cooking oil, and other condiments while camping.
You need to bring toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, towel, sandal, cosmetics, deodorants, lip balm, and some biodegradable wipes during camping.
You may bring 2-3 gallons of water from home either for cooking or drinking.
#6. LED Headlamp
A LED headlamp is quite essential whenever you cook at night. It will increase your visibility, and you can adequately cook your dinner.
#7. Tool Set
You may have camping grounds in remote areas where you hardly find any shop to repair your car if needed. So you should always keep the essential toolset like ratchet, screwdriver, and hammer.
#8. First Aid Kit
You may get injured or have wounds or cuts. So, it’s best to keep a first aid kit in your car, which may help you during an emergency.
#9. Appropriate Clothes
There is limited space in your car. So try to choose clothes wisely. You need some clothes for comfortably sleeping during the night. Try to select night clothes that are warm and breathable.
Again try to include an insulated jacket, wool socks, sunglasses, camping shoes, and clothes while packing for camping.
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Non-Essential Things During Car Camping
#1. Camping Chairs
You don’t want to spend all 24 hours inside the car. You should get a camping chair to sit outside your car comfortably and gaze at the stars or feel the air. But if your budget is tight, you can bring any old foldable chair from your home or sit on a rock to enjoy nature.
For entertainment in camping, you can bring some novels, a fishing pole or a chessboard.
You can take a lantern along with you, which you can hang anywhere you like, which will light up the area where you will be working something essential, or you may take the lantern along with you if you are going in the dark.
#4. Bring Tent
You may get bored if you sleep inside the car all the time. So you can bring an easy setup tent from home and use it when you feel too hot inside the car.
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Car Camping Hacks
#1. Bring Used Stasher Bags
A stasher bag can help you in storage. For instance, if you open the cheese packet or butter and store the unused portion, you can keep it in the stasher bag. This stasher bag consists of platinum silicone.
#2. Wash And Dry Your Veggies
Veggies can quickly go rotten at a campsite, especially if you keep them inside the car. So try to wash those vegetables properly at home and allow them to dry before bringing those veggies to your camping site.
#3. Use Bins During Camping
Using bins at your camping site will organize all the things. You can keep all the kitchen essentials like a cutting board, fork, spatula, and plates in one bin. In another bin, you can keep some snacks, coffee, and other food items.
#4. Bring Some Cash
Some campsites charge money. So, it’s wise to keep some cash in hand.
#5. Bring Fire Starters From Home
You can make fire starters at home and bring them along with you during camping, saving your time.
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Can You Sleep In Your Car At A National Park?
Yes, you can sleep in your car in most national parks, but the rules may slightly differ from one park to another. So it’s better to confirm from the park ranger regarding rules for camping.
Again, you require a reservation for camping grounds in most National parks, whereas others operate as first come, first service.
The National parks in the United States have two types of camping. One is front country camping, and the other is backcountry camping.
The front country camping refers to the camping site in a National park where you can take your vehicle and even sleep. In this camping, you will find all the basic amenities like toilets and dustbins. Backcountry camping does not allow you to sleep inside the car.
Camping In National Forests
The camping rules of National Forests in the United States are slightly different from the National park. The Forest ranger allows for dispersed camping, i.e., you can camp anywhere outside the designated compound of the forest. Well, there are basic facilities in dispersed camping like toilets or fire pits.
There are some rules for dispersed camping. I am listing it below so that you will know if you are planning to have dispersed camping.
- Your campsite should be at least 100 meters away from the water bodies.
- You can stay in dispersed camping for at most 14 days. After 14 days, you need to choose another dispersed camping site at least 5 miles away from the previous location.
- No dustbin, water, or restroom is provided in dispersed camping.
- You need to take your dustbin along with you when you leave the camping site.
- Try to park your car in those places where it has already been used for parking.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
#1. Can You Sleep In Your Car In State Parks?
Yes, you can sleep in your car in state parks. In the United States, there are 10,000 state parks, and it has more than 220,000 camping sites. So from this number, you can predict that camping is quite popular in the state parks of the United States. People love to come here for camping.
#2. Can You Sleep In Your Car In Local Parks?
It’s not illegal to sleep in your car in local parks, but the location matters a lot. Again most of the local parks do not have websites. So you cannot contact its authority about the camping. If the local park opens from sunrise to sunset, you cannot stay in that local park after dusk.
#3. Can You Sleep In Your Car In Walmart?
You can sleep in the parking lots of Walmart. But try to take the store manager’s permission before staying overnight in the parking lot of Walmart. But you cannot stay more than one night at Walmart.
#4. How To Find Camping Sites?
There are many sites and applications where you can easily find camping sites like recreation.com,Hipcamp.com and various others.
#5. What Should A Camper Do While Sleeping In Your Car During Camping
- Try to open the windows of your car slightly so that fresh air can enter inside the car.
- Switch off your car while sleeping.
- Try to use curtains on your car while sleeping to obstruct the light.
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Best Camping Cars
The Honda Ridgeline has a nice truck bed. You can open the truck bed to double the sleeping space. Keeping campers in mind, Honda also designs special tents that easily fit inside the trunk. I will say it is an excellent choice for anyone who loves to car camp.
The Chevy blazer is a perfect car if you want to take your family with you camping. The sunroof runs over the entire length of this car; you can literally sleep under the stars even when you are car camping.
It is one of the best durable camping cars. The height of this car is fantastic. It allows you to store various things like a cooler, camping chairs, and other essential items.
Honda provides a tent for six persons with this car. If you are not comfortable in a tent, you can easily remove the seats of this car and use the space for sleeping comfortably inside the vehicle.
#4. Jeep Wrangler
It is one of the best classic camping cars and the best for families. Although the Jeep Wrangler has little cargo space, it provides camping essentials like tents, air beds, and hammocks.
Best Car Camping Tents
It is a floorless tent. The fabric in the tent is resistant to water. The sky view vent on the tent allows you to sleep under the stars.
It is a spacious tent where five persons can sleep comfortably. This tent connects seamlessly to the cargo portion of your vehicle. It easily fits into almost all SUV’s, CUV’s and minivans. You will find one large door and three windows in this tent and two shock-corded fiberglass tent poles in it.
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Sleeping in your car at a campground is beneficial. Sleeping is essential during camping. You can have a tight and comfortable sleep if you sleep inside your car on a camping site compared to tents.
Please do share your experience if you go camping and use the car as a tent while sleeping. I would love to read about your experience.