How to Camp in Your Car

When you want to get into camping , you can find many ways of doing so. Camping beginners may want to head out into the great outdoors before they decide it is for them, and to do so, there is no better way than car camping.

You can also find, this is the ideal solution when backpacking, and rather than lugging a tent around with you, you can go hiking where you return to your vehicle.

To do so, there are some things you need to learn before you camp in your car. Other instances can be when you want to try stealth camping, and to sleep out without drawing too much attention to yourself.

Camping in Your Car

By following any of these routes can make a change to tent camping, or you can even combine the two and try camping in the back of a truck with a purpose-made tent.

It doesn’t matter which option you decide; you can still enjoy yourself with all the following tips and tricks for sleeping in your car. Here, we will look at all you need to know about camping on four wheels.

How Does car Camping Work?

You may think it sounds strange to sleeping in car while camping. However, it isn’t as odd as it sounds.

One thing you do need to know is, not every vehicle is ideal. Compacts, sedans, or coupes are not the ideal vehicles for the task.

The ideal vehicles can range from vans, SUVs, trucks, and crossovers, or any car that has space for one or two individuals in the back.

One of the good things about camping in your car is you are off the ground. With this, you are guaranteed to be safe and dry. If using a truck, you can make use of the soft camper shells or any of the vehicle tents that are designed to attach to your vehicle.

Before looking at each, we will look at the legal sides of camping this way.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?

You will be happy to learn; there is no nationwide law to say it is illegal to sleep in your vehicle.

However, you can find some regional laws, or certain states do not take too kindly to people sleeping in their cars.

However, this is where camping stealthily can help. You can find certain places outside of specific campsites (more later), which allow you to pull over for the night.

Where Can I Sleep in My Car Legally?

It has been seen Walmart is not against overnight guests in their parking lot, although it may have too many lights to get a good night’s sleep.

Rest stops are much the same and accept vehicles around the clock so that you can pull to the back of their parking lots and camp there for the night.

There is even better news for vehicle campers because you can find designated campsites for RV and car camp enthusiasts.

Many of these allow you to drive your car right into the allotted parking lot, where you can find picnic tables, water sources, and on some occasions, they have access to electricity. These can be full, so the following option may help if you are on an extended road trip.

BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management) has some areas where it is possible to camp using your vehicle.

You will find these areas are generally away from trailheads or campsite areas. These are found in National Parks, and allow you to camp this way for up to 16 days.

You do need to check because each National Park can come with different stipulations of what you can and can’t do on a car camping trip.

camping in your vehicle

How to Sleep in a Car

Once you decide to head off camping in your vehicle, you need to know what to take, and the best way to manage everything.

It will be the case, the larger your vehicle, the more room you will have. However, if you are in a smaller vehicle, you do need to know how to manage your car camping gear.

Depending on the site you are staying, and the vehicle you are driving, you can rig up a tarp and hold it in place with bungee cords. These shelters are ideal for keeping any rain off you and offer a spot for your outdoor gear.

Many of the camping essentials will follow regular camping lists, although you do need to be sure you sort your sleeping arrangements beforehand.

Sleeping needs to be done with your head toward the front of your car as you have more headroom. Besides this, you also need a good sleeping pad or air mattress along with a sleeping bag.

Car camping tips also include the temperatures inside cars at night can be as cold in a tent. So, you may need additional blankets or well-insulated sleeping bags.

If there are two of you sleeping in your vehicle, it is advisable to crack a window to prevent condensation and allow for more airflow. Also, you can get or fabricate mesh sections to stop any insects from getting inside.

Backpacking gear lists are not complete without your essentials. Even if you are in your vehicle, you do need the basics such as flashlights with extra batteries, a first aid kit in case of emergencies, and toilet paper. Not every area you take up camping in your vehicle will have facilities when you need the toilet.


Taking and sleeping in your vehicle can be a great way of traveling lighter than usual. Besides, you can find a multitude of places where you can park to camp.

However, it is all the more important to follow the leave no trace method of camping, especially if you are away from any campsites or designated camp areas for your vehicle.

How to Camp in Your Car

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