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Sleeping In The Car: The Ultimate Guide

Sleeping in your car may happen from time to time, due to a number of reasons. Here is how to do it safely, legally, and comfortably. Read on.

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just had to sleep in your car?

Maybe your car went down, you were on a road trip and wanted to avoid moving during the late hours, or you were simply on a business trip, going from state to state, and your car had to serve as your ride and motel?

In a way, we all have been there. When tired, people can catch some Zzzs anywhere when the need for sleeping is too high.

However, when feeling drowsy and alone on the road, it’s always wise to pull over, get needed sleep and rest, and then continue.

Plus, sometimes you might find yourself in situations when sleeping in your car can be your only option.

If you have never had to sleep in cars before, you may be wondering if it’s bad for your back, how comfortable it really is and if it’s safe. You also might be questioning whether or not you’d be breaking the law.

Get yourself comfortable, because we are about to take a deep dive through ins and outs of sleeping in the car in this article. Read on!

Tips For Sleeping In Your Car

Safety always comes first.

There are many ways to make speeding in your car more comfortable. However, being comfortable isn’t the first thing that you should focus on. The very first, and the most important thing to have in mind is safety.

With that in the mind, here are the top 5, tips that can make sleeping in your car, both more enjoyable and safe:

  • Do not leave the AC/engine running. There is always a risk of poor air quality or in the worst-case carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Once you are sure that your door is locked, you should cover the windows for privacy. Still, don’t forget to leave a small opening for ventilation. After all, you do need fresh air.
  • Make sure that you have all the car essentials you need, including a first-aid kit.
  • Park safely.
  • Never park on the side of a road.

These are just the rough tips, we will elaborate them further in reading.

Last but not least – never leave any garbage behind you. Make sure that you clean behind you, and if possible get to use the bathroom before you get set up for the night.

Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car?

The United States is enormous in size, and it comes as no surprise to ask if certain actions are legal or not, like sleeping in your car.

When it comes to the States, sleeping in your car is legal, in a way. With so many states, it’s only logical that every state has its own preferences, rules, and laws.

Therefore, rules will always vary from state to state, and even certain cities may ban sleeping in your car. So, make sure that you are familiar with the local laws.

After all, maybe there is a safe place where you can sleep in your car, so why not making your car sleeping more convenient.

Simply said, before you try it, it’s important to know if it’s legal or illegal to sleep in your car.

You should do this check for every state if you’re planning to move from state to state.

It’s crucial to remember that you should always park legally. Also, do not sleep in the car whilst intoxicated as you may be charged with DUI.

Below you may find certain car-related regulations in different states, whether sleeping in your car is allowed or not:

  • Alabama. Can be arrested for sleeping in a car if intoxicated.
  • California. May only park overnight in designated parking lots.
  • Hawaii. No sleeping in the vehicle.
  • Louisiana. No parking overnight at rest stops.
  • Nevada. May parking overnight at rest stops – 24-hour limit, camping allowed.
  • Texas. May parking overnight at rest stops – 24-hour limit, no camping.

Where Can I Park Legally?

Now, once you know more about car sleeping and its unique regulations, you might ask yourself – Where I can park legally? Again, this will always vary from state to state, but there are certain ‘sweet spots’ that might always serve you.

Always double check before you shut down your engine and park, but here are some spots that you shoudl always be able to park and sleep with no problems.

1. Camping Grounds

Car campers are usually well-informed on various car camps across the States.

Camping grounds are better than parking lots, and significantly affordable comparing to hotel options.

You will have to pay a fee, but it won’t cost as much as staying in a hotel. Plus, you won’t have to think about safety, because you will be safe.

2. Truck Stops

Another safe stop is truck stops. For truck stops, permission may vary from stop to stop, because they are mostly private properties. Always check with the store if you have permission to stay overnight.

3. 24-Hour Shopping Centers/Places

Next to shopping centers, major retailers such as Walmart may allow overnight stopping.

Before you pull over and nap, check with the store first.

If you are fine with casino businesses, you can always check the parking areas of casino places.

What About Private Property?

It shoudl be obvious that you shouldn’t park in front of someones’ house unless you are given permission. However, if someone rents its front yard and gives you go-ahead, you can sleep legally in your car on their property.

As long as you are given permission from the owner for any piece of land, you will be all good.

On the other hand, if you don’t have any permission, avoid private properties and focus on safe and legal places listed above.

No Matter What Stay Sober

Regardless of why you need to park or where make sure that you are alcohol-free. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any alcohol nearby, but your body should be alcohol-free.

In most states, it’s illegal to be in your car if you are intoxicated. In fact, when driving avoid drinking entirely.

How To Sleep In Your Car Comfortably

Now that you know where to sleep safely, you should focus on how to sleep comfortably.

You cannot sleep comfortably if you aren’t prepared. So, you should prepare and plan.

Make sure that you have the right equipment on hand. Here is what you shoudl always have in your car to realize that comfortable car sleeping.

  • Make sure that you have a sleeping bag and pillow in your car
  • If possible, pack thermal clothes
  • Insulate your car by putting insulation material on the windows
  • Have an inflatable sleeping mattress or camping matt
  • Make sure that your devices are well-charged, and that you have a place to charge your devices. Charging should be an option only when you are actually driving.
  • A headlamp is a must

But… How do you sleep? There are only two options actually: you should have enough space to sleep in the back of your car, or you can set down the front seat and sleep in that position.

If you have to sleep on the seat, you can expect some neck disturbances the following day, so make sure that you stretch around noon properly.

Walk it off a bit as soon as you wake up, just to correct your posture and work out those muscles.

Avoid heavy exercise early in the morning, because you want your spine to be healhty and strong.

Spine disks accumulate water in the morning and heavy exercise, or even light ones, can lead to back injuries.

Parking On Public Lands

In some states, you will find free space to park. Moreover, you will often find free campgrounds that you can easily park on.

Plus, these areas often have bathrooms and garbage cans, so you can easily get rid of the trash.

You can always explore here, to see where you can find public lands easily.

Or, you can also check out:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas
  • National grasslands
  • National forests

The Bottom Line

Sleeping in the car is something that we all have been through.

No matter what the reason may be, sleeping in your car for a night will eventually happen to any car driver, it’s just a matter of time.

When it happens you shouldn’t look at it as something negative, but a fun and camp-like experience! You may be interested to see how your body would react to sleeping in an area different opposite to a bed.

Plus, unusual sleeping experiences are more likely to prepare you better for unplanned sleeping challenges!

If you travel often by your car, you might think about having good travel insurance, just in case. Insurance can help you sleep better even in a parking lot.

Once you get home and return to your beloved bed, make sure that you treasure it the best way possible and appreciate your sleeping routine, and improve it whenever that’s possible!

In the meantime, sleeping outdoors, under the open sky, or in the back of your car when really needed can be both fun and educational. Sleep well, no matter where your bed might be.

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