Regardless of whether you’re planning a big road trip or you simply want to spend a night in your car so that you don’t have to pay a high price for a hotel room for a single night, our article on how to sleep in your car and places to sleep in your car will help you achieve that in the safest and most convenient way. While there are some drawbacks of sleeping in your car that we’ll mention, it can be a cost and time-efficient solution when you need it the most.
In this article, we will discuss whether sleeping in your car is legal, go over both the drawbacks and benefits of sleeping in your car, and go over some of our most valuable tips on how to go about it in the safest way.
Without further ado, let’s explore the legal side of sleeping in your car.
Is It Legal for Me to Sleep in my Car?
First things first, let’s discuss whether sleeping in your car is actually legal and how you can protect yourself from getting fined over it.
The answer to whether it’s legal to sleep in your car is not as straightforward as you might think. This is the case because different places have different laws, so it really depends on where you’re currently living.
The general rule of thumb is – yes, sleeping in your car is allowed so long as you are not intoxicated or you’re not parked somewhere that might warrant a fine. If you follow these two rules, chances are, even if the police approach you and start asking questions, you will have a solid case and will likely not get fined. Few states in the world have a rule that explicitly forbids sleeping in a vehicle, although a lot of states prohibit sleeping on the roadside, so it’s best to check the regulations of the state you’re in, just to be on the safe side. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re unsure, closed parking lots, campsites, and rest stops are your best bet to avoid getting fined, although some might cost you quite a bit of money.
The reason behind sleeping in your car being illegal if you’re intoxicated or near a busy road is quite simple – it has to do with your safety. One of the main drawbacks of sleeping in your car (which we will discuss in great detail later) has to do with the lack of safety, so make sure you always keep that in the back of your mind.
Benefits of Sleeping in Your Car
Now that you know all the legal details regarding sleeping in your car, let’s get into some of the benefits that come with it so that you can weigh out whether it’s a worthy risk more easily.
Sleeping in Your Car Saves You Money
One of the most obvious benefits of sleeping in your car is that it has the potential to save you a lot of money, especially if you’re travelling outside the country. We all know how expensive hotels and accommodation can get, so using your car to sleep overnight in a foreign country can save you hundreds of pounds. It’s a great way to save money while travelling, provided that you’re sufficiently prepared for it and that you follow the basic safety tips.
Many travellers swear by sleeping in their car during their budget-friendly adventures. If you’re renting a car while travelling, you can even opt for a bigger one in order to have more space to sleep in.
Sleeping in Your Car Is Time-Efficient
Finding a hotel and arriving at the location can take up a lot of time, so deciding to skip the booking process and use your car instead can be very time-efficient. When travelling, you can park your car near the attractions or destinations you want to visit the next day, which would save you a lot of time from commuting.
We don’t use our cars for sleeping only when we travel, so another way you can save time by sleeping in your car is if you decide to use it to nap while at work during your lunch break. Not everyone has an office they can sneak a short nap in, so napping in your car is a great way to ensure that your productivity levels remain stable which will help you get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Lower Chance of Oversleeping
One benefit that might not be so obvious to everyone is that sleeping in your car almost guarantees that you never miss your alarm or oversleep. This is because it’s hard to protect yourself from the sun and daylight, not to mention that a car is not the most comfortable place to sleep in, so you’re more likely to wake up earlier. When you’re travelling, this could be a major advantage since it will give you more time to explore.
Sleeping in Your Car Doesn’t Require a Fancy Setup
Unlike tents, you don’t need to spend a lot of time setting up your car for sleeping, simply reclining your seats will do the job most of the time. This will save you a lot of time and energy, as well as money since you won’t have to buy any fancy equipment or a sleeping bag.
The Use of Electricity
Another benefit of using a car to camp out as opposed to a tent is that you have constant access to electricity and lighting, so you can freely charge your phone or use it for entertainment purposes. If you are planning to sleep in your car for a couple of nights and you need access to electricity, you can always install a solar system in your vehicle which will give you a lot of flexibility and convenience.
Sleeping in Your Car Is Convenient
Convenience is crucial when we make decisions during our travels, which is why sleeping in a car is a no-brainer for many travellers. It’s convenient in multiple ways, from being easily accessible, unlike some hotels or campsites, to not having to waste any time setting up a tent or checking into a hotel. If you’re someone who values convenience while travelling, we highly recommend looking into it.
Drawbacks of Sleeping in Your Car
To provide a balanced opinion on whether it’s smart to sleep in your car, we also decided to include some of the major drawbacks you can expect, so let’s see what they are.
The primary concern for so many people regarding sleeping in their car is safety. How safe you feel is directly related to where you decide to park your car overnight – sleeping on a camping site, for instance, is much safer than sleeping on a random street in a foreign city.
Apart from making you worried about being robbed or assaulted, it can also make you feel unsafe if you’re worried about being approached by police or fined. At the end of the day, you have to weigh out the pros and cons and decide if sleeping in your car is worth all the potential safety risks.
Another major drawback of sleeping in your car is a lack of comfort. We’ve all fallen asleep in a car at some point in our life, so we know first-hand how uncomfortable it might get. There are many ways you can enhance the comfort of your car (which we will provide tips for below), but it certainly doesn’t compare to spending a night in a hotel or a B&B.
You’re Limited to a Handful of People
Depending on whom you’re planning to travel with, sleeping in a car can be a problem since not all cars provide enough space for multiple sleepers. If you’re taking your whole family along on your adventures, chances are that you might feel a bit cramped while you’re travelling.
If you’re sleeping in a car while travelling, chances are you don’t have access to a shower, which is one of the main things that puts people off from sleeping in their cars as opposed to a hotel.
Apart from potential issues with personal hygiene, sleeping in your car can result in it becoming dirtier as the days pass, so if you don’t have a place where you can clean it thoroughly, you might find this to be an issue.
Last but not least, another drawback of sleeping in your car is that you will have minimal privacy. If you decide to park on a busy road, people passing by could easily peek through your windows and see what you’re up to. If you camp on busy sites, you will encounter the same problem. One way to prevent this is by investing in shades for your windows so that nobody can see through them.
Tips for Sleeping in Your Car
Now that you’re aware of both the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping in your car, it’s time to share with you some of our top tips so that you remain safe and comfortable at all times should you decide to go for it.
Don’t Leave the Car Running Overnight
One instinct many people who sleep in their car have is to leave the motor running overnight, especially if the weather is cold and you want to warm up. While warming up is guaranteed, leaving the car running overnight is dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. This is because it exudes car emissions that could be a potential health hazard.
Sleep With the Windows Closed
Just like you might be tempted to leave the engine overnight if it’s too cold, you might also be tempted to leave the windows slightly open overnight to get some fresh air while you sleep. However, we strongly advise you against this since you risk encountering thieves and posing a risk to your overall safety. Instead, ventilate your car a couple of hours before you go to sleep to let some fresh air in.
Bring a Mattress and a Blanket
If your car allows for it, bring a nice comfortable mattress and your favourite blanket along with you. This will significantly add more comfort to your sleep and help you feel cosier, so you won’t feel like you’re sleeping in a car.
Don’t Forget the Entertainment
If you’re spending multiple nights in a row in your car, chances are you will start to feel bored at some point. To avoid this, bring some entertainment with you that will help you pass the time, such as games or movies you could watch on your mobile or on your laptop.
Let Someone Know About Your Location Before You Sleep
A great and easy way to ensure that you feel and remain safe is to text someone you love your address of where you’ll be sleeping overnight. This is crucial if you don’t have someone to accompany you during the night and you’re worried about any potential encounters with strangers.
Make Sure Your Head Faces the Front of the Car
Even though it’s recommended that you find a flat surface in your car to sleep on, that’s not a possibility for all cars. If you have to sleep slightly inclined or in an unusual position, always ensure that your head is facing the front of the car. This will give you more space to work with and make you feel more comfortable.
Charge Your Electronics Before Sleeping
We already went over why it’s a bad idea to leave the engine running overnight, which automatically means that you won’t have the opportunity to charge your electronics while you sleep. To make sure they remain charged for communication and safety, always charge them while you’re driving or while the engine is running.
Another option is to invest in a solar panel that will allow you to charge the electronics overnight without worrying about any health hazards.
Invest in a Headlight
Instead of wasting precious battery life, why not invest in a headlight so that you can see inside of your car while it’s still dark?
By having a light to rely on, you can write, read, seamlessly organise your space and find things you might need without having to use your phone, which is always a plus.
Keep Out the Light
As you know, one of the drawbacks (or perks, depending on how you want to look at it) of sleeping in your car is waking up earlier than usual due to direct exposure to light and sun in the morning. If you want to prevent this, you can always hang curtains on your windows or cover them with any clothes you have brought on your trip. Wearing an eye mask to block out the light is also an option.
Consider Possible Sleeping Equipment
Apart from a solar energy system, a mattress, and a headlight, there are several pieces of equipment that might come in handy if you have the budget for it.
Purchasing a lantern is a great way to light up the inside of your car if you don’t feel like using an overhead light.
Investing in warm clothing, such as sweaters and thermal under layers, is another good idea if you’re travelling to a colder climate.
A camping stove is another useful tool to have if you’re planning on making your own food.
Last but not least, to ensure that you’re going to be safe in the place you decided to park overnight, you should do some research beforehand to get more acquainted with the laws of the country you’re visiting. Information like whether sleeping in the car is allowed in public places and which campsites are safe to visit will be important for you to remain safe and not break any laws in the process. Additionally, always have at least one secure location in mind in case you’re stopped by police and you have to move and sleep somewhere else.
How Can I Safely Sleep in my Car?
There are some easy tips to ensure that you’re sleeping safely in your car. First, always sleep with the engine off to prevent inhaling any harmful emissions during the night. You’ll also want to close down all the windows and vent out the room beforehand so nobody could get in and all your belongings remain safe.
Where Can I Fall Asleep in My Car?
There are several safe places you can sleep in your car. Places like store chain parking lots, hotel parking lots, and rest stops will be your best bet. You could also try camping sites, but keep in mind that you might have to pay a fee.
Why You Shouldn’t Fall Asleep in Your Car?
There are several drawbacks of falling asleep in your car – you don’t have easy access to hygiene, you don’t have much privacy, and the car isn’t the most comfortable place to sleep in.
We hope you found our guide on how to sleep in your car and places to sleep in your car useful.
One of the main issues that come up if you’re trying to fall asleep in your car is finding a place to park where it’s safe, as well as ensuring that you’re not breaking any laws. To achieve that, we suggest doing a lot of research beforehand.
You’ll want to keep a few things in mind before you begin your journey. Never sleep with the car engine on, despite how hot it might be, to prevent any car emissions. Your windows should always be closed when sleeping and if you need some fresh air, you can ventilate the car before going to bed. Bring any blankets or mattresses to enhance the overall comfort and charge your electronics before bed, or invest in a solar energy system if you want to do it overnight. You might also want to consider purchasing some additional sleeping equipment such as a headlight, a camping stove, or a lantern.