How to sleep in a car on a road trip?

Accept it, fellas! We would all want an inexpensive, no-fuss way to explore the world around us. The most convenient method we can think of doing this is to grab our camping gear, throw them in the car, and hit the road. While you are on a road trip, it is important to get a good night’s sleep to take full advantage of whatever the new day brings. For that, you should maintain a few steps, such as when and how long should you sleep?

Suppose you are not staying in a hotel or looking for a place to lie down, it can be quite difficult to find somewhere to sleep in your vehicle. You will start asking yourself, what kind of bed you should pick for the trip? Sleeping bags? Or an air mattress? You can check some of our articles regarding these if you are interested to find an answer.

Many of us like to sleep in the car when we are on our journey. It is not only comparatively easy but also completely free. This is perfect for people trying to save a bit of money while traveling.

Things you should do while traveling

There are certain things which you should certainly do while you are out on a trip.

  • Buy windshield covers. It will provide you with privacy and help you by preventing any outside lights and headlights from other cars.
  • Park up and sleep at designated sleeping stops. There are so many safe places where you can park your car and spend the night safely.
  • Sleep near a toilet. It can be beneficial for you in case of an emergency. But it is not that important.
  • You can pack an eye mask. In the morning your eyes will thank you once the sun rises through your car window.
  • Keep your window open so lightly, or it will become a wet mess from condensation and your car will be filled with fresh air.
  • Pack for extreme temperatures. If it’s cold weather, you will feel it 10 times more in the car and the same goes for the heat in the summer. Thin blankets and thick sleeping bags are your friends in this case.
  • Don’t forget to bring a pillow. A proper pillow will make a huge difference!
  • Download and install some necessary apps. Such as park4night and where you can find a public toilet. It will make your stay a lot easier when you are wanting to sleep in the car.
  • Make sure where you are staying is free of cost and not paid to park otherwise you will have to pay quite a fine, which is not a good experience while on a road trip.
  • Make sure to park somewhere with you will have an adequate phone signal. This is very important for anyone on the road.

Things you shouldn’t do while traveling

  • Try not to sleep in residential streets. As for sleeping outside someone’s house, especially in a car is a little strange, and you might get complaints about it from the house owner.
  • Maintain local laws, as in some places you are not allowed to sleep in your car and so you should abide by that or you could be caught and have to pay a fine.
  • Parking right next to a motorway is risky and uncomfortable. If it is a busy road then it will be impossible for you to have a good sleep, which will ruin your day because you will be exhausted.
  • Never assume where you are sleeping will be safe. You should always do proper research; some places are best left avoided if you are sleeping out there on your own.
  • Always lock your car. It may seem distinct, but sometimes we easily forget to lock our car.
  • Pack some snacks and plenty of water. If you are feeling thirsty or craving for a snack at night, you will have to wake up and drive somewhere just for a drink. It is not logical at all.
  • Try not to overfill your car. If your car is small and you fill the backseat with luggage and stuff, then you won’t be able to put your seats down far enough to lie flat and that’s going to be a disaster.
  • Turn off your car’s AC before sleeping. It will not only kill your fuel, but it can kill you too. According to a study, if your car has a leakage, it can give you Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not have the ignition on to charge your phone, it will drain the battery of your car and then you will be stuck where you have parked.
  • Protect your belongings. As we already know not to do this when we are out of the car, but it also goes for when you are inside the car sleeping too.
  • Never forget to have your handbrake on and your car in gear. Because your safety always comes first.

Places you can park overnight and sleep inside your car


It is completely legal to park and sleep overnight in your vehicle at every Walmart parking lots. This is a piece of authentic information. In fact, campers set up permanently at some Walmart locations, they put their RVs and campervans in the parking lot.


Walmart should be at the top of your list because they are easy to find and situated all across the country. You will feel relief when you find somewhere you can park overnight and know that you will not be told to move on in the middle of the night.

More importantly, their parking lots are well guarded for added security. A few of Walmart’s are 24 hours open, so you will always find help there in need. You will have access to their washroom facilities. Another bonus of Walmart is most of the stores have free Wi-Fi!


The only disadvantage of Walmart is that as it is well-lit, so sleeping will be a bit difficult for you. Not only that, shoppers will be coming and going starting really early in the morning, so chances are your sleep might get disrupted by all the noise.


This is another suitable place to spend the night when it comes to feeling secure. You can be assured security officers are patrolling all night long along with security camera’s in the parking lots, as they are always open for 24 hours. We’re not certain if they actually mind people parking overnight and sleeping in their vehicles.

Be protective about sleeping in your vehicle and be respectful and careful of your surroundings. You shouldn’t attract any attention to yourself by listening to loud music, cooking outside, or constantly getting in and out of your vehicle. It is for your own sake. Keep in mind, you do not want to be told to move your car to somewhere else by security or blow the possibility of going back to the same spot the next night if needed. Also, you don’t want to ruin things for future traveler folks by making a mess on this type of scenario.

Rest stops

If you are still on the way to your destination but start to get sleepy and tired then they are a great place to spend the night sleeping in your car. Chances are you will pass many rest-stops driving on highways and interstate roads if you live in the US.

Try to avoid rest stops that are in the middle of nowhere and not lit very well, you should always be careful of your surroundings.

BLM Land

Bureau of Land Management offers dispersed camping for everyone, so you can park the car and camp without fear of getting into trouble with the law.

Grocery Stores, Fast Food Outlets, Shopping Malls & Parking Lots

If you reached in a suburban area, you may find the temptation to sleep in your car at any of these types of places because parking here is comfortable and it seems safe and protective. They are well-lit and plenty has security camera’s too for the safety factor, still be aware that it is probably not legal and you may be told to move on during the night.

How to sleep in a car during a road trip?

While traveling after parking your car to get the comfortable sleep you want, make sure to follow “Leave No Trace” principles and common-sense safety practices.

Park out of the way and know about necessary permits

“Where to park?” is the first question every car sleeper must answer. You can use travel apps like AllStays and Hipcamp, to figure out where you can stay legally and won’t be disturbed. Don’t forget to make sure that you are not blocking the way for others, and always have you’re required passes and permits you to need.

Setting up campsite

A night in the car can be as cozy as a night at your home. After finding a place that is safe and secure and also allows overnight camping and parking, you can set up camp in a flat-shaded spot.

Charge your electronics

It can be a hassle to keep your electronics charged while you are on the road. You can plug your devices in, while the car is on. Or you can use a solar panel on the dashboard or a portable power device to keep all of your battery-powered items alive and well for the duration of your trip.

Keep food in a cooler

It takes a little time in the fresh air to have an appetite when you are car camping. Decide carefully which utensils and food you should bring on your adventure. You can consider taking a cooler to prevent perishables like meat, cheese, eggs, and milk from spoiling.

Question mark with idea text

Did you know?

In some cases, eating late at night might contribute to weight loss. But generally, you should avoid having a meal a few hours before sleeping. How many hours exactly? Read on and find out how many hours before bed should you stop eating.

Invest in a comfortable bed

The exciting part of sleeping in your car is that you don’t have to carry your bed on your back. So, you can spend lavishly on heavier, cushier mats, pillows and blankets. Choosing a plush air mattress can be almost as relaxing and convenient as your home. If you want you can check our article about the best air mattress brand and also which brands are good for camping.

You can decide to bring a compact camping pillow or just take a full-size. Keep in mind, cars can get just as cold as tents at night, so pack an insulated blanket like a temperature-rated sleeping bag.

Decide your own drive-in movie

You can make yourself get to unwind from a long drive by enjoying a movie on your smart device. You need to make sure to download your content of choice before your journey begins, as not every potential area has a good Wi-Fi connection.

Bring a headlamp

Reasons to bring a headlamp on the road? In the middle of the night when nature calls this will help you, also if you want to do a bit of, reading, organizing your stuff in the car, or hiking at dawn or dusk, bringing a headlamp or a hanging-lantern is a plus.

Staying clean

You need to be prepared before the road trip by purchasing all the necessary toiletry-kit. You can maintain your hygiene with this.

Build your shower

After a long hike or bike ride, a warm shower feels great. You can take that feeling on the road with you by building your own camp shower.

Wake up when and how you want to

Cars aren’t much good at blocking out light and sound. You can create privacy and keep the morning sun out of your face by using sheets, cordage or bungees to hang curtains on all windows and behind the front seats, to make a cozy-bedroom like feeling. Don’t forget to bring earplugs to prevent any late arrivals, early risers or restless partners from disturbing your sleep.


There you have all the basic info you need. We hope this article has really helped you enough. Don’t forget to read town/city rules and where they may have overnight parking spots. Sometimes, the Visitor’s Center has a section of parking for RVs and even if you are not in one, just park there. By following the above tips to turn your car into a safe and cozy mobile bedroom zone, but remember that a hotel or your house is always your top priority for a worry-free night’s sleep.

To concise what we have talked about above are given below:

  1. Things you should do while traveling
  2. Things you shouldn’t do while traveling
  3. Places you can park overnight and sleep inside your car
  4. How to sleep in a car during a road trip?


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