Can I Sleep In My Car At A Campsite: Some Things to Consider

Every camper’s dream is to cut down on camping costs yet still have an excellent experience exploring all that the world has to offer. Wouldn’t it be fun to shove in your sleeping bag in your car, pick up your camping gear, and go? Being able to sleep in your car at a campsite is one of the critical steps to making travel cheaper without taking the fun out of it. Nevertheless, you have to be sure whether it would be acceptable to sleep in your car at a camping site.

Can I sleep in my car at a camping site? Provided you have secured a camping spot and paid the necessary fees, you can comfortably sleep in your car at a camping site without looking over your back. At least that is true for most camping sites.

Camping sports are relatively cheap; they will not set you so much back financially. Of course, some people sleep in their cars in areas that are not designated individual camping spots, but then they have to deal with many inconveniences, including rangers randomly tapping on their windows at odd hours.

The Most Suitable Cars to Sleep In While At a Campsite

The choice of a car to sleep in is important if you expect to have the utmost fun while camping. While most camping spots are accessible by two-wheel drives, there is a higher likelihood for two-wheel power to let you down on dirt roads. That said, the following cars are the most suitable for this particular purpose.

Station Wagon, SUV, Minivan, and Sedan

These cars are sure to help you get the job done. So long as you can lay down your seats, nothing can stop you from having a good sleep in your car while camping. And the bigger the car, the more space you have to sleep.

Camper Vans

Since camper vans are specifically designed for camping, they not only have more space, but also the majority of the basic items you would need. You can add a bed, lights, and storage. If getting a camper van sounds like a long shot, you may consider converting your usual van into a camper van.

A Pickup Truck That Has Truck Tops

Truck tops are also known as camper tops. They are hard shells that you easily fit above the bed of your pickup truck. The best thing about them is they are inexpensive, which is a plus if you are car camping on a budget.

These pickup truck beds have plenty of sleeping space for one or two people. Moreover, they are sure to give you ample protection for various elements as well as the necessary privacy.

With pickup trucks, you can camp anywhere you wish. Furthermore, a good number of pickup trucks boast of the capability to handle dirt roads or the prevailing adverse conditions at your campsite.

Truck tops are usually built according to the specific model of your truck. You can obtain them from various after-market retailers.

Camping Trailers

If you do not have a problem towing your camper, you certainly have access to different options: they range from durable trailers to lightweight tent campers. You will need a car that is capable of towing and a trailer hitch. Usually, most vendors of camping trailers will be more than willing to take you through the capabilities of the car and ascertain that they have installed enough hitch.

Car Campers

This concept is relatively new. It features fabricated bed frames located in the rear luggage compartment with storage space underneath. There is a double bed and lift up lids that give you access to the storage area. As if that is not enough, you have the necessary equipment for traveling and camping in a campsite or the bush.

Class A Motorhomes

They are based on a bus or truck chassis. Also, they can either derive their power from diesel or gasoline. They boast of being the largest RV available. The priciest models may go for over $1M and give brick-and-mortar homes a run for their money in terms of price and luxury. Some simpler models feature a water system, electrical system, and LPG.

Class B Motorhomes

Class B Motorhomes are also referred to as conversion vans. More often than not, they are passenger vans converted to be used for camping or other uses. Generally, you will find them from Ford and GM dealers. There is also a Volkswagen van known as T5 California. It has a gas cooker, sink, and fridge.

Vans are also available from after-market vendors who specialize in converting them. One of the main benefits of having class B RVs is they drive much like passenger cars and are simpler to steer on city streets. Some even have 4-wheel drive, which makes them more appealing to users who prefer this feature.

Class C Motorhomes

Class C Motorhomes are considered mid-sized RVs. They have an attractive cab design that features sleeping quarters or additional entertainment centers. They can take up to eight people. They have electrical systems, water systems, and LPG. You can have them outfitted beautifully like the majority of motorhomes and recreational vehicles.

Most Class C motorhomes feature slide-outs, which help to increase their living and sleeping space. Some even contain fridges, microwave ovens, and cooktops.

How to Stay Comfortable While Sleeping In Your Car at a Campsite

Sleeping in your car can be way more comfortable compared to a tent if you get it right. It offers more protection from rain and wind, you are above the ground, and it provides better soundproof.

Beds and Beddings

The best car to camp in is one with a relatively flat floor or removable backseats. Cars that have larger hatchbacks are better suited for camping compared to those with basic boots. With a good backseat bed, you are good to go.

There isn’t much need to purchase a sleeping bag. My favorite is the Revalcamp Sleeping Bag, which is available on Amazon. The right duvet will give you more warmth and better flexibility to move around.

Alternatively, you could give sleeping bag hybrids — for instance, the Vaude Navajo — a try. It is an excellent multipurpose option; though you might have to incorporate an insulated jungle blanket to give extra protection during winter camping. Pillows, self-inflating mats, mattress toppers, sleeping pods, and more are also critical essentials.


The storage box option is perfect for under mattresses since you can configure it in so many ways. It also provides plenty of space for all your belongings. Besides, it is simple to convert the car-camper to a regular car when the need to carry people rises.

Ikea boxes are also functional, though you have to ensure they are sturdy enough for your needs. Really Useful Boxes are perfect when it comes to the broadest range of sizes and ultimate strength. The best boxes to go for are the see-through ones, so there is less likely to lose your stuff.

Ventilation, Pests, and Heating

In case your camping coincides with cold weather — or you deliberately plan it out to do so — be sure to carry thermos flasks with hot water to put in hot water bottles or for quick meals. I am totally in love with the Takeya 50012. You can find it on Amazon.

Another trick to get warm is to layer clothes. Do not hesitate until you are cold before tucking yourself under your duvet or layer clothes. It is more difficult to warm up once you get cold. Set heaters such as the comfort control electric blanket will also offer some bit of pleasant heat.

Light and Privacy

One of the best lights for camping is LED. You can recharge them — or leave them running — using a USB adapter via the 12V socket. You have a wide range of options to pick from; from bright reading lights to fairy lights that will create that lovely atmosphere.

A good example is the foldable TOMOL Super Bright LED Lamp, which you can purchase from Amazon. You can use it both on the road and at home. It is touch-sensitive and comes with three brightness settings. If you do not wish to be abruptly woken up in the middle of the night, you can create some privacy (or dark).

Sunshades will work well for this purpose. Install them on the windscreens (both front and back). Some also have side blinds. That is a plus. You can create a few curtains or blackout blinds for your side windows using suction pads and fabric. If you have an unlined car or one whose doors have metal surrounds, you can also use magnets.

Another alternative is to use tailored sunshades with a Correx or Proplex cut-out sheet held behind to create total darkness. Also, pack earplugs and eye masks for extra peace and comfort throughout the night. The best thing about them is they do not take up much space.

Hygiene and Water

In most campsites, you will have access to toilets and showers, though you should still prepare on how to manage when you lack these facilities.

Water Supply

Make sure to carry along a portable water vessel and get a refill whenever possible. When you go for longer trips, take advantage of the facilities in leisure centers, pubs, and more; or intersperse your campsite stays.

There is a vast selection of water storage options. Just make sure they are BPA-free. You can also pack a few water-purifying tablets for an emergency. You may be forced to fetch water from sources that not entirely clean.


When it comes to showers, you can take the route of homemade options or consider portable showers. Nonetheless, you need to be in a warm environment to make these choices work for you.

An excellent option is to pour warm water in a bucket, then use the pump to generate some good pressure for a decent shower.

How to Stay Safe Sleeping At a Car Campsite

Try not to sleep in your car at a location where you do not feel safe. For instance, if you feel unsafe at a neighborhood or campsite, it is better not to stay there at all. Perhaps you may not be attacked at all, but you may get so worried that you do not get enough sleep the whole night.

It is normal to be afraid, but that does not mean you should risk your life. Even if it means paying for a spot at a camping site at the eleventh hour, do it. Your safety is the number one priority.

If you are camping on a budget or trying to save a buck, you may consider sharing a spot with other campers. Some campsites allow several people per site, so you may have some chance with this technique. If the campsite is predominantly filled with young people, that is even better. Chances are high they will struggle with paying the fees, hence the likelihood of welcoming a deal to split the charges. You can always say you are stationed in one of the sites — for which you have paid — when queried by the rangers patrolling the area.

Final Thoughts

Car camping is a new concept that is gaining popularity by the day. It greatly reduces the costs when out camping without killing the fun. The increased level of convenience and affordability is much welcome, especially since the economy is not getting any better.

Any campsite that allows in cars should not have a problem with you sleeping in your car, so long as you have catered for the site’s fees. But it does just stop with acquiring permission. Go ahead and determine how you can make the whole experience safe, fun, satisfying, and more. Gather all the essentials and store them nicely well before the trip.

If you make proper plans in advance, you will be in for a fantastic experience. Otherwise, you will regret every bit of the trip and get worked up for nothing. Camping is the time to let loose and have fun. You deserve it. Be deliberate with having everything in order, and you will remember the trip for years to come. Finally, have the right car — and make sure it is in excellent condition —, buy and stock all the essential items, and then drive away and have a good time.

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