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When it comes to camping at a campsite, you can often be exposed to the elements, separated from the wind and the rain by only a thin sheet of canvas.

But is there a way you can escape to the comfort of your vehicle on a campsite?

Campsites have many rules and you might be forgiven for wondering if you can even sleep in your car during the night. The good news is, most of the time you can. However, how can you get a decent night’s sleep in your car?

How long can you sleep in your car? How can you sleep with your personal belongings? How much water will you need to bring? How can you keep heated and illuminated in your car?

Well, if you want the answer to these questions and a lot more, we would suggest that you keep reading.

Why Camp At A Campsite?

Why Camp At A Campsite?

One of the reasons that you might camp at a campsite is that it is simply much more comfortable, although this will all depend on the size of the car. If you have the leg room and you don’t feel cramped, then why not?

If you are driving in a smaller car, then it might not be desirable for you to stay overnight in your vehicle, however, if you have an RV or a camper van, then these things are specifically designed for people to sleep in.

Also, we all know how uncomfortable camping can be. And while you might enjoy sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors, you might not enjoy the cold and dampness that sometimes comes with it.

This is why car sleeping can be a wonderful halfway house.

Setting up a tent can be quite difficult too. A car is a ready-made tent with durable sides and a decent heating source. You can even open the back of the camper van, so on a warm night you’ll still feel the breezy night air.

But what safety and comfort measures should you take to make sure you get through the whole night sleeping in your camper?

What To Bring When Sleeping In Your Car?

If you are going to be sleeping in your car, then you’ll need to make sure that you have a decent air mattress and sleeping bag. This way, you’ll be sure that you’re warm enough to sleep.

Having a sleeping bag will also be very handy if you do not want to be running the eating all night. Remember that running the heater will run down your battery pretty quickly.

Another thing you might need is a light. If you are trying to read or even eating your dinner, you’ll probably need a flashlight during the night to see what you are doing.

How Can You Camp For Free?

This is all a matter of finding the right campsite that will be able to accommodate tent, RV and small vehicle camping. Luckily, most campsites offer this facility.

Often with camping that accommodates parking, there’ll be plenty of amenities such as fresh drinking water, a fire pit and somewhere where you can freshen up in the morning.

However, you might have trouble finding a decent camping site for you and your car during the spring and summer seasons, as this will be the time that most people want to go vacationing in their car.

There is a handy trick to getting around this that not many people know.

Most national parks in the US offer camping for free. This type of camping is called ‘dispersed camping’ and, although it will not offer any of the basic amenities, you will be able to stay there for absolutely nothing at all.

You’ll be able to stay in your car like this for around 16 days. This is great if you are planning on living off the land, going long-distance hiking or even just backpacking for a few days.

If you are curious as to the restrictions that this type of camping will offer, then you should make sure that you contact the local park warden or forest ranger to make sure that you have everything that you’ll need.

How Can You Best Pack Your Car?

You won’t have to worry about your car being able to bear the load of your gear, but you will need to make sure that you have everything with you and that you don’t lose any gear on the way.

Here are a few things that we would recommend you bear in mind when you are packing for your trip:

  1. Water – you’ll need to remember to pack a lot of bottled spring water. This stuff is not only great for drinking, but you can also use it for cooking or boiling the kettle. Water also comes in handy for cleaning and brushing your teeth. This will be essential if you are camping in a national park where there are no amenities.
  2. Trash bags – if you are staying in a national park, then the rules will suggest that you take your rubbish with you. If you get caught littering, then you could face a hefty fine.
  3. First aid kit – again, being stuck in the middle of nowhere after suffering an injury could be very dangerous. If you can do some basic emergency first aid on-site, then this could save you a trip to the hospital.
  4. Blankets – when it comes to keeping warm, then you can’t go wrong with blankets. It might not always be possible to start a fire, so make sure that you have plenty of warm woolen blankets.
  5. Firelighters – if you are going camping then it is more than likely that you’ll want to start a fire, either to keep you warm or to sit around it with your friends roasting marshmallows.


We hope that our guide to camping in your car has helped you decide whether or not to do it on your next vacation, either alone or with your family and friends.

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