Is it Safe to Camp in Your Car?

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Is it Safe to Camp in Your Car?

If you spend a lot of time in your car when you are camping, it can start to feel like a second home. This is especially true if you are sleeping in your car when you are camping instead of using a tent. Why do people choose to sleep in their car when they are camping? For one, it does save costs on purchasing a tent and is more convenient while traveling.

When you are camping in your car, the great thing is that it can just be a place to sleep for you. If you bring some essentials for camping such as a camp stove, dishware, and food then you can spend the majority of your time enjoying nature and sleep in your car.

This way, you will be able to enjoy having some of the comforts of home with the benefits of being outdoors and camping. This also gives you the freedom to travel wherever you would like and spend the money on expensive lodgings, such as hotel rooms.

Additionally, if you are traveling and feeling sleepy, you can simply pull over into a campground and safely sleep in your car. This is great if you are one of those individuals that like waking up and going to sleep with the sun and does not place a lot of value on possessions. Before going camping with just your car to sleep, one thing should be addressed:

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?

The legality of sleeping in your car can depend on the county that the campground is in. In cities, sleeping in your car may be banned in an aim to lower the homeless population. However, the same laws and rules don’t necessarily apply when you are out camping in the wilderness.

However, to avoid any type of run-ins with the local police or the law, it is always a good idea to check with the municipalities for the region if sleeping in your car is allowed for that particular county. It should be noted as well that several states will allow overnight parking at a rest stop, while some do not.

To be safe, if you plan on camping in your car overnight it would be a good idea to do so in an actual campground. Or, a designated camping area will work as well; as long as it is alright for campers or RV’s to stay there overnight, then you should be fine. Outside of cities, you most likely won’t run into any sort of trouble with the law; with the exception of highway patrol if you are sleeping in your car just off the road.

If you feel like you are getting sleepy when traveling to your next camping destination, planning ahead would be advised. Additionally, knowing the camping areas that are on your way will allow you to further decide where you will be staying for the night while giving you peace of mind.

Is it Safe to Sleep in Your Car?

Even though criminals won’t generally target someone who is sleeping in their car (and you are far more likely to encounter anyone like this while camping), you can still feel vulnerable. The good news, however, is that there are precautions that you can take while you are camping from your car that you can take in order to give yourself some peace of mind. As you sleep in your car, you will want to make sure that there is also proper ventilation. This can be easily done by cracking one or two windows, or opening the sunroof (if you have one).

There are two main ways to protect yourself when you are camping in your car that experts suggest:

  • Camouflage Yourself – this can be done in a variety of different ways; with tinted windows, blankets or tarps, and possessions pulled up around you. Basically, anything that will make it appear like there is not a person that is vulnerable when they are asleep will help to keep you safe. This is less of an issue when you are camping in the wilderness, but should still be addressed depending on your surroundings.
  • Choose a Safe Location – When you are camping in your car, you will want to try to pull in farther from the road as you can. If you are sleeping somewhere that isn’t considered to be designated for camping like a rest stop, make sure that you are close to a light or other vehicles.

There are other dangers to camping in your car that are not related to people. For instance, there was a case in New Jersey where a woman slept in her car in between her shifts at her three different jobs. According to the New York Times, there was one night in 2014 that she was asleep in her car as normal and a gas container tipped over. This filled the car with fumes that ended up killing her as she slept. Sleeping in your car with the engine can also cause dangerous fumes to fill the car, which can be fatal.

As long as you are aware of the potential hazards of sleeping in your car, you can easily avoid all of them. The most dangerous aspect will be from the fumes if your car is on or if there is no proper ventilation, as well as the people that are around you. Again, if you are camping you will be less likely to encounter anyone who seeks to cause you harm than you would if you are sleeping in your car in a populated area.