While tent camping with your loved ones has its perks, it might not be the ideal option when you’re planning on a hiking trip and you need to be at the start of the trail at dawn. In such situations, you must camp in your car the previous night so you can start your trek as soon as the sun comes up.

You should be able to camp out comfortably in your vehicle be it a Mini Cooper, a Honda Fit, a Chevrolet Colorado, or similar trucks. If your vehicle is suitable enough to bring you to your adventurous spot, it should be able to provide a comfortable space for you to camp at night.


Practical Tips On How To Camp In Your Car

Look For A Flat Spot To Park

How To Camp In Your Car

Parking your car in a flat, shaded spot is crucial for a restful night. If you’re already sleepy by the time you reach your location you may be prone to simply park in the closest empty spot in the middle of a parking lot.

But that’s certainly not the way to go. To figure out whether a spot is flat, just place a filled water bottle at the back of your car. If the water line is flat, you’ve got yourself a flat spot.

Follow The Permits You Need To Park Your Car

When you’re parking your car overnight to camp out, you must make sure that you’re not blocking the way for other cars so make sure you have all the necessary passes or permits portrayed on the front of your car.

Before you start your journey, you can look for free and paid parking spots in apps like HipCamp.

Bring The Essentials

Even though camping in the car may not ensure the exact experience as camping in a tent, you must bring essentials that will help you get through the night. Food, water, blankets, lighter, medications, insect repellent, and a first aid kit are necessary.

However, there’s a lot more you should bring and that depends on your needs and preferences. But without them, you’ll surely not be able to function in a dark parking lot throughout the night. 

Bring Comfortable Bedding 

Even if you don’t think so, a comfortable air mattress is a must-have while camping in your car. Just spreading sheets of cloth to pass the night is just going to lead to sore muscles in the morning.

To add to that you should also bring a compact pillow or just a full-size pillow. Plus, insulated blankets will be your best friend as the temperature drops at night.

Set Up Your  Camp Gear

After you’ve parked your car in a flat spot, it’s time to set up your camp gear. Make sure that the rear of your car is cleaned out beforehand so you can start placing the air mattress and blankets covering the floor.

You can then set up electronics as well as essential appliances on each corner on the inside of the car depending on your preference. If you’ve brought foldable chairs you can place them right outside your car to sit and relax in before you get too sleepy.

Set Up A Bug Screen

If you’re camping in your car in summer, you must invest in bug nets so that you can keep your windows open for minimum ventilation. You can either invest in bug screens or go for a mosquito net if you’re on a budget.

Another convenient option is ready-made bug nets for car windows. No matter whichever route you go for, you’ll be able to bug-free sleep in your car.

Sleep Facing The Back Exit Of The Car

How To Camp In Your Car

Sometimes you may not find a flat spot to park your car so you’re bound to position the vehicle at an angle especially if it’s a hilly area. In that case, you should put your head on the front side of the car making sure that your head is above your feet if not at the same level.

Plus, this way you can maximize the elbow space while sleeping because the majority of the cars have wheel wells at the rear.

Keep Food In A Cooler

You’ll most likely have perishable food items like meat, eggs, and cheese especially if you’re planning to hike the next morning. Therefore, you must store them in a cooler so you have fresh ingredients to cook meals with once you reach your final camping destination the next day.

Bring A Hanging Lantern Or A Headlamp

Your campsite inside your car is not going to illuminate itself in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, you should bring your own source of light. Battery-powered hanging lanterns or headlamps are great for brightening up the interior of the car so that you can eat, play games, or read a book.

Also, it’ll come in handy when nature calls in the middle of the night. In addition to those, you can hang up LED lights that will help to create a cozy ambiance inside your car.

Make Sure All Your Electronics Are Charged

You should fully charge all your electronic devices before you leave your house. Even if you can charge them in your car when you’re on the road it won’t be possible throughout the night.

Another option is to use a portable charger or a solar panel to charge all your battery-powered devices such as phones, tablets, cameras, etc. The idea is to make sure at least one of your communication devices is constantly usable given that you might face many uncertainties.

Clean As You Go

When you’re in a confined space it’s bound to get dirty easily especially if you’re having meals or snacks and not disposing of them in a trash bag. Instead of scattering your sleeping space with unwanted litter, clean the area frequently so it doesn’t end up staying dirty by the time you’re too sleepy to clean.

Also, keep a toiletry kit with you which includes face wash, sanitizer, wet wipes, etc.

Create A Drive-In Movie

The time between a long drive to your car-camping spot to the tiresome hike the next morning should be utilized to unwind. The best way to do so is to create your drive-in movie.

You just need to make sure that one or two of your favorite movies are downloaded to your smart device so you can enjoy it by yourself or your friends. In this case, Wi-Fi isn’t an option as you don’t know how good or bad the service is in your chosen spot.

Final Words                          

Even if you’re not used to the van life, you should be able to camp out in your car for a night. While it may not be as comfortable as camping in a tent, it’s still better than reaching your destination and simply sitting in the car the whole night just because you’ve got to start hiking in the dawn. As long as you follow all the tips mentioned in this article, you and your group of friends or family should have an amazing time camping in your car.


You can also read: Camping For Beginners: Detailed Guide – State Camper

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