Your Guide to Sleeping in a Car on a Road Trip

Your Guide to Sleeping in a Car on a Road Trip
Your guide to sleeping in the car on a road trip - Photo: Pixabay

Do you love road trips but always find yourself thinking that accommodation can be expensive? What if I told you that you can sleep in your car on a road trip and still save money and have a great story to tell?

I have been on the road for almost 10 years, and I love it. One of the things I learned recently is how to sleep in a car on a road trip. And of course, I want to share my knowledge with you. I mentioned above how sleeping in your car on a road trip is a great story to tell other people. Now I am the one telling the story in the form of tips and trips on the best way to sleep in a car on a road trip.

How to road trip and sleep in your car

First of all, this might seem overwhelming, but it works. Road trips can be cheap once you find out how to sleep during a road trip. Have you ever heard of the term "car camping"? It refers to camping inside your car rather than outside of it. And I do not mean a van or minivan, or a RV. I mean a simple car with 4 doors and 5 seats and a boot. There are some things to take in consideration such as hygiene, and safety.

Tips to Sleep in your Car on a Road Trip

Have your essentials with you

When I say essentials, I mean a blanket. Because sleeping in a car on a road trip means you will be in the cold in the middle of the night in a target parking area. A blanket does not take up a lot of space.

Have a sleeping mat

Getting a good night's sleep is very important, so having a sleeping pad will make the difference, because sleeping flat on the seat can be a bit uncomfortable. The sleeping pads are inflatable and lightweight.

Have a sleeping bag

Or instead of a sleeping pad and blanket, you could have a sleeping bag that allows you to be comfortable and warm.


Do not forget, part of having a good night's sleep is having a pillow. There are a few options for pillows, but it depends on your budget.


Make sure you bring an extra cover, you never know it may be colder than you expect!

Question: Is It Safe to Sleep in the Car

Yes, sleeping in your car is safe, according to my personal experience. Trust your instinct, move to a different location, lock your doors, and keep your keys close by if you find yourself in a strange-seeming location. Tell your loved ones where you are and leave the driver's seat empty. These are common essentials you need to do wherever you are.

Keep in mind to not tell a stranger that you are alone. Also, keep your valuables out of your sight.

Find a safe place to park

One of the challenges of sleeping in the car is that you can't just stop somewhere and doze off because you risk getting into trouble. It may not be permitted to sleep in the car in some locations, so it is preferable to choose a secure location like a department store, a religious building, a residence, or a shopping mall.

Since there are cameras and alarms present, and since nobody would try to vandalize a car parked near a place of worship or where they may be captured on camera, these are typically the safest areas to spend the night in your car.


Make sure you are covering your windows with some towels, because imagine waking up and having someone staring at you. That’s not a great way to start the day. But when you have the windows covered, you’ll feel more at ease.

Question: Do you need ventilation when sleeping in a car

Now the main question is, what about carbon monoxide poisoning? Can that happen? Many health experts suggest that you do not have your engine running while sleeping inside the car because of poor air quality and potential poisoning.

So, it's a serious problem. Many people who car camp keep a window cracked since they know that if they lock their cars up tightly, they would wake up sticky, musty, and disgusting. So that the vehicle can ventilate, slightly open the window, and you'll wake up feeling refreshed.

So the answer is, you need ventilation when sleeping in a car.

Question: What about comfort when sleeping in your car

Let’s deal with the fact that sleeping in the car is not really comfortable, but you can try your best to make it so. So, even if you don't have a pillow, a sleeping bag, or a blanket, you almost certainly have bags and clothes that can be used as pillows and blankets. And if you can fold down the back seats, you will be more comfortable than laying on a simple seat. Let's hope you didn't forget your sleeping eye mask, so you can make it nice and dark and you'll be fine.

What are some things you can do for sleeping in your car

  1. Leave a window crack for ventilation.
  2. Lock your doors and keep your keys nearby.
  3. Tell someone your location.
  4. Stay calm and do not presume every sound is a danger.
  5. Sleep in the so-listed safe areas.
  6. Make the place comfy.
  7. Keep things organized.
  8. Do not overthink it.
  9. Have a portable lamp?
  10. Don’t forget to bring some water with you.
  11. Don’t leave the engine running while you sleep.

The best memories are made when you travel and do things that are outside of your comfort zone. Because each trip has a story to tell, and each story has a listener, and the best things happen when you are spontaneous and adventurous. So start that road trip, sleep in your car, follow your heart, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery ahead of you. Life is full of ups and downs, but if adventure is too risky, consider routine. It is unquestionably lethal.

Road Trips > Beginners Guide > Sleeping in a Car on a Road Trip

About the Author

Gentiana Gjyshka
Gentiana Gjyshka

Gentiana Gjyshka, orignially from Albania is a traveller and a copywriter! You can connect with her on her LinkedIn account.