car camping

Car Camping: A Preparation Guide

As summertime reaches full swing, vacations and road trips are on the rise. This year, car camping is proving to be a popular, thrifty adventure for vacationers of all ages. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite tips for setting up your next car trip adventure.



Before setting out, know that not all vehicles are created equal when it comes to camping in your car. The best vehicles for camping out of are pickup trucks, vans, SUV’s, station wagons, and certain hatchbacks. Sedans and coupes aren’t the best for car camping because the lack of space will likely hinder the positive experience. Once determined, it’s crucial to thoroughly plan your trip, from the supplies you’ll bring to the places you’ll stop for the night. It’s very important to assemble a car camping kit that will set you up for any situation. Start with a cell phone, snacks, water, sleeping bag or sleeping pad, flashlight, batteries, and bug spray/bear spray.

Less is More

Organization is key when planning an undertaking like car-camping; don’t forget your transportation is also your sleeping quarters. Packing efficiently and bringing only the essentials will allow you to utilize your space effectively.



The major aspect of car-camping is building your sleeping quarters. If your vehicle affords you with enough space to fully extend in the back, then employing more complete bedding might be a luxurious option. For example, some adventurists like to use their rock climbing crash pads as a mattress, while others prefer old-school camping bedrolls and sleeping bags. Whatever feels most comfortable for you and fits within your space will be the right decision for you.


When sleeping in your car, it is very important to know the laws, restrictions, and safety of the places you stop for the night. Here are some essential tips to remember when bunking down for the night:

  • Know the laws – Before setting out, do your research on the areas in which you’ll be stopping, as every place differs in leniency. In general, it is ill-advised to sleep in residential areas, as this might scare the residents. You can park to sleep in most of the national forests for free, as well as almost every highway rest stop and Walmart parking lot. Whichever stop you decide on, make sure to call ahead to confirm the allowance and remember to be discreet, be courteous, and be clean.
  • Privacy Curtains – Because car-camping can leave you feeling a little exposed, many travelers opt to hang privacy curtains or bed sheets in their windows as they sleep, owing to the extra privacy this provides.
  • Crack a window – With the heat rising in the summer months, cracking a window while you sleep is an added safety measure, ensuring that you and your fellow sleepers have enough airflow throughout the night.
  • Safety – While sleeping in your car, make sure to be aware of your surroundings and figure out the safest places to kip up for the night. Keep your car keys within reach while sleeping, and keep the driver’s seat clear, in the case of an unexpected need to drive away quickly.


If well-researched and prepared for, camping out of your vehicle can be one of the most enriching travel experiences you can have. Not only does it save you money that can be used for more sight-seeing and travel adventures, but it allows you to appreciate the minimalist, nomadic lifestyle.