How To Camp In Your Car

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Camping is longed for; whether pitching a tent and embracing the outdoors or camping in your car, there are so many ways to switch off from the modern world and connect with nature. Camping in your car doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s about sticking to the basics, traveling light, and exploring roads untraveled.

Camping in your car requires enough space to sleep; this can be achieved by folding down the back seats in your car. You will also need to pack essentials like food, water, and clean clothing for camping. Reserve a spot in a campsite or national park or even stop at a rest stop to camp.

Although camping in your car may seem like an uncomfortable choice, there are a few ways you can save on space and make a comfortable bed. You can easily set up your vehicle to accommodate you comfortably for a camping trip. Whether you’re heading out early for a day of exploring and don’t have the time to pitch a tent, or maybe you’re short on packing space but still want to explore some state parks, car camping is an easy way to explore the outdoors.

What You Need To Know About Camping In Your Car

There are two ways to camp in your car. First-time campers usually grab some essentials, pack them in and go camping. Seasoned campers have their car kitted out to camp in.

Most people just pack the essentials for their camping trip and make sure they are comfortable sleeping in their car. The seasoned car campers usually modify some aspects of their car, including a makeshift bed, a tarp, and a few grocery organizers.

Although these make camping more comfortable, it’s more for avid campers and not usually for those trying car camping for the first time. If camping in your car, there are a few things to consider.

Find A Safe Place To Camp In Your Car

Finding a safe spot to camp in your car is at the top of the list. You’ll want to find a place that is quiet, safe, and offers privacy. Many apps offer a list of camping spots in your area for you to safely camp in; popular apps include The Dyrt, Wiki Camps, and HipCamp.

Keep Your Electronics Fully Charged

Keeping your electronics charged will help improve your camping trip. Some may be solar-powered lights, cameras or cellphones, and power banks. In case of emergencies, your phone will be available to call for help, and your solar lights will help guide you in the dark. If all these items are kept fully charged, they are ready to be used when needed or in an emergency.

Keep Food In Your Car In A Refrigerator Or Cooler

Suppose you don’t have a portable refrigerator. Then you might consider keeping your food in a coolerinside your car. This will help keep scavengers away while keeping perishable food items from going bad. Coolers can contain ice blocks to help keep the interior of the cooler cold and your food fresh.

Make A Comfortable Bed For Sleeping In Your Car

Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, and it’s no exception when camping in your car. Since you won’t be pitching a tent and carrying a bed, making a comfortable bed will help you get a good nights’ rest.

Insulated blankets will keep you warm, but you could also go for the average blanket and pillows, which will work well. Sleeping bags can also be used as an alternative to blankets; they are compact and won’t take up too much space and keep you warm. Additional mats or thin mattresses will make your bed a lot more comfortable, but these are not a requirement.

Open Windows For Ventilation

This may seem like an obvious car camping guideline, but it’s just as important as the others. Having a window open improves ventilation and prevents the car from collecting moisture and misting up. A great way to do this without allowing space for animals or insects to get in is by using some mesh in your windows.

Pack Wisely And Consider The Weather

Camping in your car requires you to pack wisely. Packing essentials first and then luxury items will ensure you have all you need to camp. Some cars may offer less packing space than others, so you’ll want to keep this in mind when packing. The weather is also important. You may need extra items and camping gear for heavy wind, rain, or snow.

Why Should You Camp In Your Car?

Camping in your car offers an easier option than pitching a tent. Sleeping in your car is warmer than a tent, cheaper, and safer. Since most cars have some form of insulation, sleeping in a car is slightly warmer than a tent. You will not have to purchase a tent when sleeping in a car, making camping a lot cheaper. Camping in your car is easier to set up, and you can sleep safely with locked doors.

What To Pack For Car Camping?

There are a few must-have items to pack when camping in your vehicle. Having all you need for your camping trip can make life easier. Strategically packing your camping items can save you space and allow more room to pack extra items. You want to keep to the basics but with room for luxury items that you may also want to pack in.

The recommended list of items to pack for camping in your car:

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Mattress or cushions
  • Pillows
  • Clothing
  • Stove
  • Lighter
  • Firewood
  • Food and water
  • Cooler
  • Plates, cups, bowls, and eating utensils
  • First aid kit
  • Lights and electronics
  • Toiletries

Places That You Can Car Camp

Car camping isn’t exclusively for campsites; there are a few other unusual places to camp in your car. A popular shopping destination that also allows parked cars to camp is Walmart. If you need to stop for the night and travel a long distance, Walmart isn’t the most idyllic camping spot but works well for an overnight stop.

Rest stops are an easy place to car camp overnight. If you can’t travel the entire distance to your next stop, they offer a convenient camping spot; they also have bathroom facilities which can be handy on long road trips.

BLM land offers camping for up to 14 days. You park overnight and camp if required as long as you are not infringing on trails or designated areas.

Traditional camping spots like campgrounds and Air BnB’s are probably the most popular places to camp. These are paid-for spots that allow you to camp in your car. National and state parks are also the go-to for camping in your car and exploring the outdoors.


If you love adventure and wanderlust, car camping is the perfect way to travel, explore and create new memories. Pack lightly or strategically leave room to make a comfy bed, bring camping essentials and a few luxury items to make the most out of your car camping trip.