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7 Expert Tips to Safely and Comfortably Sleep in your car

Whatever your reason is for sleeping in your car, having a comfortable sleep whilst remaining safe is important. Whether its just for one night or a long term stint or trip here are several tips for a comfortable sleep in your car. From parking & hygiene to staying warm, we’ve outlined a few of the most important things to consider in detail below.

Sleep in your car

1. Find a safe space to park

Finding a safe space to legally park your car, van or truck is crucial for both peace of mind and ensuring you aren’t towed or fined for staying overnight. There are plenty of free options available to get you through a night or two with some more geared towards long term stays. Below we’ve outlined a few of the best places for you to stay in your vehicle.

Where is the safest place to sleep in your car?

Rest Stops/ Gas Stations

Rest stops are great for living nomadically in your vehicle as they are often found close to highways & interstate roads. They often come with amenities available to use including toilets, showers & tables which are great to get out and stretch your legs. As rest stops are free for public use you can expect not to be disturbed or kicked out when staying overnight.

sleep in your car


Most casinos, especially in Vegas, are open 24/7 with little restriction on the extent of your stay. Most casino staff/ security will assume you are there to gamble and will not pay too much attention to the extent of your stay. It is important to not draw unwanted attention as this is in most cases private property and can ask you to leave. Casinos are not ideal for long term stints, however are great for one or two nights in an emergency.

Walmart/ Shopping Centre Parking Lots

Walmart car parks are another great place to stay for free overnight in your vehicle. With about half of all Walmart’s allowing overnight parking makes it a great option for when you are in a pinch. It is important to follow signage directions with most signaling ‘no over night parking’ or similar.

Most carparks are well lit with security guards making this an excellent and safe option for staying. Restrooms are also easily accessible inside, with some stalls offering free wi-fi. Most Walmart staff are polite and friendly however it is important to not overstay your welcome and try to limit your stay to 1 to 2 nights in a row.

Camp Sites

Campgrounds are another great option for a safe stay in your vehicle over night, with access to amenities and in some cases plug in power. A majority of camp sites are pay to use which can add up quick for long stays; however there are some free campsites available. A potential downside to camp sites other than the cost is that they are often far away from urban areas which can be difficult if you have work commitments.

2. Install a privacy screen

Privacy plays a major role in both the comfort and safety when sleeping in your car. Having easy to see through windows can draw unwanted attention to yourself and your belongings. Installing a privacy screen on your windows is the quickest way to protect you and your valuables.

Privacy screens can be as simple as putting up sheets around windows to making custom fitted covers. For more information and tips on making a privacy screen make sure to check out our guide on car window privacy options. Any of these options will allow you to rest comfortably knowing you are out of sight for prying eyes.

3. Maintaining hygiene in your car

It is important to still maintain your hygiene and cleanliness regardless of where you are living as this can directly affect your appearance and mitigate your risk of illness. With space being one of the major limitations in your vehicle camping set-up access to water for washing hands/ shower and toilet amenities aren’t always easy to access.

Showering in your car

With the limited amount of space in your car smells can become overwhelming fast, including B.O. Having a regular shower is the best way to stay clean and fresh as deodorant can only help for so long. A gym membership can give you access to a hot shower every night of the week and is great for nomadic vehicle campers if your a member of a national chain.

Portable showers are another alternative, however can be a struggle when finding a place to use them out of the public eye in smaller set ups. In a worst case scenario a good wet wipe can help you feel clean but is not a long term solution.

sleep in your car

Toilets for car camping

Having an emergency toilet available for use whilst living in your car is critical for when you don’t have access to public amenities. There are plenty of portable toilet options for both number 1’s & number 2’s from Portaloo’s to disposable toilets. For a full list of options make sure to see our article on ‘Toilet Options for Car Camping’.

4. Bedding for living in your car

Just like sleeping on a regular bed it is great to have a mattress, sheets/ blankets and pillows to ensure you get the best sleep possible. With most vehicles being unable to fit a regular style mattress, finding alternative mattress options can save your back from sleeping on regular car seats or folded down rear seats.

Custom fitted rear seat inflatable mattresses are a medium term option but can become uncomfortable with prolonged use and not ideal for taller people. For the most basic of setups having a sleeping bag and a pillow can be a saving grace for a couple of nights but not a great long term solution as advised by Sleep Foundation.

5. Keeping your car warm or cool

With weather extremities both hot and cold, staying at a comfortable temperature for sleeping can be a challenge. In most cases keeping cool can be as simple as cracking a window or using an interior fan (USB or 12volt). Location also plays a large role in the temperature of your car, parking in a shady or undercover spot prior to night time can also cool it down.

Keeping warm is also important in colder months with plenty of quick and cheap options for maintaining a comfortable sleeping climate. Sleeping bags and multiple layers along with insulating your windows are the best way to retain heat quickly. For a full list of essentials for sleeping in your car in winter make sure to check-out our guide here.

6. Letting people know your location

Letting friends or family know your general location or where you plan to be where and when is a great way to stay safe when living in your car. This is super important when travelling nomadically or in dangerous areas with extreme climates just as snowy areas prone to blizzards. A quick text or phone call letting others know when you are expected to arrive/ leave a location is the best way to avoid an emergency.

sleep in your car

7. Keep your car clean

Just like a house or apartment, keeping your living/ sleeping space clean can make for a much better nights sleep. A tidy and organized car can help make the most out of your comfort and is a great way to avoid having to dig through junk to find the essentials in the dark.

With the confined space of your vehicle odors can become a large problem quickly, keeping rubbish and clutter out of your car can reduce smells and attract pests. A tidy car will also draw less attention when parked in public spaces and stop passerby’s asking questions.

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more tips on living the auto dweller lifestyle make sure to checkout our other articles below.


  • Zaara

    Zaara, a kindred spirit of the open road, has nurtured a deep-seated love for RV travel since her childhood. Journeying with her parents, she learned early on to cherish the little things that make life rich and fulfilling. This emotional depth and appreciation for simplicity have become the cornerstone of her life philosophy. A firm believer in the idea that true happiness is found in nature's embrace, Zaara continues this legacy of exploration alongside her husband, Augustus. Her passion extends beyond landscapes to the joy of connecting with life's purest forms - the unconditional love of dogs and the innocence of babies. These connections reflect her nurturing soul and emotional acuity. Zaara is also a culinary enthusiast, delighting in creating meals that blend flavors from their travels, infusing each dish with memories and love. Her expertise lies in living fully, finding joy in every moment, and inspiring others to seek happiness in life's simple, natural wonders.

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