Close this search box.

What Is Stealth Camping? – Experts don’t want you to know this secret! (2024)

Finding a parking spot to stay, when living out of your vehicle, can be challenging as finances or geographic location can limit your options. In the article below we will go through stealth camping as an option and the associated risks with participating in the activity so you can decide if it is right for you.

What is stealth Camping?

Stealth Camping is a broad definition for camping in an area that is not typically designated as a campground. With the recent increasing costs of living, there has been a spike in the number of people stealth camping in major cities to make ends meet.

Stealth camping has been used as a way to avoid paying the site fees typically associated with camping, particularly for short durations. You will find a majority of stealth campers setup and use their vehicle to remain undetected.

What is the point of stealth camping?

Stealth camping is camping with the intention to stay overnight in an area unnoticed. There are many reasons people may choose to stealth camp, from wanting free accommodation when travelling to doing it out of necessity.

Is it illegal to stealth camp?

Stealth camping can be illegal depending on the area in which you decide to camp. The most common reasons for stealth camping to be illegal include; it violates the parking regulations of the area, you are trespassing & regional regulations against sleeping in vehicles.

Stealth camping comes with a risk of being caught, so if you are blatantly careless of the parking regulations in the area expect a knock from law enforcement.

If you are concerned about breaching the law make sure to check-out the relevant regulations for your particular area. For Australian residents make sure to checkout our article on the legality of living in your car for a break down of the regulations for each state.

Tips For Stealth Camping

If you do decide that stealth or urban camping may be right for you, here are some tips to do it as safely and inconspicuously as possible. The 4 biggest tips for a successful stealth camping include:

Avoid drawing unnecessary attention

As the name suggests you do not want to draw unwanted attention to yourself when you are stealth camping, as this defeats the purpose of being ‘stealthy’. Having a non conspicuous vehicle that doesn’t scream “someone is sleeping in here” is important, so be sure to avoid bright colors or creating a ton of noise.

Having visible lights on inside of you vehicle can also draw unwanted attention, so make sure to use interior lights to a minimum or reduce the visibility of these to passerby’s. Making block out blinds are a great way to avoid detection from using lights, for more information checkout our article on car window privacy options.

Find the right location

Finding a good parking spot can make a huge difference when it comes to successfully stealth camping. Make sure you are following the street parking signs/ regulations for the area you are staying in to avoid that dreaded knock on the window in the middle of the night or your vehicle being towed.

24hr commercial parking lots are a great option for parking as it is not uncommon for vehicles to be in these lots at all times of the day. Gyms, Walmart carparks, Casinos and some apartment complexes offer good parking spaces and are often monitored by security.

Avoid Long Stays

Stealth campers often turn up late and leave early to avoid detection, staying for multiple days at a time in the same location can also draw suspicion. If you are planning on staying in the same area for a longer period of time having 3-4 go to overnight parking spots is ideal to alternate between.

Always Be Ready to Move

Always being prepared to drive away is important when stealth camping. Avoid ‘setting up camp’ like pulling out awnings or camp chairs on the exterior of your vehicle, not only does this draw attention, it makes it difficult to leave in a hurry.

If there is suspicious activity outside of your vehicle or you believe you may have been noticed or reported move to a new spot, always follow your gut feeling!

Risks of Stealth Camping

Stealth camping is inherently risker than staying in a designated campground or truck stop overnight adding an unpredictable to your stay. Knowing the potential risks can help mitigate the risk and keep you as prepared as possible to stay safe.

Getting caught

Getting caught stealth camping is bound to happen if you draw to much attention to yourself or are parking in a restricted area. Whether its law enforcement, security guards or property owners it is always best practice to be as polite as possible in the situation.

Most of the time if it is your first time being caught they question what you are doing and will likely ask you to move on. Although his can be annoying, keeping the situation calm and moving on is best to avoid any escalation.

Fines or vehicle being towed

If you are choosing to park on private or public property that does not allow for overnight parking you are at risk of receiving a fine or your vehicle being towed or impounded. Most areas will have street signage notifying you of the legalities of parking there however some areas have blanket rulings. It is important to read up on the parking rules of the area you choose to stay in.

Vehicle brake Ins

With the rise in people living out of their cars, vehicles that are obviously setup to live in from the exterior can be a target for theft. Keeping valuables out of sight and choosing a parking spot as safe as possible are the best deterrents.

It is important to have a plan or a form of self protection in the event of a brake in. Legal firearms, tasers and or pepper spray are great options if your state permits .


Stealth camping can come with inherent risk so it is important to be aware of the risks before you decide to partake. For more information on staying safe when living in your car or van make sure to read our guide on The dangers of living in your vehicle. You can also read TomsBikeTrip on his wild experiences and lessons learnt from stealth camping.


Can you stealth camp in hotel parking lot?

Yes, stealth camping can be done basically anywhere and hotel parking lots are no exception. If you are looking to stealth camp in a hotel parking lot make sure to read the parking regulations. Some hotels will require a parking permit to park in their lot, without one you are at risk of being towed.

How do you shower while stealth camping?

Gyms, truck stops, public pools & camp showers are all excellent options to shower when stealth camping. All of these are options are usually low cost or free and are a great way to stay hygienic when on the road. Worse case scenario access to a sink and a clean pair of underwear can get you out of trouble.

What is the best vehicle for stealth camping?

Vans make excellent vehicles for stealth camping as they can easily blend in and provide plenty of interior space. Small commercial vans like Ford Transits, Mercedes sprinters & Ram Cargo vans are all popular options for making a stealth camping set-up.

What do I need for stealth camping?

Basic stealth camping setups can be as simple as a car, bed and some window coverings or as complex as fitted out commercial vans with kitchens and showers. The key thing for stealth camping is staying under the radar and not drawing attention to yourself.


  • 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.

    View all posts