As a musician who tours constantly it’s inevitable that I’m going to have to sleep in my car. When I was traveling around for The Light Nearby Project, producing electronic music about each city I visited, I mostly stayed in my car because of how much traveling I had to do (note: my album is shown on the right). There were numerous techniques that I developed to sleep in my car safely and without any worry. All of these techniques I’ve personally used and, for the most part, created on my own. In addition I have numerous videos to demonstrate all the techniques being used.
Type of Vehicle
The type of vehicle you have is one of the biggest factors to sleeping safe and sound. If you have an RV, for example, you don’t really have much to worry about compared to sleeping in a regular sedan. Most of these techniques will be tailored to sleeping in a van or car, as it’s a lot more tricky, but things like finding parking are important for any vehicle.
Before you get ready to sleep you have to find parking first. Unless you’re only taking a 20 minute nap during the day you’re going to have to find overnight parking. After touring and traveling around, here are my 7 places to park overnight.
This may be more difficult in a city but Neighborhoods are best. If you do live in a city, don’t worry – sometimes all you have to do is drive 10-15 minutes outside of it and then you’re all set.
2. 24 Hour Stores
You have to be careful about this one, because each place is different, but 24 hour stores are a great place to park overnight. It really depends on the 24 hour store because you’re more likely to have a car parked for longer at a restaurant that CVS, for example. A great place to check out too is 24 hour gyms, because it’s more common for someone to leave their car there for a couple hours (so the security is more lenient).
NOTE: You can not park at every Walmart overnight – each Walmart is completely different. It’s extremely important to call the Walmart ahead of time to ask. A great app that I use is Camp & RV which shows places you can park around the country and it also shows you every Walmart that allows overnight parking.
4. Parking Garage
Parking Garages are everywhere but they usually cost money. A perfect app for finding cheap (or free!) garages is ParkMe. For example, when I was in Austin, TX, I found a parking garage on ParkMe that was free on weekends (this made my life a lot easier!).
Every hotel is different but depending on the hotel they might not monitor the parking lot because they can’t tell if you have a rental car, are a visitor, etc. Some hotels only have valet parking while others require a parking pass so it all depends. Always double check or call the hotel ahead of time.
6. Business Lots
This is definitely the trickiest of them all. Sometimes a business, even if it’s not open 24/7, will have no security checking their lot overnight. I would 100% suggest talking to the owner beforehand but this can really come in handy as a last resort. There were numerous times while traveling around that I was able to work out a deal with the owner and it definitely made it easier.
7. Apartment Complexes
Every complex is different but most apartment complexes have a “visitors” section that you can park at for free. It can be tricky though because some require you to have a visitors pass while others don’t require anything.
Here is a video of me explaining each place more in-depth and the techniques of finding parking overnight.
Preparing Your Car
Now that you’ve found a place to park overnight it’s time to prepare your car for sleeping. The ultimate goal, which isn’t too surprising, is to make sure no-one knows you’re sleeping in your car. This is a lot harder for a sedan but it isn’t impossible – there are a lot of different techniques you can use.
Here is an instructional video of me preparing my van to sleep. The car in this video is the Ford Transit – but these techniques can be used for any vehicle. Below this video I describe everything too.
Here are all the products I mentioned in the video if you want to check them out:
Front & Back Window Shade: Amazon Link
Side Window Shade: Amazon Link
Car Mattress designed for sleeping in a Sedan (2 or 4 Door Vehicle): Amazon Link
Small Mattress that I use in my car: Amazon Link
Soft Black Blanket: Amazon Link
Memory Foam Pillow: Amazon Link
Key Technique Points
Make sure that once you park your car that you don’t leave it. If you have to exit the car I would suggest driving around and then coming back or finding another spot – it looks a lot more sketchy to people when you enter your car and don’t leave than parking and not leaving.
2. Sleeping Comfortably
While I was traveling around I slept like a baby no matter where I went. The mattress that I put in my van was a small mattress that was extremely comfortable. If you have a 4 door sedan, you can purchase a sedan mattress that’s specifically designed for you to sleep in your backseat.
3. Sound & Sight
It isn’t a bad idea at all to buy a face mask & ear plugs. You can get some for extremely cheap and it can really go a long way to help you sleep better when there is so much going on around you. Side Note: My favorite ear plugs are Ear Peace.
4. Blocking Views
A huge piece for safety is just making sure that you have all viewpoints blocked. Unless your car is tinted or you have panels (like my van in the video) you will most likely have to use an obstruction so people don’t see you. Numerous ideas that you can use are business clothes, sun guards (my personal favorite), poster boards, and boxes. Towels/sheets might easily cover your window but you run into the risk of it giving you more attention (towels covering windows usually are an indictor that you’re homeless).
Bonus: Avoiding Tolls
I’m not sure what you’re exact reason is for sleeping in your car but most people do it when traveling around. Therefore I wanted to include this short video of how to avoid tolls – saving you money while traveling around!