For all intents and purposes (pardon the pun), yes, you can sleep in your car at campsites. If you are planning to stay at a campsite, typically your preference will likely be to sleep in a tent.
However, sleeping in your car can be a great solution, especially if you are struggling with particularly bad weather conditions, and your tent has flooded.
In these instances, sleeping in your car will keep you and your possessions safe and free from adverse weather conditions.
It is worth noting that each individual campsite will have their own rules on vehicles you can use to sleep in.
While some allow you to sleep in your car for the duration of your stay, others may only allow this in adverse weather conditions.
If you have a car or a van that is built for traveling and sleeping purposes, these do tend to be accepted at the majority of campsites.
In addition to this, if you have a tent that incorporates your car, these are usually accepted.
The best way of ensuring whether this is allowed is to contact campsites directly to discuss with them what their policies are surrounding sleeping in your car.
Can you sleep in your car in a national forest?
Yes, for the most part, it is acceptable to sleep in your car in a national forest. However, we would always recommend checking the area in which you are planning to stay as the rules on this can vary slightly.
If you are planning to sleep in your car outside the designated camping areas, this is typically acceptable.
Not only will these areas be quieter and less crowded, but it allows you to have a fuller experience of the national park.
If you choose not to use specific camping areas, this is known as dispersed camping. As long as the area you are using in not prohibited, there are no issues doing this, and it is legal.
Though, there are typically a few different rules you will need to abide by.
The rules of dispersed camping will vary, and for some areas, you may be required to have a permit in order to use this area to sleep.
Typically, you cannot be within developed areas of the forest, and you cannot be too close to camping grounds.
Sometimes you may be charged parking fees, and typically you cannot park too close to water or the road.
In addition to this, there can be limits of how many days you are able to stay in one area before you will need to continue on with your journey.
Alternatively, you can choose to use designated camping areas if they allow for people to sleep in their cars.
Is it safe to car camp?
The answer to this question is both yes, and no. There are many factors that will impact how safe it is to car camp.
For example, if you are camping in a designated area, and you have good safety protocols in place, car camping is just as safe as camping using a tent.
However, you will always need to take into consideration that your engine needs to be switched off while sleeping due to risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In addition to this, car camping can leave you vulnerable to things such as robbery, especially if you are dispersed camping.
If you ensure that your valuable possessions are safe and your vehicle is secure at night however, car camping can be just as safe as regular camping.
As with any type of camping, you will want to make sure that you are parked somewhere safe and follow all the appropriate safety procedures.
Is car camping legal?
You may be surprised to learn that car camping is completely legal.
While it may not be the most conventional type of camping, it can help to keep you protected from adverse weather, and it is useful if you are travelling long distances.
While it is not illegal to car camp, there may be some restrictions that you will need to follow. These restrictions can vary quite significantly depending on the area of the US you are in.
For example, places such as national forests may have different rules on car camping, in comparison to camping near cities.
In addition to this, if you are planning to car camp at a camping site, each site will have their own rules on what is and is not acceptable.
Given this, we would always recommend thoroughly checking the rules of the area you are planning to car camp in before you begin your journey. This will give you a better understanding of what is expected of you.
There are likely going to be some areas where camping in general is not allowed. For example, you should not car camp too close to a road or a river.
Instead, it is best to find a safe place to car camp that is slightly off-road, and not on private lands.
Where do you shower when sleeping in your car?
The answer to this question will vary depending on where you are camping. If you are sleeping in your car at a camp site, you will be entitled access to their shower blocks and hygiene facilities.
However, if you are sleeping in your car somewhere that is more remote, this can be more difficult.
There are a number of different solutions to this, such as paying for a gym membership, or a gym day pass. Gyms typically have showers you can use and many are 24 hour access.
You can use a friend or family member’s bathroom if you are sleeping in the car locally.
You can also use recreation centers, and RV parks. Typically, this may come at a small fee.
If you are camping somewhere that has no access to any of these facilities, you can potentially use rivers, streams, and create your own make shift shower if needed too.