How To Sleep In A Car On A Road Trip: Top Tips & Tricks

Considering how to sleep in a car on a road trip can be a great way to save money on lodging and add some adventure to your journey. However, it can also be uncomfortable and challenging if not done properly. With the right preparation and mindset, sleeping in a car can be a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Creating comfort in the car is key to a good night’s sleep. Packing pillows, blankets, and a sleeping bag can make you feel more cozy. Neck pillows can also provide extra support on the road. Additionally, parking in a level area can make sleeping more comfortable, and using sunshades can provide privacy and block out light.

Planning your itinerary is also important when sleeping in a car. Walmart and other 24-hour stores can be great options for overnight parking and restocking supplies. Cleaning up and maintaining the car can make the experience more enjoyable and prevent unwanted odors or messes.

Key Takeaways

  • Proactively creating comfort in the car is essential for a good night’s sleep.
  • Planning your itinerary and where you might sleep will give you peace of mind.
  • Cleaning up and maintaining the car can make the experience more enjoyable.
Wondering how to sleep in a car on a road trip? Pack well to minimize clutter.

Creating Comfort in the Car

When it comes to learning how to sleep in a car on a road trip, creating a comfortable environment is essential. Here are some tips to help you create a cozy and safe sleeping space in your car.

Safety Measures

Before anything else, it’s essential to prioritize safety. When sleeping in a car, it’s crucial to ensure that the car is parked in a safe location. Avoid parking in isolated areas or in places where it’s not allowed. If possible, park in a well-lit area and lock the doors.

Your natural inclination might be to park in a hidden area, away from well-lit areas, but don’t do it. You will be much safer in a well-lit parking lot near a main road than on a back road or alley, hidden away from the public eye.

One thing to remember is that every city may have its own zoning laws or ordinances. Larger cities are more likely to prohibit sleeping in parking lots. Wal-marts are receptive to overnighting. Still, the best practice is to ask the individual location before sleeping.

Staying Warm and Comfortable

To create a comfortable sleeping space in a car, you must bring some items that will help you stay warm and cozy. These may include a pillow, blankets, and a sleeping bag.

If traveling in a larger vehicle, such as an SUV or van where the back seats lie down, you can also consider traveling with an air mattress. A sleeping pad may create a more comfortable (and even) sleeping surface.

It’s also a good idea to wear layers for a comfortable sleeping temperature. During colder months, you may need extra layers, but that’s the beauty of being able to layer up or down. A sleep mask can also be helpful to block out any light and help you sleep better.

Dealing with Privacy and Ventilation

Privacy is another important consideration when sleeping in a car. Covering the windows can help create a more private sleeping space. Using sun shades is one way to go if you are in an RV or larger vehicle with shades and curtains.

If the temperature allows, it may make sense to leave a small opening for ventilation to ensure that there is enough fresh air circulating in the car. This will help alleviate some of the stuffiness from your car, but you can only do this if temperatures safely allow. The opening should also be small enough so that no one can reach into the car.

You have to plan for privacy while sleeping in your car.

Choosing the Right Spot to Sleep In Car On Road Trip

Choosing the right spot to park can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep. Look for a flat, level surface to park your car, which will help you stay comfortable throughout the night. Avoid parking on slopes or uneven surfaces, as this can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Managing Bathroom Needs

Managing bathroom needs can be a challenge when sleeping in a car. If possible, use public restrooms or rest stops along the way. Still, this is another reason it makes sense to do some planning. If you can find a 24-hour store or gas station to stop near, this will provide easy access to a restroom.

Overall, creating a comfortable sleeping space in a car requires some planning and preparation. Following these tips, you can create a cozy bed in your car and get a good night’s sleep on your road trip.

Road trips are a great way to reconnect with yourself.

Planning Your Itinerary To Sleep In Car On A Road Trip

When planning a road trip, it’s important to have a solid itinerary in place to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. This is especially true when it comes to sleeping in your car.

Let’s review some tips to help you develop a plan for the smoothest road trip possible. There are many benefits to taking road trips, but a little planning helps minimize the potential downsides.

Entertainment and Relaxation

One of the biggest challenges of sleeping in a car is staying entertained and relaxed during downtime. To combat boredom and restlessness, you may want to spend most of your non-sleep time driving or completing activities like hiking.

Still, you should consider packing various entertainment options such as books, magazines, puzzles, and games. You can also download movies and TV shows to watch offline on your phone or tablet. A portable speaker can also enhance your experience by allowing you to listen to music or podcasts without headphones.

Aside from a comfortable pillow and blanket, there are other ways to maximize your comfort. You can also use essential oils or a portable diffuser to create a calming atmosphere. Stretching and doing light exercises can also help you relax and feel refreshed.

When planning your itinerary, be sure to schedule in downtime for entertainment and relaxation. This will help you recharge and make the most of your road trip.

Overall, with proper planning and preparation, sleeping in your car on a road trip can be a budget-friendly and flexible option. Just be sure to prioritize entertainment and relaxation during your downtime to make the most of your road trip experience.

Family tossing football.

Walmart and Other 24-Hour Stores

Walmart and other 24-hour stores can be a convenient option for sleeping in your car during a road trip. Many Walmart stores across the United States allow overnight parking in their lots, but it is always best to check with the store manager first to make sure it is allowed and to get permission.

When Walmart disallows overnighting, it is often because of local laws and ordinances.

When parking at a Walmart or other 24-hour store, it is important to park in a well-lit area close to the store entrance. This will help ensure safety and security during the night. It is also recommended to park near other cars or RVs if possible.

One of the benefits of parking at a Walmart or other 24-hour store is access to facilities. Most stores have 24-hour access to toilet facilities. Some 24-hour travel centers even have showers available for a small fee.

This is why Love’s Travel Stops and Pilot Travel Centers are so popular. You might not want to spend the full night at these centers since they are often along the interstate, but they are great places to stop for a quick recharge. Additionally, there are food and drink options available for purchase inside the store.

It is important to note that not all Walmart stores allow overnight parking, and policies can vary by location. Some stores may have specific rules or restrictions in place, such as designated parking areas or time limits. It is always best to check with the store manager before parking overnight.

Overall, Walmart and other 24-hour stores (like Love’s and Pilot) can be a convenient and safe option for sleeping in your car during a road trip. Just be sure to check with the store manager first and follow any rules or restrictions in place.

Wondering how to sleep on a road trip? When you are tired, pull over for a nap. Don't push your limit. Sleep when your body is ready to sleep.

Preventing Drowsy Driving

Driving while drowsy is dangerous and can lead to accidents. It is important to take steps to prevent drowsy driving, especially during long road trips. So, even if you feel uncomfortable overnighting in a parking lot, you must be fully rested. That’s why we are sharing tips on how to sleep in a car on a road trip.

Here are some tips to prevent drowsy driving:

Take Breaks and Stretch

Sitting in a car for long periods can make the body stiff and uncomfortable. Taking regular breaks to stretch and move around can help prevent drowsiness. When stopping for a break, it is important to get out of the car and walk around. Stretching exercises can also help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation.

Don’t worry about how you look while stretching. Sure, once your car is parked, you can do some light stretching inside the car, but standing up and doing some full-length stretching will do wonders. Take deep breaths while stretching to maximize the benefit.

Have a Passenger

Having a passenger in the car can help keep the driver alert and awake. A passenger can engage in conversation, play music, or help navigate, which can help the driver stay focused and attentive.

This might seem obvious, but in an online world, too many of us are loners. Use your road trip as an opportunity to bond with friends and family. It will enrich your soul and help you stave off drowsiness. Good conversation and the ability to take turns driving go a long way.

Take a Nap

If you are feeling drowsy, you should pull over and take a nap. Don’t risk hurting yourself or someone else. I once fell asleep during a 16-hour drive and drifted into the grass median. I am forever grateful that no one was hurt. This memory haunts me but serves as a reminder to pull over when you start feeling drowsy.

A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help improve alertness and prevent drowsiness. It is important to find a safe and comfortable place to park the car, such as a rest stop or parking lot.

Avoid Driving During Peak Drowsy Hours

Drowsy driving is more likely to occur during certain times of the day and night. Avoid driving during peak drowsy hours, typically between midnight and 6 a.m. Some people also are sensitive to light at night time, which is even more reason to stick with daylight driving.

Avoid Alcohol and Medications

This should go without saying, but don’t drive impaired. Making the extra progress isn’t worth risking lives. Following the law is the bare minimum here and only a secondary concern in our minds. The responsibility to protect yourself and drivers sharing the road is the first concern.

Alcohol and certain medications can cause drowsiness and impair driving ability. It is important to avoid alcohol and medications that can cause drowsiness when planning to drive. If taking medication, the driver should check with a doctor or pharmacist to see if it can affect driving ability.

By following these tips, drivers can prevent drowsy driving and stay safe on the road.

Scenic drive in fall foliage.
Scenic Road Trip

Tips for Clean-Up and Decluttering

Sleeping in a car can be a convenient and cost-effective way to travel, but it can also get messy quickly. And clutter can irritate and diminish your overall road trip experience.

Here are some tips for keeping your car clean and maintained during your road trip.

Bring Cleaning Supplies

It’s important to pack cleaning supplies to keep your car tidy throughout your trip. Some essential items include:

  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable vacuum cleaner

By having these supplies on hand, you can easily clean up any spills, crumbs, or other messes that may occur during your journey. You can thank us later.

Every time you stop, you should take a minute to dispose of any trash created since your last stop.

Play the license plate game while road tripping to stay alert. Then, pull over to sleep when you are tired.

Summarizing How To Sleep In A Car On A Road Trip

In considering how to sleep in a car on a road trip, your first priority should always be safety. Sleep where it is well-lit and where city ordinances allow. Once you know you are safe, your comfort is the next priority.

Use layers to stay warm and create a comfortable sleeping temperature, and utilize pillows and blankets to get into a comfortable sleeping position. In a larger vehicle or SUV, you might even be able to lay down an air mattress on seats that unfold flat.

Maintaining a clean and organized car may also help you rest more easily. Clutter disturbs peace of mind, even if it is hard to avoid while road-tripping.

These are just the top tips, but sleeping in your car while on a road trip will become easier as you gain more experience. We will look forward to hearing your tips and trips after your next road trip!

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.