Can you sleep in a campervan?

In this article, we will discuss: Can you sleep in a campervan? We will tell you where you can and cannot sleep in a campervan. We will also discuss the matter of sleeping in a moving campervan. 

Can you sleep in a campervan?

Yes, you can sleep in a campervan (except for some cases that we will mention later). It is even allowed to spend the night in your car. It does not have to be a vehicle specially classified as a home to be able to sleep in it. If you are wondering why, it is because a motorhome, campervan, van or car has the same rights and obligations when it comes to being parked for the night. Regardless of its legal status.

No matter where you park your campervan for the night, always follow these simple rules:

  1. Be discreet. The idea, always the same, is to be as discreet as possible to preserve any people who live around it but also to allow other travellers to be greeted and welcome at a spot.
  1. Collect your waste and even that of others to leave the spot even cleaner than when you arrive.
  1. Follow your instincts. If you don’t feel sure of one place, for whatever reason, whether it’s rational or not, go away and look for another spot.

Spend the night in, park or camp your campervan

To understand the difference between these three terms, it is best that you learn what each one means.

Park – A vehicle is considered parked when it occupies the space defined for it, without exceeding its limits. Chocks can be used to stabilize the vehicle when it is on a slope, as well as leave a steering wheel glued to the curb. It cannot emit fluids other than those of the engine’s combustion. No element can protrude from the perimeter of the vehicle.

To camp – A vehicle is considered to be camped when it performs actions typical of camping: taking out an awning, opening swing windows, using levelling blocks, taking out chairs, tables or similar, installing elements that protrude from the perimeter of the vehicle, pouring fluids such as sewage (obviously in the places designated for it).

Overnight stays – We are spending the night when our vehicle is properly parked and we carry out the actions of spending the night inside during the hours of the night. Skylights can be opened or lift roofs can be raised, as they do not exceed the perimeter of the vehicle.

Where can I sleep in a campervan?

Now that you have clear the definitions of parking, camping and spending the night, where do you think you can spend the night in your motorhome or camper? You can spend the night in any place where you are properly parked, adhering to all the legal regulations that exist in the area where you want to spend the night.

  • If it is not prohibited in any ordinance, you can spend the night with a motorhome or camper in any place on the public road for parking. Of course, without camping there for days. If you camp, you can be fined and kicked out if you are in regulated areas.
  • Motorhome and camper service areas. You will find motorhome areas specially designed for motorhomes and campers with specific services for them. Sometimes they are free, and sometimes they are paid, more or less depending on the place (from $3 to $20).  But it is always cheaper than a campsite. They can be public of the municipalities or private ones of landowners who set up an area for motorhomes. 
  • You can sleep in a caravan at any campsite. Some caravan parks offer discounts out of season on the grounds of three and more stars. 
  • Farms, pubs and other establishments that enable you to spend the night with a motorhome or camper. You can go to many farms in the US and stay overnight for free, usually in exchange for later buying some of their production.

When camping at any of the above places, you can:

  • Eat or sleep inside your vehicle since it is a private space.
  • Put wheel chocks to prop up the vehicle if the terrain is inclined; it is a recommended safety element. You cannot use stones or other objects.
  • Raise the roof or open skylights as long as they do not exceed the perimeter of your vehicle.
  • The vehicle must be parked in a place where it is allowed.

You can not:

  • Take chairs or tables out of the vehicle.
  • Extend awnings, advances, hinged windows or elements that protrude from the perimeter of your vehicle.
  • Put stabilising feet.
  • Carry out fluid discharges (clean, grey or black water) except those from the engine through the exhaust pipe.
  • Emit annoying noises, such as starting an electricity generator during hours of rest or the day for excessively long periods.

Therefore, to carry out any of these activities, you must have a camping area, more abundant each time, and a perfect option to spend the night.

Places where you should never sleep in a campervan

  • Never, never, never sleep in a motorhome in highway service areas! Go out to any town and park anywhere. Spending the night safely with a motorhome is also your decision.
  • Don’t spend rainy nights near streams either.
  • Finally, never sleep in a motorhome near trees or buildings in poor condition, much less out of the shelter. 

Can I sleep in a campervan while it is moving?

And to our final question – no, you cannot sleep in a campervan while it is moving. The law states that anyone inside a moving vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times while the vehicle is moving (day or night).  This may seem unfair to you, but keep in mind that an accident can happen at any time, and you’d like your whole family to be safe for the ride. 

While the campervan is in motion, you cannot:

  • Move freely around the cabin;
  • Take a shower;
  • Cook, drink alcohol or eat at the table (unless you are seated with a seatbelt on!);
  • Sleep in a bed.

The bottom line

We hope we have cleared your doubts about whether spending the night in a campervan is legal. If you have something to contribute or any information that you think should be updated, contact us! Between all of us, we can help each other and thus be able to enjoy the best vacations aboard our campervans!

FAQ on Can you sleep in a campervan?

Where to stop with a motorhome?

A motorhome can stop in town in a parking space and spend the night there. It does not matter whether the motorhome operators are on board or not, as long as they comply with the regulations.

Where to park with a van?

You can park a van just like a car. By parking is meant to park your vehicle on its 4 tires, for one day or one night. And you have the right to stay inside the vehicle. But be careful not to show signs of camping!

Can I sleep in my van?

Currently, it is completely legal to sleep in a van, a campervan or a camper van (vehicles classified as M1 have the same rights as a car). There is nothing in the law that prohibits it. In theory, you can therefore spend the night wherever you want.


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