Can you sleep in a parked car? (5 best tips)

In today’s blog post, we will discuss: Can you sleep in a parked car? We will review the law regarding sleeping in your car, but also give you a few tips for a safe and comfortable night. 

Can you sleep in a parked car?

The quick answer is yes, it is totally possible to sleep in a stationary car, as long as it has been parked correctly and in compliance with the Highway rules.

Sleeping in your car is, in fact, highly recommended after driving for many hours. It is advisable to stop for a nap if fatigue takes over. Fatigue is one of the main accident risks and there are quite a few deaths from falling asleep at the wheel and getting off the road.

Still, no matter how tired you are, follow these simple tips before parking your car overnight:

  • Rest in the car only if you are safe. During the day we can take into account many tips to avoid falling asleep while driving, but if we make a long trip and the night falls on us, we must rest in a hotel or, in its absence, in the same car. Still, if the truck stop gives you bad vibes, get out of there!
  •  Don’t leave anything out of the car. To sleep peacefully and without fear, we will make sure to close the vehicle’s latches and not leave any belongings outside the vehicle.
  • Take a correct position when sleeping. Remember to carry a pillow in the trunk (it can be inflatable) if you are going to start a very long trip. If you don’t have a pillow, you can pile a few sweaters, the main thing is to take care of your neck.
  • Get sleep privacy. Getting some roller or suction cup curtains for the car windows would be ideal to rest without fear of passers-by, although if this is not the case, it would be enough to “pinch” a T-shirt with the width of the windows. Be smart looking for the place to spend the night, choose remote but safe places, ideally with bathrooms nearby.
  • Park and sleep at truck stops. Nobody can fine a driver who uses his vehicle properly parked (never in motion) for eating or sleeping, since these are things we do of our own free will, for safety and on private property. 

Is it legal to sleep in a parked car in the US?

It is clear that it is better to stop and sleep before suffering the consequences, but now, is this practice legal? The quick answer is yes, it is totally legal to sleep in a stationary car. However, there are some issues that complicate it. 

It is totally legal to sleep in the car as long as it has been parked correctly and in compliance with the rules. In the case of being well parked, the activity that is being carried out inside is irrelevant as long as it does not transcend outside.

Therefore it is vitally important to find a good place to park the car before going to sleep. In the event that the vehicle is improperly parked, either for obstructing traffic or for being in a prohibited area or with a temporary limitation, the fine may amount to an amount of up to $200. You also have to take into account other variables if you are thinking of traveling and sleeping in the car.

Although it is not illegal to sleep in a vehicle, it is illegal to camp in non-authorized places. The difference is that if we have elements that affect the outside such as chairs, tables, awnings … or it is making too much noise, it can be considered as camping and that would entail a fine. That is where the regulations that said that the activity does not always matter does not transcend the outside of the vehicle came in.

How to sleep comfortably in a parked car no matter the weather

Everyone wants to have a well-deserved rest in a parked car, but not everyone can. So many may choose to enjoy a short getaway using the car as a bed. This is a cost-saving advantage and a convenience disadvantage.

Making the decision to sleep in the car implies that we are aware that, depending on the destination, we are going to go through some heat or cold and that the position we are going to acquire is not going to be the best in the world. Therefore, for those who have back problems, it is not recommended to embark on an adventure in this way.

If the trip that we have proposed is made in autumn or winter, it is important to take into account certain fundamental aspects since the temperature that we are going to suffer will be very similar to that of the street:

  1. Bring a sleeping bag. It should be used for clothing. It is essential not to have to share it. If not, the safest thing is that it is twice as cold.
  1.  Place a neck warmer halfway up the face. It is also possible to use the jacket and have it cover you to the same extent.
  1. If you do not bring a blanket, you must use your own coat.
  1. The windows should remain somewhat open. It’s about avoiding a rarefied environment

But what if we travel in summer? So we must forget about the previous tips and pay attention to what is recommended:

  1. Windows should stay open slightly for ventilation.
  1. Cover the interior of the car. In this way, we avoid direct contact with the sun. In addition to maintaining a medium temperature.
  1. Park the car in a place where it is windy but safe.

Finally, the key to being able to enjoy a peaceful rest in the car is to have a comfortable position. Although surely the fundamental thing in this type of getaway is to be able to park the car in front of a beach and be able to enjoy that spectacle that is the sunrise.

The bottom line

While travelling in your car, you must know that some places do not allow sleeping in your parked car. There are some areas, such as national parks, that expressly prohibit sleeping in the car. 

In this case, it does not matter whether you are camping or not, it is a direct prohibition that must be complied with. It is worth looking for a conditioned place to sleep on these occasions, as the fines are usually quite high.

Now being clear about everything related to the legality of sleeping in the car, we have a few more tips on how to do it. 

Thus, it is better if the vehicle is specifically transformed for it, be it a caravan or camper van. If it is in a normal and contemporary car, you can sleep in the front seats, in the rear seats or in the trunk by folding down the rear seats. There are some interesting accessories like custom inflatable mattresses, that you may consider investing in. 

Do you have some insights or tips for safely sleeping in a parked car? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

FAQ on Can you sleep in a parked car?

Where is it forbidden to sleep in the car?

It is forbidden to sleep in the car in national parks. These are protected areas and therefore it is totally forbidden to camp and sleep (even in the car) in them.

Can cars sleep at truck stops?

It is not prohibited for cars to sleep at truck stops. The parking spots, however, are on a first-come-first-served basis, so you must think well and plan ahead your rest time on a long journey. 

Are truck stops dangerous?

Generally, truck stops are not dangerous places to rest for a few hours. Still, there are some risks that you must consider, and thus prepare yourself in order to rest. 

When you take a long trip, should you stop to rest?

Yes, when taking a long trip it is recommended to stop to rest, at least every 2 hours behind the wheel or every 150/200 kilometres travelled. In any case, the driver must rest whenever he needs it, even if the hours or kilometres indicated have not been reached.


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