Whether you are traveling alone and need to pull over for a quick rest or camping out in a rural area, knowing how to properly make camp in your car is an invaluable skill. Sleeping in your car, in general, is not advised. A car provides only a basic level of security, and the windows leave the occupants fairly exposed in most instances.
However, being in a car does have its advantages. If you ever feel uncomfortable, you can start it up and drive away. It also provides a great shelter from the rain. The key to making a suitable bed inside of your car is to make something that can be packed up quickly once you wake up so you can resume your journey. The right technique depends on the layout of the seats.
Preparing Your Car For Camp
Take inventory of any materials around the car that can be used for either making a bed or covering the windows. This includes spare articles of clothing (coats and sweaters work best), towels, and blankets.
Cover the windows. To add a little extra privacy, the windshield and windows can be covered from the inside.
The windshield can be covered with a sunshade or similar. Note that a semi-rigid material like this must be held in place by folding the visors forward.
Towels, blankets, or articles of clothing can be inserted into the top of the windows by rolling them down slightly then rolling them up carefully so that they hold the material in place.
Don’t cover the windows or windshield from the outside. If there is any sort of threat outside of the vehicle, it is important to be able to drive off without having to exit the vehicle.
Lock all of the doors and the trunk. In cars with automatic locks, locking the doors should also automatically lock the trunk. In cars with manual locks, make sure the trunk is locked before making camp inside of the car.
Turn off the engine. Sleeping in or around a running vehicle is extremely dangerous, so don’t even consider going to sleep until the engine is shut off.
When or after the engine is running, make sure you are taking in fresh air and not circulating the air in the cabin. There is a chance that exhaust fumes could leak in while the engine was running with the car parked.