Can I Live in My Car: An Experienced Survivalist Explains!

In recent times, more people are spending a lot of time in their cars. Lengthy road trips, increasing difficulties in securing accommodation, and personal preferences are some of the reasons that people spend one or more nights in their vehicle.

Can I live in my car? Living in your car is possible and can even be made enjoyable by stocking up on necessary supplies for food, hygiene, and comfortable sleeping. However, you should ensure that by living in your car, you do not break any laws in your state.

Chris Brinlee Jr. – an experienced adventurer and survivalist – mention Walmart parking lots, truck stops, public land, and highway rest stops as suitable places for you to camp in your car.

What States Is It Illegal to Live in Your Car?

While it is not directly illegal to live in your car, some states are strict about camping or sleeping in your car.

Even in cities where it is legal, several rules guide how, when, and where to park your vehicle. Certain locations prohibit parking, especially highways or public property. A mobile hotel or some inn will serve in cases where there is no complete ban.

Meanwhile, staying in an actual house is quite safer than living in your car. Too many security issues arise for people who must turn their vehicles into a residence, especially in areas with high crime rates.

Here are some state-specific laws guiding sleeping in your car. In Alaska, while sleeping in your car is allowed, you may not park on public property, street, or public place for over 24 hours, except from Friday noon to Monday noon. In some cities like Fairhope in Alabama, it is completely prohibited, while other cities are strict with the overnight parking rule.

In Arizona, overnight parking is allowed but camping outside the car is illegal, more specifically, camping in the car is banned in a city like Phoenix. As in the states mentioned above, sleeping in car laws vary from state to state, city to city.

Hence, it is illegal if the city has specific orders against sleeping in your car, particularly at specific locations. In most cases, you need to religiously follow the laws guiding parking in rest areas, public property, main streets, and adhere to the stipulated period for parking.

These laws are set to prevent inconveniences for the public and to control security problems. For example, sleeping in your car with keys to the ignition after having too much drink is illegal in most states. This is an action against drunk driving and the many effects it may have. Parking areas may also be associated with crimes, especially at night; therefore, you must make a well-informed decision on where and when to park.

Can You Sleep in Your Car at Truck Stops?

Yes, you can sleep at a truck stop. Nevertheless, you must put many things into consideration to enjoy sleeping in your car at a truck stop.

Good enough for you, truck stops have provisions for truckers who camp there. Besides having a place to sleep, you may have access to other amenities for comfort like the shower, but you might have to pay to use it. 

One highly rated choice for a pillow is available on Amazon, by Wise Owl Outfitters. Look here for more information on this lightweight and easy to store item!

Bear in mind that it is mostly safe except for exceedingly rare scenarios since the truckers will sleep there too. Parking at truck stops is also free but you must pay for other services you need.

Several things you need to note before parking at a truck stop include:

  • Be sure of the rate of criminal activities in the area, confirm from the nearest police station.
  • You need to be friendly and nice to truck drivers in case of any circumstance beyond your control.
  • Sometimes it is better to mind your business as getting too friendly might be a problem.
  • Park close to security cameras as dubious people avoid those areas.
  • Avoid dark spots to ensure you can see what happens around you. In case of any burglary attempt, other people can easily see and come to your rescue.
  • Make sure you have some self-defense skills and devices. A good pepper spray and a taser may come in handy.
  • Be sure you have also parked in the right spot, confirm from the truckers or management.

Sleeping at a truck stop has its good and bad sides. It is free, safe, and you have access to basic stuff like a shower and breakfast. This, however, is a viable option only if you’re looking for a quick overnight stop. In cases where you need to stay longer than a night, you should pay for a room at the motel. Truck stops can be uncomfortable and noisy to sleep in.

How Can I Comfortably Sleep in My Car?

To sleep comfortably in your car, you need to get as many useful supplies as possible, helping you have an enjoyable experience.

There are several things to put in place for a comfortable car camp. You might have to get creative trying to get ready for your road trip. Depending on the weather, it might be extremely cold outside, so you could need good blankets to stay warm at night. You should also have a flashlight, enough water, a pillow, and a cell phone, among others. One highly rated choice for a pillow is available on Amazon, by Wise Owl Outfitters. Look here for more information on this lightweight and easy to store item!

Sleeping in the car is not exactly comfortable, however, having the right tools can improve your experience. You might not have access to the many things that make you comfortable in a home, hence, the need to improvise and adapt. Check for the nearest source of water in the area as you will be needing it to stay clean and healthy.

Toiletries, especially disinfectants, will come in handy to keep you clean in cases where you do not have access to running water. You need to stay clean to keep yourself from falling sick during your car stay. Also, a pillow will do you so much good. A travel pillow placed around your neck will make you more comfortable if you must sleep sitting in your chair.

You should clean out your car and keep the air fresh for better sleep. Keep essentials close and other stuff properly arranged in the trunk to create more room for you.

Picking the right spot to sleep can give you access to the luxury of comfort while sleeping in your car. Ensure the environment, as well as your car, is in a good place and state. Make sure it is a safe area and you are not violating any parking laws. Other things that bring comfort vary from individual to individual.

Where Can I Shower If I Live in My Car?

For a proper shower, you can either improvise a shower spot or find a public bathroom close to where you are camping.

This is the hardest part about living in your car. Since your car does not have provisions for a shower, you need to get creative or implore the services of a motel, hotel, or locations with bathrooms.

First, a gym membership can allow you access to a bathroom before and after the workout. You can pay to register at the gym; however, some areas might not have a gym and they might be expensive, especially if you won’t be in the area for so long.

Some truck stops also have a bathroom you can make use of, though you might have to pay for it. Also, using a hotel room for a night is a convenient way to have your bath and a good sleep if you can handle the cost. There are also portable camping showers that you can carry about in your car. This may take up some space in your car.

In situations where all these options are unavailable, you may consider a wipe or sponge bath. You can just clean up using a sink in a nearby toilet or use wipes on your skin. This will not make up for an actual shower, but you can utilize this method to stay fresh temporarily. Look at this option from JJ CARE body wipes, available through Amazon. pH balanced wipes protect against any irritated or sensitive skin. 

In some campgrounds, there are provisions for you to have a good bath. In other cases, you can use a tent to get some privacy while you use a portable shower. However, most of these options have downsides from lack of warm water to dirty bathrooms, to lack of privacy and comfort.

Necessities That Majority Recommend

Supplies Reasons as to why to use them
Weapons For self-defense, and for emergencies
Storage Unit For massive supplies, or anything you can’t haul in your car
Soaps, hair grooming essentials, and cleaning supplies Being clean and hygienic is incredibly important to stave off diseases or bacteria
Water Containers These are incredibly useful for saving money, and being resourceful for long term use
Cell Phones To be able to call in case of emergency, or help

How To Live in Your Car in the Winter

The best way to live in your car in the winter is by wearing thick clothing and a car insulator, ensuring that you do not get cold during the night.

Living in your car in the winter requires more preparation than other weather conditions. This colder half of the year is mostly unsuitable for being outside. However, it is fun and less expensive to live in your car, so with good preparation and planning, you can enjoy living in your car in winter.

There are a few things that must be in place. The most important thing is insulating your car and getting all the equipment that can keep you warm in the freezing weather. Your car must possess some features to have an enjoyable experience in winter.

You need a spacious vehicle to give your equipment (and all you will need) room. Though a good sleeping bag will give you warmth, you may need some extra heat. So, while you invest in a sleeping bag, add a car insulator to your budget as the winter cold can get profoundly serious.

You can make some insulated window covers, then cover the floors and other parts of the car to keep the heat in. Ready-made windshields are an innovative idea to keep the car warm and give you some privacy. If your car has tinted glass, you are lucky as it gives you an extra advantage in the cold.

Your food-making equipment should include a stove and a heater as your food can easily get cold. You can get a cooler to keep your food from getting bad – a good preservation method.

Some other things you need are head warmers, thick jackets, gloves, scarves, and socks. This selection of clothes will aid in keeping you warm and cozy through the nights. You may need some Ice shovels and ice scrapers in case you need to remove the ice on or around your car. This will prevent the car from getting stuck or the windshield from getting dewy if you want to drive.

Can You Sleep in Your Car at Walmart?

Yes, you can sleep in your car at Walmart. Walmart does not have a policy against camping in your car overnight.

However, depending on the location and management of the Walmart branch, A few restrictions for heavy-duty cars might apply. Small vehicles do not have many issues staying the night at Walmart. The laws of the city concerning sleeping in the car overnight may affect the Walmart within the area.

In cities where overnight parking in public places is banned, law enforcement may go into malls at night to find offenders and fine them.  In most cases, these laws do not apply to Walmart as they can let you get some sleep in your car in their parking lot.

Rather than risking getting into any trouble, use a 24-hour Walmart if you need to sleep. Also, parking close to the mall keeps you from any trouble. By keeping your window blinds up, you have less to deal with if you have a tinted window since you can hardly be seen from outside your car.

Walmart in big cities may have stricter restrictions on parking and overnight camping events on private property. Hence, it is better to avoid Walmart in big cities. You can park in places where Walmart meets another place of business or shopping center. This gives you the chance of being seen as an employee of the other place since it is difficult to know if you are at Walmart or not.

Some people get permission beforehand from the management to stay overnight. Depending on the response to the request, they know what to do. However, it may be better to go to Walmart and try it, you may just be lucky. You also need to stay in the car and avoid any reason to move about and risk getting noticed by law enforcement.

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