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You embark on a long journey by car and find that the hotels are too expensive. You can not find a place to spend the night at and you have no choice but to stay in your car, until you hopefully find a solution to your problem. Regardless of what your reasons are, this list below gives you useful tips for sleeping comfortably in a car.

Sleeping in your car, what does the law say?

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To avoid inconveniences like paying bills and fines, let’s look at the subject from a juridic point of view.

Do you have the right to sleep in your car?

If the law allows you to sleep in your car, it does so only under certain conditions.

In some European countries, for instance, the law on overnight stays in the car is in your favor as long as the vehicle doesn’t remain parked for more than 24 hours in the same place (or else you get to pay a fine) and there is no equipment outside (table and chairs for camping).

However, some town halls in large cities do not allow people to sleep in their car, especially seniors and elders. Signs are displayed at the entrance of the city to indicate so.

Similarly, if you go abroad, know that the law is not the same: in Italy, for example, sleeping in a vehicle is prohibited. Make sure to do your research properly.

It is also important to conserve your privacy if you sleep in your car. The use of blackout curtains is recommended to avoid showing anything, if you don’t want to be sanctioned for exhibitionism.

If you decide to sleep in your car after a drunken evening, you must take off your shoes, remove the keys and install yourself in the front passenger seat in order to avoid being considered “behind the wheel” in a bad state as that may make you risk a fine by the police.

Do you have the right to customize your car to be able to sleep in it?

The transformation of a vehicle is subject to rules.

If you modify your vehicle and this entails a change of technical characteristics on the registration certificate, you must make a declaration to the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Planning and Housing (DREAL) and the technical control. This is the case for example if you are doing a camper van or if you turn a commercial vehicle into a particular vehicle or vice versa. You can even consider installing a Leggett and Platt adjustable bed in your vehicle especially if it’s a van or camper. When you’re not sleeping, you can raise its head and use it for lounging and at night, you can flatten it up entirely and have a comfortable sleep!

Recommended Reading: Bedroom Solutions’ Blog for More Sleeping Tips

On the other hand, no declaration to make to allow you to arrange your car to sleep. You just have to make sure that the security elements are present: the seats are well laid out, the presence of seat belts, etc.

On the insurance side, as with any transportation of objects, you just need to make sure that your car is well organized and it can not cause you, or your passengers, any harm, if an accident ever occurs.

Basic equipment for sleeping in your car

Whether you are camping or sleeping in your car, basic equipment will be required. Store it in the trunk. It may also serve you in other circumstances such as a breakdown or accident.

  • A map to easily find where to park and find your way without getting lost.
  • A sunshade with an aluminum side, long enough to cover the windshield and the two front windows.
  • A pillow, or something comfortable
  • A blanket and / or a sleeping bag.
  • For a little bit of intimacy, a tarp of average size with its own holes where you could pass threads that will be attached to the security belts. That way, you can create a sort of tent inside the car.
  • A night mask that allows you to sleep better by protecting yourself from the outside light.
  • Pins to close your sleeping bag or a tarp, for example.
  • A bottle of water, especially if you drink regularly at night.
  • An electric torch when needed.
  • An alarm clock that works manually and does not require batteries, to wake you up in the morning.
  • A jar with a lid (for men) in case you want to urinate. It is more convenient to do it in a jar than to get out of the car in the cold or in the middle of mosquitoes!
  • Disinfectant gel and / or wet wipes, as those are very useful when you do not have access to a water point to wash your hands.
  • One or two large towel (s) that can be used, among other things, as curtains.
  • A Thermos to have a hot drink in the morning (prepared the day before, for example from a distributor).
  • Do not forget your cell phone in case of an emergency and / or in order to wake up in the morning if you do not have an alarm clock.

Tip: keep at hands items (door pockets or behind the front files) that can be useful at night or at sunrise (flashlight, water bottle, change of clothes, etc.).

The necessary facilities to sleep in your car

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Sleeping arrangements depend on the number of people on board and / or the type of vehicle.

Sleeping in your car on the backseat

To spend the night in your car, the most obvious and natural thing to do is to settle in the back seat. Two options are available:

move the front seats as far as possible to reduce the rear space and avoid falling during the night;

if you want more comfort, or if you are with another person, move the front seats to the maximum to insert a bed that comes up to the bench. The cheapest and most practical option is to take two small aluminum stools on which you place a fairly rigid wooden board and a piece of foam, cut to the right dimensions.

Tip: during the day, the little stools of aluminum, solid, light and compact, can serve as seats. The wooden board can remain on the ground in front of the seat, on the foam, all covered with the tarpaulin.

Sleep sitting in your car

If you are not alone, or you have loads of stuff with you, or if you stop for a nap after a long journey, you will most certainly be sitting. A car seat is not suitable for this, but if it is necessary, then you have to choose the best solutions for sleeping sitting in your car.

  • Bury the seat belt fasteners in the seats to prevent them from hurting your back.
  • Use a travel pillow, a kind of U-shaped cushion, to support your head and neck.
  • Do not rest your neck against the seat belt, as it may cause skin irritation.
  • If you are in the back seat, push the seat in front of you to get more space.
  • Conversely, if you are in the front seat, back it up.

Sleeping in your van

  • To sleep in a van or a station wagon, the prerequisites are the same as sleeping in a car.
  • For a station wagon, fold down the rear seat to free the seat.
  • You can separate the front and back of the vehicle with a curtain.
  • Place an insulator around the walls of the sleeping area, leaving any openings open (windows, back doors, etc.)
  • Lay a piece of foam the size of the ground on the ground itself.
  • In the day, put the foam in a bag or roll it in the tarp. If you have enough room to leave it in place, cover it with the tarp to protect it.