Sleeping in Your Car: Do or Don’t?

New Mexico
New Mexico

When I first told my family I planned on sleeping in my car on my first solo road trip, they were very concerned. After telling me every horror story they had seen on the news since 1985, they offered to pay for my hotel. As a poor college kid living off cheese, crackers, and macaroni, I did not see the point of paying to stay in a dingy cheap motel for less than twelve hours while I made my way across the country. Since then, I have slept in my car several times. Here’s my advice on sleeping in your car.

Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park

1. Unless you cannot find anywhere else with which you feel comfortable, don’t sleep in a Walmart parking lot .
I have had many successful naps in a superstore parking lot; however, I would not recommend it for overnight. There are constantly people walking by and talking about how creepy you are like you can’t hear them. Because of the constant flow of people walking near, you are also more likely to run into someone who might want to take advantage of the situation. Yes, there are a lot of people around. But then again, there are a lot of people around.

Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean

2. Think Ahead.
There were several things that I did not think through the first few times I opted to sleep in my car. The first time, I did not bring a blanket or a pillow. I ended up sleeping with my purse as a pillow and my sand covered, slightly wet towel as a blanket. Bring what you need to feel comfortable.
The second time I slept in my car, it was winter. This, my friends, is not a good time of year to sleep in your car unless you are in a part of the world that does not get below 45 degrees at night. I only slept for four hours at a time because I woke up shivering every so often.
I also didn’t have any ideas where I would stop. I thought I would just stop when I got sleepy. However, I was not in a safe place when I got tired. Then I was trying to make a solid, logical decision when I was tired which can lead to bad decision-making. I recommend picking a small to medium-sized town and stopping around 9 or 10 PM.

Salida
Salida

3. Find Somewhere You Feel Comfortable
A friend of mine once gave me the brilliant idea to sleep in a hotel (not motel) parking lot. She told me that you can go inside to ask them if it’s okay that you sleep in your car in their parking lot. You can tell them that you don’t have enough money for a room, and they might even offer you a room at a discounted price. It actually worked when I tried it! They always say yes, and they did offer me a discounted room once or twice. Find a well-lit spot and get comfy.
Pay attention to the neighborhood. This is where your intuition comes in handy. Do not sleep in a place that makes you uncomfortable in the slightest.
You can also try a camping site. I have only done this once, and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to pay to stay. Sorry, little town in Oklahoma.
Also, if your seats lay down, lay those suckers down so you can stretch out. It only took me three trips to figure this out.

Sleeping in your car is a DO if you do it safely.

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5 Solo Travel Destinations in 2015

Though I moved to a completely new city and state in 2014, I did not travel much, solo or otherwise. I have been busy exploring the areas and people around me in my new environment. Instead of making travel a New Year’s Resolution (I have never kept ANY of my New Year’s Resolutions past March), I made a promise to myself. I made a promise that I would reconnect with the bigger world around me by exploring by myself as much as my vacation days allow. Here are the five places where I want to do some solo traveling this year:

Del_Mar_Beach_San_Diego PD

1. San Diego
The last time I went to the beach, I drove upwards of 18 straight hours to get to the beach on Tybee Island. I did more driving than I did laying on the beach getting sunburnt. I’ve been having dreams about digging my toes into the wet sand on the San Diego beach for a year now. I think it’s time I find out why it seems to be calling to me.

Utah PD 2

2. Utah
I have never been to Utah, but I have seen some pictures that radiate with the rusty reds and rich purples of the desert. I think it might be time for a tour of the southwest. This is one I’ll have to time when it’s not 300 degrees outside– my poor car can only take so much.

Yellow Stone PD

3.Yellow Stone National Park
I have a Couch Surfing friend who camped in Yellow Stone by herself. There, she met a gorgeous man with whom she started a beautiful love affair set in the sprawling expanse of Yellow Stone with Old Faithful geysing (not a real word) in the background. How magical is that?

Mesa Verde PD

4. Mesa Verde
I read about Mesa Verde State Park in Colorado in a travel blogger’s post. Until then, rock formations didn’t really excite me. But the more I read about it, the more fascinated I became. 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo from almost one thousand years ago: how could I not be interested in that? There are several guided hikes you can take for all experience levels. I just need to purchase a pair of reliable hiking shoes, and I’m set.

Grand Canyon PD 2

5. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon because duh, it’s only one of the most touristey sites in America. I met a young woman from France while I was staying with a friend in Seattle, and the only places she’d been in America were Seattle and the Grand Canyon. I’ve lived in the U.S. of A my entire life, and she had beat me to seeing the Grand Canyon. That’s when I knew I should probably see that while I’m living in this region.

Budapest, Vienna, Prague

streets-of-budapest

In mid-February, I will be exploring Budapest, Vienna, and Prague for ten days. I have never been to eastern Europe, so I am thrilled to travel to that part of the world.

Vienna

I’m also excited to be taking a train from Budapest to Vienna and then from Vienna to Prague. I love traveling by train because you get a great view of the countryside. And it makes me feel like I’m on the Hogwarts Express.

Prague

I don’t have much of an itinerary so far (see my previous post), but my intuition tells me this is going to be a wonderful and chilly trip.