On lengthy vehicle trips, it’s often necessary to take a well-earned nap. I’ll list 19 of the top spots to sleep in your car while on a road trip in this post. Ideally, you should make a halt that is unobtrusive, secure, and cost-free. It’s also critical to have access to amenities like restrooms and showers for the morning.
I’ll go over where you can park overnight close by so you can stop and stay the night. Some solutions include sleeping in your car, as well as others include setting up a tent or utilizing low-cost lodging. There are frequently plenty of convenient locations where you may stop overnight and get at least a little rest before continuing your journey.
Read on for further information on each of the areas included below where it is permitted to sleep in your car. Before acting on the advice in this article, you should always confirm if it is legal where you are. I’ll also talk about finding safe places to sleep, including Walmart and rest areas.
1. Truck Stops and Rest Areas
When people think about where to stop for the night on a long road journey, rest stops are likely the first thing that comes to mind. These are the obvious places to stop and relax since they are simple to discover, frequently well-lit, have access to amenities and food, and are wonderful places to refuel.
It is frequently one of the first options people consider when seeking a secure spot to sleep in a moving vehicle. If you’re thinking about doing something, make sure you thoroughly examine the surroundings and search for any hazards or safety issues before deciding to do it.
A rest station could be crowded and noisy with plenty of other people coming in and going out, or it might be lonely to the point of being unsettling. If you want to check out the rest stop and make sure it offers the proper mix of security and privacy for you before committing, don’t wait until you are too exhausted to drive.
Lawful: In the USA, this might differ from state to state.
Security: Varies from stop to stop, so pick one with sufficient illumination and, if at all feasible, park close to other cars.
Facilities Accessibility: Yes! The majority of rest areas should offer a spot where food and beverages may be purchased, as well as access to restrooms that are open 24 hours a day.
Ease of Access: Checking your route and noting the locations of the best/largest rest breaks is an excellent idea. Rest spots are common, but if you’ve just passed one, it may be a while before you see another. Understand your boundaries and your journey, and halt when necessary.
Paid or Free: The majority of rest areas are free!
Amount of Traffic: A rest stop can be challenging for both vehicles and pedestrians. To reduce noise outside the car, park far enough away from big rigs, the main door of any convenience store, and any petrol stations to be in a safe, crowded area.
How to locate: Before you go, quickly Google your route to see all of the significant rest spots along the way. You should see plenty of billboards warning you of impending pauses because rest spots are typically prominently marked along the road itself.
2. Parking Garages at Walmart
You may have heard tales, but we can assure you that overnight automobile camping in the Walmart parking lot is quite legal.
If Walmart is near one of your road trip locations, it may be a terrific site to stop for the night or stay for a few days because it offers 24-hour access to facilities, food, and, let’s face it, entertainment.
Always remember to park in a secure area, but avoid spaces too near to the main door because they are for customers only. One of the simple-to-find legal spots to sleep in your car is a Walmart parking lot.
Lawful: It is OK to stay in your car overnight or for several nights at the Walmart parking lot. Though, be careful! Reduce the number of times you go in and out of your car, and avoid parking in patterns.
Security: Walmart is a rather safe area with other people nearby to seek assistance if the need arises thanks to its illumination and security guards.
Facilities Accessibility: Yes, during the open times.
Ease of Access: Good for urban areas.
Paid or Free: Free, however, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a few snacks and necessities while you’re there.
Amount of Traffic: Traffic might be present at any time of the night due to the presence of bright lights and 24-hour shopping. Make sure you have some earplugs and an eye mask to help you through any potential loud adolescents or workers talking and staying around after their shift.
How to locate: All of the Walmarts in your region may be found with a fast Google search.
3. Parking Lots at Casinos
One of them that you might not have considered but has some unmistakable advantages is this.
Since casinos are open around-the-clock and have frequent customers entering and leaving at all times, you’ll always have access to restrooms and reasonably priced food. It’s a fantastic place to take into account if you’re traveling through Las Vegas.
Despite their excellent security, they could or might not be amenable to visitors who are camped out in their parking lot. It’s important to be respectful and discrete in this situation.
You should also park far away from the main entrance and refrain from cooking outside your car. Although casino patrons frequently arrive late at night or overnight, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
The fact that casinos have high levels of security may either benefit or hurt. Although there are eyes in the vicinity, you could be more likely to get startled.
These strengthen the case that it’s a secure parking lot to sleep in, but decisions like this should always be made at your own risk. The best choice is to reserve a room at a hotel for the night.
Lawful: Even if it’s not specifically forbidden, the Casino has the authority to ask you to leave if you cause a disturbance. The key is to be respectful and unobtrusive.
Security: Casinos are well-recognized for their high levels of security and lighting.
Facilities Accessibility: Since casinos are open round-the-clock, you always have access to restrooms and food.
Ease of Access: It’s doubtful that you’ll find one unless you’re traveling through Las Vegas or a Native American Reservation because gambling is prohibited throughout the great majority of the United States, which is not very handy.
Paid or Free: Parking is free, but once more, be aware of your surroundings.
Amount of Traffic: You should be prepared for some entertaining anecdotes to come out of a stay at a casino because people come in at all hours of the night and have different sobriety levels.
How to locate: Make a travel map and see if there are any casinos along the road that can come in handy. If you love gambling, you could even appreciate including a casino in your itinerary.
Parking Lots at Casinos by Ebyabe / CC BY-SA 2.5. You’ll always have access to toilets and affordable food because casinos are open round-the-clock and have regular people arriving and going at all times.
4. Information or Welcome Centers
Good examples of free locations to sleep in your automobile are information centers. They often provide free overnight parking, but always check the website and any posted information before choosing.
There are nearly always Welcome/Information Centers when you enter national parks or cross state boundaries. These are fantastic locations to obtain information and guidance, take a break, and use the restroom.
It is possible to spend the night here because they are often secure and well-lit, but you won’t always be able to take advantage of everything they have to offer because the centers typically work restricted hours (something to consider for that middle-of-the-night restroom runs).
Lawful: Yet another ambiguity. Asking at the center won’t harm you because they could know of a better location to park close to for the night or won’t mind you remain there.
Security: Usually in a clean, well-lit place. It could be a little unsettling to spend the night there after they’ve closed and you’re by yourself in the parking lot because they don’t always have security.
Facilities Accessibility: Restricted, this will only be accessible during its operating hours, however, there is access to restrooms and refreshments (as well as maps and information).
Ease of Access: They aren’t very handy because they are only at borders, but if you plan, you may include them in your vacation.
Paid or Free: Usually, parking is free.
Amount of Traffic: They are often calmer since they operate within defined hours.
How to locate: Google can, of course, tell you where welcome/information centers are located along your route, but you should also keep an eye out for signs while crossing a border.
5. Religious Sites
Another location where you may sleep in your automobile is a place of worship.
Religious institutions have always been thought of being refugees where people may seek help.
It is worthwhile to open the large doors and seek for someone to ask whether it is okay to use the parking lot because religious groups, of any denomination, are frequently pleased to assist someone in need.
They could be pleased to comply if it’s not their day of worship (many religions perform services from Friday to Sunday)!
Depending on the area, a rather safe alternative with adequate illumination, but there definitely won’t be any amenities. The majority of religious structures will remain closed throughout the week, except for a tiny crew that works sporadic hours.
Lawful: Another murky topic is whether or not religious structures are on private or public property, so it’s a good idea to get permission whenever you can. They are frequently vacant outside of services, so it may be OK if you keep to yourself and leave no evidence.
Security: Usually well-lit, but with few staff members. Larger religious gathering sites will have a well-lit parking lot and security personnel, while smaller ones may not receive the same attention.
Facilities Accessibility: You won’t likely have access to any facilities because they are often locked up after business hours. You might feel a little strange walking about in your pajamas with a toiletry bag tucked under your arm, even during service hours.
Ease of Access: This can be challenging since buildings of worship are not always evident for what they are, and if one is not associated with a religion you know of, you might not identify it. However, you can be sure that there will be religious buildings wherever people congregate.
Paid or Free: Religious institutions that are free rarely charge for parking.
Amount of Traffic: Religious buildings are practically deserted after services, with little to no traffic of any type.
How to locate: Given that a religious house might include a church, a mosque, or a Shinto shrine, this google search will be more complex.
After services, religious institutions are essentially vacant with little to no traffic of any kind.
6. BLM Land: Bureau of Land Management
A road trip is all about taking in the beautiful countryside and reconnecting with the simpler side of life, and camping on BLM Land can let you stay there rather than having to leave the adventure and check into a Motel 6.
BLM Property is federally owned land that is preserved for public pleasure and the benefit of the environment.
You are welcome to rough it on your own, but this does imply that you won’t have access to furnished facilities, even if they do offer maintained campsites and amenities.
Being so alone might sometimes be a little intimidating, especially if you’re doing a road trip alone.
Do you have a thought of your own? Please feel free to suggest any more spots you believe to be the top places to sleep in a moving vehicle.
Lawful: Legal, provided you avoid designated campsites and important trailheads. Usually, there will be signage indicating where you shouldn’t park. It’s also crucial to pay attention to any protected areas or natural reserves that may be there, however, these places must be marked.
Security: Being close to nature is a lovely way to spend the night since there is nothing but the stars and the natural world to keep you company. Additionally, since there won’t be any illumination or nearby neighbors in case of an emergency, you will only have nature and the night sky for companionship.
Facilities Accessibility: You have access to the vast outdoors around the clock; just be sure to carry eco-friendly toiletries and clean up after yourself.
Ease of Access: You can very much ignore it if you aren’t road-tripping in the western United States.
Paid or Free: Free, however, you may also pay a nominal price to reserve a space in one of their built campsites for greater protection and comfort.
Amount of Traffic: Quite peaceful with little foot or automobile traffic. To prevent getting a flat tire or getting trapped in your automobile, make sure you scout out some level, firm ground before heading out into the wild.
How to locate: Visit the Bureau of Land Management website for additional information about traveling to or camping on BLM land.
7. Residential Areas
Know someone who knows someone? The second cousin once removed, was she? You may get a space on their street (if not their sofa) from that one man you met while road-tripping through somewhere else and who remarked, “hey, if you’re ever in my part of the woods…”
Residential areas with low traffic and late-night noise can be extremely safe depending on the location. Find a location that makes you feel comfortable, but keep in mind that you are a visitor close to other people’s homes, so you want them to feel protected as well.
Finding a secure place to spend the night is thus advised if you don’t know anyone nearby, keeping in mind that once you’re in your car, you’ll probably be there all night.
Lawful: Parking on the street is OK as long as you keep an eye out for any signs indicating restricted parking or the need for parking permits.
Security: Verify the local region’s crime statistics, then use your best judgment to determine whether the location seems secure to you. A neat, well-lit neighborhood is typically an indication that locals take care of the community and anticipate that you will do the same.
Facilities Accessibility: Unfortunately, there won’t be any amenities available unless you’re parked in front of a friend’s house, so you’ll need to locate another location to make the bed before you arrive and have a plan of action for your morning ritual.
Ease of Access: Everywhere there are people to be found, there are always neighborhoods to explore, but safety, safety, safety!
Paid or Free: Free
Amount of Traffic: Neighborhoods in suburbs often have lower traffic and pedestrian noise levels at night. City areas may be vibrant and active at all times, so pick your spot carefully.
How to locate: It might be difficult to feel safe in a neighborhood since you also want the residents to feel safe. Be courteous and try not to draw attention to yourself; you don’t want any of the locals to accuse you of having ulterior motivations. Spend some time scouting out a variety of areas so you have alternatives.
8. Parking Lots and Large Shopping Centers
Though this is the first place that comes to mind when people think of “10 Places you may Legally Park Overnight,” we have to break the bad news that these spots are unlawful and that there is a good chance you will be moved along as well as given a penalty.
These sites are often safe and well-lit, with access to services and food during business hours. However, there is a rather high chance of getting bothered by security or someone seeking to create some mischief around a car they think is vacant.
It would be worthwhile to stop by a nearby establishment with a big parking lot and get permission first if you live in a smaller town. Knowing that you have their consent to be there, you may relax.
Lawful: It’s not legal, but if you need to move ahead and really can’t go another mile, remember to be discreet, and safe, and to treat everyone who tries to help you with respect. Just doing out their duties, they.
Security: Generally quite secure and well-lit.
Facilities Accessibility: These places can make wonderful pit stops and potential places to take a brief nap because they are close to restrooms, food, and supplies.
Ease of Access: No matter its size, every city or town will have parking spaces accessible for supermarkets or retail establishments. If you’re in a tough situation, they’re there.
Paid or Free: Although technically free, it can cost you a full night’s rest or a ticket.
Amount of Traffic: These companies often seal their doors at night, so it should be rather quiet. Although youngsters eager to engage in some low-level chaos are drawn to quiet parking lots, so use caution.
How to locate: Trusty You can find out which stores are nearby by using Google.
9. AirBnb or Conventional Campgrounds
Keep in mind that we are in the heyday of AirBnb when everything else fails. Booking into camping, AirBnb, or motel allows you to have a true rest with wonderful amenities that you don’t have to feel slightly bad about using if you are sick of being in your car, you don’t feel safe, or you just have a little more money to throw about.
One of the safest locations to sleep in your automobile is a campground. The fact that you are camping in a campsite rather than a parking lot gives you peace of mind, even if you have to pay a tiny charge to do so.
Security: The presence of many other individuals at a well-maintained campground makes it perhaps the safest option. Because you have your own, secure place, Airbnb and motels are quite safe.
Facilities Accessibility: You have access to amenities at all of these locations around-the-clock, making it convenient for you to cook, take a shower, and use the toilet.
Ease of Access: Do your homework and reserve campsites in advance whenever you can because they can be difficult to reach and occasionally fill up on a first-come, first-served basis (especially in busy seasons). While Airbnb also takes some planning, there is always a room at the hotel if all else fails.
Paid or Free: What is the disadvantage of all these amenities and security? the cost. From roughing it with the minimum necessities to staying in a real hotel, prices vary. Consider your budget and be ready! You are at the mercy of the first location you locate if you haven’t planned or done your homework.
Amount of Traffic: When it comes to a campsite, the majority of other campers, like you, will be seeking some peace…But nothing is certain. You have a lot more influence over your environment when you stay in motels and on Airbnb.
How to locate: You may define your location, price range, and required facilities on the Airbnb website. You may use Google to search for hotels along your trip. If you frequently take road trips, you might want to purchase their pro subscription to have access to all of their camping and road trip equipment.
AirBnb or Conventional Campgrounds by Dolev / CC BY-SA 3.0. Even if there is a small fee involved, the fact that you are sleeping on a campground as opposed to a parking lot provides you peace of mind.
10. Hotel Parking Areas
I have personally used a hotel parking lot as a fantastic stopping point and overnight rest area. Hotels are accustomed to seeing visitors come and go as well as a variety of vehicles parked there.
A discreet location far from the main entrance should be chosen, and you should maintain your privacy. You shouldn’t spend more than one or two nights at a hotel because some of them do require visitors to register their license plates when they check-in.
Lawful: Not precisely against the law, but you can be let go.
Security: At all times, a lot of people arrive and leave, and there are typically cameras, lights, and security.
Facilities Accessibility: The majority of hotels have restrooms in the lobby, and some even have bars, vending machines, and restaurants there. Including details on nearby attractions!
Ease of Access: Hotels with varied star ratings may be found everywhere. They are simple to locate.
Paid or Free: Although most hotels offer free parking, some are fenced and access is only possible with reservations or room keys.
Amount of Traffic: Although there are constant arrivals and departures of people and cars, nocturnal traffic does seem to decrease.
How to locate: You may find out what hotels and motels are nearby by using dependable Google. You may also check out the parking situation in advance using Street View.
11. Program for Safe Parking
More and more people are making a full-time life in their automobiles as a result of increased living expenses and stagnant pay rates.
Safe Parking Programs have been developed in several towns and states as a result. These will inform you where in the city you may park your car overnight lawfully and safely.
Security: These zones are made to accommodate the increasing number of automobile owners. Various websites could have different levels of security.
Facilities Accessibility: You will need to either research this beforehand or allow yourself time to investigate it before turning it in for the night because it will differ depending on the place.
Ease of Access: Even though there are becoming more of them, they are a relatively new social service and could only be offered in larger urban regions.
Paid or Free: Most are unpaid
Amount of Traffic: There will be a large number of additional automobile inhabitants nearby, arriving and departing constantly.
How to locate: See what results from there are when you Google “safe parking programs near me” or your destination.
12. Rent a Parking Spot or a Driveway
Public transit may be more convenient for city inhabitants than dealing with the everyday stress of traffic and parking expenses. If their house or apartment has free off-street parking, they may consider renting it out as a little side business.
For many who reside in their automobiles, this is excellent news. You receive a reliable, secure parking space with no possibility of being bothered overnight. Everybody benefits from this!
Security: Depending on the area, this can be a pretty safe choice.
Facilities Accessibility: Generally speaking, no, but you never know what sort of connection or agreement you might be able to forge with the person you are renting from!
Ease of Access: Large, populous cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago are where this is most common.
Paid or Free: There will be a charge, whether it be a monthly, weekly, or daily price.
Amount of Traffic: Overnight, residential settings are typically quite silent.
How to locate: There are several resources available to you for finding a parking rental, including Google, Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and asking friends and relatives.
13. The Industrial Parks
On weekdays after 5 o’clock and on the weekends, industrial parks are deserted. Typically in remote locations with lots of gate-free parking.
Do your homework on the kinds of companies that are located in the park, as I can advise you as a former security guard. Forget about it if it is a significant software or computer business or the headquarters of a bank.
In a matter of seconds, security will arrive and move you forward. You want workplaces where employees report to their desks, submit paperwork, and leave at the end of the workday.
These areas are mostly calm and well-lit, however, they occasionally draw young individuals trying to cause some trouble in their automobiles or on skateboards.
Lawful: Security has every authority to order you to leave or, in an emergency, to contact the police.
Security: Security and decent lighting are often there, but the isolation may or may not make you feel secure.
Facilities Accessibility: There are none, and you are frequently far from facilities, so be ready to retire for the evening!
Ease of Access: They are typically on the fringes of cities and towns, making them difficult to locate.
Paid or Free: Yes
Amount of Traffic: The security crew will be the only traffic you see once everyone has left for the day (if they have one).
How to locate: This is a difficult search to get information on; you might need to drive around yourself to see what’s available. However, once more, we highly advise you to investigate the kind of businesses that are located in the park to get a sense of the level of security they will have.
Only a few of the known locations where you may lawfully sleep in your car without facing harassment from the law have been covered in this article.
Now that you no longer have to worry about where to sleep, you should feel free to embark on excursions and road trips.
Finding these locations is simple; just use Google Maps and you’ll be good to go. These locations allow you to overnight park your automobile.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”