***Noelia’s Note: This article, “How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip,” was pitched to me by guest author, Sarah Cummings ~ who writes for Sleep Advisor, as well as other publications.  I love helping people figure out how to travel on a budget, & this article is perfect for those looking to save money while on the road.  Enjoy!

How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip!

Heading off on a road trip is one of the best ways to enjoy time away on a minimal budget.  And if you learn how to sleep in your car on a road trip comfortably, you’re well on your way to saving hundreds of dollars per night!  This gives you extra money to spend on good food & great adventures ~ & if your road trip is close to home, you won’t even need to rent a car, which saves you even more money.  It’s a win-win situation!

But sleeping in your car can also be incredibly uncomfortable.  So in this post, we’ll cover a handful of ways to get the best sleep possible in your car.  After all, you don’t want to miss out on any adventures because you got a terrible night’s sleep, do you??

How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip, Girl Who Travels the World, Iceland Girls Road Trip

Sleep in your car, save some money, & get ready to road trip!



Safety First…

One way to make sure you enjoy sound slumber is to put safety at the top of your list. This should be one of, if not the primary concern whenever you road trip ~ so don’t let your standards slip here.

Ideally, you want to find a secure car park, camp site, or recognized place (i.e. Walmart, McDonald’s, etc.) to snooze for the night, so that you’re not completely in the wilderness & away from civilization.  If you’re traveling with a friend, have them research places to park for the night where you’ll have a strong mobile signal ~ in case of emergency.  Having a solid plan with several options reduces stress, & prevents aimless driving around late at night.  Preparation is key!

How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

Have your travel companion identify 2-3 ideal places to park for the night. Or if you’re traveling solo, do some research before hitting the road.

 Don’t forget to turn off your engine before you dozing off, or you may run out of fuel before setting off in the morning!  It’s also worth cracking a window slightly to let some fresh air into the car.  If you have a sunroof, you may want to open that a bit, depending on temperatures.

Comfort is King

There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in an uncomfortable car, so make sure your vehicle is a sleep kingdom!  Pack a pillow & quilt, or you’ll probably experience soreness & discomfort around the neck.  If you have the space, bring additional bedding such as a mattress pad, & if temperatures are really low ~ bring a sub-zero sleeping bag.  These items will help create contentment & warmth in your new sleep palace!

If you don’t have a large (flat) back-end, you’re better off reclining the front seats to lie down on; you’ll be surprised how comfortable it is if you’ve never done it before!  And if you’re a passenger who’s kipping in the car while en route to your destination, it’s absolutely paramount that you don’t remove your seat belt.  Don’t risk your safety for an extra fraction of relaxation while trying to nap.  

You can also use a travel pillow while the car is in motion, to make riding shotgun a little more comfortable.

Set the Scene for Sleep

This may sound silly to people who can just drift off anytime, anywhere ~ but for those who have difficulty falling asleep, you can create an atmosphere that’s ideal for slumber: even in your car.  This may be the most important part of learning how to sleep in your car on a road trip…comfortably.

To achieve this, make sure all lights are off or dimmed: including those coming from smartphones & tablets.  Try reading a book (with a head-lamp!) or listen to an audio book, if you need extra help falling asleep.  You can also get black-out shades to cover your windows.  This will make you feel extra cozy, & create a darker environment inside the car ~ especially if there’s any light coming from outside.  And you’ll have more privacy!

How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip, Girl Who Travels the World

No hotel will give you views like this…

Finally, don’t forget to bring water, some pre-bedtime snacks, & toilet paper!  If you’re in a natural setting, it may be possible to relieve yourself outdoors ~ which is where toilet paper comes in mighty handy.  If you’re in a parking lot or urban location, find a 24-hour gas station, market, or restaurant for pre-bedtime relief.  And don’t forget your tooth brush!  

How to Sleep in Your Car on a Road Trip!

Much thanks to Sarah for providing great tips on how to sleep in your car on a road trip!  Here are some of my all-time favorite road trips: along California’s Highway One, from Santa Barbara up to Big Sur & Carmel; the South of France, from Monaco to Eze, Nice to St. Paul de Vence; & of course, to any of America’s amazing National Parks, such as Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon

Your possibilities are endless!

Happy Road-Tripping!

xo Sarah & Noelle

Read Next: Best Podcasts for Summer 2018 Road Trips!

Sarah Cummings

Sarah Cummings

Contributing Author

Sarah Cummings has been involved in writing informative & helpful guides for the last five years.  During this time, she has dedicated her life to helping others enjoy a better life through sleep.