Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleeping Tips for Car, Truck & SUV Camping

Posted by Mike Harper on Jan 7, 2021 1:21:00 AM

Portrait of a young couple sitting with guitar near bonfire in the forest-1

One of the best ways to adventure and see a new place is by camping in your car. It can be easy to forget about the versatility that our vehicle provides us with. When using your car as a place to sleep while camping, you are combining your transportation and sleeping accommodation into one vessel. Talk about resourcefulness! 

So if you’re planning to take your car for a cross country drive, stopping at a few breathtaking sites along the way, you might be wondering what you can do to make your sleep arrangement as comfortable as possible. With a few easy suggestions in mind, you’ll be snoozing in your Jeep as if it’s a California king bed.

Getting Cozy

When it comes to getting cozy in your car, there are a couple of different things to take into consideration. There are a number of different products that you can buy to increase your comfort while in your car that vary greatly in price. Or you can just be resourceful and work with what you’ve got. It all just depends on your budget and how prepared you really want to be.

One practical product to invest in is a mat or air mattress for your car or SUV. There are all types of different air mattresses designed specifically for sleeping in a car that can greatly increase your comfort while camping. Something inflatable is definitely practical because it can be deflated and stored when not in use. 

There are other products that make car camping more comfortable including car tents that connect to the trunk and even a sleeping nest that goes on top of your vehicle. These are definitely not necessary but they are options that are out there and are worth considering.

If you have a small or easy to pack pillow that is definitely a good idea to help make you more comfortable. If you’re tight on space though, you can always just use clothes or extra blankets as a pillow. Be sure to bring a good blanket to use to increase your comfort. 

Another good tip for car camping is to crack the windows at night to let in some fresh air. If you are camping in a buggy area, you can drape a mosquito net or more clothes over the cracked windows to keep bugs out. 

Wearing a sleep mask to cover your eyes is another practical tip. Since the sunlight will shine in as soon as it starts to rise, eye covers can help you rest a little better and just provide overall comfort. 

Practical Considerations

When it comes to sleeping in the car, comfort is definitely a necessity but there are also some important practical considerations. Making sure you’re camping in a safe location, planning accordingly for the weather, and preparing food are a few practicalities to consider. 


When planning to sleep in your car, you want to make sure that you are parking in a safe area as well as an area where you are allowed to park. You definitely want to avoid parking on the side of the road and probably shouldn’t park in any residential areas, unless you’re outside of a friend’s house. 

Paying the money to park at a campsite is very practical if it’s something you can afford. This way, you know you’re in a fairly safe area and you have showers and bathrooms at your disposal. I understand though, not everyone is interested in spending a lot of money on campsites, especially when planning on staying at multiple locations throughout a given trip.

There are a few free options when it comes to car camping. Some of the best free areas to park your vehicle overnight are churches, small businesses, and walmart parking lots. These parking lots are typically pretty easy to park at if you go after hours. It is a good idea to go into the business and talk with someone there prior to camping out. That way you can introduce yourself and explain the situation. Definitely don’t overstay if they do say yes. Just make sure to spend the night and head out early on in the morning.


Definitely consider the climate of where you will be camping and plan accordingly. If you’re planning on car camping in a cold area, bring a lot of blankets and clothes to layer up so you can stay warm. Individual items that provide a good amount of warmth are also practical, such as a down comforter. 

If you are planning to camp somewhere very warm you may want to bring a small fan. Also bring a thermos or cooler that can keep ice for a while. That way you can have ice and/or cold water on hand.

Electronics Charger

It is helpful to bring some type of wireless charger for your car camping trip. Even though you can charge your electronics while the engine is running, you won’t be able to do that overnight. Plus, having a wireless charger allows you to charge your phone without using a lot of the battery power of your vehicle. A solar powered phone charger is a great option.

Camping with Sleep Apnea

 If you need a CPAP, pack it. There are countless options for campers in 2019 to travel with their sleep machine. Tip: purchase a CPAP with strong battery You do not need electricity with the right machine.

A few options are available with strong battery life while traveling. And if backpacking or camping grants little space in your pack, the Z1 is the lightest CPAP machine on the market at only 10 ounces and 6.5 inches long. Purchasing the Z1 from Alaska Sleep Clinic grants customers a trained DME technician that will call within 24-48 hours of purchase.

A second option is the Transcend Auto Mini CPAP weighs less than one pound and is a fully-featured APAP with EZEX pressure relief technology providing more breathing comfort. Unique to this CPAP with a “military grade construction” is Transcend’s 14-hour battery and solar panel recharge ability.

Other options include a rechargeable portable power supply or utilizing your vehicle’s battery. The great news is the Transcend model is FAA approved so if plan travel is part of your destination, it is a safe accessory.

If you're needing any additional information on traveling with a CPAP machine where you may be disconnected from everyday modern accommodations, or would like to purchase a travel specific CPAP machine, feel free to contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic.

Final Thoughts

Car camping is a great way to see the world without having to break the bank. By taking a few small steps and a few practical considerations, you can get the most out of sleeping in your vehicle. It is definitely recommended that you buy some type of air mattress to sleep on and pack lots of blankets and pillows. Also, don’t forget to pay attention to where you’re camping out and make sure you’re choosing a safe spot. Research the weather of the areas where you’re going and plan accordingly. Plan a way to wirelessly charge your electronics so you don’t end up with a dead cellphone. By taking a few easy steps to get cozy in your car, you can get the most out of car camping and adventure while on a budget.

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Topics: CPAP, camping, travel cpap

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