You may not want to permanently live your life on the road, but if you’re dying for a long weekend getaway, car camping is an excellent option. It’s possible to have a comfortable evening and a good night’s sleep even if you’re cozying up in your SUV. Follow these tips for a better car camping experience.


Charge your electronics ahead of time

Before you head out on your adventure, make sure that all the electronics you use are fully charged. Even if you have a charger in the car, it can be tricky to keep your electronics at full battery power while car camping. Turn your devices off if you’re not going to be using them a lot, or put them on low power mode to conserve as much battery power as possible. You may also want to invest in a solar panel so that you can keep your devices operating throughout your trip, and without having to rely on your car’s charging ports.


Outfit your car with a plush bed

Since you’re keeping your bedding items in your car instead of your backpack, you don’t have to worry about weight. Opt for heavy, cushioned pillows, blankets and mats to make the back of the SUV much more comfortable. You can also get an air mattress for extra padding. Whatever bedding you choose, make sure you have an insulated sleeping bag or blanket – cars can get very cold at night.


Figure out the best place to park

Aside from making sure you’re somewhere safe, you also have to park somewhere legal – you can’t sleep in your car just anywhere. Apps like Hipcamp can help you determine the best places to car camp, whether you want somewhere that’s free or you’re willing to pay. Also, most United States Forest Service roads are okay for overnight parking, so long as you’re not blocking any roadways and that you have the requires permits or passes.


Do a mini-trip

Never been car camping before? If you have a major trip planned, make time for a one- or two-night trip beforehand. Stay somewhere close to home so that you can head back if you realize you forgot something super essential, like water or warm clothes. You’ll figure out what you need and what you packed that you can forgo, and you’ll work out a few kinks before setting off on a longer excursion.


Keep essentials in your SUV

If you love car camping and want to take your Dodge Journey on impromptu trips, keep a stash of car camping essentials. Make sure to have a warm blanket, some water and non-perishable snacks, and your packed backpack in the cargo area. Other essentials to consider include the following:


  • Sleeping bag and pad
  • Camp stove and cooking pot
  • Cutlery
  • Hiking boots and socks
  • Head lamp
  • Lighter
  • Nylon rope and other safety gear


With an SUV large enough, you can always have the necessities on hand so that you can take off on a camping trip at a moment’s notice.


Learn how to sleep at an angle

It’s always best if you can find a flat area to park on, but this isn’t always possible. If you’re forced to park at an angle, know that there’s a method to sleeping that will keep you comfortable. Position yourself so that your head is higher than your feet. It’s also best to sleep with your head toward the front of the SUV, which will allow for more room for your upper body.

Car camping can be a fantastic, fun and inexpensive adventure. You’re only limited by how much time you have and how far you’re willing to drive. Avoid the price tag that would come with a hotel (or even a campsite) and opt to stay in your SUV instead.