If you have to sleep in your car – do so in a place that is safe. Many people suggest a Wal*Mart parking lot. Others have suggested a “rest stop” such as the ones along California’s highways. They have running water, restrooms, and power outlets as well as many truck drivers catching naps in their rigs so you won’t be all alone and stand out.
Is it legal to sleep in a rest stop parking lot? YES – as long as you don’t stay more than 8 hours.
THIS is from the California Dept of Transportation:
Rest Area Usage Policy
The Department of Transportation’s Rest Areas are a stopping place for your relaxation. Please help us keep them pleasant by using them as they are intended and by being considerate of others.
Remember, by staying too long, you will be in the way of someone else who needs to stop. Thank you for your cooperation.
- Park in any designated parking place
- Stay up to 8 hours in any 24 hour period.
- Walk your pet, as long as it is on a leash.
- Place your litter only in trash receptacles.
- Dump sanitary wastes from RV holding tanks and portable devices at designated dump stations.
- Use small stoves and heaters (except on wood tables) if you do it safely.
- Engage in some nonprofit activities, with The Department of Transportation’s permission. (The Department’s permission does not indicate sponsorship).
You May Not:
- Block vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
- Camp or pitch a tent.
- Park, to do something away from the rest area such as hike, camp or hunt.
- Use a megaphone, loudspeaker or other sound amplifying device.
- Use The Department of Transportation’s water, electricity or gas for unauthorized use.
- Sell or publicize your private goods or services.
- Put anything on walls or plants.
Violators of these rules will be cited by a California Peace Officer.
Bring extra socks. This is a survival essential technique of sleeping in a cold environment. I live in Canada and when I was in the service we had to remain spend about a week living off the land in the middle of winter in order to pass our mountain combat training. essentially every part of my body that counted was wrapped in my extra socks at the end of it. – Mack at Inforbarrel.com
Do not drink when sleeping in your car because you are putting yourself at risk for a Drunk Driving Arrest – even if you are not in the driver’s seat.
Don’t eat food that upsets your stomach or causes gas – you are in a small space with the windows rolled up.
Cut your hair very short so that you don’t look dirty.
Alcohol based hand sanitizer works when there is no water to bathe with.
Safe your quarters for the laundry-mat. Drying clothes is almost impossible without being noticable.
Be near a restroom or have an empty bottle and baby wipes with you.
consider parking in an apartment lot with a car cover on the car in the hopes that the neighbors will all think the car belongs to a visitor to the complex.
Perfect eating fruits, nuts, breads and foods that don’t need cooking or refrigeration. These are low-cost and easy to store.
A car with a lockable trunk to keep your belongings hidden and safe is ideal.
Telling people that you are a tourist makes them less nervous about why you are traveling with so many items.
Netbooks with a car charger are great, pre-paid cell phones with internet ability also normalize socializing.