The First Rule Of Car Camping Is…

…don’t talk about car camping. Don’t be the person that advertises where they are at any given time and don’t give away your best camping spots to the masses. Also, some Youtube car campers do have stalkers. And it’s creepy.

My next post (23 May) will be a round up of how my first real life car camping adventure went on 9/10 May. I have included a few details but not enough details, and you may have already seen a few highlights over on my Instagram. My overnight parking spot was pretty good, but it would be a shame if everyone knew about it because then it would stop being great, so I won’t be publishing the details.

The first rule about not talking about car camping also goes for being on site. Don’t advertise that you are car camping whether you’re allowed to be there or not. Don’t make it obvious you are sleeping in your car and do not attract unwanted attention. As a lone female this goes doubly so. The world is full of weirdos.

But, back to the pre-planning…..

First I had to deal with the physical logistics. The most important factor is where to sleep. In my mind I thought if I packed my back seats down and padded out the floor enough I could sleep in the boot but no. I have a Peugeot 107 and even though I am not particularly tall this was never going to work on any level. HOWEVER, the front seats lay very flat and with plenty of padding to flatten it out, I could sleep almost full length. I am however, a fidget. I sleep on my back and both sides, meaning any sleeping position has to allow for moving around.

I’m not sure I could do this for a week but a couple of nights is okay if you’re tired enough.

Many car campers deal with the problem by building a bed in the back of their car. This is not an option for me because I want my car to be a normal car most of the time. I don’t want to have to build, or unbolt anything or spend any money.

Next – window blackouts. This is more for privacy than light issues. You don’t want creepy dudes peeking into your car at night when you’re asleep. There are all sorts of ready-made screens you can buy, but that costs money. And as sewing is my thing, it seemed wrong not to give it a go, so some black out curtain fabric, strong garden twine, bulldog clips and magnets and I was all set.

Take a cool bag/box. The point of what I am doing, is to save money and that definitely goes for food and drink. Take EVERYTHING you will need. Food is expensive and I’m not planning any yellow sticker hauls on the road, although if the right opportunity arises I am not going to ignore it. That said it’s always good to know where your local supermarket is for toilet stops and emergency purchases. Keeping in the spirit of this I got myself a cool box from Trash Nothing. It’s big, but it deals with another problem which is how to fill the gap in the front foot well so my feet aren’t dangling over the edge of the seat when I lie flat at night. This box perfectly filled the gap and I can lay blankets etc over the top to make it more comfy.

Also, don’t waste your money on freezer packs for your cool box. Make your own block ice. A couple of plastic milk bottles straight out of the freezer do the same job, although I’m only planning on one or two over night trips at the moment). Also, within 24 hours they will have defrosted, so keeping dairy and meat products to a minimum is important.

Lighting. I bought a cheap solar light and will leave it on the parcel shelf all day so it absorbs all the natural light. It gives a nice ambient light in the car without being bright enough to advertise my presence after dark.

Staying in contact: I have had a USB charger in my car for a long time, and Google maps will work in a basic sense off line so I’m not too worried about getting a signal. The whole point is to get away from everything and that includes the news and social media feeds. Of course, emergencies can happen so cutting yourself off completely isn’t a really good idea. I have car insurance and breakdown cover and I probably wouldn’t end up anywhere where human life wasn’t out of walking distance, because I do know my survivor limits.

Safety: I was really nervous planning my first trip. Use common sense. Living in a built up area I can recognise the signs of anti-social behaviour and it pays to take care especially if you are travelling on your own. Below is a very useful Youtube video about reckieing your overnight camping spot in advance. I particularly liked the bit about keeping your driving position free and ready to use in case you need to make a quick getaway. It filled my mind full of potential horror stories (I watch too many True Crime Youtube videos) but it is sensible advice. I have seen people in videos packing out the driver side with stuff as they organise their bed for a night. But if an axe murderer came for you at 3am how would you get away?

One of the great things about holidaying like this is being able to change plans if the weather isn’t playing ball, or for any other reason really. Unless I want to be actually stuck in the car for two days, I need the weather to be nice, for a start. The point is to get out and see things, not look at it through a window. In fact, I had arranged this trip for early May, but the weather wasn’t so great so I shifted it on a week and further away from the early May bank holiday. In April I’d reached a point where I needed to get away – as in, REALLY get away, and this car camping idea gave me something to inspire me and get excited about. It’s been a while since I felt enthusiastic about anything. Routine is a passion killer.

So there’s my initial round up. It’s all a bit vague as this was written during the pre planning stage. Keep an eye out on my next blog where I document the actual experience of my first car camping trip.

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