Wednesday, September 26

My Experience Sleeping in My Car

Monday night I slept in my car for the first time.  It didn't make economical sense to stay in a hotel, plus I'm stubborn.  Originally I had a trip planned which included an overnight stay in Birmingham with my mom.  We've never been on the best of terms and because I do not wish to detail the story here, I will just say that my plans to spend the night at her house fell through a few days ago.

When my plans changed I did look at hotel rooms, but the least expensive rooms were $50 per night.  I also looked at redeeming loyalty points but even that did not appeal to me.  Why redeem 25,000 points for a place to lay my head for a few hours when I could save them for a frugal vacation?  Then I started thinking,

What's the worst that could happen if I slept in my car?

I did some online research - where to park my car, how to make the car more comfortable, the risks involved.  What I found was that truck stops and Wal-Mart parking lots were overwhelmingly favored by folks who do this thing regularly. Based on my research I decided to fold down the back seat so that I would mostly be sleeping in the trunk of the car.  I just couldn't imagine sleeping in the front seat or snuggled up in the backseat.  I drive a Toyota Corolla; it's too small for that.

I shopped five gas stations Monday night on my way from the Atlanta conference to Birmingham.  At the last station there was both a McDonald's and a Wal-Mart in the same parking lot.  This was my spot.  I hung out in McDonald's while I entered my shops and surfed the Internet, then I pulled into the Wal-Mart lot behind the restaurant.  Logistics were straightforward:  I brought two comforters, three pillows and a sheet.  I folded down the backseat, draped the sheet above stretching across the folded down area to conceal myself from prying eyes and shield some of the lights, and made myself a bed.

It wasn't the best night's sleep I ever got, but I didn't expect it to be.  Fortunately the weather was perfect.  I prefer cooler weather when sleeping and it was about 65 degrees when I fell asleep.  But still, I saved $50 or more and didn't sacrifice much if anything.  This wasn't such a bad experience.  I had a day of mystery shopping to do when I woke up, so I freshened up in the McDonald's bathroom and began the day.

Sleeping in my car turned out to be a frugal adventure, and I imagine I will do it again if the circumstances are right.  I wouldn't recommend it if you have to be dressed up the next day or in a very public setting because taking a bird bath at McDonald's won't cut it, at least for me, and this wasn't the most comfortable sleep I've had.  It's probably something that takes a little getting used to.  For example, I woke up several times and I think it was more out of anxiety than actual noises around me.

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9 comments:

  1. I've slept in my SUV. A little bit more room than your Toyota. It was fine until I woke up in the morning and needed a bathroom. The closest c store didn't have one. I was scrambling to find one. I eventually did. If I ever do this more often, I would get a membership to Anytime Fitness. With 1700 locations, most with private bathroom/showers I'd always be close to one. Plus, they are open 24/7.

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    1. Pat,
      Fortunately I was at a 24 hour Wal-Mart so the bathroom issue didn't present itself. I agree that if I were regularly sleeping in my car it would make sense to join a gym that offered showers.

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  2. We haven't slept in the car - but when we've had to stay overnight on a long driving trip - we've had good luck with those gas station coupon books. I don't know what the range is now, but I am thinking they ran about $19.99 - $99.99 per night. And don't know if Birmingham has any Youth Hostels - but we've stayed in a few of those too - and were surprised - in a good way.

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    1. I'm pretty sure Birmingham doesn't have any hostels, but since I am from there I could probably just swallow my pride and crash at a friend's house. Normally I can stay with my mom but she's been working through some issues. I will definitely keep that idea in mind though if I am in other cities and need a cheap place to crash.

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  3. It sounds like the car sleeping experience worked out for you. I hand an older Corolla that I slept in when hiking. The back seat didn't fold down though, I had to remove it completely. I couldn't sleep in my Camry because the back seat folded down, but not flat.

    Now that you know you can sleep in your car, you have a good option to save money when needed.

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    1. The Corolla folds down but not completely flat, so it was quite tight, especially since I need to lose some weight in the midsection. Knowing that I can do this puts a new perspective on the necessity for a hotel room if all I need to do is get some sleep.

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  4. You could pick up some truck stop gas station shops that include purchasing a shower ticket. You don't *have* to shower according to the directions, but you can. Might be a good idea. Often bonused.

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    1. Trey,
      That's a good idea. I've done those shops before but not out of necessity and therefore didn't take advantage of the free shower. That would be a good idea and I could probably even sleep in my car in their parking lot the night before.

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  5. In my opinion sometime at many places It's not a good idea to sleep in a car. First time, I slept in my car after visited a lot of random places without any particular plan before 5 Years Ago in Houston, USA

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    ReplyDelete