Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Road Trip Sleeps

Hi Jamie,

Like your website. My wife and I are planning a coast to coast usa (may - july 2012)

I wondered whether there might be the odd occasion when we might not book into a motel and just sleepover in the vehicle. I would imagine that this might be out in the countryside and well away from towns and cities. Is this sort of thing permissable in America - or frowned upon?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Best Regards,

Jim Morrison (Scotland)


Hello Jim Morrison --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- glad you like the website, and hope you get a chance to check out the books, which have even more info about driving around America!

Your question about sleeping overnight in your vehicle is more complicated than you might think. Especially in these tough economic times, when a lot of Americans are living in their cars, the act of sleeping in parked cars is indeed generally "frowned upon". Then again, if you are not parked on a public highway, it's unlikely any police officer would bother you, though you might attract the attention of the land owner, whose permission it would be good to have got before he wakes you up with a shotgun at 4AM.


Just kidding! (Well, sort of.)

One thing for sure: if you are ever feeling weary it is always better to pull off to a safe place and get some shut -eye, rather than fall asleep at the wheel!

Realistically, I'd suggest that rather than pass an uncomfortable night or two in a car, it's better to plan ahead and camp out in a tent maybe in one of the thousands of very inexpensive campgrounds that exist in beauty spots all over the USA -- especially in the west, where there is a lot more public land (national forests, national parks) -- about half the western US is still in the public domain, and the land is open to everyone, citizens and visitors alike, to sleep where and when they please.

None of this is exactly a definitive answer to your question, perhaps, but I think you get the idea. Hope this helps, and hope you have a great trip -- drop me a line again before you head over, and I'll try to point you toward some great places to visit.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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