When you first start off sleeping in your van, finding a place that you feel safe can be more difficult that you would think. There really aren’t many places that you can just park overnight where you can sleep and use the bathroom for free. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
- Check out the local laws on sleeping in your vehicle. Here in Los Angeles they allow it and have adequate signage to let you know if you can be there and when you need to move. I did a little research and found a website and maps of all of the places you can cannot live in your vehicle in LA County.
- A wise old hippie once told me to just hang out where RV’s are parked. Old hippies always know what’s up.
- Almost every vanner knows that Wal-Marts will let you crash in their parking lots for a day or two. Plus they are open 24 hours, have groceries, supplies, and a bathroom.
- Industrial areas are another safe bet you’re in a pinch. They are mostly quiet at night and have a few cars parked around the area. Just be one of those cars and leave by the time people come to work the next day.
- I don’t have a flushable toilet onboard and don’t like using my emergency one if I don’t have to–so I plan to wake up somewhere near a public bathroom. Usually you’ll find me at a park or a store that is open super early like Home Depot.
- House people do not like van people hanging out in front of their homes, but if you are a good neighbor (and don’t stay for more than a night or two) you shouldn’t have any problems…Just be aware and respectful of their homes, views, and property.
- People smarter than me are currently developing apps to help nomads find good spots to sleep like Vanlife App and Stay Free. Use them and support the community.
If it comes down to it, sleep wherever you want and if someone calls the police don’t be a dick and move along. It will absolutely happen; eventually.