Car camping has become quite the rage these days, with many people looking for ways to save money on their travel budgets. Can you sleep in a VW Golf? With the price of gasoline pushing $4.00 a gallon, many millennials and camping enthusiasts are desperate to find ways to stretch their travel budget. One of the most popular ways is to convert the vehicle they own into a nightly camper. Whether it is curling up in the back cargo area with a mattress or using a tent extension, it is possible to take your hotel room with you. Why spend hours on your smartphone flipping through hotel options and prices when your bed is just a few inches behind you? Having instant access to a place to sleep means that if you get tired, you can just pull over in a safe place, catch a few zzzs and then start again when you are rested.
Table of Contents
- Can you comfortably sleep in a VW Golf?
- What Are Some Things I Need to Consider?
Can you comfortably sleep in a VW Golf?
There is not enough room in the back of a VW Golf for anyone over 5’7” to sleep comfortably. Most VW forums offered suggestions, but unless you like to sleep curled up, there is not enough space to sleep with the hatch closed. VW and many camping stores offer tent extensions that can be used.
While there may not be enough room for an average person to stretch out in the rear cargo area without feeling cramped, the front seats reclined. It is possible to sleep in the front area without too many modifications. There are some things to consider before you pull off the highway and set up your tent. Is it legal to camp? Is it safe? Just how comfortable is it to sleep in a VW Golf?
There are lots of things to know before you decide to save on your travel budget by converting your car into a camper. Let’s explore this trend and see if we can answer some basic questions regarding car camping.
What Are Some Things I Need to Consider?
There are many things to consider as you contemplate whether making your car into your nightly hotel is a wise idea.
Is Car Camping Legal?
The biggest thing you need to know is that you cannot just pull your car off the road and set up your tent anywhere. While no federal law says that you cannot sleep in your car, many states have restrictions about where and when you can do so.
Some states do not allow you to park your car and sleep at night, while others only allow sleeping for hours at a time. Others will not allow you to use the shoulder of an Interstate (even though you see semi-trucks do it all the time).
And if you are thinking about just sleeping in a rest area, be careful. It is simply not allowed in many states.
An important caveat is worth mentioning. Most local laws supersede state regulations, which means that it may be illegal to park and sleep in the city you are in, even though the state may allow it. It is always best to ensure that you are not violating a city ordinance by parking your car in an area that is not allowed.
A best practice if you are unsure might be to stop by the local police station and inquire where the best place to park overnight might be. This act will notify the local law enforcement that you want to follow the rules and prevent you from being woken up in the middle of the night when a cruiser stumbles on your car camping where it shouldn’t be. (In many cities, it is legal to arrest someone for intoxication even if they are just asleep in their car – so be mindful).
Is Car Camping Safe?
There are precautions that you can take to secure the site in which you decide to spend the night.
Pick a Good Location with Security
Depending on where you decide to pitch your tent, converting your car into a tent camper is about as safe as camping in a tent. (That is basically what you are doing). Many state parks offer camping sites at rates much lower than you would pay for a motel, so these are worth exploring.
An excellent place to camp is in a National Park if one is available close to where you are driving. Most national parks are beautiful examples of American wilderness that everyone should visit. For a complete listing of our nation’s national parks, visit the National Park Service website.
Have Charged Cellphone Close By
For one thing, make sure your cell phone is fully charged so that if the unforeseen happens, you can call the local law enforcement quickly. Be mindful of your surroundings, and try to find a campground occupied by other vacationers.
The last thing you want is to be out in the middle of nowhere and not be able to tell a dispatcher where you are.
Never Sleep in a Car with Engine Running
Be sure to turn your car engine off and lock and secure your car’s doors before sleep. If the weather forecast indicates a cold night, do you and your spouse favor and plan for a nice warm motel room.
Consider Covering the Side Windows and Hanging a Curtain Behind the Front
Depending on the tent extension you have – (side mount or rear), consider purchasing side shades or design a DIY project to prevent strangers from looking into the car’s interior. The last thing you want is to wake up with someone’s face plastered against the side glass, trying to peer their way inside. An example of side shades explicitly designed for a VW Golf can be found on Amazon.
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Is Car Camping Comfortable?
Attaching a Tent to the side or rear of your automobile is about as comfortable as sleeping on the ground on an air mattress.
Many VW Golf forums complained about the cargo area’s hardness, so you might want to consider purchasing a comfortable air mattress. Bear in mind that there are height restrictions in the back of a Golf, so you will want to figure out the height of your mattress so that you are not bumping your head on the ceiling every time you raise your head.
Some tent extensions provide additional space to lay out an air mattress on the ground next to the car. (For a review of the best sleeping pads for a back area, see this article).
Many families are finding this as a suitable alternative, in which the parents lay on the ground, and the kids get to lie on the rear seat on a thin mattress. The width dimensions of the VW Golf won’t accommodate anything that might be wider than a twin mattress, but this should be more than adequate for more minor children.
One last thought. If you have been camping in your car for a while, do yourself a favor, or treat your family to a night in a motel.
Everyone will get a decent night’s rest, a shower to refresh themselves in the morning, and be energized to attack the next day’s journey.