Sleeping in a Vehicle

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by frankus » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:32 am

I'm driving down in my Honda Element, and am considering using it as a shelter for sleeping purposes. I can either fold all the seats flat into a (lumpy) bed or take the rear seats out and put down an air mattress. The only difficulty I've run into before was the tradeoff between humidity (windows shut) and bugs (windows open), but neither should be a problem on the playa. Is there going to be a similar tradeoff between playa dust and oppressive heat? I'm planning to drape it in something like Aluminet to help with heat gain.

Where on a scale between "inconvenience" and "absolute nightmare" is it going to be to clean the playa dust out after the event? It's a pretty easy car to clean and I'm not super picky about having it spotless inside or out, but I've heard some people don't even crack the doors of their vehicle for their entire stay.

I'm bringing a tent as backup regardless, if for no other reason than a place to stash my stuff while I'm sleeping, but I'd like to know what to expect.

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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by Jackass » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:58 am

Sounds like a pretty solid plan, just take out any seats you won't be using so you get more space. Those Elements are almost all plastic on the inside, should be fairly easy to clean with a good wipe down or three. Lots of people sleep in their vehicles, having a tent as well will give you options for shuffling... that's a good thing.

Don't forget to bring something to make shade for yourself, I'd also cover the windows with that reflective bubble wrap stuff on the outside. That alone will make a world of a difference in temp.
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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by mudpuppy000 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:16 am

I've slept in my xterra 3/4 of the years I've been. It starts to get warm in there around 9:00 or so when I have it well shaded and the windows rolled up. I'm a morning person so that works fine for me. If you're going to sleep till noon you'll have to have the windows open or some kind of cooler, but that adds potential for dust getting in. You can clean the dust up somewhat afterwards, but I still have a lot in my vehicle. :D I mostly keep it sealed because I want a relatively clean place to sleep and not have to worry about my pillow getting coated with dirt. :D

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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by misfit » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:20 am

we own a 2003 E,,, a nightmare to clean post playa. dust will accumulate in every cubby, especially in the spare tire well and interior side panels. limit the amount of time you go into your vehicle. also because of the almost verticle windshield, the dust will pile up in your vents. you can limit this with duct tape over the exterior vent slats. tent with air matress is the way to go.........
Last edited by misfit on Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by maladroit » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:23 am

Dust blowing in will be less of a concern than all the dust you bring inside. You'll never really get it clean, but maybe that's OK.

If you sleep in your car, even if you invest in some Reflectix for every window and a tarp shade overhead, it will be an oven starting at sunrise. You absolutely must be in bed no later than 2am every night or else you won't get enough sleep.

It would be a good idea to figure out how to seal furnace filters into two windows, so you get some ventilation.

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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by portaplaya » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:26 pm

It's kind of late to find aluminet unless you order it RIGHT NOW on the internet.

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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by dragonpilot » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:48 pm

misfit wrote: the dust will pile up in your vents. you can limit this with duct tape over the exterior vent slats.
misfit meant to say "3-inch wide blue painter's tape." The adhesive on duct tape will melt in the heat and almost weld itself to your paint job...
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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by Lonesomebri » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:07 pm

If you are down with it, camping in the car is fine. You can set up that small tent against the west side of your car and use the car for shade when you climb out of your night den vehicle into your morning nap shade. There's a guy who has camped near us twice who does this (pulled in where I thought there was no more room for a camp), his camp is his car, gets up early and moves to the shade side of his vehicle, uses a folding chair and tarp to sponge bath, but he's going out all the time, at all hours, staying out all night, I keep track of things like that... So he might be eating and, ahh...umm... sleeping some place else also. Getting in and out of the car is going to effect how dusty it stays forever. And then just glom onto some neighbors who have a shade shelter, bringing that extra half gallon of tequila will help with this, and crash at their pad...and then there's Center Camp....

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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by Canoe » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:01 pm

Jackass wrote:... I'd also cover the windows with that reflective bubble wrap stuff on the outside. That alone will make a world of a difference in temp.
  • If there's sun & normal temps, you won't be able to tolerate being inside past 9:00 or 9:30, unless you use the foil-sided bubble-wrap to cover the windows.
    - On the outside works much more effectively than on the inside.
    - Cover all windows, including the windshield.
    - Depending on how tight your doors are, you may be able to tuck in over the top and sides of the door, close the door, then only need to tape the bottom seam somewhat below the window bottom, and the top & sides to the window on the inside (you'll still be able to open/close that door)
  • On a North side door, cut the wrap to exact window size and tape it to the door on the outside. This will be your in/out door.
  • Pick one or two windows on the NORTH side of the vehicle for installing the foil-sided bubble-wrap on the inside. That way you can cut a 2"x2" hole in the middle to have a source of interior light, but being small and on the North side, the heat it lets in will be minimal. (if you put this hole on the outside, the wind will rip it off.)
  • If your car is a dark colour, seriously consider putting the foil-sided bubble-wrap on the roof too; essential for covering a sun/moon roof. Do not install it in a single piece. Cut it into two or three or more pieces so you can have it secured against wind by tape along the length of the roof.
  • No duct take anywhere.
  • Some painter's tape doesn't hold. Including: the delicate surface painter's tape is useless in playa heat & wind.
  • A little more cost, get gaffer's tape as it will hold the whole week and reports are no damage to vehicle paint, with easy removal and low or no residue.
    White if they've got it, otherwise the lightest colour.
  • If it's cold one day, remove the cover on a South side window and it will "solar-oven" the inside temp in short order.
  • If you're not throwing yourself inside during a dust storm, open the door, sit on the seat and take your shoes off and set them in on the floor.
  • Swiffer dust refills usually make quick cleaning of interiors, except the floors.
If you're still concerned about the heat, and fresh air, build a bucket swamp-cooler. You'll be able to cool the interior down to sleep anytime during the day. There's still time to get parts ordered and shipped.
While it's one, the cool in-coming fresh air replaces the hot air inside, which needs to have one window cracked to let that hot air out (close it when the swamp-cooler is off). This pressurized the vehicle interior, making it a lot more difficult for hot dry dusty air to blow in through the ventilation system, as the inside pressure has some of the interior air exiting through those paths.
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Re: Sleeping in a Vehicle

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:02 pm

Lonesomebri wrote:... he's going out all the time, at all hours, staying out all night, I keep track of things like that...
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