Our first day on the road was full of thousands of emotions. At night time, we couldn’t wait to sleep. We took an exit on the highway, drove down the street and almost instantly
found a small dirt road to pull off and rest our heads. Five months later we have slept everywhere from beside hot springs and the ocean, in the forest, Walmart parking lots, to residential streets. Surprisingly, sleeping anywhere and everywhere has been one of the easiest transitions for us. With only paying for three nights in over
five months, we quickly learned we can fall asleep just about anywhere. That is something very important with this lifestyle. While, obviously, we prefer the nights where we wake up with an amazing view in reality that isn’t always the way it happens.
Stealth camping is our least favourite. Although I don’t think there is anything too stealth about it. A big white loud van with curtains drawn and fogged up windows on the side of the street. Is that really fooling anyone? We have read stories about how careful some people are when “stealth camping”. Perhaps we are doing it wrong when we pull up our loud girl, take our dogs out for a walk, have our lights on reading, our windows open as we jump around playing with our dogs inside and sleep until 10 am. Stealth camping, to us, simply means we don’t pop our top. For us, top down makes us like a ninja.
If we are traveling and find somewhere we like and there isn’t a no overnight parking sign, we have found our accommodations for the night. If we are in a city, typically we don’t plan where we are going to sleep until we get tired. Our motto, if it doesn’t tell us not to then it’s probably safe. Shopping malls are not a good spot. Even though they have huge empty parking lots malls are always either posted no overnighting, or have security guards. Walmarts they are not.
When we get to a new place, we typically start by visiting the info center to get a rundown of must sees. After that, we typically look at our back-roads map and make our plan. It is all based around how we want to spend our days. Our love for this lifestyle is that we are living outside so we typically look for somewhere close to forests or oceans. Short commutes gives us more time to do what we love.
Have you ever had anyone wake you up in the middle of the night? I have slept in my Vanagon all over the US, but when in the city I tried to use couchsurfing as much as possible to land a driveway. My first stay was near Berkeley CA, where I slept on a city street for a week in front of a house. I was constantly worried that sooner or later someone would knock on my window – hopefully a cop and not someone looking to break in. A friend of mine had someone break into her van when she was sleeping in it, her dog scared him off.
We haven’t really ever had trouble. When we started out we tried to stay in well lit areas because we we were worried about waking up to our gear being gone, but have never had an issue. We like to move around though. If we stay in a city we almost never stay in the same spot for more than a night. Certain cities have unofficial spots you can stay for longer periods though. We have three dogs that let us know when people get too close. Look for places that don’t have no camping signs. If we get woken up we’d just say we didn’t know 🙂