Car Camping Tips and How-To Guide

Car camping is a growing trend that’s made it easier than ever for people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. But it can be pretty daunting the first time you do it. 

We’ve put together this guide to help. It covers everything you should bring with you while car camping and some tips to help you get more out of your trip. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Go Car Camping?

A Typical Car Camping Setup

The main benefit of car camping is convenience. There’s something undeniably appealing about being able to spend a few nights in a scenic outdoor location with nothing but your car. 

It can also be more affordable to camp in your car. You don’t necessarily have to spend as much on gear when you’re sleeping in your vehicle.

Finally, it’s also typically safer to go car camping. With this style of camping, you can lock yourself in your vehicle at night instead of sleeping in an outdoor tent that’s exposed.

Things to Take While Car Camping

So, now that we’ve covered why car camping is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts let’s look at what you should bring. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers all of the main items you’ll need to enjoy your trip.

Sleeping Supplies

The first thing you need to figure out is how you’re going to sleep in your car. Most car campers lay out a thick pad in the back of the vehicle and cover it with warm blankets and pillows. 

Just make sure you know your trunk size before purchasing a pad. If you can’t find the exact right size, purchasing a slightly bigger, rather than smaller pad is typically your best option, as the edges can curl up, and you won’t accidentally slide off of it during the night.

Water and Food

Water and food are self-explanatory. Make sure that you have enough for your trip, and bring extra just in case. Only carry perishable food with you if you have a strategy for keeping it cool.

Window Covers

Window covers are a nice item to have while car camping as well. They’ll give you some privacy so that people can’t peer into your vehicle while you sleep.

A Portable Power Station

Bringing a power station with you is a great way to enhance your next car camping expedition. You’ll be able to run minor outdoor appliances like coolers and fans while also keeping key electronics charged, like your cell phone and laptop.

Sunscreen and Bug Spray

Sunscreen and bug spray are self-explanatory as well. Bringing these will help you stay safe from the elements and comfortable during your trip.

A Tent (Maybe)

 Car Camping with a Tent for Extra Space

Many people go car camping because they don’t want to have to set up a tent. But there are some tents that are designed to latch onto your open trunk and expand your space. 

These can be helpful because they give you a protected area to hang out in when you’re not sleeping. You don’t need a tent for car camping, but it’s something you may want to consider if you think it’ll make you more comfortable.

Toiletries (Including Toilet Paper)

Most campgrounds don’t provide toilet paper, and it can be tough to find stores that sell toiletries in off-the-grid areas. Bring everything you need with you for a comfortable trip.

Lanterns and Flashlights

It’s incredible how dark it can get when you’re not around the artificial lights of the city. This is one of the appeals of car camping, but having lanterns and flashlights on hand will ensure you’re able to move around your camping area at night.

Cooking Gear and Eating Utensils

You’ll also want to bring enough cooking gear and utensils to make and consume whatever food you’ll be having. This can include: 

  • A stove (either electric or gas)
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Eating utensils
  • Anything else you might need

Varied Clothing

Nature can be unpredictable. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring both warm and lightweight clothing options with you, as well as gear for the rain if you think there’s a chance you might get some.


Finally, you’ll want to bring some items to keep yourself entertained while you’re car camping. This can include: 

  • Instruments
  • Boardgames and cards
  • A journal and writing utensil
  • Gear for watching movies and TV shows at night
  • Anything else you can think of

Tips for a Better Car Camping Experience

Car Camping at Night

So – now that we’ve covered what you should bring with you on your car camping expedition, here are some more tips for getting more out of the experience.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Campgrounds

One of the beautiful aspects of camping in your car is that you’re free to go off the grid and explore. There are many parts of the country (such as national forests) that car campers can stay at entirely for free. These areas offer some of the most scenic and enjoyable camping experiences. 

So, don’t just look at established campsites when you’re planning your next car camping trip. Consider taking advantage of how easy it is to camp in a car by going off the beaten path and exploring someplace unique.

Keep Yourself Organized

Keeping yourself organized is one of the toughest aspects of car camping. This is because you’re going to be sleeping where you would typically store your gear. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in organizers before taking a car camping trip. Even simple bins can give you a clear place to store your gear so that you’re not having to search everywhere when you need to find a key item.

Keep Your Windows Cracked While Sleeping

If you’re able to, keeping at least two opposite-sided windows cracked is a great idea when car camping. This helps with airflow and prevents moisture from building up inside the car while you rest. 

You don’t have to keep your windows cracked if you think it will be too cold. But it’s often easier to sleep and more comfortable when you do so.

Do Some Research Before Going

Finally, make sure to do your research before choosing a destination. Car campers love to camp outside of normal campgrounds. But if you’re going to do this, you need to know what to expect so you can prepare for it.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier to research even out-of-the-way spots for camping. Reddit is an extremely helpful resource for this. You can use it to read others' experiences of the location you want to visit and to solicit advice from seasoned car campers.

Get More Out of Car Camping with BougeRV

Car camping can be a more convenient and comfortable way to get out and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. But if you want to get the most out of your trip, having a reliable source of power with you is a must.

That’s where BougeRV comes in. We offer a wide variety of solar power and portable power solutions that are perfect for campers. From outdoor refrigerators to lightweight batteries that will charge your electronics, we have everything you need to get more out of your next trip.

But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at our website to learn more about what we have to offer.