Last Update: 11/17/2016

Can’t Sleep in the Van? Get Used to It!

Wide-eyed fellow, head on pillow, don’t feel secure enough to sleep in his van.
You’ve found your stealth or boondocking spot down by the river. You’ve buttoned everything down for the night. But goddammit, you just can’t fucking go to sleep! What’s a vandweller to do?

The short answer? Get used to it! That’s the secret to van life sleeping.

What the Hell! Van Life Means No Sleep!?

No, that ain’t what I fucking said. “Get used to it” means you need to get used to each kind of new sleeping spot.

See, Vanholio’s been through this. Expect nearly everyone to take up van life has.

To get to sleep and to sleep soundly – not with one eye open all night – you gotta feel safe. You gotta feel secure. Also gotta ignore background noise. It’s hard to do all that in a new situation.

But give it time, you’ll adjust. Soon you’ll be sleeping like a drunken baby.

How Long Will It Take to Adjust?

Shit, I don’t know. Maybe a few nights.

Vanholio’s been at this a while. When he got started, he could only sleep secure in official campsites.

Since them days, I done slept in rest areas, Walmarts, shopping malls, closed campgrounds, behind abandoned buildings, beaches, and what all.

Maybe it took me 3-4 times in each type of setup before I could really relax. Not really sure. Weren’t too much.

But here’s a warning: Each kinda setup starts the clock over.

Gotta Adjust to Each New Camp Type

Then last night, I tried a different setup. Around sundown, I was driving down a smaller state road east of Laredo. Saw a small, fenced-off utility building with a driveway.

Now, Vanholio’s rig looks a bit like a work van. What the hell!, I says to myself, who’d fuck with a work van parked by a utility building? So I hid in plain sight, feeling smug as a tax dodger.

No one was around, mostly. It’s all ranch land, petroleum wells, and windmills out there. A few cars zipped by overnight, but no one stopped or said shit. No LEOs came by. It were real quiet like.

But Vanholio slept with one eye open. Bit tired today. Like I said, each new situation takes its own time. Give me a time or three to do it again, and I’ll be sleeping just fine.

Bet you hardcore urban vandweller types are laughing at Vanholio for being a panty-waist!

Like I Said, Get Used to It

So if you’re thinking about van life or new to vandwelling, just relax. Be prepared for some poor sleep with each new stealth park or boondock you try. Spread your wings, and you’ll be a well-rested veteran in no time.

And hey, you van life vets out there, got any other advice or words of wisdom for the newbies?


  1. Yeah, there are two situations that keep me from sleeping well. One is when I'm unsure whether it's okay to be there. Will I get rousted? If so, where will I go? The other is when I'm totally alone, no one for miles, and I start wondering if bored, high, criminally-minded local dudes will come and mess with me. Even though that has never happened to me, and even though I know it's hugely unlikely to ever happen, another part of my mind grabs onto the idea and won't let go.

    1. Yeah, for the second, I prefer to park in natural cover. I don't want no one to know I'm there.

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