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HomeRoad TripIdeas for Van Life in A Metropolis – Bearfoot Concept

Ideas for Van Life in A Metropolis – Bearfoot Concept

If you happen to stay in a van, likelihood is you’ll must sleep in a metropolis for just a few nights every so often. Nobody needs to be woken up at 3 am to “the knock” and informed to maneuver, so whether or not you’re visiting associates, stocking up on necessities, or you have to be in a metropolis for work, following the following pointers for stealth tenting will help cut back the chance of drawing consideration to your self or your van when parked in a single day.

As a result of van life has turn out to be so widespread over the previous few years, lots of people know the best way to acknowledge camper vans by now, however there are nonetheless methods to stealth camp so long as you’re conscientious and respectful when doing so.

Study our greatest ideas for stealth tenting and sleeping unnoticed in city areas.

What’s Stealth Tenting?

Stealth tenting is the act of tenting in an city space that’s not essentially meant for in a single day tenting. Whereas there are not any “campsites” once you stealth camp, there are many authorized locations to park in a single day in your van with out drawing consideration to your self. Just a few frequent locations to stealth camp are residential areas and metropolis streets, which we’ll go into extra element on beneath.

Is Stealth Tenting Unlawful?

With the rising reputation of van life, stealth tenting actually isn’t so stealth anymore. As extra individuals are dwelling of their automobiles, some by alternative and a few not, many cities like San Diego and Santa Barbara have made it unlawful to sleep in your automotive. Sadly, these cities have skilled individuals appearing disrespectfully, littering, and going to the toilet on the streets and in parking heaps. Such as you would out on the path, stealth campers ought to at all times comply with the Depart No Hint rules.

It’s as much as you and the chance you’re keen to tackle stealth tenting in cities the place it’s technically unlawful. Even when it’s authorized, at all times ensure to comply with any posted indicators about no in a single day parking, parking closing dates, and avenue cleansing days to make sure you’re not ticketed.

Ideas for Mixing In Whereas Stealth Tenting

I’ve stealth camped quite a few instances after I wanted to be in a metropolis or city and listed below are my greatest ideas for mixing in:

1. Make your van as non-suspect as attainable

If you happen to plan on steadily stealth tenting in cities, you’ll need your car to be as non-suspect as attainable. Fewer home windows and never having a ton of stuff hanging on the surface of your van – like bikes, AC models, an awning, and high-profile photo voltaic panels – will make it tougher for somebody to inform the distinction between a piece car and your private home on wheels.

You additionally wish to keep away from placing your Instagram deal with or any noticeable paintings on the surface of your van if you wish to be stealthy. The important thing right here is to try to mix in and make it appear as if nobody resides within the car.

Now with that being mentioned, my van isn’t very stealthy and we’ve at all times gotten away with stealth tenting. Having a clear and well-kept van is essential. This implies preserving the entrance of your van completely clear, or higher but, placing up your entire window coverings instantly after parking so nobody can see inside.

Camper van with kayak on roof and motorbikes on trailer in front of van parked a campsite
An instance of non-stealth tenting at a campground

2. Solely use your in a single day parking spot for sleeping

The golden rule of stealth tenting is “arrive late, go away early”. Strive not to hang around in your van with the lights on and curtains down at night time. It’s greatest to hang around someplace just like the seaside or a park whilst you’re consuming dinner and solely go to your in a single day parking spot when you find yourself prepared to show in for the night time. If you happen to can present up after darkish, even higher.

As quickly as you get to your spot, put your privateness shades up, dim the lights, and keep away from going out and in of the van so that you don’t draw consideration to your self. If you have to run your fan, don’t open your vent all the way in which. That is a straightforward giveaway that somebody is sleeping inside.

Within the morning, stand up and transfer your van. Head again to the seaside or park the place you possibly can go about your regular morning routine. Once more, we wish to be respectful when stealth tenting, so don’t overstay your welcome, particularly in the event you’re in a residential space.

3. Have a approach to make use of the bathroom inside your van

You must have a method to go to the toilet inside your van in case you are stealth tenting. If you happen to’re parked in a neighborhood, you don’t wish to be going out and in of your van when you have to pee in the course of the night time. You undoubtedly can’t pee outdoors on another person’s property.

If you happen to don’t have a rest room in your van, a pee jug (like a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle) is an effective choice. For going #2 whereas stealth tenting, carry emergency wag baggage or drive to the closest public bathroom.

Foldable toilet set up in converted camper van
I carry the Cleanwaste Go Anyplace Rest room for emergencies

The place to Park When Stealth Tenting

The primary rule of thumb for stealth tenting is don’t park anyplace the place there are indicators that say “no in a single day parking.” If you happen to ignore these indicators, you’re asking for the dreaded “knock” from the cops. Listed here are just a few locations I’ve discovered that present good choices for stealth tenting:

Neighborhoods with Avenue Parking

With regards to parking, what has labored for us is to discover a spot in a neighborhood the place most individuals park on the road. If individuals don’t have driveways and everyone seems to be parked on the road, somebody isn’t going to note if there’s a new automotive on their block. Most individuals would simply assume that the van should belong to a neighbor or somebody visiting a neighbor. That is a lot better than parking in a quiet residential neighborhood the place a single random van on the block would seem suspect.

I do suggest that you simply keep away from parking instantly in entrance of somebody’s home or walkway.

If parked in a residential neighborhood, you’ll wish to relocate your car very first thing within the morning and likewise keep away from parking in the identical place for greater than a few nights in a row so the neighbors don’t get suspicious.

Industrial Areas or Close to Bars

One other good choice for in a single day stealth tenting are industrial areas and neighborhoods with bars. Oftentimes, individuals would possibly go away their vehicles parked in a single day to keep away from driving dwelling after ingesting, so a parked van wouldn’t be out of the unusual.

Large Field Shops

Some huge field shops like Walmart, Cabelas, Tenting World, and Cracker Barrel normally permit in a single day parking. This could rely upon what state you’re in and whether or not the supervisor of the shop permits it. It’s at all times a good suggestion to name forward or go in and discuss to the supervisor to verify in a single day tenting is allowed. Our private favourite is Cracker Barrel, which normally has designated in a single day parking spots for RVers and vans at the back of their parking zone.


If you happen to’re in a state like Nevada or Arizona that has casinos, these is usually a good place to stealth camp. Casinos sometimes have giant parking heaps which can be well-lit and protected. Many casinos even have eating places and retailers which can be open 24/7.

Harvest Hosts & Boondockers Welcome

Harvest Hosts helps join RVer’s and van lifers with farms, wineries, breweries, and museums across the nation for a free place to spend the night time. Many places are rural, however there are some Harvest Hosts in cities – like museums, breweries, and distilleries. Most locations do require a sophisticated reservation and solely help you keep 1 night time. You’ll be able to try Harvest Host places right here and if you wish to enroll, use this hyperlink to get 15% off your membership.

Boondocker’s Welcome connects you with non-public property house owners who welcome in a single day campers. These are sometimes in driveways, fields, or backyards and a few permit multiple-night stays. You will get 15% off your membership utilizing the code BWFRIENDS15.

*To be a member of Harvest Hosts or Boondocker’s Welcome, it’s essential to have a self-contained RV with a rest room, water tank, and inside cooking services. No tents of any form are allowed.

Staying at a Harvest Host in Michigan

Truck Stops and Relaxation Stops

If you happen to don’t thoughts commuting simply outdoors of town, relaxation stops and truck stops are two completely authorized locations to sleep in a single day in your car. Each of those locations will be loud as a consequence of engine noise and fixed visitors, however they’re handy in a pinch. Be aware: Some states restrict the variety of hours you possibly can park at a relaxation cease, so at all times comply with posted signage.

iOverlander App

This is likely one of the prime apps for locating free campsites on the highway, and it’s additionally an amazing useful resource for locating locations to stealth camp in cities. You’ll be able to simply see all tenting choices on the map and click on to learn critiques and see photographs.

Above All, Someplace Protected

Irrespective of the place we select to stealth camp, we attempt to decide on a spot that’s well-lit and feels protected. If a neighborhood feels sketchy, transfer on. Your intestine intuition is essential for your entire van travels, however notably when you find yourself staying in cities.

I at all times prefer to sleep with my keys in the identical place so I can seize them rapidly if wanted. I additionally prefer to park in a spot with a straightforward exit simply in case it involves that, though I haven’t had any points that required a fast exit within the years I’ve been doing van life.

Birds eye view of road from building with cars parked on the sides
Stealth tenting on a well-lit avenue with different automobiles is an effective alternative

What Occurs if Somebody Knocks? 

What occurs in the event you get the dreaded knock in your door in the course of the night time? In case you are being accountable and are conscious of your environment, the probability of somebody knocking is slim. Your aim is to keep away from this, so mixing in and following posted guidelines will hopefully aid you keep away from this within the first place.

If you happen to do get a knock, your first query is, “is {that a} cop” or “is it somebody attempting to interrupt in?” Hopefully, it’s the primary and never the latter. 

Speaking to Cops

If it appears like a cop, then you definitely’ll wish to go to your driver’s seat, roll down the window (not all the way in which), and discuss to them. You’ll be able to apologize, inform them it was late and also you have been drained and also you didn’t wish to go to sleep on the wheel. In the event that they ask you to maneuver, merely agree, and transfer. Don’t argue or you possibly can find yourself with a ticket. 

My coverage is to by no means open my slider door. You don’t ever wish to give anybody entry to your dwelling quarters, particularly in the course of the night time, and that features cops. Entering into the driving force’s seat and rolling your window midway down is all you have to confirm that it’s certainly the police and to have a dialog. If it finally ends up not being the police, then you definitely’re within the place to start out the automotive and drive away. 

Do you will have expertise with stealth tenting? What has or hasn’t labored for you? Share your questions, ideas, and experiences down within the feedback, and ensure to enroll in our van life e-newsletter right here.



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