Sleeping outside doesn't always have to involve hiking for miles or schlepping gear on your back. Car camping is one of the best ways to dip your toes into outdoor adventures—and it's one of the most comfortable and easy ways for seasoned outdoorsy folks to score a night under the stars. Maybe it's the calm of the outdoors, maybe it's the thrill of adventure, maybe it's the notion of going somewhere new. Either way, we love to see more and more people gearing up for adventures.
Car camping is simply a type of camping that involves driving, rather than hiking in, to a campsite. Campers can tailor the experience to meet their needs. It can be very simple or as complicated as the campers want it to be. There are no hard and fast rules (other than the rules of the campground of course). The basic concept is to pack the car with a tent and whatever else you want, and head to the campsite.
But while it sounds simple and pain-free, seasoned car campers know that small camping hacks help make the good time even better. Take it from all the adventurers on TikTok, here to share their top hacks to make car camping even more comfortable and fun.
1. Find a Good Campsite
Finding a safe, legal, and, ideally, beautiful place to park your car and pitch your tent is half the battle. Full-time traveling couple Sondra and Steven, @travel.with.ss, shares in a TikTok that two of their favorite digital spots to find solid places to sleep are FreeCampsites.net and the iOverlander app, both of which show a list of free and paid campsites with reviews and pictures left by other campers.
2. Stay Fresh and Clean
TikToker Sean Drew @seandrew8 shares some of his best car camping hacks to make the trip the best it can be, starting with hygiene: While roughing it is one of the appeals of camping, having a way to adequately clean up can make longer camping trips more enjoyable. Solar showers come in handy to rinse off, and a pour spout container is a great way to keep your hands clean.
3. Get Cozy
If you're sleeping in your car @staywildarizona shares their bed setup, complete with a queen size, four-inch foam mattress topper, then a top sheet, comforter, pillows, and potentially an extra sleeping bag and fuzzy blankets.
@staywildarizona For reference, I drive a Kia Niro! #camping#campinghacks#carcamping#onlyinarizona#arizonacheck ? The Home Depot Beat - The Home Depot
If you're going for the tent, TikToker Sean Drew recommends finding a tent with plenty of head room and space to stretch out. Being able to stand up and walk around can be taken for granted in the day-to-day, but not all tents are tall enough to stand in. Being able to actually stand up straight makes it much easier to change and walk around. Another reason Drew also suggests picking a big tent is so if it rains, there is a comfortable spot inside to read a book or hang out and wait for the weather to clear.
4. Organization Is Key
Drew and crew also share how they keep their food cold and organized. They have a tote for storing all of their loose items. In there, they stay visible and dry. They also bring an egg carton, because no one wants a cracked egg mess. They also have an entirely separate cooler for their beverages.
5. Secure Some Privacy
Both TikTokers highlight the importance of privacy. If you're sleeping in your car, Sondra and Steve recommend buying window screens for your side windows as well as front a rear windshield.
If you're sleeping in a tent, Drew recommends getting canopy walls with built-in pockets. The walls can give some much-needed privacy and the added storage pockets are perfect for camping gadgets or kitchen tools. They also keep a silverware caddy on top of the table because there is nothing worse than having loose plastic silverware scattered in a bag or box.
6. Always Have a Backup Charger
It is important to keep the electronics charged up at the campsite in case of an emergency, if nothing else. One hack Drew recommends is to use a battery bank, which can supply a surprising amount of power. It's a worthy investment to stay connected.
7. Get Out There
Drew's final suggestion cuts right to the core of camping. Get out and explore the world beyond the campsite! It's easy to become anchored to comfort, but take the time to do activities, leave the campground and explore nearby towns and sights. It might sound simple but that is what memories are made of.