Ideas for Van Life in A Metropolis – Bearfoot Idea


If you happen to reside in a van, chances are high you’ll must sleep in a metropolis for a number of nights every now and then. Nobody needs to be woken up at 3 am to “the knock” and instructed to maneuver, so whether or not you’re visiting pals, stocking up on necessities, or you must be in a metropolis for work, following the following tips for stealth tenting may help cut back the danger 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 fashionable over the previous few years, lots of people know methods 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 suggestions 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 isn’t essentially meant for in a single day tenting. Whereas there are not any “campsites” if you stealth camp, there are many authorized locations to park in a single day in your van with out drawing consideration to your self. A number of widespread 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 persons 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 tons. Such as you would out on the path, stealth campers ought to at all times comply with the Go away No Hint ideas.

It’s as much as you and the danger 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 cut-off 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 occasions once I wanted to be in a metropolis or city and listed here are my finest suggestions for mixing in:

1. Make your van as non-suspect as potential

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

You additionally need 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 attempt 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 all your 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 finest 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 must 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 need to be respectful when stealth tenting, so don’t overstay your welcome, particularly if you happen to’re in a residential space.

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

It is best to have a strategy to go to the toilet inside your van if you’re stealth tenting. If you happen to’re parked in a neighborhood, you don’t need to be going out and in of your van when you must pee in the course of the night time. You positively can’t pee exterior on another person’s property.

If you happen to don’t have a bathroom in your van, a pee jug (like a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle) is an efficient possibility. 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 a number of locations I’ve discovered that present good choices for stealth tenting:

Neighborhoods with Road Parking

In relation 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 just keep away from parking straight in entrance of somebody’s home or walkway.

If parked in a residential neighborhood, you’ll need to relocate your car very first thing within the morning and in addition 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 possibility for in a single day stealth tenting are industrial areas and neighborhoods with bars. Oftentimes, individuals may go away their automobiles parked in a single day to keep away from driving residence after consuming, so a parked van wouldn’t be out of the peculiar.

Huge Field Shops

Some massive field shops like Walmart, Cabelas, Tenting World, and Cracker Barrel often enable in a single day parking. This may 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 often has designated in a single day parking spots for RVers and vans behind their car parking zone.


If you happen to’re in a state like Nevada or Arizona that has casinos, these generally is a good place to stealth camp. Casinos sometimes have massive parking tons which might be well-lit and secure. Many casinos even have eating places and retailers which might 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 areas are rural, however there are some Harvest Hosts in cities – like museums, breweries, and distilleries. Most locations do require a sophisticated reservation and solely assist you to keep 1 night time. You possibly can try Harvest Host areas 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 enable 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, you should have a self-contained RV with a bathroom, 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 exterior 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 result of engine noise and fixed site visitors, however they’re handy in a pinch. Observe: 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 without doubt one of the high apps for locating free campsites on the street, and it’s additionally an excellent useful resource for locating locations to stealth camp in cities. You possibly can simply see all tenting choices on the map and click on to learn evaluations and see images.

Above All, Someplace Secure

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

I at all times wish to sleep with my keys in the identical place so I can seize them rapidly if wanted. I additionally wish 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 efficient alternative

What Occurs if Somebody Knocks? 

What occurs if you happen to get the dreaded knock in your door in the course of the night time? If you’re being accountable and are conscious of your environment, the probability of somebody knocking is slim. Your purpose is to keep away from this, so mixing in and following posted guidelines will hopefully allow you to 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 making an attempt to interrupt in?” Hopefully, it’s the primary and never the latter. 

Speaking to Cops

If it feels like a cop, then you definitely’ll need to go to your driver’s seat, roll down the window (not all the way in which), and discuss to them. You possibly can apologize, inform them it was late and also you had been drained and also you didn’t need 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 need to give anybody entry to your dwelling quarters, particularly in the course of the night time, and that features cops. Stepping into the driving force’s seat and rolling your window midway down is all you must 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 begin the automotive and drive away. 

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


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