Car Camping 101 – Intermediate Skaters Series

vw camper

Mastering the nomad lifestyle is done so by trial and error unfortunately.

The places skating will take you are limitless so be sure you arrive prepared! To do this you need to make your temporary home sustainable for the trip you are taking.

First, determine your vehicle of choice

If you have no option to choose vehicles, there are ways to adapt to any space to make it comfortable!

If you do have the option to choose, find a car that fits your needs and roll with it. Some questions to ask yourself before choosing the vehicle are:

  • Where are you going and can your car handle the distance/terrain?
  • Who are you traveling with and are you prepared to live exceptionally close to them?

You’ll need to study the space you have available in your car as it will come in handy with step two! Take measurements and remove all unnecessary items that may be cluttering your car.

old vw camper

Second step

Second step to becoming an expert migrant skater is to differentiate your needs from your wants when thinking what to pack.

Some useful basic categories to think of when packing are:

  • Emergency/survival gear
  • Clothing/Hygiene
  • Food storage/preparation
  • Sleeping
  • Skating

For each category determine the necessary items that you can’t or shouldn’t be without.

This list will vary from person to person as it is a personal decision. Some things you will just have to pack despite not wanting to use up the space for it.

These items are crucial and include water, a first aid kit, car emergency gear, your skateboard and gear, and a blanket or sleeping bag.

Remember that if you plan on bringing battery operated electronics you should also pack extra batteries!

Communicate with your travel buddy to save space and prevent double packing.


Pro Tip: You need less clothing than you think. Laundromats will take up 2 hours of your time and give you a clean wardrobe while saving space. You need less food than you actually think you do, too!

Everyone loves mindlessly snacking while on the road, but figuring out your food storage/supply method takes some deep thinking.

This is a personal choice, but all choices will have some drawbacks to them. One option is to buy all your food as you need it when you need it wasting and saving nothing.

This saves space as you won’t need a cooler, but can get costly, isn’t the healthiest menu, and you have to be near civilization to constantly purchase food.

Another option is to pack sustainable, filing foods in a cooler saving leftovers as you go and replenishing your food supply less frequently. This method is healthier and cheaper, but you will lose storage space to your cooler.

travel bags

It’s a balance between space and money and is 100% up to you.

It’s completely acceptable to design and hybrid system to fit your needs and funds also. Some other helpful tips are to visit hotels to mooch their continental breakfasts, visit friends to clean your dishes and meal prep, and be sure you’re buying only what you will consume.

Sleeping in a car is a task itself

If your car is large enough, entertain the idea of an air mattress. With an air mattress the car doesn’t need to be an exact fit because the mattress will bend and fill up the uneven walls.

If an air mattress isn’t possible, cut up an old mattress pad and sleep on that for extra comfort.  At night, stay away from parks or playgrounds that close at dusk because there will most likely be patrol of that area or concerned neighbors who will report your parked car to authorities.

Great places to park your car include The Home Depot, Walmart, Target, a rest stop on the highways, a friend’s driveway, or in a state park if it’s free.

sleeping person

Most large chain stores will have Semi-trucks parked there overnight and that’s usually a good indication that you can park there, too.

The downside to parking in parking lots of stores is that it will most likely be brightly lit up by their light poles all night. I suggest investing in a sleeping mask to create your own darkness or window shields for your car that prevent light penetration.

The last thing to remember when trying to sleep in your car is that it is not as insulated as you’d expect. Bring a warm blanket or sleeping bag along and warm sleeping clothes (sweats, extra socks, and a hoodie) to ensure you don’t get cold in the night.

Lastly to consider, is when and where you shower.

This requires a little preplanning on your part. Find the YMCA’s and YWCA’s along your path and read their FAQ section on showers.

Most of them offer a nice hot shower for around $2.00. If you have friends along your route, give them a heads up you’ll be traveling their way and snag a shower at their place.

Be sure to thank them appropriately-showers are scarce when on the road and they’re doing you and your travel buddy a huge favor. Now, if you’ve ever taken a skating road trip you know you start to smell pretty quickly in between showers.


One tip is to get used to hippie showers.

A hippie shower is the mobile version of a sponge bath and is performed using baby wipes. Baby wipes come in handy while on the road so invest in them. As far as the time in between showers goes, be sure to wash the trinity of smelly areas, brush your teeth, use deodorant generously, and change your socks regularly!

road trip concept

There you go!

You have the tools to become a car camping master! Don’t forget to pack light, eat smart, remain clean, and stay safe on your adventure!

The time you spend on your road trip are the times you’ll remember, so make them count!


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