August 03, 2023 4 min read
BOTH! The beauty of a station wagon is that it’s low profile enough to use for city driving (& parking), but spacious enough to put the seats down and transform into a cozy sleep zone for my adventures.
As a solo female traveler, I find I sleep SO MUCH better in a car that locks than in a tent. I used to tent camp alone (when I had a sedan) and found I would wake up regularly throughout the night. Any noises outside the tent have an amazing way of triggering a fearful thought spiral, and lying in a tent protected only by thin nylon & a zipper really makes you feel like a sitting duck for all kinds of predators (animal & human).
When I decided to get a car again I wanted one I could crash in the back of and sleep the whole night through. It’s been a game changer especially when paired with the Sleep System.
Also I LOVE that my car is really frickin’ old!!!! I am a thrift hound. 98% of everything I own (from cookware, to clothing, to furniture) is second hand and I will always repair, reuse & recycle before I EVER consider replacing with something new. There are a couple exceptions of course… I will buy new if I’ve tried extensively and still can’t find what I need used & I know the product is extremely well made and will last the rest of my lifetime. The Sleep System & Pillow are one of my exceptions. Made with really high quality foam (it’s so comfortable) and durable materials, I know they both will last forever & with the amount of nights per year I spend sleeping in my car, the investment has already proved to be worth it.
I have a roof box (which had been a game changer in terms of storage), but still I try to pack as light as possible.
With the Sleep System fully rolled out, there’s still enough room to keep some valuables/items I use regularly in the main cabin with me, but I try to put everything else up in the box! Since the head clearance is limited, I use the foam top only & stash the dropstitch base & pump in the roof box. I like to keep the dropstitch with me since it makes a great table/clean cooking surface/seating (since I don’t currently have a camping chair or table). Also great to have for floating & river swims :)
Here's what I brought with me on a two month road trip down the West Coast:
I sewed curtains for the whole back of the car & to hang over the front seats to create a bit of privacy when it’s time for bed. They make such a difference in creating a cozy, safe place to read and sleep.
Sewing the curtains was pretty easy. I found a big flat sheet at Goodwill that was a cute fabric. Once I washed & ironed it, I just measured each window and cut the fabric to size (dimension + 1.5") & sewed a small channel on top and bottom of each curtain. I rigged them up using para cord and self tapping screws that I drilled directly into the metal. I also have some really strong magnets I use to secure the curtains in place when it's bed time!
I have the whole sleeping situation DIALED. I ditched the messenger bag and mesh harness that comes with the Sleep System at home & opted for a bungie cord to secure the foam roll. When it’s time for bed, I string the bungie between the two handles above the back doors and hang my rechargeable solar light from it. I usually sleep with my head towards the front, so I can prop up the Pillow on the back of the front seats for reading & easy access in case I have to pee in the middle of the night.
Gotta go with Death Valley on this one! What an insane place. I cannot recommend more highly. The stars at night are truly incredible. I went in January and it was the perfect temperature during the day. I've heard it gets intolerably hot during the summer months though.
I just got the wagon last summer (2020) and wanted to get a decent amount of nights in it before I started building/modifying anything BUT now what I know what the space limitation are & the functionality of how it all fits together: I want to build a table/chest type unit that can be easily removed and holds all the small stuff I currently keep in plastics bins.
Hmm I would say get a roofbox so you can make more room in the back of the car for sprawling out. Also pack light & smart. Other than that it's a perfect place to snooze in, whether for napping or overnight!