I messed up big-time. I was scheduled to speak in a church on Sunday, but did not contact the Pastor in time to arrange for a place to stay. And it was too late to call a friend to stay at their house at the last-minute. With the way our budget was at the time, I could not afford to stay in a hotel, or even a motel.
Thankfully, I was ready with an extreme backup measure: sleeping in my car. Just knowing that I have this option when my best plans fall apart lowers my stress level by a factor of ten.
What to bring
Bring pillows and a blanket, and maybe a sleeping bag. And pack a suitcase as if you were staying in a hotel.
Basically, the back seat in my car or rental becomes a bed when I get tired. I lock the doors, roll the windows down an inch, and get some rest. I like my head to be raised a certain level when I sleep, and this time, I had to put my coat under my pillow to get it that high.
I used the GPS to time my arrival for my appointment, sleeping all the way to my destination. Whenever I would wake up, I would continue my journey for a little while, and stop when I got tired again.
Where could I park my car?
Truck stops are the best choice by far! Sometimes the food is great, and they have showers and bathrooms when you need them, 24/7. I had never used a shower in a truck stop, and was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Although it cost me $12 to get a shower, all I could think of was how much I would have spent if I had slept in a motel room that night for a few hours.
A quick note about using the showers: I paid my money, and the receipt they give me had a code on it. I entered the code into the keypad to open the door to the shower stall assigned to me. The bathroom was better than most of those I’ve seen in a hotel, and very clean! I shaved, brush my teeth, took a hot shower and went to the bathroom. When I finished and closed the shower room door behind me, it would not re-open. Also, I asked, and the cashier told me that a shower fee allows everyone traveling with me to use the bathroom until we are done with it without an additional charge.
This last trip, I also parked in a church parking lot. I would probably avoid churches with a parsonage, unless I arrive early enough to ask permission to park there. I parked in the parking lots of the churches with which I hold credentials, so that if someone called the police on me, at least the Pastor would know me. Everything was fine until I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. I used my GPS to find the nearest gas station and thankfully, it was open. As a token of my appreciation, I cleaned up the sink after washing my hands and bought a snack after I was done.
Other parking spots
I have also parked my car at a campsite before. I ended up paying $20 for a beautiful forest setting when I woke up, and probably could have used the showers before I left.
I have also parked in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club parking lots. Apparently, the management in some of the stores do not allow overnight parking, so it is always important to see if there any RVs in the parking lot before you park there yourself.
I used the Allstays app to know where the truck stops and campgrounds were; the database pretty much covers everything that is out there. I chose the “RV & Campground” version, which has more than paid back itself with the money I’ve saved on lodging.
I also found this post helpful: Tips for sleeping in small cars
“I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” – Philippians 4:12-13