How to Sleep in Your Car for Skiing [Easy Set Up]

Skiing is the perfect winter activity to get outside in the fresh air but if you are trying to visit a bunch of ski resorts, lodging adds up so quickly! Learning How to sleep in your car for skiing will save massive costs during ski season. Driving to the mountains can take several hours depending on where you live, and once you get there you probably want to ski for multiple days.

That’s where sleeping in your car comes in. Making your car into a car camper makes it the most affordable lodging for ski season. Here’s how to sleep in your car this ski season and spend more time on the slopes.

Cars in snow covered parking lot.
Cars in snow covered parking lot. Photo Credit Shellie (Flickr CC)

How to Stay Warm Sleeping in a Car for Skiing

One of the biggest concerns with sleeping in a car as a ski bum is staying warm. Usually, your body heat won’t cut it. When the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall you are going to want a really good sleeping bag.

Here are a few tips for staying warm while you sleep in your car during a ski trip:

  1. Invest in a good sleeping bag. Make sure it’s rated for cold weather and will keep you cozy all night long. Be sure to check the ratings on the sleeping bag because they aren’t all made for the same weather.
  2. Layer up before you go to bed. Wear thermal underwear, socks, and a hat to bed so you can stay warm even if the temperature inside your car drops overnight. It’s better to be hot than freezing. 
  3. Park your car in a sheltered spot. If possible, find a spot to park overnight that’s out of the wind and away from any snowfall. Often this isn’t the case and you are in a parking lot at the ski resort or a nearby night parking. Be prepared to be in direct snowfall.

The Essentials You Need for Sleeping in a Car

If you’re planning on spending a night in your car, there are a few essentials you’ll need to make sure you’re comfortable. A blanket or sleeping bag is necessary to keep you warm, and a pillow will help support your head and neck.

A sleeping bag is usually better but if you don’t have one, you can still make a car camper with blankets.

You might also want to consider bringing along some snacks and water. Think of it as a proper mini house in your car. Keep a battery power bank for charging any of your electronics. Keep battery jumper cables in the trunk in case the cold zaps your car battery overnight.

By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your night in the car is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for staying overnight in the parking lot. Come morning, you’ll be ready to put your skis on and hit the slopes again.

Sleeping Bag or Blankets? Which to Use

Coleman Mummy Sleeping Bag and Horizon Hound Down Camping Blanket for car camping

It can be a tough decision when you’re trying to decide whether to use a sleeping bag or blankets while you sleep in your car. Both have their pros and cons, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

Blankets are a bit more versatile since they can be used for other things besides just sleeping. If you need to put them up against the windows for privacy in parking lots then they are a great option

Think About Privacy When Car Camping

When it comes to car sleeping, privacy is important. Whether you’re doing it for skiing or any other reason, make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure your privacy. Even ski area parking lots can have their own risks like plows, heavy snowfalls and crazies so just keep your senses heightened.

First, consider where you’ll be parking your car. A lot of ski resorts have designated overnight parking or camping.

If you can’t stay at the ski resort then some of the best places nearby can be –

  • Camp grounds
  • Hotel parking lots
  • The occasional strip mall or Walmart

Once you’ve found a good spot, take some time to assess the area and make sure it’s safe. If there are people around, make sure they’re not going to bother you. This shouldn’t be a problem if the resort allows overnighting or other people are car camping.

Finally, when you’re ready to settle down for the night, make sure all your belongings are securely stored away. Take some last checks for privacy and call it a night! After you have done a night car camping at a ski resort, you’ve basically earned your status as a ski bum.

Can You Sleep in a Car for Ski Season?

How to car camp in the winter for skiing
Winter car camping. Photo Credit MIKI Yoshihito (Flickr CC)

Ski season for many means road trips to the mountains. But what if you can’t afford a hotel room? Can you sleep in your car instead?

Some ski bums sleep in their car almost all season and go from resort to resort on their Indy, Epic or Ikon Pass. If you invest in some good quality sleeping gear then car camping in ski season is a lot more feasible. If you can splurge for a van instead of a car then you can gain a lot of space.

Finally, be prepared for the cold. During ski season, temperatures can drop below freezing at night – so make sure you have more than enough blankets to keep yourself warm in addition to your sleeping bag.

Improving Your Car Camping Experience

Car camping is a great way to enjoy the ski season but here are a few tips to make your car camping experience even better.

Sleeping in your car can be uncomfortable, don’t skip the pillow. Get an inflatable sleeping pad if you can.

When it comes to food, a little jet stove or small propane stove for the parking lot usually does the trick but be sure to check the resort rules.

Final Thoughts on Sleeping in Your Car for Skiing

While staying at the ski resort can be expensive, car camping can be the perfect alternative in ski season. You can ski a bunch of resorts on a budget. Be sure to check the individual resorts for their overnight policies and if they don’t allow overnighting then find a place nearby.

Once you have a good setup in your car, car camping in ski season will be a breeze and is totally doable!

Brianna Lee writes for Proper Peaks and lives in Duluth, MN. Her favorite thing about skiing is glades. If you want to find her out on the slopes then that is the first place you should look for her bright pink helmet.

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