I have been on a car camping trip for the last two weeks in Italy and Germany. This blogpost is a car camping guide on how I converted the Golf IV, so that I can sleep and drive around in it AND everything else you need to know about this way of traveling. It was the first time I camped in a car, so I am going to share everything about this experience in the upcoming blogposts.
However let me tell you in advance, this is definitely one of the cheapest, most adventurous, and fun ways of traveling. But without further due, let’s get into the basics that you need to know.
To go camping with your car you need a functioning car (obviously), BUT don’t let yourself stop by not having one or just having a very old one. Our car is actually suuuuper old – probably around 20 years and it worked perfectly fine. However, we installed some gadgets to make out trip a little bit more comfortable. For a quick overview, here’s a short video (it’s in german, but you can see everything we installed):
For the bedding, we took a 1,10m x 2,00m mattress and a child’s mattress (0,60m x 1,50m). The last one we cut into two 0,2m x 0,5m pieces to fill out the space between the backdoors and the big mattress. As a result, the bed was 1,40m wide on the top and 1,10m on the bottom at the tailgate. The length was 2m when we move the front seats forward. We did that in the end of the day when we parked our car for the night. The rest of the foam material from the smaller mattress we used below the big mattress on the position where normally the back seats would be. Since we removed the back seats, we wanted to put something underneath the actual mattress to make it more comfortable to sleep on.
The car trunk is completely filled with bedding, that’s why we decided to buy a roof box with load carriers. We still kept the small backpacks and some essential things down during the day, but the big luggage pieces were stowed in the roof box. For us, that was a great way of keeping the car clean and not having to do too much rearranging all day long.
3. Curtains (Sight protection)
To have some privacy while sleeping we installed “curtains” at the windows. A very cheap option for that is buying an adhesive strap and some fabric from amazon. We glued the strap to the back doors and the tailgate door, the opposite straps were glued to the fabric. You may have to cut the fabric into the right measures for the windows. The only disadvantage to this method is, that the glue might melt when it’s too hot. That was actually the case during our travels, but for a short amount of time, it was absolutely sufficient. In addition to that, we had an isolation foil for the windscreen. Not only as a sight protection, but also for isolation during the night time and morning.
4. Camping Essentials
Additional to the previous installations, we also brought some camping essentials with us. We actually used the cooling box (electric) and the water canister (20L) to put the mattress on and fill the gap when the front seats have been dislocated. A camping cooker is also a must-have! For a cozy atmosphere and light during the night we attached fairy-lights to the inside of the car.
Car Camping Tips
As you go, you learn many things and most likely improve your way of traveling during the trip. However, we want to give you some tips, that will make your trip better from the beginning to complete our car camping guide. 🙂
1. Always take your trash with you!
The most stupid thing you could possibly do when you go camping is to leave your trash. ALWAYS take your trash with you and leave the camping place exactly how you found it – maybe even cleaner. This also contains your toilet paper and biodegradable waste, like fruits, vegetables, cooking waste etc.
The ideal cooking place has fresh water, e.g a river, a lake, or a spring and a table to sit at. The freshwater is very helpful for washing-up (tip: ´buy a biodegradable soap) and you can use it for the rice/noodles etc. That way you save water from your water canister and you don’t have to refill it every other day.
3. Camping Spots
We mostly looked up our camping spots on the app Park4Night. It’s a free app where you can find many camping spots in Europe. From our experience, the ones with the green tree symbol are the best ones (at least for free). We love to sleep on secluded camping places somewhere in nature. You can also lookup camping spots with Google Maps -we haven’t tried that yet tho. Another tip is to park your car in the shadow, so the car is not heating up too fast from the sun in the morning.
Especially when we were in Italy the heat got heavy during the afternoon and constantly being outside was getting hard to handle. (At least for me aka. german potato) In addition to that, it’s very inconvenient and annoying to camp in the car when it’s raining. That is why we sometimes booked into a hostel or Airbnb to get a climate room and unwind/cool down for some time. It’s actually a nice variety to sleeping in the car and makes the trip even more fun. Also, if you don’t pay for most of the camping spots it’s ok to spoil yourself from time to time, I guess.
That’s it for now! We hope you enjoyed our little car camping guide. Let us know if you try it out. And if you have any further questions put them in the comment section below or contact us via Instagram. (@sophicorny & @salutkid)