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The Ultimate Guide to Stealth Camping in a Van in 2024

Van Stealth Camping In A Neighborhood

Wondering what you need to know to be successful stealth camping in a van? We’ll cover all the basics so you can stealth camp like a champ!

When you live in a van full-time, camping will eventually require bending the rules and sneaking a night’s sleep. Stealth camping your way through major cities or minor pit stops will save you hundreds of dollars and could seat you in the heart of the action. Or it could leave you twenty miles away at the nearest Costco. 

Many municipalities that don’t explicitly outlaw overnight parking still won’t take kindly to a loud campervan taking up residential or business spaces. Even if you’re just heading out for the weekend, you may be forced to lay low for a night or two on your way to your final destination. 

We’ve got the best tips for stealth camping and finding free overnight parking out there for you today. This guide will cover it all – from building your van with stealth camping in mind to stealth camping tips once the sun is setting.

Follow along, learn the ropes, and you’ll never be too far from a great night’s sleep. 

What Is Stealth Camping In A Van?

Any van is a stealth camper van if you spend the night where you’re not supposed to. Typically the idea of stealth camping is when you park overnight in a neighborhood or side street where you will blend in with other parked cars.

First the good news: While it often involves some private property, stealth camping doesn’t have to mean breaking the law. Most van-lifers define stealth camping as sleeping outside of designated camping or boondocking areas without drawing any attention to yourself. 

Whether that means leaving the van parked on the side of city streets, in a quiet corner of residential areas or in the parking lot of an industrial park, the concept remains the same. The goal is to get a great night’s sleep without bothering the neighbors. 

Stealth camping is an art form, equal parts guts, preparedness and a splash of luck. Some van lifers spend entire months stealth camping and taking advantage of gym memberships to live in expensive cities. While others hear the dreaded knock right as they’re drifting off to sleep. 

Nobody is expecting you to make your van completely disappear. Sometimes the best stealth camping spots require hiding in plain sight. It’s more about laying low, not drawing unnecessary attention to your rig and, most importantly, respecting the locals. 

Why Stealth Camp?

The usual answer is…

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