While taking a trip on the open road you'll find that just because sleep is imminent does not mean you know where you'll be doing said thing. Here's how we solved this problem every night for over 3 months.
Step 1: Use the precious iPhone data your parents still nicely pay for to find the nearest rest area via the current state's DOT website. Note: not all online maps are accurate; ghost rest areas are entirely possible. NEVER get your hopes of sleep up entirely.
Step 2: Arrive at rest stop. Park near the bathroom and under a lamp post, so light is above you and not to the side, staring you in the face when you roll over mid-slumber. Roll down a front window only enough to get some necessary air flow but not enough to allow a hand inside. Thank you, Criminal Minds.
Step 3 (optional): Head to the bathroom. At this point, shoes are also optional. Brush teeth. I repeat, brush your god damn teeth you heathen. If you don’t want to make the bathroom trip, brush without water and spit outside the car door. You’ll thank me. Nothing else matters if you’re tired enough.
Step 4: Return to car. Begin pulling your copious amounts of shit out of the back and placing in the front. Backpacks go on the seats. Shared duffle bag on the console. Tire chains by gas pedal. Contact case on the dash. Backpack with water next to your head under the folded down back seat. Headlamp in mesh pocket.
Step 5: Once all of that shit is cleared from the back, roll out your sleeping pad and blow it up ASAP so minimal people see 2 young (obviously adorable) 20-somes climbing into a car together to sleep. Throw sleeping bag to your feet. Climb in, shut the door, wrestle into the sleeping bag, and for the love of all that is holy, LOCK THE DOOR. Keys wrapped around the seat belt retractor, glasses on top.
Step 6: Utilize your natural talents of concentration, determination and mental strength to be the first one to sleep because you know that bitch is gonna snore.
If you find this particular practice unnerving, impractical or just plain uncomfortable, here are a few tips to make your high-maintenance self a tiddle-bit more bearable.
1. If that lamp light is still bugging you, take your free long sleeved t-shirt that you got from that sorority's 5k that one time and shove the neck of it into what I like to call the "Oh Shit" handle above your passenger side door. If you've ever driven your mother around the calm suburban streets of your hometown, you know what particular handle I'm talking about. Loop one sleeve around any possible extremity towards the back of the car and the other through the front seat head rest. Voila. Privacy!
2. Pillows. Use your God damn backpack or that smelly under armour shirt from earlier. Now is not the time to be picky.
3. If you're still worried about getting robbed, raped, and/or murdered, I'd advice burrowing very far into your sleeping bag. Alongside with the car's lock system, your sleeping bag is your best safety blanket. All of a sudden you'll find that it takes til daylight for the scheming rapists, serial killers and woodsies to get around these defenses and by then it's too late for them to make their pervy move. Because in all reality, you’re fine.
4. If you find yourself in a booming metropolis with no rest areas around, head to Walmart. I recommend the one in Page, AZ where they cut off the back lights to the parking lot for all the fellow car sleepers. If you're in in bumfuck nowhere, you can always “disperse camp” 150 feet from any road while you're within national forest land. And if you're weak and in a pit of despair with no hope to be found, head to a hotel. Huzzah.
5. If you wake up hangry with no car food, my best suggestion is to head to the nearest chain hotel, walk in like you own the place and plop down for some mediocre scrambled eggs and watered-down coffee.