After telling you HOW do we sleep in our car, now it’s time to tell the story: WHERE. Since I have received quite some questions, maybe it’s good to put it into one post.
And first of all, I would like to thank you for those questions! While preparing this post, we had to get through pictures from last 3 years of travelling and this was an amazing experience. Holy cow, how many nice moments we had!! All this places, nights, mornings.. ah!
Anyways, Where do we sleep during our trips? How do we choose the right place?
Usually we spend only one night in one place. And there is one rule about it: we try to choose the place for a night still before the sunset. To make sure the place is nice, safe, equal (that we don’t fall on each other at night). Very often we choose a place at some water: sea, lake, river, to have a source of water for cooking, cleaning and bathing. The thing with the sunset is that in different places of the world it comes in different time, so while during our trip Around The Black Sea we had time to travel until 21.00 or even 22.00, in Central America it was getting really dark already around 17.00-18.00, so we had even 5 hours a day less to discover the world!
Then, here comes the question: are we in safe country or not? This is a very important question and on the answer for it depends our way of looking for a place to sleep.
1. In Europe, on Balkans, on Caucasus – we always felt very safe, so we were looking for a beautiful place to sleep, in some nice corner, hidden in the forest, at some cliff, far away from people, to be alone, independent.
2. In Central America – we knew we should be careful, especially at night, especially in some corners (like Guatemala City or in the east of the country). And the most important was to ask the locals: for tips and permission for staying.
So in the option 1: we drive, we decide: ok, time to make a camp, so we look around, a bit on the map (if there is any water) and we just have a feeling: turning this road down, going that hill up, etc. Usually we have few options, usually we both want the same one. Sometimes we find an „ok“ option and we make this deal: we still drive for 10 minutes and if nothing better appear – we come back to the „ok“ place. And once we have a place – we should park the car it in a good way: with a nice view in the morning, on the equal ground, in the shadow (when it’s warm), at the sun (when it’s cold).
Option 2: we drive, we decide: ok, time to make a camp. Then we stop at the first, trust-worthy-looking people (let it be a group of women, or a family, or a head of the village) and talk with them: „hello, we are blablabla, we are travelling with our kids (always good to show the kids! take them on hands, let them play with the people), we sleep in our car, all what we need is a place to park the car, is there any place around we could do it? is it ok for you?“. Of course this all goes easy when you have a common language, much more difficult when the people speak only Maya language and there is nobody with the knowledge of Spanish around. But we always managed! Very often those people wanted to host us in their houses/huts. Very often they simply invited us on their ground. By this, they were giving us a message: we are fine with you staying here, you can feel safe, we will make sure nobody will hurt you. This was always (from our journalistic perspective) very cool way of getting into the community, into the every-day life. Very interesting and safe. The only thing you are loosing this way is your independence and freedom. Forget about sleeping naked in front of somebodies house, when in the morning you have a dozen of kids looking through your windows to check if you are already awake!
What if people are inviting us home (happens also during option 1, and option 2)?
We usually say: yes. Because we are too curious not to do it. But it happened to reject, when we really felt like a calm, family evening, just alone (like last time, in Bosnia, at Hanna’s birthday). Thanks to it we got friends with a really poor family from Transnistria, lovely people in Chechen valleys of Georgia, many people in Guatemala. But this is a topic for another post!
Did you have any bad experiences with sleeping in the car?
Few times we had this situation that we were driving for too long, late at night (because our visa was expiring or we had to get somewhere fast: flight for example) at we stopped in a random place. Then in the morning you have a surprise, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Once we woke up at the grave yard. Once at the garbage dump. I guess this I should count as a bad experience!
Once a border police woke up at night (in Romania), they were wondering what are we doing at the border-river. Once a group of shepards, also in Romanina, woke us up to invite us to their house (because poor us, we shouldn’t sleep with a baby in the car). And once, in Georgia, we met some mad crazy guy in the morning, but this is actually the only one really not funny stories during all our trips. You want to hear about it one day?
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »
i am always dreaming when reading yours posts. Thank you for shearing. your are welcome if passing once in toulouse france. Caro &xavier+ 2 little girls (2 &3 yrs ). We had our 1st experience in familly trip around france last summer for 3 weeks in a old combi vw and thé place to stay (outside camping off course ) was à bit more complicate on french seaside during august!
Two important things (for us): mosquitos and ants! We just tried to have a night in the forest but it was impossible for us because of those two reasons, too annoying. Much better are places as we can see on your pictures :)