Along the road sometimes let's face it, you get a little tired and with that fatigue you face the difficult decision of pressing on or pulling over. Let's just make this clear, option one is never really an option when it comes to safety so the smart thing to do is pull over to rest for a little while before attempting to navigate again. But what really stops us from this option? Safety? Fear? Some of us just don't want to go through the hassle of someone knocking on our window to even ask if we are alright. I have driven so many times when I was exhausted but few times have actually stopped myself, however with my recent trip to Missouri I had to take the chance. I hadn't had a lot of sleep the night before in anticipation of the big trip, coupled with driving before the sun came up and distance it became to much and I had to pull over. I knew a couple of things, in a car I did not feel comfortable pulling in just anywhere and wherever I was needed to have an easy exit strategy if someone did approach me.
I opted for the most popular travelers sleep destination, a WalMart parking lot. Typically you can park toward the end of the lot in the areas a bit less bright. You usually will see at least a couple rvs or travelers using the same urban camping idea because of the safety of these lots. First thing I did was secure my doors by locking them. I then covered items of value which might attract undue attention then reclines my seat and made sure to crack the window ever so slightly so as to let air circulate. I had pillows in tow because I was going camping so I spread them across the console and second seat and laid across in this manner because it made it less obvious I was actually in the vehicle. I also still had easy access to leaving simply by sitting upright and starting the key which I kept in the ignition ever so slightly for easy access. I must say, all the typical phobias and fears ran across my mind but it wasn't worth driving and potentially having an accident so those quickly subsided as I turned on some sound on my phone which was calming and fell asleep. I am a pretty light sleeper so this actually made me feel a bit more comfortable in that if someone approached I knew I'd immediately wake. This made me really evaluate travel in general and how to best determine safe zones when in a car. I have read and seen many articles on stealth camping by those who are vanlifers, but in a car it seemed that options would need to be more selective. There is no way to go to a back cabin area in a small car, thus sticking to zones you are familiar with seem a bit safer. Rest stops are a viable option in some areas which cater to travelers with "safety stops", however with dimly lit and sketchy patronage at others I would avoid those. Amongst the top stops by those needing a rest are suggested hospital parking lots or 24 hour stores such as Wal-Mart. There are even websites devoted to which Wal-Marts are more friendly to motorists. Another precaution you can take are window shades designed to divert sun from you car on a hot day, these will create a more private feeling for your nap. I know a lot of people use these for those lunch break power naps and they really do help if needing to make a roadside nap stop when traveling as they create a bit less fear of observation.
No one ultimately wants to have to pull over, but know that you aren't alone and if you simply think on your feet when doing so it will be one of the smarter decisions you have made as you avoid unsafe driving for yourself and others. Just remember be brave and be smart and don't fall asleep driving, instead just pull over.