Urban Stealth Camping

Our favorite place to sleep when on the road is in the best hotel parking lots. These
usually have conference or business centers that are abandoned after 10pm. This
gives unfettered access to spotlessly clean restrooms for our exclusive use! Most of
these places have over 100 rooms and they have no idea if you’re a paying guest or
not. I’ve never been challenged by a desk clerk. They often have security guards
roaming the parking lots so you feel safe in unfamiliar territory which is important to my

We pull in when ready to sleep, say between 10 and 11pm. Hit the restrooms if
needed. We only enter and exit through the drivers and passenger doors. I put a
window shade to cover the windshield, but leave the cab side windows
uncovered. Rather than hang a curtain across the back which is a dead giveaway that
something untoward is hidden behind, I hang a sweater or coat on a hook strategically
placed behind the passenger seat so that the combination of the seat and sweater
obscure the beds when looking through the side windows. You can see that it’s a
converted camper, the galley, and a cabinet or two, but you can’t see that the beds are
occupied. It looks empty, and there’s no feeling that someone is trying to hide out in the
back. Covering the windshield is normal - many people do that, and since the side
windows are left uncovered and there’s no obvious curtain, people looking in get the
impression that the van is unoccupied.

I have a factory window in the rear sliding door. It is heavily tinted from the factory, and
most hotel parking lots are well lighted. When no lights are on inside the van, the side
sliding door window has the effect of a one-way mirror - I can see out, but it’s difficult to
see in. Sometimes I put a cover over the inside of this window, but the glass is so dark,
unless you attempt to shine a flashlight through the glass, you don’t notice that it is

My approach to urban stealth camping is not to try to hide the purpose of the van, but to
make it appear unoccupied. The solar panels and fan on top of the van are a dead
giveaway that the van has been converted to an RV. By utilizing hotel parking lots and
a bit of window dressing, we create the illusion that we’re travelers taking a break from
our cramped quarters, and enjoying the luxury of a night’s hotel stay.