The Highway Handbook: Is Car Camping Fun?


You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. That’s the gist of our new educational series, The Highway Handbook. One of our main goals at Luno is to make the outdoors more accessible, and we mainly do that by designing comfortable air mattresses and nifty accessories that help you turn your everyday vehicle into an extraordinary adventure mobile.

But gear alone doesn’t remove barriers to the great outdoors, and sometimes, the simple act of sharing knowledge makes all the difference. In The Highway Handbook, our team of car camping experts will answer questions that regularly bombard our DMs. Whether you’re a car camping veteran or new to the game, we hope this series helps you get outside, explore, and enjoy time in nature with friends and family. 

Is Car Camping Fun? 

After defining car camping in our first installment of The Highway Handbook, we’re back to answer another commonly asked question: Is car camping fun?

If you’re a car camping veteran, this question may sound silly–duh, car camping is fun! But if you’re new to car camping (or simply car camping curious), this question is more than fair. You may be thinking: Is car camping all that? Why is there a movement of hikers and bikers, surfers and skiers, all turning their cars into camping rigs? They can’t all be having a blast, can they? And if I do want to give car camping a crack, what gear do I need to comfortably sleep in my vehicle?

We get it. Your concerns are all valid. Investing in new gear is a big ask for anyone, and you want to make sure car camping is an activity you’ll enjoy before swiping plastic. In this Highway Handbook article, we’re going to address these concerns and share why we think car camping is the most fun way to travel on the planet. We’ll dive into everything from the beauty of road-tripping and gear-hauling to the quality of sleep and security car camping provides. 

Of course, car camping isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, so we’ll wrap up with a few occasions when car camping isn’t fun–and how to avoid them at all costs.

6 Reasons Car Camping Is The Most Fun Way To Travel*

1. Take All The Pit Stops And Detours You Want

When traveling by air or rail, your itinerary is pretty set in stone. When you’re road-tripping and car camping, you have a relatively vast amount of freedom, and you can take all the detours and pit stops you want. 

See a funky roadside attraction? Pull over! Looking to get away from it all? Take the scenic route. Got your heart set on an off-the-beaten-path state park? Bring on the detour!

2. Bring All Your Toys

If you haven’t already figured this out by now, we have a confession to make: we really love gear around here. And our fondness for gear–whether that be skis and snowboards or climbing gear and mountain bikes–is one of the main reasons we love car camping.

While backpackers are limited by what they can carry, and air travelers are limited by dastardly luggage scales, car campers are free to haul as much gear as they can cram into trunks, roof racks, and roof boxes. 

That said, to paraphrase Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, great gear-hauling power comes with great responsibility–learn how to pack like a superhero with our article on storage tips here.

3. Bring Everything But The Kitchen Sink–Unless You Want to Bring That, Too

When you’re backpacking, you’re usually boiling water over a lightweight, minimalistic stove and chowing down on dehydrated meals. Don’t get us wrong–we love the occasional beef stroganoff a la Astronaut. But while backpacking grub is easy to carry and easy to cook, it isn’t always easy to digest, making apologies to your tent mates a necessary occurrence.

On the other hand, when you’re car camping, you have room for a deluxe two-burner camp stove, an XXL cooler packed with fresh ingredients, and all the kitchen accouterments. Some of our favorite moments on car camping trips take place next to the campfire, whipping up elaborate, delicious meals with friends and family. It doesn’t get better than that. 

Looking for more car camping kitchen tips, tricks, and gear recs? Dive into our guide to the ultimate car camping kitchen here. 

4. An Added Sense Of Security

Do visions of bloodthirsty bears and hockey-mask-wearing villains keep you up at night while camping? We get it. 

Welcome to the car camping revolution. Unlike flimsy tents crafted from paper-thin nylon and paltry zippers, your car is a metal box fortified by locking doors. That’s right–locking doors. 

Camping gets way more fun when you can sleep soundly at night, trust us on that one!

Pro Tip: Make your cabin on wheels feel much more like home–and much more private–with our Privacy Curtains and Window Screens.

5. A Good Night’s Sleep Is Easy To Come By

Speaking of sleep, tents aren’t exactly renowned for inspiring restful nights. 

You know who will encourage you to sleep on uneven ground on a flimsy backpacking pad? Your chiropractor. 

Jokes aside, you’ll be surprised at just how comfortable camping in your car can be when you outfit your rig with an award-winning Luno Air Mattress. Purpose-built for snoozing soundly deep in the wilderness, our mattresses are durable, supportive, cushy, and comfortable.

Plus, they’re available in a multitude of sizes, specs, and configurations, so you can maximize your sleeping real estate in the back of your car. Not only that, but they’re easy to inflate and deflate, making it easy to turn your weekday commuter into a weekend adventure mobile and back again. 

6. Make Incredible Memories

All of these reasons we love car camping culminate in one thing: making incredible memories with friends and family.

So yes–car camping is fun. But it’s so much more than that. It’s also good for the soul, plain and simple.

When Does Car Camping Stop Being Fun?
4 Scenarios To Avoid On Your First Car Camping Adventures

While car camping is our favorite way to travel, it can definitely be frustrating if you fail to prepare accordingly. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls that can turn a fun trip into a not-so-fun trip. 

1. Hangry Drivers

Studies show the number one cause of not-so-fun car camping trips is hangriness. Make sure all parties are well fed, particularly the driver, by packing extra snacks. You have room for extra snacks, because you’re car camping, not backpacking–remember? 

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget coffee. Caffeine is king. 

2. Tossing And Turning On Subpar Sleep Setups

While it is possible to MacGyver a sleep setup with a camping pad in the trunk of your car, it isn’t recommended. A system that’s purpose-built for car camping, like our industry-leading Luno Air Mattress, is a perfect solution for sleeping comfortably in your trunk. It’s thick, supportive, and designed to maximize sleeping space. Plus, it comes with Head Support Space Fillers that fill the pesky gaps between the seats, creating a flat, comfortable sleeping platform. 

3. App, Map, And Audio Woes

Car camping often takes you on remote backroads far from the realm of cell service. That might mean maps stop working–or, in a worst-case scenario, your favorite road trip playlist won’t load. Be proactive and download apps, maps, music, and more before you hit the road. 

Pro Tip: Not sure what to load on your phone before your next adventure? Check out 14 of our favorite car camping apps here.

4. Unorganized, Messy Cars

If it takes you fifteen expletive-filled minutes to find a headlamp in your messy car, you’re doing it wrong. You don’t need to go full Marie Kondo mode on your trunk, but it pays to stay organized on the road. Our advice? Adopt organization systems and use storage gear that helps you compartmentalize your car. Here are a few of our favorite organizing tools to help you do just that: 

  • Luno Seatback Organizer 2.0: The Seatback Organizer attaches to the back of the front seats, making it easily accessible both while you’re driving and when you’re at camp snoozing on your Luno Air Mattress. It’s packed with nifty features, like a removable storage pouch, opaque headlamp pocket, and a water bottle holder. 
  • Luno Cargo Hammock: The more you car camp, the more you’ll realize that turning unused or underutilized space into functional storage space is a pro move. The Luno Cargo Hammock will revolutionize your car camping experience–the collapsible netting shelf creates invaluable storage space out of thin air. 
  • Luno 50L Gear Tote: An open-mouthed, heavy-duty hauler that’s perfect for handling everything from groceries to climbing gear, the 50-liter Gear Tote is a solid addition to any car camper’s trunk. Even better? It’s upcycled from retired Luno Air Mattresses. 
  • Luno Mesh Gear Duffel: Another common mistake car campers make is stashing wet gear in air-tight duffels or bins. This results in odorous living quarters. The smart play? Pack damp duds and gear in our Mesh Gear Duffel and let ‘em air dry.

    Looking for more organization hacks and car camping tips? Check out our Ultimate Guide To Car Camping here.

    Car Camping Is As Fun As You Make It

    We hope this article helps you realize that car camping is indeed a blast. More importantly, we hope it gives you the confidence to give it a shot, embark on a car camping adventure of your own, and see for yourself. 

    Want to dive deeper? Stay tuned for monthly installments to The Highway Handbook, and feel free to explore the Luno Journal for car camping articles, roadside recipes, and more. 

    As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you on the road–hopefully having the time of your life!

    -The Luno Crew