This summer I’ve been fortunate to visit friends and family around the country, and each time I arrive in a new town I receive a myriad of offers, most often a request to sleep indoors in a spare bedroom, on a blowup air mattress, or the couch.
“No, thank you. If it’s alright with you, I’ll just sleep in my van.”
(Watch this video: “Why I Will Probably Sleep In Your Driveway”)
I don’t want to sound ungracious, it’s not that at all, I would just prefer to sleep in my own bed than in an unfamiliar place. Many times the conversation continues until I ask my friend, “When you travel, would you rather sleep in your own bed, or a hotel bed?” Often the answer is their own bed, and I follow by reminding them that my own bed with me, parked right outside.
I’m used to sleeping in many different environments, from grizzly bear infested campgrounds to campsites teeming with mosquitoes, in below freezing temperatures to balmy South Florida nights, and in the quiet seclusion of the forest or bustling Walmart parking lots with street sweeping crews buzzing my van at 2:00 AM. I’m quite good at sleeping through just about anything, or at least rolling over and laughing at the newest predicament I’ve gotten myself into, trying to sleep while a guy is using a leaf blower next to my van in the wee hours of the morning.
Though I often turn down a warm bed, I do take people up on the offers of laundry and a hot shower. I am more than happy to use the local laundromat to clean my clothes but I haven’t used a laundromat since Montana because I’ve been visiting so many friends with washers and dryers. I rarely have enough laundry to do a full load, and recently I washed everything that I own in just 3 regular sized loads.
The most important amenity that friends can offer is a hot shower. Don’t get me wrong, I can survive without it, but man it’s nice. I have no problem taking cold outdoor showers in public places (read more here), but if someone offers a hot shower, I will take them up on it almost every time.
Now, I’m not saying that I always sleep in people’s driveways, sometimes I do sleep inside, but those are rare occasions for good reasons. For example, if it’s illegal to sleep in my van on the street, or if you are really uncomfortable with me doing so, I’ll come inside. If it’s hot as Hades and you have air conditioning, or if it’s freezing and you offer a heated room, I’ll probably sleep indoors. And finally, if you are a cute girl offering me indoor sleeping arrangements, I’ll probably take you up on it.
In general though, I’d prefer to be sleeping outdoors, in my own bed, tucked into my sleeping bags. This is where I’m most comfortable, where I sleep the best, and where I wake up feeling most rested and ready for the day.
So please, don’t be offended if you offer me a place to sleep and I politely decline in order to stay in my van. It’s not that I don’t want to sleep indoors, or that I don’t like your house, it’s just that prefer the comfort of my own bed, and that bed happens to be parked in your driveway.