A Midwinter Car Camping Story of a 20-Something Hotel Fangirl
A Midwinter Car Camping Story of a 20-Something Hotel Fangirl

A Midwinter Car Camping Story of a 20-Something Hotel Fangirl

27才で車中泊旅を初体験、以降ハマる。Webマーケッター・ライターとして活躍し、"好きなときに、好きな場所で、旅するように暮らす"を目標に「VANガール」としてVANLIFEの魅力を発信中! Twitter: @VANGIRLJAPAN

Isn't it freezing to camp in the car in winter? Can you even sleep?

Say most inexperienced people, especially girls, about car camping. And I was one of them, actually, still wet behind the ears and never imagined I'd be doing something so downright crazy—or so I thought. You see, I was the typical 20-something girl who'd save a lot of money to stay at fancy hotels and indulge in breakfast buffets and luxury spas. So, when someone suggested car camping to me in winter, it was a big fat juicy NO.


...Until a fellow surfer friend of mine who’s obsessed with car camping dragged me along, and I was instantly captivated. Nowadays, I include car camping in all my travel plans. Read on as I bare my very first car camping experience here. No fluff, no puff, only the good stuff.


 From hesitation to appreciation


It was Friday night and the outside temperature was -1 degree Celsius. I checked the weather forecast as a thick cloud of breath escaped my mouth. There's a heavy snow coming. I cannot believe I'm gonna go car camping in this weather, I thought to myself as I watched people go about their evenings before the weekend. I hurried back home with as much gusto as I could muster.


I arrived home, took a shower, and got myself ready for the weekend's surfing and car camping trip. (Of course, that meant no-makeup, can-sleep-anytime attire.) I finished at around 9 PM, then got in the car with my friend, revved the engine, and headed for a parking lot near the surf spot at Kugenuma Beach.


About half-way to Chigasaki in Kanagawa from Tokyo, I was crying inside. I wish we'd stay at a guest house! I wanna stay at a fancy hotel! I miss my bed already! To be honest, I was not looking forward to this car camping thing...well, until we arrived at the parking lot.



Unexpected encounters


My friend made a parking reservation at "GGOGGO Rental Car" in Chigasaki, Kanagawa using this booking app called Carstay. I asked why we couldn't just park anywhere, to which she replied that there were actually not very many places where we could legally park overnight in Shonan area. I was thinking about all the interesting apps and services that had been coming out when the GPS interrupted me with the announcement of our arrival at our destination.


As soon as I stepped out of the car, I saw long lines of other camping cars. I had goosebumps. How many other cars are camping here? I was certain there were at least twenty. That was the first time in my life that I had been surrounded by so many other car campers and I was super excited! Now that I think about it, I think this was the moment the scales fell off my eyes, so to speak, and saw what car camping really was.


I'd already taken a bath before I left home and was practically in my sleepwear, so with no time to waste, I started getting ready to sleep. (Am I the only one who gets sleepy after driving at night?)


A veteran car camper, my friend folded the seats and laid down the blankets in a swift move and helped me make my bed. Then, she skillfully slapped black sheets on the windows, talking about how it's important to cover up for the cold and keep intruders away, being only girls inside the car. What are those? I asked about the sheets, and apparently, they're some kind of "shades." They’re quite something because the inside became completely invisible from outside prying eyes as well as insulated from the cold air. I felt very secure. (Considering that girls are usually warier of crime and physical conditions than guys about sleeping in cars.)



The interior transformed from car seats to an instant bedroom. This is surprisingly comfortable, I murmured, couldn't believe my eyes that I was in the same car I got in earlier. It's as if I stepped inside a magical car with a spacious bedroom interior. I felt very secure and at ease particularly because the owner of GGOGGO Rental Car parking lot lives nearby, not to mention they have a guard dog.


That said, I did get concerned about the insulation and thought that the shades might not be blocking all the cold completely. I turned the heater up to warm the air inside and bundled up like a snowman. This time, it was definitely warm enough. I wore a thermal innerwear, a bonnet, a hoodie, and gloves for my upper body, and sweatpants and two pairs of socks for my lower body. (It's easy to get cold in the morning but I was warm.)


A beautiful weekend


The golden rays of the sun peeked through the gaps of the shades the next morning. What a beautiful day! I exclaimed. I usually sleep in until the afternoon on Saturdays and waste time just lying awake until past 2 PM. Ah! I overslept again and wasted my time, I tell myself like a broken record every week. To think that that person woke up naturally at 6 AM now...I felt completely regenerated and ready to start the day. ♪


We left the parking lot at 6:30 and went to Kugenuma Beach's surf spot. We started surfing at 7 and I felt like I had an amazing long vacation on a weekend for the first time in forever. It was perfect to camp near the beach as we could easily run outside and catch the waves. I also felt like the whole turn of activities were in tune with my body clock. I really appreciated the car camping experience.



If you’re concerned and think it's dangerous for girls to go car camping alone, or you're going to catch a cold in winter, I’m telling you that you CAN absolutely go car camping with your girlfriends in winter as long as you take the necessary preparations and precautions. In addition, ladies and beginners alike can feel safe and at ease by making advanced parking reservations with the wonderful campground booking app Carstay—which I personally recommend to everyone. Click on the link here now because your journey may just get richer than ever with the Van Life.


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27才で車中泊旅を初体験、以降ハマる。Webマーケッター・ライターとして活躍し、"好きなときに、好きな場所で、旅するように暮らす"を目標に「VANガール」としてVANLIFEの魅力を発信中! Twitter: @VANGIRLJAPAN

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