During recent photography trips, I find myself camping in my Prius more frequently. In fact, during my most recent road trip from Chicago to the Pacific Coast and back, I camped in my Prius for 27 consecutive nights. Prius camping offers several benefits (most of which I documented in a previous blog entry):
Quite often, I get questions from readers about my Prius camping experiences. Hopefully, this blog article will address some of those questions. Here are a few of the more common ones:
WHERE DO YOU PARK?
When considering where to park (camp) for the night, I consider two things about the location. Is the location safe? And, is it legal to park in the location? Generally, most public (state and national parks) and private campgrounds meet those requirements. On occasion (when the campgrounds are full), I will park behind a lodge or visitor center inside of a national park. Also, many Walmart stores offer free overnight parking for recreational vehicles. Here's a picture (iPhone) of my Prius camped in Port Angeles, Washington--just north of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
I will share more information about my Walmart camping experiences in a blog article in the near future.
WHERE DO YOU GET CLEANED UP?
Almost all of the campgrounds provide restroom and shower facilities. Obviously, Walmart stores do not. However, public showers are available for a fee inside or near most state and national parks. During this last trip, there were several state parks in Washington and Oregon that provided a shower for just $2.00.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PRIVACY?
As you can see from the photo that I shared above, sunshades are applied to every window on the Prius to provide privacy and to darken the interior of the cabin. With just a little practice, I can snap all of these shades in place in just a couple of minutes. They attach to the window with suction cups. When I first purchased the sunshades, it never dawned on me that it would also be useful to have one for the hatchback. I added the hatchback one for this last trip and that extra shade blocked a significant amount of annoying overhead lighting.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH ROOM?
People wonder how there is enough room in the Prius for someone as tall as me (6'3") to sleep comfortably. With nearly 9 feet from the rear of the interior to the dash, there is more than enough room! I can stretch my arms as far as possible over my head and still not reach the front of the car. Here's a view of the interior. Note how I use only the passenger half of the car for sleeping. This makes the process of setting up the car for sleeping very convenient--and less than a five minute process.
HOW DO YOU FLATTEN THE SEATS?
I get this question quite often. It's probably easiest to show how this is done through pictures. First, the front seat on the passenger side is moved all the way forward toward the dashboard. Then the front passenger seat is reclined all the way back until it's flat against the rear seat. This requires removing the headrest from the seat.
The rear passenger seat is dropped forward until it connects with the top of the front passenger seat. Again, this requires removing the headrest from the rear seat as well.
At this point, the rear passenger seat rests about 18 inches higher than the front passenger seat. So, something must be placed on the front passenger seat to level the sleeping surface. I use two floor throw pillows.
Then, a mattress (I use a Thermarest) and sleeping bag will lay perfectly flat over the length of the interior.
DO YOU USE YOUR PRIUS TENT?
In a prior article, I shared some information about my purchase of a customized tent for the Prius. During my last trip, I only used it for 2 of the 27 nights. It was good having it for the two nights I camped at a KOA in Salt Lake City. Those were warm nights--and the tent allowed for a nice breeze to enter the vehicle. Most nights were cool enough that I preferred to close the hatchback rather than use the tent. And, the tent wasn't practical for security reasons when the Prius was parked at Walmarts or other comparable locations.
Overall, I find that the Prius offers many benefits to the traveling photographer. After sleeping in the Prius for over 60 nights during the past two years, I would have a hard time buying anything other than a Prius for my next car.
OTHER PRIUS CAMPING ACCESSORIES:
Some other products that recently came to my attention from Altegra. Click here to visit the Altegra website to view the compact canopies that can make the Prius camping experience even more enjoyable.