What I wish I knew before trying to sleep in an SUV in (Iceland)

Reading Time: 4 minutes | March 23, 2019

Many people seem to be going to Iceland these days. We were one of them.

We planned an 11 day trip to drive around Iceland in early October 2018.

For our trip, we rented an AWD SUV (Kia Sportage) because we wanted to drive safely through difficult weather and conquer F-roads.

Having already spent more than $1,300 CAD to rent the car, we were eager to save. #IcelandMakesYouBroke.


Decision: "Let's Save Money, Sleep in the Car"

We decided to try to park the car in Campervan parking spots and sleep in an SUV for a couple of nights. We can create a lot of room by folding the rear seats and move luggage to the front seats.

We scheduled around 3 to 4 nights to sleep in the SUV.

To prepare for sleeping in an SUV, we packed some sleeping bags that were graded to handle a minimum of -5 degrees celsius along with a couple of blankets.


Learnings from Sleeping in a Car

Do not miscalculate size of the SUV. 🚘

I am not that tal, on a good day I measure at 178 cm or 5’10”. Between the luggage, blankets, sleeping bags and the taper/curvature of the SUV, it was super cramped!

You don’t realize how much you love to sleep with your legs stretched out until you are not able to. Once I realized I couldn’t sleep with my legs straight, that was the only thing I could think off… 👎

It’s COLD! Basically, like sleeping in a tent outside. ❄️

There are small gaps around the car door that slowly drips cold air in.

My right shoulder was pressed next to the door. The cold air caused my right shoulder to for the next couple of days.


When we woke up the next morning, there was frost everywhere. We can see our own breath.

Bring extra blankets and tape to line the car for privacy (and warmth🔥).

Not that we were doing anything frisky but it is a little weird that anyone can just walk by and look through the windows. Also lining the blankets may help in making it warmer.

Sleep in breathable clothes inside your sleeping bag. 👙

Iceland can get really windy/rainy, so I wore rain pants that were wind and waterproof for most of the trip. I decided to leave them on in case I needed to venture outside to take a midnight washroom break. ⛷ 🏂

Terrible idea.

Take them OFF.

You sweat in them because they are not breathable. So throughout the night, my legs were a little damp and it was cold… bad idea.

Remember the washroom is outside. 🚽

This is a no-brainer but keep this in mind if you are traveling to Iceland in the colder months. You have to get dressed in a cramped car.

If you are not flexible or haven’t stretched, you can pull a muscle. You can also pee in a bottle or a bag if you choose (for ladies, you can use a female urination device).

In retrospect...


You can avoid most of the hassle by renting campervans or mini trailers. They are comfortable for sleeping because they come with enough room and have heating and insulation.


While we were driving around in Iceland we saw several batches of travelers using campervans, so it was more common than I had initially thought.


Having already experienced this, I would still go for the SUV. We will be more prepared next time. Have more blankets, wear breathable clothes, have pee bottles prepared.


The reason we decided to hire an SUV over a campervan was so that we can drive in more difficult terrain (like certain F-roads) easily and safely. It would be a bummer if your trip got ruined because you tackled roads that your vehicle wasn’t designed to handle.


Have a safe trip and enjoy the breathtaking views of Iceland!