Guide to car camping in Berkeley

Paul Martin/Blog Staff
paul's car

Do you find yourself aparment-less this summer? Not to worry, car camping is an awesome alternative. We at the Clog have some experience in this regard and have listed out the steps to camp in your car this summer.

Step 1: Acquire a car 

It can be a little pricey to own and register a vehicle, but it’s even pricier to rent a home around Berkeley as some analysts have stated a six-figure salary is the minimum income required to comfortably live here in the bay. This is where Craigslist steps in. In a quick 2-minute search I was able to find semi-running vehicles with all windows intact under $500, such as this beautiful forest green 1993 Ford Taurus being sold by Gregory in Sunnyvale, CA. What’s great about this car is that it’s the same tone of color you might see on any residential block with scattered bins lined along its curbs, so it’ll blend right in. This can help quell any anxiety you might have about home-dwellers calling the cops on you for camping out in front of their property.

Step 2: Find a spot

Parking isn’t easy. But don’t let all the privatization, city ordinances, parking meters, scattered street sweeping schedules and botched parking jobs distract you from the fact that sharking and parallel parking are skills that even we at the Clog struggle with. You can go about this in one of two ways. First, you can acquire an annual parking permit for $55 through Berkeley’s Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) Program. However, this titular program caters toward official residents and thus you would need a residential address to submit. So that means you need to find someone to cover for you. Utilize whatever social prowess you have cultivated and do what it takes to formulate an acquaintanceship with someone economically superior to you who can give you a hand with borrowing their address.

The second thing you can do if you wish to bypass all of these policies and experiences is park your car on the far west side of the Berkeley campus past Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Many of the blocks in this area don’t require a permit to park there. I personally suggest the corner of Dwight Way and McGee Avenue, where you can park in front of this beautiful antique shop for as many days as you’d like. You can gaze at cauliflower-shaped clouds wafting in the sky imagining the taste of beet juice and pretending like your grandma is just inside sewing a nice, warm blanket for you to wrap yourself in (nostalgia is optional).

Step 3: Consider climate.

Despite the fun of this escapade, you’re still a biological unit and therefore have to address the element of body temperature. If you’re still asleep in your car in the middle of summer past 10 a.m., you will suddenly find yourself in a sauna on wheels. One way to combat this is to grab some pillowcases, bed sheets, or fabric of any kind to cover your windows. If you don’t have anything to cover your windows, make sure that your car is underneath a tree or parked west of some really tall structure so it can fend off the scolding rays of the morning sun. You should nevertheless disregard your optimism and realize sleeping in will be a thing of the past, as the summer heat will be unavoidable. Just make sure to go to sleep early, and don’t forget about the microclimates!

Step 4: Hygiene control.

If you are a UC Berkeley student, the Recreational Sports Facility has bathrooms and showers that are accessible to everyone. They provide towels, lockers and locks, allowing you to say clean on a budget!

Step 5: Stay prepared.

The nooks and crannies of car camping will take a couple of weeks to get ironed out before you can get a routine going, but stay positive, my friend. When you find yourself bundled up in the back of your car on a chilly night, remind yourself of your freedom from leases, utility bills and toxic roommate experiences. This is a purification period and this is your sweat lodge. Just remember to stock up on water, research all the food lockers around Berkeley and know you can access any outlets scattered along the UC Berkeley campus.

Happy camping!

Contact Paul Martin at [email protected].