How did I miss this thread?
What's becoming more clear to me as I read is the extent to which I rely on my accumulated understanding of the unwritten rules which prevail over the written ones throughout the world. Here in the States, I find it ridiculously easy to sleep in or around my car, truck, van or whatever else I'm driving (contrary to Lorraine's experience). I do it all the time, and it's been twenty years or more since anyone's bothered waking me.
I think this is because I know where to stop, how to blend in, how to recognize the places where other folks are stopped, what sorts of places will feature loud teenagers and used condoms or syringes, and where a property owner is likely to take offense. Or worse, an over-protective parent who sees threat in every stranger's face.
Some of those posting on this thread have a similar experience--of their own home countries. But they might be as lost here in America as I am in, say, England or France....because as soon as I leave the USA or Canada, the same task becomes very difficult. In Europe I found myself riding my bike for hours after I should really have stopped, in all sorts of weather and on all sorts of roads, purely because I don't know how to read the unwritten rules. When I did stop--sometimes of total exhaustion--no one ever hassled me, even when I sacked out in plain sight. But I always did so with real trepidation, which doesn't make for a good night's sleep, and I was always aware of my own cluelessness.
This becomes far more urgent in places where bandidos of one stripe or another prevail--these might be fully uniformed police, or they might consider themselves vigilantes, or they might just be the usual sharks out cruising for victims. Whoever they are, I don't want to cross them. In America I can accurately weigh the dangers and act accordingly; in Britain (again, just the obvious example) I can't even tell which neighborhoods to avoid transiting at all costs and which are perfectly safe--much less which will allow me to park overnight.
Ok, enough words. I'm off to purchase one of those nifty backpack-mounted narcotic gas sniffer alarm systems on the internet. One can't be too careful these days.