I'm planning a month-long solo trek through the west (Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Big Sur, areas north of San Francisco). While in the parks, I can sleep in my SUV in their campgrounds. And I have parked on the dirt roads of the Alabama Hills (near Lone Pine, CA). I see that people pull off Highway 1, near Big Sur and sleep. But I've always wondered whether it's safe. Anyone could park a mile down the road, walk to my vehicle, and break a window. Any thoughts on all this? MOTELS GET VERY EXPENSIVE.
I do this (and sleep in a tent) all the time in the eastern Sierra and Death Valley and elsewhere in and around the Sierra. I don't advertise the fact that I'm a photographer while I'm in campgrounds, and I keep a close eye on my equipment.
I would most certainly NOT "camp in my car in San Francisco itself, if you were thinking of that. I do see people pull off the highway along parts of the coast highway, but there I'd be more comfortable in a regular campground I think.