How to effectively live out of your car?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: May 28, 2013 2:20 PM Last Post By: seamus619
Apr 10, 2013 3:20 PM
Apr 10, 2013 3:24 PM
1Well, living out of your car could be a little obvious in a lot of places. However, a van would make a much better home for a longer period of time since it's harder to see inside. And the best van would be one that seemed like an ordinary service truck--maybe with "Joe's Plumbing" or something on the side.
Google up "living in your van" and you'll find a ton of information including some rather interesting stories.
Apr 10, 2013 3:38 PM
2I don't recommend living out of one's car, but having done it, I can assure you that:
The first thing you need is a sort of street sense, that allows you to know where you can pretend to be camping and where the cops will call you a vagrant.
The second thing you need is a small camping-like heat and cooking source.
The third thing you need is a means of washing dishes and maintaining personal hygiene. That means many things but especially a source of water.
The 4th thing you need is to remember rule #1.
But I'm just saying (wink)
Apr 10, 2013 5:29 PM
3An SUV is also good if you don't have a van, which usually costs more. Be sure to have ventilation if you use a propane or kerosene stove in the van or SUV -- be careful of spilling fuel and catching everything on fire if you are using kerosene. Some people with either a van or SUV have put an extra floorboard a few inches above the car floor so that they may store things under it -- you need to make it easy to remove the things pushed way under the floorboard.
Just saying -- the Walmart Supercenter in Santa Fe found a dead body of a man who had been car-camping in their parking lot for a month and no one had disturbed him until finally someone realized that no one had been seen moving in or outside of the car for a couple of weeks! Not all Walmart Supercenters or Sam's Clubs do allow free overnight car-camping. I also overnight at the Flying J and Pilot Travel Center truck stops, which have hot showers and laundromats and budget-priced buffet meals. They do give preference to commercial truckers, but some are encouraging the RVers to stay also.
The roadside rest stops are not all very safe for overnighting. Some allow only 8 hours of parking. You do need to use your street smarts about choosing amongst them.
Apr 10, 2013 6:04 PM
Apr 10, 2013 6:41 PM
Apr 10, 2013 7:45 PM
Apr 10, 2013 8:12 PM
7I would have very little in the way of what to bring, blankets, pillow , clothes, lap top, navigation like a tom tom , ATLAS sleeping bag and small pup tent, Calling card or cell phone that is prepaid and activated. and buy the rest along the way.. I found that using those TIDE already measured detergent that you throw in your washer takes up less space then a box of detergent. fabric softner in the sheet form in a box is the best. Having a navigation thing in your car along with an atlas for those roads that are not really there helps. Going into the nicer part of town to do your laundry rather then the bad section and to find out do your research first about where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Pay your bills on line and have a lap top for those bill paying days. I have traveled from coast to coast and long the way I have found buy what you need along the way. ALDI"S< FAMILY DOLLAR< DOLLAR GENERAL< WINCO< WALMART<,Walgreen are places to shop and in some towns you can park for up to six hours in their parking areas to rest. Must read their signs . Buy a pup tent and sleeping bag that you can roll out on the back seat. Make sure you have phone numbers in case of emergency in both your glove compartment and where in case of an accident your loved ones can be notified who you are and give them a plan of action so they can trace your progress. Above all enjoy your trip and take loads of pictures to send via FACEBOOK ect to keep your loved ones happy.
Apr 10, 2013 10:11 PM
8Not sure what answer you're looking for. Are you thinking you'll sleep in the vehicle? Or camp? Or stay in guest houses? Are you looking for advice on doing this on a very low budget?
The country makes a big difference I think. When I've done road trips in USA/Canada/Europe/Australia/NZ, I've done a lot of sleeping in the car, lot of camping, brought my own tent and sleeping bag. For road trips in South America, I tend to stay more in guest houses. It really depends. In French Guiana for example, it was very popular to travel with a hammock and sling it up at night.
Also, in 3rd world countries, it could be harder to find things that you need during your trip, so you'd need to be better prepared. Even things like gas (i.e. fuel, why is it called gas anyway? it's not a gas, it's a liquid) and water can be hard to get by so you might need extra storage. In the US you really don't need much since everything is so easily available.
Towards the top for me of things to bring, especially in a western country, would be a smart phone with a GPS and a reliable data plan. Might sound boring, but the intent is not to surf the web or facebook. It just makes the trip so much more flexible, removes the need to plan everything beforehand and saves a ton of time and money.
Apr 12, 2013 9:08 AM
9To do this effectively, you need to be willing to spend at least a little bit of money, or you will be considered to be a homeless vagrant.
If I were embarking on a journey such as this, I would have a tent, and focus on sleeping in approved campgrounds. These campgrounds often cost a bit of money, but the cost is usually very modest. Many have some kind of shower facilities. And as noted, you will need some cooking supplies.
Some big cities have campgrounds on the outskirts of town, but in the very large cities these campgrounds can be quite some distance from the city. In those cases, you will want to look into hostel accommodations (from $20-35 in the U.S., but not available in all cities), or you could look into doing something like Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing,org).
Apr 13, 2013 4:53 AM
10I would not suggest doing this except in campgrounds as #9 suggests. The US is very hostile to the homeless, which is what you would appear to be. You will be harrassed, arrested, kicked out of towns and cities, putting self in dangerous positions. That is why the suggestion of #4 is not unreasonable.
Even if you think of wide open areas, well these places are scary also as all those like ex-cops from LA move with their arsenals to places like Montana and Idaho. No, the USA is not a place to risk wanton car-sleeping.
If you have a comfy van and buy campground spaces, well OK, you should be fine, and you will have a shower also.
Apr 13, 2013 7:28 AM
11#10 LOL, how many nights have you spent sleeping in cars in the US? How many times have you been arrested? Or are you basing your message on what you've seen on the evening news? I have slept in cars a lot, in the US as well as other countries, and I don't find the US scary at all. I generally feel safe at night. Obviously there are bad places here, but you wouldn't pick such a place to sleep for the night.
One of the most ridiculous things I've read on this forum. I hope you're joking. I sure will be watching out for these Rambos next time I'm car camping on a desolate road in Montana. Coming with their arsenal to attack my 1988 Fiat Panda. Coming for my thermarest and kerosene stove. It really makes me tremble with fear.
You put yourself in a more dangerous position every time you're driving in this country. Have you seen the kind of people that are allowed to possess a driver's license and drive around our streets?? (or drive around w/o license for that matter!) And the fact that in the US, you can be so drunk you're half-way passed out and still legally drive a car??
Apr 13, 2013 7:50 AM
Apr 13, 2013 7:53 PM
Apr 14, 2013 4:11 PM
14Have done a few cross-country trips in my car, up to 2 1/2 months. We drive and SUV, but don't sleep in it (2 people is tough, one would be much easier). We go to campgrounds and if you are trying to save money, you should look for National Forest campgrounds which are very, very cheap (much cheaper than National Parks). We travel with one Rubbermaid tote called the 'Kitchen' (plates, bowls, utensils, backpacking stove, tinfoil, etc). A second tote full of camping gear. A tent, sleeping bags. A lantern stand (and lantern). A folding saw, so we can use downed wood.
Most useful items - a headlamp, wetwipes, gps, smartphone, liquid laundry detergent, and 2 stacking dishpans.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.