If you need knowledge, read a book. If you want to really know something, experience is the best teacher. My advice for anyone reading this is to try living in a car or van for a week or two. There isn’t anything better to wring out your survival kit than practical use.
Here are some tips from my own experiences-
- Add a flip-up roof vent to the van, if that’s what you have. Heating/cooking with propane produces water as a byproduct. The vent will get rid of the interior water buildup. It will also exhaust hot air in the warmer parts of the year. A solar-powered fan in the vent is even better.
- Solar film on the windows keeps things private, but you need a blackout curtain to keep light from being seen at night. I used a denim tube and lined it with high-density foam, hung from wire springs on both the top and bottom of the tube curtain. The curtain needs to cover the whole window. It provides a bit of insulation, too.
- Never park in the same place twice in the same week. Stay away from other parkers in the same situation. Parking around 24-hour biz is better than residential areas. Apartment complexes offer a degree of stealth street parking due to the high turnover of tenants and friends, NOT in their parking lot, however! Same for 24-hour grocery stores.
- Sometimes your employer will let you park behind the biz if you’re a good employee and they want to help you out. That’s always a personal call that depends on the boss’s personality and the particular job. Sometimes it’s better the boss doesn’t know your situation.
- Rent a mini-storage cubicle with 24-hour access for your spill-over and items that might be stolen from your vehicle. If you’re a customer, you have bathroom privileges.
- A health club membership is a golden ticket for street living. You can shower, steam, and work out, too. Municipal indoor pools are good, too. Learn to bathe in a sink, as in sponge baths. Always clean up your mess!
- A private mailbox that provides a street address (not a Post Office box) makes you look more like someone with a real address. This comes into play for drivers licenses, state ID cards, car insurance, job applications, etc.
- A pay-as-you-go cell phone provides a telephone for job calls and if you need emergency services.
- Try to find an apartment manager job if you have good people skills and some simple maintenance experience. The local Apartment Association may offer training so you can get that job. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. They like peeps that have experience, so this is the route in. Much easier if you’re a couple. Mini-storage management is even better. Usually, small buildings only trade an apartment and light housekeeping duties for your time. You will need to work part-time to pay the bills.
- A portable CD player with a radio is very handy for entertainment and news if you have to live out of your car.
- Most libraries have computer access. If you have a wireless laptop, then those businesses that let you surf on their wi-fi connection for a cup of coffee are helpful, too.
- Always dress and act middle class or better. The way you look determines how the police will handle you when they come calling. That’s when not if.
- Don’t think you are depression proof. Plan ahead for hard times and practice. You won’t be disappointed. Living hand to mouth eventually gives you a can-do attitude that can be a lifesaver. Even if you have to give up your home, you will still have one.
This advice came from webbee, over on Survivalist Boards who granted his permission to re-post it here. You and I may never have to live in our vehicles, but this advice is helpful for evacuations or if you’re ever stranded somewhere without funds for a hotel.
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