If you ever find yourself needing to actually live in a vehicle, here’s some suggestions to assist. Thank you to Thompson of Harford County, a car dealer in Edgewood, MD, for their input on this article!
Get a P.O box – Unless you have an address to use, consider getting a PO box. This is not only somewhere to get mail, it looks great if you are looking for work.
Go to a safe place – You obviously do not want to park anywhere where its dangerous. Search for businesses in your area that allow people to stay overnight in their lots. Walmart, for example, allows parking throughout the night in their lots. It is not only legal, they may have a security team that will actually look out for you. Marinas are another excellent option because of the 24/7 lifestyle of commercial fisherman, there’s usually someone around. Also, given the transient nature of fishermen and boaters, these people may even offer services like bathrooms and showers. And, don’t forget campgrounds! That’s the business that they’re in, and most offer bathrooms and showers too for almost no cost.
Find ways of creating electricity – For charging and utilizing 12V devices like laptops and smartphones, you may use a cigarette lighter converter. You can also buy converters that use your cigarette lighter’s 12V to convert it to 120VAC but know that these converters will not power devices with high amperage requirements, like cooking gear. By the way, a good buy for any vehicle resident is a “low voltage cut out device” for your car’s battery. The device stops the electricity flow once the battery voltage gets low, leaving enough power so you can still start the vehicle. These devices are common in RV stores.
Food- OK, if you are really down out and you must feed yourself cheaply, there are options. Peanut butter, tuna and other protein sources are cheap food items. You may also get free food from food pantries. Many towns and cities have some sort of pantry and they allow almost everyone to obtain expired yet high-quality food. The biggest issue you may run into with food storage is refrigeration. Ice coolers are not really an option because of the need to have ice. However, there are ice coolers that plug into 12VDC sources that don’t keep food frozen but keep it cold.
You will need to shower – No question, you need somewhere to shower and go to the bathroom. You have a lot of options for this. Community or Recreation centers often have showers you can use for free. Truck stops are another option. Just be careful not to over use these establishments. And, of course, as mentioned above, there are campgrounds that offer these services.
Many students, travelers and others live in cars and vans to save money. Some do it because they need to but many younger people do it to try the vagabond lifestyle. No matter your situation, we hope these tips help you out!