Tips & Basics

How to Live in Your Car if You Have To

Contrary to what some may think, it’s more than possible to live out of a car comfortably.

Some people may live in their car by choice, such as if they decide they’d like to save money for a time or go on a road trip around the country. Others, however, may find themselves forced to live in a car due to more unfortunate circumstances.

For instance, people may be forced to live in their cars due to being unable to afford living expenses, and others may be forced to bug out of their homes due to an SHTF situation and find themselves without a home for an extended period of time.

Regardless of what your circumstances are, knowing how to live out of your car for a temporary or extended period of time is a good life skill to learn. Here’s how to live in your car if you have to:

Clean it Regularly

Make sure the interior of your car stays clean. Bacteria and odors can easily build up in the small space of a car.

That’s why it’s important to open the windows for ten to fifteen minutes at regular intervals to allow the car to air out.

Additionally, invest in disinfectant items and wipe down the surfaces of the car’s interior regularly.

Think About How You’ll Shower

How to Live in Your Car if You Have ToBesides keeping the car clean and hygienic, you need to do the same for yourself as well. While you can always shower at public showers, it’s important to have backup options as well.

Invest in a portable shower, and preferably one that can use the sun to heat up the water inside.

Related: How To Store Water When SHTF

Make sure you can find a place where you can legally (and privately) take a shower as well.

Have a Designated Sleeping Space in the Car

The truth is that most cars and trucks are not very comfortable to sleep in, but you can easily modify yours so that it becomes so.

Ideally, you’ll have a car that has enough space inside of it for you to lay down over a mattress so you can sleep. Alternatively, you can set up a mattress in the back of a pickup truck with a cap over the bed.

It’s very important that you get high quality sleep in your car just like you would in your bed back home. Make sure your pillow and mattress or pad are both soft and high quality, and have a good sleeping bag or blankets that can keep you warm.

Make sure that the mattress or pad can deflate/roll up respectively to help save space for when you’re not sleeping.

You should also invest in a tent or hammock so you can sleep outside of your car if you’d like to as well. Additional sleeping related items to consider acquiring are a good four-season blanket and a heater to provide warmth to the inside of your car as well.

Have a Portable Toilet

How to Live in Your Car if You Have To

If you’re going to be living out of a car, you’ll eventually need to use the restroom. Make sure that you drive near places where you can use the restroom. These places may include public restrooms, shopping centers, or grocery stores.

Related: DIY SHTF Toilet

But just in case you don’t get anywhere that offers free bathroom services, it’s wise to invest in a portable toilet for those times ‘just in case.’

Organize Your Belongings

Organization is essential to living in a car. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving a full-size SUV either: in a car, space is always limited.

The best solution is to invest in a storage organizer made specifically for vehicles. This will allow you to sort and store your automotive supplies, toiletries and personal hygiene items, electronics, sleeping related items, clothing, kitchen items, and so on.

It’s also a smart idea to invest in duffel bags for storing your clothes. Duffel bags won’t take up a large amount of space but can store a large amount of items.

Pick Your Location Wisely

When you park your car for a good night’s sleep, make sure you do so in a place where it’s legal. You can be fined and given a ticket for parking on private property because it’s trespassing.

Look for places that offer free overnight parking, and you should be good.

Have a Portable Power Bank

How to Live in Your Car if You Have ToIt will be immensely beneficial to be able to power your electronic devices while you’re on the road, especially if you’re a freelancer or working remotely.

Buy a portable power bank that can be used to recharge each of your electronic items.

Related: DIY Off-Grid Battery Charger

On that same note, consider buying a portable WiFi device or getting WiFi on your phone so you can access Wi-Fi without having to rely on publicly available WiFi.

Think About How You’ll Store and Cook Food

It’s definitely a bit trickier to store and cook food in your home versus at home.

You may think that you can always eat out for a meal, and while you certainly can, just remember that it will add up in cost quickly. That’s why it’s smart to carry food with you as well as to have the ability to cook that food.

Most of the foods that you store with you in your car will need to be non-perishable, and you can store these foods in a plastic bin you have in the car. Think pasta, rice, cereal, soups, and so on.

It’s a good idea to learn how to find wild edible plants. Take, for instance, this “superweed” that helped many folks out during the Great Depression; it could be a real lifesaver when there’s no other food around.

You can also invest in a small propane-powered camping grill that will allow you to cook meals outside. Additionally, make sure that you have a complete kitchen cooking set, complete with all the cooking ware (such as a pot and a pan) and utensils that you will need to make each of your planned meals.

Finally, always carry clean water in your vehicle. You can either buy and carry water bottles, or alternatively, you can have a water cooler that you store your water in. You never want to be dependent on stores or restaurants to provide water for you, so always having your own is important.

Living in your car really comes down to only one thing: scaling down the way you would live in a house or an apartment into the size of a vehicle.

You will have to make sacrifices, but the same principles to living out of a home largely apply to living out of a car as well: keep it clean, have a designated sleeping area, a way to take a shower and stay clean, a way to use the restroom, good storage and organization of your belongings, a way to power your electronics, and a portable kitchen to prepare your meals.

You may also like:

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