How To Live Successfully in a Car or Van

How To Live Successfully  in A Car or Van
 
July  8, 2019
 
by Cathy Harris, Syndicated Columnist

 

People are struggling to be comfortable in their cars today as they go back and forth and live their lives. But what if they had to literally live in their cars?

 Bob Wells from Cheap RV Living on youtube thinks that once the government sees how many people are living in cars, vans, RVs, etc., due to the homeless situation, it will propel the government to take action to take care of them.  

However, I believe the government (along with the medical and pharmaceutical industry) only cares about ‘population control’ and ‘killing folks off’ because there are too many people in the world. So it’s up to all of us to take care of each other.
 
Why Many Travelers Are Living in Cars and Vans vs. RVs
 
I know most of you read the article I wrote entitled  “The Truth About The RV Industry – What You Need To Know About Camping World” and why as soon as you buy an RV, you need to be ready also to do your own repairs even if you have an ‘extended warranty’ or be ready to pay top dollars to get others to do these repairs for you. 
 
This is so true. I am sure many of you found the article to be ‘very problematic’ – like me – especially with what has happened at Camping World  — being on the verge of bankruptcy because of their ‘unethical’ practices.
 
Even Bob Wells from CheapRVLiving.com has said on many occasions in his videos that living in an RV can be a #MoneyPit. After conducting months of extensive research — I agree totally.
 
All of my research in the RV industry opened the doorway for me to also educate everyone on why living in a car and/or van or a similar vehicle might be a better way to reinvent or change your life than buying an RV.
 
Many won’t be in a position to live in an RV or Motorhome or do these expensive and extensive repairs, especially many women, so they should think about living in a car, van or similar vehicle instead. 
 
Many travelers, especially women, with Travel Trailers or Fifth Wheels, which can be dangerous to get out of and hook up at times (from ‘man’ and/or ‘beast’), have decided to downsize to #VanLife instead. So again, living in an RV might not be right for everyone.
 
 

Remember, you can save a ton of money while Car or Van Dwelling also, so look at these options, if you need to pay off bills and save for the future. 

Who Should Think About Car or Van Life?
 
Who seriously should think about Car or #VanLife?
  • Save Money Quickly: Those individuals who need to save money quickly should consider moving into a car or van.  If you are attempting to do #VanLife then move into your car until you have enough money saved. If you need to find an apartment then move into your car, van or a similar vehicle until you have enough money saved. If you need to buy a house, then move into your car, van or similar vehicle until you have enough saved.
  • Students Going Off to College: Not all students that go off or try to go off to college have supportive parents. Many college students today are trying to find ways to cut down on tuition. They can live in a car, van or a similar vehicle and cut down on dorm fees. 
  • Abused Employees: Over the years as a ‘Discrimination and Workplace Consultant’, I have watched tons of women and men lose their homes due to wrongful terminations and discrimination on their jobs. Many walked straight from their homes to the streets. They had no other choice but to get involved in prostitution or selling drugs and/or ended up homeless or in jail.
  • Abusive Spouses: Others, especially women, out here in the Car and Van Dwelling community have had to run away from ‘abusive spouses’. No one should be forced to live in a relationship with anyone where they are not happy. Did you know most Domestic Violence hotlines are flooded with calls for help from women after the holidays (especially in January) once the bills come in?
  • Sickness: Just remember the NUMBER ONE REASON that most people lose their apartments or homes is SICKNESS, so it’s important to take care of your health. I don’t know if I would choose to get out here on the road if I was sick (probably not), but getting out here on the road can help you in the long run from getting sick. You can take care of yourself better by being out there on the road because you can afford #BetterFoods (#OrganicFoods) and breathe in a better quality of air, especially if you choose to camp out on BLM.gov or National Forest land. Also, if you can’t afford the high cost of medications, think about living in a car, van or a similar vehicle. 
  • Homelessness:  Having too many bills can make anyone sick or homeless in a heartbeat. Many women and men have these big ’empty’ homes and can barely keep their heads above water because of all these high bills. They are underwater on their mortgage and don’t have a way out. So these are the individuals that need to consider moving into a car, van, or similar vehicle, especially if they are looking at becoming homeless. Land is the most valuable commodity you can have so don’t think I am telling you to just give your land away — because I am not. Unless you take care of yourself and your land and especially pay your taxes, the government is going to take it anyway. So do something with it or turn it over to family members who can. You can turn your land into an RV park or allow others to rent part of it to grow foods. When buying a house, only buy a house that does not have Homeowner’s Association (HOAs) fees because you probably won’t be able to grow foods in the front yard. If you need a break from it all, take a break and come out on the road and build a new life for yourself. 
Any of these situations can cause even the sanest of people to come unglued — physically, mentally and spiritually — and this is what is happening today. So consider leaving it all behind and get out here on the road. 
 
How To Fix Your Car Up to Live in It
 

Since RVs are made so poorly with cheap material and can break in half 20 miles down the road, you need to consider converting other vehicles for your traveling pleasures.

Keep in mind that Camper Trucks and Vans are also called “RVs” and/or “Motorhomes.” Many travelers today because of the economy and just to be able to travel and see some beautiful sites are living in small and large cars, SUVs, trucks, mini-vans, camper trucks, camper vans, box vans, cargo vans, old bread trucks, converted Federal Express and U-haul trucks and horse trailers, buses, etc.  The sky is the limit in what type of vehicle you can live or camp out in.

No one really want to live or sleep in their cars, but many are making it work today. Many families sleep in their cars when they go camping — so why not live in it full-time?

Despite what you might think living in a car, van or a similar vehicle can be safer than living on the streets. Our ancestors used to live in caves, so why are we as a society looking down on anyone for sleeping in their cars — whether they are ‘homeless’ or just want the luxury of being mobile to travel around the country and save on gas?

Many with jobs and businesses do utilize their vehicles to work in, but a majority of people who sleep in cars, vans, RVs and other vehicles — LIVE OUT of their vehicles.

They spend their time during the day out of the vehicle engaging in activities, while returning to the vehicles at nighttime for sleep.  

Many Car and Van Dwellers believe RVers look down on them for sleeping in a car, van or similar vehicle. I am sure they look at Car and Van Dwellers as being ‘primitive’ because many don’t have running water, bathrooms or toilets.

However, we are all the same — #OneCommunity of ‘Wanderers, Gypsies, and Nomads’. Again, this is a #Kind and #Brave community so let’s take care of each other.

If you live in a car, you can sleep in the front seat, passenger seat or back seat or remove the front passenger seat or back seats for more comfort. It all depends on the size of the person and which angle you will find most comfortable. 

Once you lay the driver or passenger seat back, for many this can be a comfortable position. You can remove the front passenger seat and put a board or plank down from Home Depot or Lowe’s — get an inflatable camping bag, pillow and sleeping bag and you should be quite comfortable sleeping in your car. You can also use an air mattress.

Or you can lay down the back seats or remove them totally and fix the area up like the front passenger seat with your legs extending in the trunk area. These two positions should allow you to be quite comfortable living in your car or a  bigger vehicle.

Why You Should Buy A ‘Toyota Prius’ To Live in 

Bob Wells from CheapRVLiving.com also recommends a ‘Toyota Prius’ as the type of car many should buy. There are Prius groups on facebook, especially a group for women Prius owners.
 
You can start any car type group on facebook and hold events at meetup.com or join “Bob Wells Caravans” at www.Meetup.com/Caravans.
 
Many of these caravans are near towns — where you can still shop and/or use your phone so don’t think you will be out there in some isolated area. Caravans are a great way to meet others on the road – build relationships or even travel together.
You can get a ‘Toyota Prius’ and save $1000 a month on rent and do your work at McDonald’s, Starbucks, Libraries, Panera Bread, and other businesses with FREE wi-fi.
 
Some even park in front of libraries, Target, McDonald’s, etc. and stay in their cars and use their wi-fi for free. You may or may not need a ‘wi-fi extender’ for this, however, ‘the sky is the limit’ on how you can work on a ‘remote job’ or run a business from your car, van or a similar vehicle and be quite happy as you travel around the country and meet great friends and see some beautiful sites — or just survive as a ‘Car Dweller.’
 
Living in a Car vs. Living in A Van
 
Living in a car is no different than living in a van. Of course, living in a car will not give you as much space as living in a van, but you can be totally happy living in either of these. 
 
Reasons to travel by car versus a van or RV:
  • It’s quick.
  • Great mileage. 
  • Great mobility so you can get up and go.
  • Great for stealth camping. 
  • Most families already have a car so start with what you got. It’s more affordable than a Class B van, Class B plus (also called a ‘Class C’), Class A, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel.
  • You can get a used car or van for $2000 to $5000 on autotrader.com, facebook marketplace, eBay, craigslist or even cheaper from a personal seller.

If you only have a car and not a van, then set up your car and travel around the country and prepare to have fun. You can add tents to your car to extend your living area and space when out camping.

What you need to live in a car or van successfully:
  • Food
  • Bottled Water
  • Eating Utensils (Folks, Spoons, Bowls, Plates)
  • Paper Towels/Napkins
  • Wet Wipes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Trash Bags
  • Bed/Sleeping Bag (Inflatable Camping Mattress and/or Air Mattress)
  • Pillow
  • Knife/Swiss Army Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Mini Travel Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Pee Bottle/Toilet Pot (Collapsible Toilet)
  • Small Fans (in the summertime)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Ice Chess/Cooler (Coleman Extreme Cooler – will keep ice for up to – maybe a week) or an Ice Chess that runs on a 9 or 12-volt battery. Many van dwellers have the Yeti coolers and there are iceless coolers by Igloo.).
  • Inverter/Generator, which you can charge while driving and run your phone, computer, iPad, blender, steamer, etc.
You can wash off with wipes, buy a pop-up shower tent, use Solar Showers or take showers at gyms such as 24-hour fitness, Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, YMCAs, etc. 
 
You can also take showers at CouchSurfing.com, truck stops, state and county parks, hotels, at friends and family member’ homes, etc. In places like Florida, they have showers on beaches along with potable water.
While in your car you can watch movies on Netflix.com, Amazon.com, and Hulu.com on your phone. To live in a van (minivan, SUV, camper van or some type of other larger vehicle than a car), you want to go ahead and purchase a good house battery, inverter and solar so you can work inside of the van on a computer, iPad, etc. or watch TV. There are also portable solar kits for those living in their cars.
  
Car and Van Dwellers – Sleeping or Camping in Tents
 
If you are sleeping in your car and/or van, you also should have a tent with you. Springbar.com has the best quality of tents that lasts a while. The tents are really sturdy and can hold up in high winds.
 
Genji Sports Instant Camping tents are a great quality ‘pop-up’ tent, which means you can put it up and take it down in a hurry.
 
Ozark Trail tents are another good tent, but it was made in China, which means it might blow away in high winds. Kodiak Canvas tents are another tent used by Car or Van Dwellers.
 
 

If you arrive in your car or van as a ‘campground host’ or when you just go camping, bring a tent along especially if you need to take a break from sleeping in a car or van. 

Also, know up-front that many campgrounds require those arriving in cars and vans to bring a tent along.  They require you to sleep in the tents or you can set up the tent ‘as a disguise’ — for safety purposes — and still sleep in your car or van.
 
Remember that most of these camps are empty during the week so this will be a great time to stay there — hassle-free. On weekends you can go to other places or do #StealthCamping in urban areas.
 
 
Some camping areas charge $5 to $25 a day for cars, vans, and RVs. Some have a limit of 14 days then you might have to go to another camp area, but can come back to that same spot in 14 to 30 to 45 days. And many of the camps are right next to each other.
 
If you are going camping in a car or van bring a head lamp and/or Luci Light (powered in the daytime by solar), fire starter and proper clothing. Try to bring more than one coat. 
 
For cooking when camping or when living in a car or van, you can also use these items:  
  • toaster oven
  • induction plate (could interfere with cardiac pacemakers) 
  • instant pot
  • air fryer
  • blender
  • steamer
Know the regulations and laws wherever you are. You can also bring chairs and tools along. You can tailgate off your truck or the back of your car. 
 
FREE Places to Park Cars or Vans While On the Road
 
If you need a place to park, you can go on Craigslist and put an ad in it and offer $100 a month (or less) to park in someone’s driveway or on their land.
 
If you do this, the goal is to show up after dark and leave before daylight. I am sure homeowners, especially the elderly, who have houses and land would love to make this ‘extra money’ every month and you will have a safe, ‘hassle-free’ place to park.
 
Make sure you google ‘FREE parking’ in the city you are in. Other FREE places to park your car, another larger vehicle or a van include:
  • Rest Areas
  • Truck Stops
  • Walmart (24 hours)
  • Kmart (24 hours)
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Bass Pro Shops (also own Cabela’s) allows Van Dwellers – maybe Car Dwellers.
  • Cracker Barrel allows Van Dwellers – maybe Car Dwellers.
  • Tribal Lands (You ask permission from a tribal council. And pay a permit fee)
  • Casinos also check out CasinoCamping.com
  • National Parks and Monuments
  • State, City or Community Parks (Look for signs that say 24 parking)
  • City, County or Regional and Private Campgrounds
  • BLM.gov Land (It’s everywhere but mostly on the west coast). Camp on BLM land with small or large groups of people to be safe, especially if you are a solo female traveler or join Bob Wells from CheapRVLiving.com Caravans at www.Meetup.com/Caravans). 
  • You can do “Driveway or Mooch Surfing” (also “Couch Surfing” — staying on someone’s couch) in a family’ member, friend or someone’s driveway. Cars and Van Dwellers can do this easier than larger RVs.
  • Residential Areas (Respect “No Parking Signs.” Do not park on private property. Somebody is always watching).
  • Apartment Complexes (There is usually street parking there too. Google or go to Craiglist and look for apartments for rent. Big apartment complexes ‘without gates’ are a great idea, especially for Car and Van Dwellers).
  • Community College parking lots (Check hours of Campus police. It’s usually 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.).
  • Strip Malls or Shopping Malls that are opened 24 hours, but they might have security guards.
  • Car Dealerships (Go to the service area especially if they work on the type of car or van you drive)
  • HarvestHosts.com allows Van Dwellers and RVers (not Car Dwellers). These are wineries, farms, breweries, etc. Memberships are $50 a year. (Owner name is Joel). They only take up to 5 RVers or Van Dwellers a night so you need to make reservations. You need to buy wine, cheese, and other products, while you are there.
  • BoondockersWelcome.com allows Van Dwellers and RVers (not Car Dwellers). Also, check out Boondocking.org.
Popular Apps for Car and Van Dwellers
 
Again, a van will give you more space and you can set it up just like an RV. Most vans can also park anywhere an RV can park. They have ‘Class B Vans’ which is the same size as regular vans so vans are also considered RVs and Motorhomes.
 
To Find Campgrounds Use These Apps
 
Apps That Cost
 
  • US Public Lands (Worth the $2.99 cost).
  • Ultimate Public Campgrounds (Over 40,300 in U.S. & CA) (Cost $3.99).
  • OvernightRVParking.com (Subscription is $24.95).
  • AllTrails (To find hiking trails. Subscription is $29.99 a year).
Apps To Monitor Gas
 
You will save gas as long as you stay in one location so if you stay weekly or monthly, you will save gas.
 
Apps to help you monitor your gas include:
  • Gas Buddy
  • Fuelly
  • Gas Guru
  • Gas Cubby
  • GasPricesTriple.com

Weather Apps

  • Windy.com (gives you 3-hour updates, wind speed, wind directions, wind gust, and Hurricanes forecasts)
  • The Weather Channel
  • Weather
  • My Radar 
  • Weather Bug

It’s up to you whether you camp out or live in a compact car, a larger vehicle or a van. Remember to start with what you have. If that is a car then get in your car and get out here on the road and enjoy yourself and/or save your sanity. 

Read my article entitled “What You Need to Know Before Starting #VanLife.” Even though you live in a Car, Van, a similar vehicle or RV, you can truly still live “The Good Life” by getting out of your COMFORT ZONE and putting one foot in front of the other and say the words — “No more struggles, no more pain, no more headaches, no more heartaches. I am building a new life and I am doing it now.” Welcome aboard the #FreedomExpress!

Find out more great info on Car Camping and Car Living in these groups:

Share this info with the people you love and don’t forget to ‘Live, Love and Enjoy the Journey’ and be an active part of my NEW JOURNEY, new community, and blog at www.SimpleLifeRVing.com.
 
 
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Cathy Harris is a soon to be Full-Time RVer living ‘The Good Life.’ Her blog website is SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach and Self-Publishing Expert and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at www.CathyHarrisInternational.com.