Tips and Tricks for Living out of a Car

I have lived out of a number of vehicles of all sizes from a small Chevy Cruise to a Buick Park Avenue to a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have definitely learned a thing or two from all these experiences and hopefully this article will help!

Living out of a car isn’t easy, whether it’s by yourself or with someone else. But, with most things in life, after some time passes, it gets easier and easier with each passing day. At the beginning there was a lot of trail and error. Now, I find myself very comfortable living out of a car. Here are the best pieces of advice I can give you.

Make it comfortable

With whatever vehicle you are sleeping in, large or small, take the time and make sure your sleeping conditions are favorable. Even out of a small Chevy Cruise, I managed to make it somewhat comfortable by cutting out memory foam and making it the size of my back-seat. I didn’t notice the seat belt buckles and made sure my new bed was nice, warm, and soft. Having more room in a Jeep, we made a normal square-sized bed out of memory foam and because the space allowed, we bought two of them, cut them in half and stacked them on top of each other. We then had four layers of memory foam plus the sleeping bag that we zipped it into.

Be able to cook

Being able to cook is essential when living out of a car. I’m going to go on a whim and guess you’re not planning on going to a restaurant for every meal and eating strictly ready-to-eat meals tend to get old after a while. Make sure you purchase a backpacking stove if you don’t have one already. All you need is a stove, a gas can, a lighter, a pot/pan, a spoon/fork and wala, you’re good to go. Even with the smallest living space of mine, I made room for a “kitchen.” I got a medium-sized box and placed the essentials in it. Everything that was in it included what I just listed and a measuring cup that was also a regular cup, a plate, a spice kit and a can opener. You don’t need much. There are of course the items that you need and then there are your luxury items. As long as you only pack what you need, there will be some room for a couple extra items to make things easier and more comfortable for you.


Plan on where you are sleeping most nights

Are you on a budget? If you are living out of a car, chances are you are not sleeping in motels/hotels. Are you planning on sleeping at campgrounds most nights or are you on a really tight budget and you prefer free campsites? If you are trying to camp for free, the most typical places I use are; trail-heads, apartment complexes, truck-stops, BLM land, National Forests, and I use the website freecampsites.net to help me out sometimes.

Be Organized

Living out of a small space you must be organized or you won’t be able to find anything! There has to be a spot for everything and after every time you use something, you need to try your hardest to put it back. Once you get this down, things become much easier. One thing I do to help me is have a different box for everything such as one box for all my clothes. I have different box for all my food and another box for all the kitchen supplies. I’m sure you get the idea. To be more specific, I use plastic storage bins to store everything. They’re cheap, light and durable. These bins are very similar to what I use.

Be Flexible

The more flexible you are, the happier you will be and the more money you can save. Road-trips never go exactly as planned. You may need to redirect your route. This happened to me on the first really big trip I planned. I planned on going this set direction before I left and with in one week, my whole trip was turned upside down and re-directed. Things like this will happen and it will be OK. When one door opens another door closes. Just try and keep your head held high and go with the flow.

Feel Unsafe? Move! 

There is nothing wrong with moving if you feel unsafe. Even if you don’t know why and nothing particularly happened. Trust your gut. If you get that weird sensation in your gut, move. One night I just didn’t feel safe anywhere I went and moved three times that night. Sometimes this will happen. To feel more safe, especially if you are traveling solo, I always have something on me for a defense weapon, whether it’s a small pocket knife and/or bear spray. Even if I’m not in bear country, I have bear spray on me. It’s always better to have something on you just in case you need it.

Stay on top of vehicle maintenance

Your vehicle is your home, your legs, your everything if you are living out of it. Take care of it as if you are taking care of yourself. Keep on top of regular maintenance such as tires, brakes, and an oil change every as often as recommended.

Only have what you need

There is nothing worse than leaving your “old life” behind to live a life on the road, just to bring everything with you and to be bombarded with stuff you don’t need. Of course there are exceptions and you can bring some “luxury items,” but try and make it minimum. I only bring what I need plus just a few extra things that make me happy such as my journal. My journal is very important to me and I enjoy writing. This isn’t a necessity but it’s a small commodity that keeps me happy on the road.

There is a video below on my solo three month road trip I took to the National Parks. Relevant kinda lol.

If you enjoyed this article, you may want to read a similar article I wrote on how I quit my job, packed my car and left!!!

If you think of something feel free to write it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,

Livingonthedirt/Shelly

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!

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