This post assumes that you consider living out of your car both highly undesirable and temporary.
But there are times when you simply gotta do what you gotta do.
I spent March of 2010 living out of my 2000 Mazda 626 in Temecula, California.
It was an interesting albeit unplanned experiment.
Here are some of the lessons I learned:
Walmart, Target, et al. are your homies
These giant parking lots are where you want to make camp.
Choose a spot sandwiched between a few cars for discretion when possible.
Even though Walmart actually expressly permits overnight camping in their lots (don't know about the others), don't give some Red Bull-frenzied security guard any easy reason to get on your case.
These types of stores are also usually part of entire shopping hubs and will give you access to food, cafés, etc., within walking distance.
You'll have to find a spot that isn't getting BLASTED by a giant parking lot lamp.
Facing the sun (i.e. sun aimed at your face) is a great way to reset your circadian rhythm to wake at sunrise and go to sleep shortly after sunset.
This has survival value as you don't want to be the token parking-lot hobo.
Waking before eager consumers arrive avoids this.
If the light doesn't wake you, the heat most definitely will.
Starbucks is your lover
You can come in here, grab a coffee, use the restroom and surf the net with impunity.
The food at Starbucks is surprisingly tasty and healthful. Here, I discuss why I hate Starbucks less than ever in more detail
Make friends with the baristas and you may find yourself set for free coffee and the occasional panini. (Thanks Jared!!)
Even more importantly, having some pleasant human interactions on the daily really helps keep you from feeling like a leper.
I suggest you confront the homelessness taboo straight away and if anybody asks, just speak the truth.
People are incredibly compassionate and I've shed a grateful tear on more than one occasion when offered help from the least expected quarters.
The YMCA is yo mama
Nearly every medium-sized city in the US has a YMCA.
You can get a 5 day trial pass to work out, go for a swim and use the showers.
When you've been baking in your car and haven't showered in days, the joy of a long shower is hard to express. (huh huh, I said long...and hard)
Decidedly less withered and liver-spotted than the YMCA experience. Photo: @helga weber
The work out part is essential, too.
Sleeping like a sardine has you feeling like one and some exercise goes a long way in keeping you sharp and energetic.
A few items I found made sleeping in my whip almost cozy.
1. Thermal Blanket
These are ~$30 in Target or Walmart and are super thin.
They'll keep you really warm, too.
2. Small Pillow
Seems like a no-brainer but it wasn't until I woke up with horrible neck stiffness that I went to Target and bought a tiny pillow.
Neck issues - gone.
This is more for privacy and partial concealment than anything else.
The sun's still gonna get you in the morning. It's big.
A great way to undermine your health and morale in this situation (aside from not embracing an abundance mentality is to eat crap.
Stick to a high protein, low carb plan. No fast food!
A typical itinerary might look like this:
[6am] - 2 to 4 Hard boiled eggs from grocery store, 12oz coffee, 12oz water (you can buy gallon jugs instead of individual bottles but if your car is parked in the sun you'll be drinking plastic residues - no bueno)
[9am] - Pint blueberries, handful of raw almonds, tea (Te Java was a godsend during this period).
[12pm] - Chicken or Tuna Salad sans pasta from deli section of grocery, handful walnuts, 12oz water.
[4pm] - Apple, 7 oz greek yogurt (FAGE brand is great with no added sugar), muscle milk
[8pm] - Chili or similar meat + legumes combo (the beans aren't ideal but necessary for sufficient caloric intake since we're avoiding grains. And you'd be surprised at how much energy, mental and physical, you expend living this way), water, 1/2 87% Dagoba Dark Chocolate Bar (pretty ubiquitous chocolate bar, only 5g sugar per 56g)
Dis survival bullshit makin' me huungry. Photo: @Tambako the jaguar
I realize this is a lot food but believe me when I tell you that when those survival circuits start firing, your appetite will spike pretty dramatically.
Scoot the passenger seat way back and recline.
The driver's has less leg room because of the pedals and you can use all the space you can get!
Unless you're a certified little person, sleeping in the back seat comfortably is a tall order.
If and when at all possible, couchsurf.
Not exactly what I mean... Photo: @ardenswayoflife
I know some in the couchsurfing community might get a hard on for me about "abusing peoples' hospitality" and some other vague nonsense regarding what couchsurfing is "all about."
Couchsurfing is about people needing a place to stay and wanting to meet other cool people who like to travel, share stories and kick it. Period.
Don't *expect* help, no complaining (this is your choice - take responsibility), but accept shelter or some good company graciously.
Your positive energy is your currency and many people will gladly help out to vicariously participate in your uncommon adventure and share in your good vibes.
Here are a few amazing super foods I'm really loving right now: (no affiliate links)
Nutmeric Ultra Organic Almond Butter - This stuff tastes amazing and is perfect as a low GI breakfast food. It contains turmeric extract and black pepper (which has been shown to increase bioavailability of turmeric by 2000%).
Preliminary research into turmeric shows it to be a potentially promising anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective substance.
Thanks to Tim Ferris for this suggestion!
Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - Coconut oil contains large quantities of MCFA's, or medium chain fatty acids (If you still think Saturated Fats are evil and Wheaties is the "Breakfast of Champions", read the truth about fat.)
The main two are Lauric acid and Capric acid and are both highly antimicrobial. You can cook with this oil at high temperatures (something you CAN'T do with EVOO) and it tastes like...coconut! I eat it straight from the jar with some berries (or it's just too lardy) ^_^
Thanks to Robb Wolf, Paleo patron god, for turning me onto this yummy stuff.
Dagoba Eclipse Organic Dark Chocolate (87% Cocao) - If you're used to milk chocolate (i.e. chocolate flavored sugar), this may be far out for you.
100% cocoa can be austere to the western palate and this bar strikes a fine balance between sweetness, nutrition and texture. It's one of the cheapest dark chocolates around, too.
If you're feeling particularly frisky, try their 100% cocoa bar - prima materia.
There's copious research into the health-promoting qualities of dark chocolate.
And who'll deny its sexiness?
Find this post useful, interesting or droll? Stumble It!