Friday, June 22, 2012
Fall back position
Did you ever think about having to live out of your car? Thousands of people end up doing just that, but how many had a plan to do it successfully?
For quite a few years, my lovely wife and I spent our winters tent camping. Before we headed out, I did a lot of reading up on people who lived in their cars. We had no intention to live in the car; we had a a couple tents with us. Our plan was to stay at campgrounds and that’s pretty much what we did.
However, learning about how people live in their cars was useful. It helped us decide what to pack, how to cook on the road, bathroom breaks, staying clean, doing laundry, and how to save money. On the few occasions that we ended up sleeping in our car, we knew how to do it a bit more comfortably and a bit more safely.
When you don’t have to live in your car is a good time to prepare for the possibility. Space is limited, so having the right gear is important. It’s not a bad idea to have basic camping gear in your car; backpacking stove, sleeping bags, tarps, food, cookware, soap, water filter, clothes for your climate. It’s similar to having a bug out vehicle ready to go. The main difference is a bug out vehicle is outfitted for a few days, or at most a week or two. Car living could stretch on for months or even years. There is no bug out destination.
I’m not going to get into much detail as there are books and other sources of information if a person is truly interested in the subject.
When people think of living in a vehicle, they think of a big RV. Nice, but not necessary. One guy I met was living in Toyota sedan. He was a disabled vet with limited resources. He removed the passenger seat to make room for an inflatable mattress. A sun shade provided privacy. Every inch of space was put to good use. It was the most organized and well equipped small car I’d ever seen. He even found room for a full sized guitar.
Of course, my ambulance to motorhome conversion would make a fine vehicle for long term living. There’s an awful lot of comfort that can be squeezed into a one ton van. I bought it for camping and to pull my sailboat, but I should equip it for bug out/car living possibilities too. Being able to run it on waste vegetable oil doesn’t hurt either.
Strangers living in cars come under suspicion. One hint that really works is having a canoe on your vehicle. It gives you a reason for being out in the country. You aren’t just some random person in a car, you are a sportsman. Often people will check out the boat and talk canoing. Ask them what they fish for in these parts and they’ll open right up.
It’s not a bad idea to actually have some basic fishing gear with you. That canoe can take you to fishing spots the guy on shore can’t reach. It’s also a good platform for gathering edible plants. When you come to the end of the road, you can load your gear into that canoe and head out on the water. It’s a nice option.