Thursday, November 17, 2016
Cities and towns are passing laws against people who live on the road. Sleeping in vehicles has been outlawed in a number of places. It's getting harder to find a place to sleep where cops won't harass you. It doesn't sound like too big a deal as usually they just make you move on, but being unable to get a good night's sleep takes its toll. Even if you don't hear that knock on the side of your vehicle at 2 in the morning, your sleep is light and troubled.
It's not all that easy to move on sometimes. A lot of people living in vehicles have jobs but their jobs aren't enough to pay for decent housing. Heaven help you if your vehicle is having mechanical trouble.
There are two types of people who end up living in their vehicles. There are those who end up doing it for a lack of better options. Others do it on purpose, for a variety of reasons. They could do it out of a sense of adventure. Some decide to move into a vehicle because they see they won't be able to sustain a “normal” lifestyle.
Those who go in with a plan usually do much better than people without better options. They pick a vehicle with room to sleep. Often they are quite comfortable, with solar panels on the roof, a way to cook and even bathroom facilities.
Even well prepared people are suffering from the new restrictions. While it's possible to dry camp out in a National Forest somewhere, people still need to come into town. People need supplies and services. We also need to interact with other people. Not everyone is a hermit.
It's easy to be a vagabond when times are good, especially in a rich western nation. When times get tough, things close down. The more precarious a middle class life becomes, the harder they work to separate themselves from the poor. Maybe they don't want to be reminded that they are only a paycheck away from living in a van themselves?
If you got some sort of RV living in a reasonably priced campground has been an option for a lot of people. Unfortunately, a lot of private campgrounds are pricey. Some are so exclusive as to prohibit RVs that are more than 5 years old. State and Federal campgrounds have time limits. I met one guy who did a rotation between a state, federal and a dumpy private campground.
There are still plenty of places to live in a vehicle. There are techniques that help a lot too. One way is to look like a tourist rather than a homeless person. One big trick is to keep a canoe on the roof of your vehicle. Ask the locals how the fishing is. With a canoe on your roof you have a reason to hang around boat ramps, some allow overnight parking.
Times are getting tougher for the road warriors out there, but there are still places and techniques that make it work.