14 Essentials Tips for Living Out of Your Car

For most people, living out of a car isn’t ideal. However, you can transform your car into a surprisingly functional living space with the right…

For most people, living out of a car isn’t ideal. However, you can transform your car into a surprisingly functional living space with the right planning and strategies. 

If you’ve considered living out of your car but are unsure how to go about it, you’ve landed in the right place. In this article, we’ll share 14 tried-and-tested tips and tricks for living out of a car.

We’ll cover everything from how to cook and where to use the toilet. Stick around if you need to learn more!

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1. Pick The Right Car To Live In

Image Credit: Kristin of The Wayward Home’s Toyota Prius camper

Okay, this tip is probably super obvious, but picking the right car is crucial when planning to live in such a tiny space. Consider your needs, preferences, and lifestyle when choosing the best vehicle.

A small car like the Prius I lived in has advantages. It can easily fit in smaller parking spots, has excellent fuel economy, and is easy to drive. This car is perfect for someone who doesn’t need lots of gear.

However, choosing something bigger, like a minivan or SUV camper, offers more storage and living space. You’ll also have more parking options on public lands because larger vehicles tend to have more clearance. 

2. Work Out What You Need

Image Credit: TravelWithTheSmile.com

Transitioning to living out of your car requires downsizing, and deciding what to bring can be challenging. You need to figure out what is essential and what isn’t. 

We’ve listed some of the most important car living essentials below to make your life easier. These are the things you need to pack:

  • Important documents (passport, medical card, insurance card)
  • Medication (if you take any)
  • Basic toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Cookware
  • A camp stove
  • Chargers for your devices
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • A few books
  • Car wipes

3. How To Sleep In Your Car

Image Credit: https://www.tripofalifestyle.com/

It’s essential to create a comfortable place to sleep in your car. Luckily, there are various ways to transform your vehicle into a cozy bed.

If you want a quick and easy transformation, you can use an air mattress or memory foam mattress topper and a sleeping bag to create a comfortable sleeping spot. This is a fantastic solution for smaller cars. 

You can quickly fold down the front seats to create space for your bed. Alternatively, you could install a fixed bed platform if you have a bigger vehicle. 

You can purchase a pre-made platform bed or build one yourself. Either way, this is an excellent option if you don’t want to make your bed daily.

4. Keep Things Organized

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

To successfully live out of your car, you must become a master organizer. You have to learn how to keep things super organized if you’re going to live comfortably on the road.

You can do a few things to make the organization process easier. Here’s some of our top organization tips:

  • Use packing cubes to keep clothes clean and organized. 
  • Place a cargo net on the inside ceiling to store extra clothes or bedding. 
  • Keep storage bins in your car to keep things clean.
  • Hang seat organizers over the front seat to maximize space.
  • Keep your toiletries in a small shower bag.
  • Hang a shoe storage canvas on the rear doors to organize your shoes.

5. Use Window Covers Or Sunshades For Privacy On The Road

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

While living on the road, your car will become your home. Therefore, just like in any home, you want some privacy. Admittedly, it can be harder to find it living in a car, but there are a few solutions.

I recommend using window covers or sunshades. Both are quick and easy solutions that prevent people from looking in. 

If you’re creative, you could make some window covers yourself. Meanwhile, sunshades are also helpful in blocking out the sun. 

6. Find The Right Place To Sleep

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Finding the right places to sleep while living out of your car will help you have a hassle and worry-free experience. Two things to consider when finding somewhere to sleep are safety and legality. 

Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind, and you should never stay overnight in illegal parking spots. To find the best places to sleep, use websites like freecampsites.net or apps like iOverlander.

You might also want to do some research into the local area to make sure you’re obeying local laws. For example, some municipalities have laws against sleeping in cars overnight inside city limits.

7. How To Stay Clean

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

You might think staying clean when living in a car would be challenging, but it’s pretty easy. If your vehicle is big enough, you could keep a portable shower in the back. 

However, if your vehicle isn’t big enough for a portable shower arrangement, you’ll have to use your imagination. Here are some things we do to stay clean on the road!

  • Purchase a gym membership. A nationwide gym membership can be a lifesaver on the road. It’ll give you access to a hot shower and other bathroom facilities. 
  • Visit recreation centers. Recreation centers often have public showers you can pay to use.
  • Keep wet wipes in your car. Between showers, it’s okay to use wet wipes to refresh yourself quickly and keep yourself clean.
  • Use laundromats. The easiest way to clean your clothes is to visit a laundromat.

8. Where To Go The Toilet

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Similar to keeping yourself clean, several options are available when finding somewhere to go to the toilet. Once again, you can use the gym or recreational center facilities. 

Alternatively, you can take a portable toilet if your vehicle is big enough. Ladies can also pack a pee funnel in case they need to go #1 in a remote location. 

If we know we’ll be on the road all day or exploring a big city, we do our research beforehand to know where the nearest toilets are. You should do the same!

9. Stick To A Daily Routine

Image Credit: Shannon, @shaninavan on Instagram

Living out of your car full-time doesn’t mean sacrificing structure and routine. We highly recommend establishing a daily routine for good mental health so you can live happily on the road.

Simple things like sticking to your sleep schedule, planning your days, managing your daily budget, and scheduling calls with friends and family will help you stay connected and focused. 

Following a daily routine will also help you be more productive, which will, in turn, see you do more. 

10. You Can Cook Meals Out Of A Car

woman cooking on her campervan kitchen
Photo Credit: Danielle Campbell @stumblinguponserendipity

When on the road, buying unhealthy snacks and takeaways is easy. Trust us, we’ve been there. However, it’s possible to make healthy meals from your car with some creativity and planning.

You only need a portable camping stove, camp cookware, cooking supplies, and reusable containers to make meals on the road.

If you’ve been camping before, the process is almost identical. I recommend packing some healthy snacks to eat on long journeys, too!

11. How To Get Internet In Your Car

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

We live in a world where we need to be connected to the internet to do most things. When living out of a car, you’ll need the internet to use Google Maps, look at the weather, and look up local amenities. 

Therefore, an internet connection is crucial. The best way to ensure you have the internet on the road is to switch to a phone plan with unlimited data. You might also want to purchase a cell phone booster to give your phone more range.

If you want to save money, stick to a basic plan and use the free WiFi available in most coffee shops, libraries, and campsites.

12. How To Charge Electronics

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Generally speaking, a car battery’s charging capacity is enough for most travelers. However, if you need a charging capacity above what your car can provide, you’ll need alternative methods to charge your phone and laptop.

You could use the free charging ports at gyms, coffee shops, and libraries, but that isn’t the most practical approach. Instead, I recommend packing a portable power station or power bank.

These two things will allow you to charge your devices while off-grid. If you purchase a power station with solar panels, you won’t need to recharge it.

13. Receiving Mail On The Road

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Most administrative tasks can be completed from our smartphones, but there are still occasions when you need to receive a physical copy of something. It takes some planning, but receiving your mail on the road is possible.

Here’s a few things you can do:

  • Have your packages delivered to a nearby Amazon locker
  • Pick up your mail from a UPS Store
  • Have your packages delivered to a FedEx access point
  • Sign up for a virtual mailbox (Traveling Mailbox)

14. Take A Break

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Car-living offers freedom and adventure, but it’s still important to take a break every now and then to recharge your batteries and maintain connections. With that in mind, there’s nothing wrong with returning home for a couple of weeks or months every so often to refresh and spend time with your loved ones.

If you don’t have a house, maybe you could spend some time at a family or friend’s home, or even housesit. Either way, give yourself time to recuperate after a long time on the road.

Now that you have these 14 tips, you should be able to live out of your car with more success. It takes time to adjust to car living, but the experience can be a positive one once you’ve gotten used to it. 

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