Habitat Van

Living on the road for an extended time, the comfort you experience depends very much on the type of vehicle serving as your home, and how well it fulfills your needs, preferences, and expectations. If you already own any kind of enclosed vehicle, you can make it work to an extent. Even the smallest hatchback will protect you from the elements and store your most basic belongings. There isn’t a lot you can do, however, to convert a small car into a full-service dwelling.

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Finding a good place to park is always an ongoing concern. Rather than finding one perfect place to park every night (until the day comes that you can’t park there anymore), it’s best to scope out several options and rotate between them. If you don’t need access to city amenities, there are many campgrounds and national forests where you can park for a few days for free or a small permit fee.

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Unlike dealing with extreme cold, one nice thing about hot weather is that, except in the most extreme cases, you at least have the option of getting out of the vehicle if it has accumulated too much heat. Finding relief in the shade Your first defense against extreme heat is to prevent as much heat as possible frome entering the vehicle in the first place. This means blocking sunlight from striking the vehicle and especially from penetrating the windows.

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Your priority is always to keep your body above a survival temperature. Set up multiple failsafes so you are never at risk of freezing if one approach fails. The key to efficient heating is to limit the heated area to as small a space as possible. It’s a lot easier to heat a tiny section of your vehicle than to bring the whole vehicle up to temperature, especially in larger vehicles.

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Opinions vary on the value of vehicle insulation. To decide whether insulation well help in your situation, it’s important to understand exactly what it does. In the winter, heat rapidly escapes the vehicle when air currents either escape directly through vents or make contact with conductive metal that transfers heat to the frigid air outside. Insulation creates a barrier that prevents currents from directly contacting those conductive surfaces. In the summer, the most intense heat enters the vehicle when sunlight penetrates the windows and is absorbed by the materials inside.

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Living in a vehicle poses a number of challenges with respect to safety and security. Police encounters Stories abound about police harassing people who live in their vehicles, sometimes due to actual violations of the law and sometimes due to misunderstandings. This “harassment” is usually just the police trying to determine if you’re up to no good. Most police really don’t want to punish anyone for living in their vehicle, specifically.

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If you do nothing else to prepare your vehicle, the one thing you need to do is equip it for sleeping. After all, that’s the whole point. Here we will discuss some possibilities for you to evaluate and apply to your situation. Traditional mattress The standard approach to bedding is to lay down a twin-sized mattress. This works. It’s easy, comfortable, and provides a good deal of insulation from below. On the other hand, traditional mattresses are bulky and don’t offer a lot of flexibility.

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This section is aimed mainly at people who plan to move around a lot, making it impossible to maintain a traditional employment. While the mobile lifestyle makes the classic 9-to-5 job difficult, it can also open up opportunities that weren’t available when you were anchored to one plot of land. You are already a business Any time you sell goods or services, you are engaging in business as a sole proprietor.

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Your first line of communication is a cell phone. At the time of this writing, maintaining a minimal level of service for a TracFone costs about $21 every 90 days – in other words, about $7/month. There may be even cheaper options if you shop around. Even if you can’t afford service, you should get a cheap phone with no service and keep it charged. The cellular networks are required to allow emergency calls even when you don’t have a service plan.

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Here are a few things you can do before a permanent or long-term trip to make the transition easier. This is not a checklist; don’t worry if you haven’t fulfilled each and every one of these points. In most cases, these are things that you can address after making the move. It is just easier if you have thought about them beforehand and planned ahead. Basic necessities Multiple changes of clothing.

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Electric stoves are basically not an option unless you have installed a heavy duty electrical system. Even tiny electric hot plates draw hundreds of watts. Most van dwellers either use a gas-burning stove or stick to a diet that doesn’t require cooking in the vehicle. As always, when flames are involved, be careful. Keep the vehicle well vented while cooking and stay alert. If you’ve been drinking or are otherwise not in a clear state of mind, then eat a snack, take a nap, and cook up a meal some other time.

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Living on the road, it takes some preparation to effectively wash clothes, dishes, and of course, your body. Waste disposal is also not as simple as flushing toilets and taking out the trash. Waste elimination Maintaining our daily elimination cycle is one of the more difficult parts of van dwelling. Using a public restroom is best whenever one is available. At a campground or secluded area, you can dig a hole and bury the deed.

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Living on the road and off the grid doesn’t mean you have to forego the conveniences of modern technology. Most of the electronics and appliances in the home are available in smaller packages suitable for use in a car or camper situation. But be warned: Setting everything up will be more complex than just unboxing and plugging in. Fortunately, it is possible to start small and build up to a complete electrical system, learning as you go.

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Many of society’s institutions expect you to have a permanent home and mailing address. Even though you may feel right at home in your van, you are “homeless” in most people’s eyes without a permanent address, and everybody loves to hate the homeless! To stay legitimate in the eyes of the world, you need some kind of address. Some reasons you may need a mailing address: To get, maintain, and renew your driver’s license, registration, and insurance.

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Vehicle maintenance while living on the road isn’t much different from what you would have to do anyway, but there is more of it. There are many things you can do to reduce wear and tear, or to prevent small issues from becoming a major problem. Finding a trustworthy mechanic can sometimes be a difficult and stressful affair, compounding the stress of having an inoperable vehicle in the first place. People often find their favorite mechanic through recommendations from friends, which may not be an option if you’re stranded in a new city or some remote town.

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People often think aesthetic decor lacks any utility or intrinsic value. I tend to disagree. The way you decorate your living space is an outlet of expression for your culture and your personality. Moreover, your environment can affect your mood. The place where you spend your time should be a place that makes you feel good. Colors White and reflective materials can make a space feel larger but also sterile like a laboratory.

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