Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Interactive List of the Best

I'd like your help with this post. I'm going to post some of my favorite things for travelers, the homeless, or just anyone, and I am going to post some categories and items that I need suggestions on. If you have a real favorite item, and I mean an unequivocal ten on a scale of one to ten, respond with it in the comments, or drop me an email, and I will revise the post, unless I disagree. Tell everyone what makes it a really good product. We can have more than one best in a given area, for instance, a best quality, and a best deal. I'd like to get a core list for homeless perfection.

Best All-Around Personal Care Product: Generic KY Jelly - There are lots of good reasons to make things slick, a waterless shave, a hair tamer, and of course there is the original use. No one ever felt cheated of their two bucks for a tube of sex gel.

Best Razor: There is no comparable disposable razor to the Mach 3 triple blade, but it is pricey at two bucks each, and it is only the first two or three shaves with each razor that are really good. For my money, I like the Gillette Good News razor with lubricating strip. It is a very high quality double blade, most shaves are bloodless, and at thirtyfive to fourtyfive cents each I feel okay about discarding them after two or three shaves, thus I am always shaving with a sharp razor, and life is good.

Best Portable Propane Stove: The worst is any of them that balance a single burner on top of a 16 ounce propane bottle. I used these stoves for years before I realized how annoying and dangerous they are. One little bump, an uneven surface, a badly balanced pan and over it goes, causing scalds and wasting food. I hate them. By contrast, Coleman makes a dandy two burner stove that folds up like a briefcase and takes up very little room in the car. It is usually sold for around $60, but the link I have provided is for a Walmart clearance that has them down to $35. Target and Kmart and Walmart continously knock off copycats that are just as good and sell them for under forty bucks. You are just looking for a two burner, briefcase style, propane stove.

Trial Sizes
: The best place to look for your hygiene needs is the trial size aisle or end cap at your local supermarket or drug store. You'll find all sorts of neat items, containers, travel toothbrushes, mouthwashes, picks, floss, shampoo, combs, brushes, razors, creams, lotions, antiseptics, astringents, analgesics, cold medicines, bandages, caffeine stimulants, and much more for pennies. It is a sort of mobile lifestyle treasure spot. Look for it.

Best Hot Water Bottle:

Best Hand Warmer: The EZ Heat Reusable Handwarmer is a real star. I had one of these many years ago and had not known where to find another until this reader suggestion. Click the metal disk for instant heat lasting more than half an hour, and boil it to reset. Enjoy the residual heat on both sides of the cycle. Oh! I so love this product. The best seven bucks you've ever spent. Do a quick Google search and you will find scads of sites selling them.

Best Road Blanket:

Best Car Cover: We're looking for one that is not very translucent, has good tie down points, and allows you to get into and out of the car fairly easily after it is installed.

Help me out here. Tell me your best tips. Only tens. No nines.

104 Comments:

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Ian said...

I personally swear by Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 Magic Soap. (especially the peppermint variety) I've used it for general hair and body washing, shaving, doing laundry, as an emergency deodorant, (splash of water under each arm, couple drops of soap, lather and wipe the excess away) drying up pimples, (put a drop on the offending eruption before bed) brushing my teeth, (it's kind of icky, but in a pinch it works) and just cleaning all sorts of things in general. (my car, my glasses, my laptop, dishes, etc. etc.)

Can be usually be found at healthfood stores and the like. A 4oz bottle probably runs $2-3 USD and can last quite a while. (it's pretty concentrated stuff)

Something else I never go anywhere without is my Leatherman Squirt multi-tool. I've had various Swiss Army Knives over the years, but in the past 2 I've found this little tool to be much more versatile than anything similar that I've used. I've used it cut and strip wires, disassemble a bicycle, add holes to my belt, take apart and repair any number of electronic devices, slice food, open packages, file down rough metal edges on things, open cans and bottles, rewire telephone and Ethernet jacks, and dozens of other uses. Fits nicely on a keychain.

Oh, something else I just thought of... a good wok is an absolute essential for me. In additon to the usual sorts of things you'd expect do with a wok, I've pressed mine into service for cooking pasta, making scrambled eggs, (actually, it's my preferred method) toasting bread, reheating cold pizza...

Also on the subject of cooking, I spent about 8 months living in a place without a stove, so what I did was picked up a $10 butane burner (the kind often used for hot pot style cooking at your table) from my local Asian market and made do quite nicely with that. The butane gas cannister refills generally ran about $3-6 for a 4 pack, which would on average would last me for weeks, if not longer. (tho' I don't know how safe it would be to keep those in the trunk of one's car, especially in summer, hmm...)

Curiously, a quick Google search is turning up places online charging $50 or more for the same damn thing.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Elwin said...

I really like the EZ Heat Reusable Hand Warmers. There are a lot of different brands out there, but they all work the same.

Heat the 'bag' that is filled with a super saturated salt solution, then when it cools you can carry it around. When you want warmth you just snap a little metal disk inside the solution, and poof you have 130 degree warmth for a couple hours. When you want to use it again, heat the thing up again until the crystals dissapear. You can heat em in boiling water or you can heat them in very hot tap water. Here is how the chemestry works

 
At 9:04 PM, Blogger Windrider said...

As far as the best road blanket...

A military wool blanket is the best, hands down. Extremely rugged, dries quickly and isnt a high theft risk around other people like a sleeping bag is.

They can be found very cheap at any army navy store and its not unheard of to be able to get 2 or three ( as you will need in cold weather for comfort ) for only a few dollars.

And if it is lost or stolen, it can be easily replaced in most cities for very little.

Not to mention that the Army ones are olive drab, and this can help if you have to "stealth camp" in a park or wooded area to avoid being seen.

 
At 11:50 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Interesting. I always avoided wool due to itchiness. How comfortable are the army blankets? I like the camo quality idea. One must always be prepared for all sorts of eventualities.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger paulmonster said...

I can say from experience that the military wool blankets get pretty itchy, especially if you're sensitive to that sort of thing. One solution is to double up with a cheap fleece throw layer; the wool blanket outside, and the cheap fleece throw inside.

The fleece throws are as portable and durable as the military blankets, but less insulating on their own. Between the two of them, I feel I have my (admittedly temperate) seasons covered. They also make great picnic blankets, table cloths, living space delineators and upholstery layers, a ubiquitous propensity they also share with the wool blankets.

Fleece throws are pretty easy to find now, at Walgreen's or Wal-marts or what have you, for about $5 on average. It's a bit more than the military blankets, but in my opinion well worth it.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Windrider said...

The itchiness of the wool isn't a big factor to me as when I used one I normally had clothes on underneath it.

Lets face it, you need to have at least some clothes on and be ready to vacate an area rather rapidly if someone becomes to curious as to what you are doing there ( police, property owners, etc )

The fleece throw is a good idea if you are really sensitive to it, but in all honesty you really get used to it after a period of time.

The ability to keep you warm even when wet is a MAJOR plus, and the speed at which it dries is another big positive especially in the outdoor realm.

A few safety pins, and you have a warm, comfortable sleeping "sack" as well.

And trust me, the camo component comes in very handy.. You can become almost invisible under one in a wooded/grassy area, and can conceal equipment/items quite well from prying eyes.

And I dont think I've ever not been able to find one for a few dollars, and in good condition, in any town. Because of the low cost, they are almost disposable items that you can simply discard as needed and replace at will.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger zovirl said...

Best Hand Warmer:
I've tried the reusable liquid ones with the metal disks. It is certainly neat to watch them crystalize, but they don't stay hot for very long and boiling them is a pain. I would say the disposable grabber handwarmers are better. They are smaller, lighter, and stay hot for hours. If you find them on sale they are less than $1 for a pack of 2 (I believe I've seen them as low as 50 cents a pack at the end of the ski season).

(I've also tried the handwarmers which you fill with something similar to lighter fluid. They are also interesting, but they are heavy, messy, and smell like gasoline...)

Best Hot Watter Bottle (actually, best water bottle period):
It might not be soft, but a wide-mouth nalgene bottle will hold boiling water without leaking, and after the cold night you can use it as a regular water bottle. They are easier to drink from if you get a SplashGuard (a small plastic piece that slips into the mouth of the bottle to keep you from pouring the whole bottle on your face).

 
At 10:34 PM, Blogger Mikrostuff said...

I would just like to vouch for what zovirl said...Nalgenes are the best water bottles that money can buy. Just be sure to get one of the clear hard bottles(as opposed to the softer frosted ones, which I'm told won't hold boiling water). You can also use them as measuring cups. At 8 bucks each, you can't go wrong.

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger PowerON! said...

If you need internet, get Treo 650 or other handheld you can afford. Weather is more imporant for me to watch out. And I love to surf web and check email.

Sidekick is pretty cheap under T-Mobile (terrrible coverage).

More important, it's smaller than laptop and lightweight enough to carry with you anywhere.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Jassen L. Bowman said...

Having spent several winters car living in northern states, I can honestly say that my #1 "can't live without" item is actually not a blanket, but my Blaster jacket. Mine is actually an old fire department uniform jacket, but you can buy Blasters or similar styles at most major department stores (Blaster is made by Gerber, the same company that brings us the Gerber multi-tool).

The great thing about Blasters are the nylon outer shell that is perfect by itself as a windbreaker or fall/spring jacket, but also the varying thicknesses of zip-in filled liners. Mine is a fairly light weight liner, but it keeps me warm down to about 10 degrees F without a blanket or sleeping bag. With the jacket, I'll usually wrap my legs in a blanket, throw on a hat, and I'm good to go.

After three years of "house living" I am once again houseless due to a pending divorce. I am fortunate that I travel extensively (75%) for my new job, and they pay for motels and meals. But when I'm back in Colorado, it's the car and a storage unit for right now, just like the "old days."

Thanks for putting this site together. It's a good resource and you have a good attitude about it.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger Nelson said...

Zip Loc Easy Zipper Freezer Bags or generic equivalent -http://www.ziploc.com/zipper-bag

You can't beat the combination of low cost, durability, and no-guilt disposability when you need to keep things organized, dry, and or compact. The cheapest place I've seen them is at... of course... Wal-Mart, which costs about 10-15 cents per large bag. You can use them to store things that might leak all over your backpack/duffle bag. They are also great to keep your cigarettes, matches and lights dry. I use them to store bags like free hotel/motel laundry bags, shopping bags, and any other bags because I can put the bags in and then flatten it so that all the air disappears and I have a nice compact supply of bags that won't fall out of my bag of cause an organizational mess or get dirty from touching dirt and mud.

Another 10-type item is a hiker's/scouts/military survival guide. There is nothing in this world better than being able to improvise when you can't get a sharp blade or when you run out of matches. There are so many out there that I don't which one is actually the best.

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buy some cheap baking soda-it is wonderful underarm deodorant. It keeps you dry and kills any bad odors.

 
At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disinfectant mouthwash, ie. Listerine. Wal-mart "equate" brand is cheapest. Uses include mouth as well as washing your hair with! Cuts dandruff (originally issued in WW2 to GI's in the Pacific) and washes hair. Smells good and improvises as a general purpose cleaner.
-Portable solar panels provide "off the grid" electricity. Radios, 20 watt lightbulbs, laptops, portable DC fans, small TV's. Do a google search for portable solar generators directions. Can be made with less than 400 dollars depending upon wattage requirements.Materials can be purchased from wal mart and radio shack. Panels can be bought online.

[Suggestions for firearms have been censored by the author of the blog. I am anti-violence, and while I am for free speech, I am for restricted speech when the space to speak is mine.]

Set up a hidden "cache" if your vehicle will be searched by police. Parks, rural areas dig a pit etc. Yeah, I am a former Eagle scout and Army Ranger and have been living "in freedom" for 3 years now. Of course I have been through worse than homelessness before so the psychiological aspects didn't phase me at all(Somalia 1997)...just a different perspective.
Brian from NJ

[Excellent suggestions, Brian. Thank you.]

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another thing you can use for deoderant is lemon. you just need a slice.
PS. you never mentioned anything about pan-handleing. and its something I would like to hear more about.

 
At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have done the with out car and with car... hope is what's missing
for anyone, realize this the fact that rich people kill themselves more than anyone.
not everything is for sale and not all things that are free are not aviable for all.. some things are earned. The idea of this is critical in dealing with life, love, yourself of any thing you put your mind to. Things have nothing to do with self respect, health, hope and a slew of other things that I dont have to list to make the point or be to verbose.

My POINT really is simle, to be happy is a state of mind. it's really that simple. If you are homeless or rich there is a hell and a heaven waiting for you to live out on this earth. and the money aspect of it dosent 100% dictate what you will live.

To make me right it's really simple, love... well there are so many cool, nice wonderfull people who are looking for someone nice.
and yes yes a homeless person may have a hard time finding someone to fall in love with.. but maybe that's the time they need to spend with themselves getting there life in order.. see not all things HAVE TO BE OBTAINED AT THIS MOMENT... there is a time and place for everything... who said we have to have someone around to be whole.
if a person wants to kick and claw and get out of being homeless they can... it's just that simple.

Your site at least gives someone a clue to getting out of it and that's a good thing..

Point is unless a person wants to be down and out forever lifes seasons can change and the fact that they have little once they are out of homelessness shouldn't matter at all.. only brainless morons think that lifestyle has everything to do with being happy.

So if a person is at point A and they want to get to point C
(point c being a so called normal life) THEN they have to life b...
it's just that simple...

think of all the kids who are 12
who are on there 21st operation for a cancer that kills them anyway by age 14... If you are homeless you have you health, and yes some are nuts, and I am sure in real life.. ( ie WELL OFF )
THERE are people who are % OF THE time nuts as well... AND in fact
let the obtainment of things cause them to go to jail or kill themselves or ruin there health or
just like like a miserable person.

if you haven't been in jail, or homeless or had nothing. You are missing out on parts of life that would help you understand life and people at a very high level. anyways I could go on and on... but
the fact of life being altered being homelesss is a mute point.
it's still life and to make any life great you have to desire something, anything... to year for hope and if you dont you might as well be dead... ever see anyone
that looked like the walking dead?
ever look deep into hopeless eyes?
well they made themselves that way,
and the size of there banking account.... (rich)or (poor) has
nothing to do with it... think about that the next time you want to challange the thoughts in what I have wrote cause I HAVE been in both shoes and I AM here to tell you... they are one in the same...
you make you happy and if you dont
look out... cause you in for a ride

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal ten here.

Wal-Mart sells disposable, rechargable cell phones. $20 bucks for a Nokia, $30 for a Motorola and $30 on a 120 minute phone card. Absolutely no difference between that and paying for the expensive crap with the expensive plan, and the phone works everywhere.

Just make sure the checkout girl scans the card correctly so there aren't any problems.

 
At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some great things can be found in an army surplus store (if you have one local to you, if not there are many sites online)

as a broke college student im borderline homeless, yes I have a place to sleep and shower... but no money, little food, minimal funishings, and plenty of cops around to harass me... ive bought plenty of great things from army surplus sites and stores (p-38 (think thats the name of it) can opener comes to mind (a small metal plate with a small hook and a curved folding blade)

 
At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best Entertainment. 10 yrs ago I walked into Radio Shack and purchased a walk-man-type radio with ears phones. It has a T.V. setting and AM/FM radio. It fits in your pocket. The best 49.95 I've ever spent. I still use it all the time. I can listen to news and weather on local T.V. and catch The Simpsons too. Batteries last about a month. It has an auto shut-off after 1 hour, so you never waste the batteries if you fall asleep. I makes me feel less isolated from the world.

 
At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a friend and i are thinking of giving up the idealistic young american life and attempting to be homeless throughout europe for a few months. any commentary about the laws which we might be breaking and how to avoid them (IE, sleep in public parks as opposed to private ones)... additionally, and commentary on safety would be appreciated. thanks for your help.

 
At 3:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think maintaining mental health is also important. So, along the same line as getting a good warm meal to restore composure, I've found small craft-making activities to be helpful. Panic and despair often include a flood of overwhelming thoughts and emotions. Doing something with my hands, however, somehow helps to "ground me" so that I can slowly work out whatever it is that's bothering me. If I again start feeling overwhelmed, I'll shift more focus onto what I'm doing with my hands and gradually return to more intense "issue analysis" when I'm ready.

One idea for a craft is macrame. You get out energy, it's somewhat soothing/hypnotic due to its repititious nature, and if you care to, you can make some cool stuff. Other activities could include crocheting, a music instrument (even drumming on something with your hands), playing with a deck of cards, doodling, playing with clay, whatever.

 
At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best hairstyle to have is dreads. You have to wash them at most: twice a month. Contrary to popular belief, they don't smell as long as you don't let anything disgusting get in them and wash them once in a while. A bar of dread shampoo or any soap with no oils in it will last almost a year. You can also use it to bathe the rest of yourself.

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

I definitely do not agree that dreadlocks are a good idea. As hairstyles go, few are as strongly associated with homelessness. My hope is that you will maintain an image as far from homeless as possible, to improve your survival possibilities. Get from society what you can by appearing as normal and social as possible.

 
At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey college kid,... that can opener is a P-38. In the 40's they had a larger version called a P-50.

Receintly I came across a "Hobo" knife at Wally World. It had a knife, firk, spoon, cork screw, can oppener, bottle oppener, and a leather punch. I enjoy mine emensely, and it's less than $5.00.
Look for it in the camping section.

You might also look for a white gas Coleman cooking stove. I got mine 30 years age and I've even used regular gas on ocassion. If you can't find one in the camping section of your local store then try a thrift store like Goodwill.

 
At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freecycle! I have found it to be the best resource available. You can access it from any library, and people have so many things they don't use but want a home for. There are other sites similar to freecycle, but it's the most widely available one out there. I'm semi-homeless (I have a friend's house I can stay at, but for certain periods of time) and have found this to be invaluable. Quite often I need something only for a week at best, and when I'm done, I relist it on freecycle to continue the process. Keeps my clutter down, and allows me to have what I need.

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the best cheap crafts I've found, crocheting plastic bags is the best. Basically, you cut the bag into circular strips, loop them together and voila. Instant "yarn". A hook can cost less than $3 and will last for a very long time. That's the only cost to you. Bags are free and found in lots of places, and the product you make could be hats, sandals, or bigger bags (sturdier and long lasting as well as washable) to carry items in. It's also becoming a big trend in yuppie households to recycle things into crafts, so they would also sell well if they are constructed well.

 
At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, MY DAUGHTER HAS BEEN ON THE RUN BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU, SHE IS IN REAL DANGER. BUT SHE THINKS ITS JUST ALL FUN AND GAMES. LET ME TELL YOU NOT ALL RUN AWAYS ARE ABUSED OR MISTREATED THEY ARE JUST CONFUSED LIKE EVERY OTHER TEEN IN THE WORLD. SHAME ON YOU FOR GIVING THEM TOOLS TO HELP RUIN THERE LIFE!!!!!!!!!

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Fascinating. I give your child, and the many other children and adults who are homeless, advice about how to survive well, and you chastise me. You'd prefer she is cold, alone, starving, and easily identifiable as homeless and exploitable. I can see that you must be a wonderful parent, and I find it impossible to understand why she might have decided to risk the harsh world rather than remain with you.

By the way, attributing to me any culpability for her choice to leave has about one trillionth of the strength of the argument that suicidal teens are caused by Metallica music. I mean, Metallica music sometimes makes my ears bleed, and I might wish to die rather than continue to listen, but really, you don't think there are more serious and compelling issues driving her to leave your home? You are deluded or lying.

 
At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get from society what you can by appearing as normal and social as possible. ~quote by Moderator

Is this not thievery just as you described the Casino Scenario. You give society the impression you are "playing their game" in exchange for what you get. However, you never actually "got with the program"

I am enjoying the text and thought blog and all posted commentary.

Mental Illness: I think civilization/society has and continues to makes us sick in the ways of the times.

Cars: gasoline society = doomed to collapse. It would be far better to conserve the fuel for other than transportation!

Homemaker, or others, please email me to become keyboard pals. I'm reluctant to post here regularly.

bob@goldenrodresearch.com

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous e.t. said...

really though,amazing! Helps to know you are not alone out there, you know? Thanks a lot brother, keep it up man. LIFE'S A GARDEN, DIG IT

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would greatly enjoy reading an article on non-car homelessness. i am thinking of walking away once i turn eighteen in a few months. i don't have a car, but i can march good.

also, any ideas on how to carry a guitar with me? a guitar is absolutely essential for me.

 
At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Homemaker,

I've read the site and think it's fantastic.

Our society is unsustainable: we are expected to support the rich by buying, buying, buying and working, working, working for stuff we really don't need and wouldn't want if we had a healthy mindset.

I find your writing and thoughts to be very beneficial in many different ways.

Would like to see you expand on this and publish the book. Great "urban survival" stuff!

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Beau said...

Last summer I decided to ride my bike along the entire west coast of the US - California, Oregon, and Washington. There was a great deal I learned about being homeless along the way, mostly from other homeless people that I met during that great trip. I remember it as being one of the happiest, carefree times in my life. No bills, no worries, no need for a lot of money. Here are some good lessons I learned:
I had a homemade stove that was invaluable. It was made from aluminum pepsi cans and ran off of rubbing alcohol (possibly the cheapest, easiest to find stove fuel anywhere). Free to make, nearly free to run, and if you broke it, just make another one. On cold nights I would boil water, pour it in my Nalgene, put a sock over it and sleep with it between my legs (I heard there's big veins there that distribute the heat better around your body).
The state parks in these states have a 'hiker/biker' site that costs $3-5 a night as long as you come in on foot or on bicycle. Try to look the part though as they frown on 'bums' taking advantage of it. But there's usually a few 'bums' there anyway because it's a secure place to camp where the police won't bother you. Usually a four night limit. And usually some of the best views you've ever seen. The hot showers in California and Washington were coin-op but in Oregon you got all the hot water you wanted in your own stall for FREE.
Since I camped the entire way, I needed a tent. Not willing to shell out for an expensive lightweight tent, I took a friend's suggestion and bought a 'kiddie' tent for $21. It was 4ft by 5ft and I had to sleep diagonally in it to fit, but it was cheap, lightweight, and home. Bug and wind protection while I'm sleeping is a big priority. If it's raining a lot get a $5 tarp and rig it up over your tent, you're set.
For a sleeping pad I took one of those $5 blue Walmart jobs and glued a cut-to-fit $2 mylar space blanket to the bottom of it. This made a great warm pad for seven bucks, and a good place to sit on the grass.
A few hobos I met taught me how to 'bush camp' instead of paying for the state parks. They just said to get out of town a little, maybe behind a hill and definately out of sight, and to not camp around anything grassy or green. This, they said, meant irrigation, which meant a sprinkler shower at 4 AM.
In Oregon I met a homeless couple that taught me how to get food stamps. They said there were hardly any questions asked and you didn't even need an ID. At $130 allowance a month, it's a big plus.
There's a ton more I just can't think of much right now. Being outside with hardly any worries inspired me, and since then I've lived either out of my car or on a boat. Being organized when living out of your car is a huge plus.

 
At 3:24 AM, Blogger grace said...

I find that army surplus stores have a wealth of supplies. the best there would have to be an army jacket, one designed for serious cold weather. if you are lucky enought to find one that has no holes, complete seams, and shoulders that haven't had all of the stuffing worn out of them, you should get it. on the older ones, if there is fur around the hood it is almost garanted real, which will keep you extremely warm.

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived out of the back of my
pick-up truck for almost a year.
I had a camper shell with sliding
windows and a matress/sleeping bag
in the back.
Other camping gear as well.
I was very compfortable.
I never parked on the streets.
I always found a dirt road into
parklands or forests that took
my out of sight and out of mind
of would-be antagonists, meddlers,
and other lookie-lews.
I never parked in the same place
more than one or two nights in a
row but might rotate back later.
I never had a problem.
I didn't have to work that year.
I did have money and I had my own
reasons for dropping out at the
time.
It was the most introspective time
of my life and I think back on it
with fondness.

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger Relyks said...

hey thx for this it helps me out I am actually "homeless" and all I left with when I ran away from home and have been struggling I left with nothin but a few hundred bucks saved up, a laptop, and some friends who I planned my runaway with but during our trip our plans went sour so it has been really hard I'm gonna use these tips and share with my friend

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A cheap alternative for a commercial camp stove is to make one out of a coke can. You can find easy directions on YouTube and all over the internet. You can burn rubbing alcohol, HEET, denatured alcohol, or white gas (like Coleman Fuel). Soda cans can be picked up on the street for free. Backpackers have been using them for years. Also, most businesses remove their water spigot handles on the side of their buildings to prevent people using their water - buy a pair of pliers or a universal fit spigot turn handle so you can sneak water when no one is looking.

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do wonder if this site is still open and if people still post here. I was homeless for a year and although I didn't have a car and started in the beginning of winter, I was lucky to make it through. I found on the worst days hanging out in a starbucks drinking coffee provided me with shelter, comfort, and a place to recharge my cellphone and batteries for my radio with no hassel.
I also found soup kitchens all over new york city that provide really good meals. the worst thing was finding a place to sleep and the trains are the worst. thankfully after a year on the street I was able to find a job with hours that I could sleep and make it in on time without an alarm plus space where I could store some of my stuff. hope some of this helps. 2 years later, I'm off the streets, still trying to get a better life but its a struggle either way that's worth it in the end.

 
At 2:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered that denim and wool woven together as a blanket is excellent at keeping you very warm throughout the freezing nights. You don't even need three of those to get that level of warmth, just one! Of course they cannot be found in any store, seeing that you have to buy material (or preferably cut any old denim materials) and sew them together. they're thick, heavy, and great for smothering you into good sleep. :)

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mobile Homemaker thank you for creating this site, it is a useful forum for people to make the best of their situations.

I feel guilty as I read the posts. My guilt comes from never having to deal with situations like this. I know that I have been lucky in my life. I had supportive parents, even when I discovered I was gay they were and are supportive of me. I have an education and a secure job. My guilt also comes from the fact that I have a nice home, with space for others to sleep, a kitchen and freezer well stocked with food, but I live alone. It seems in the big picture to be wrong that some have lots and others have so little.

I wish that I could more easily share what I have with others. I am involved in a volunteer groups that support poor in central Europe, but feel I am able to do little to help those who are in need within an hour radius of me. Given the opportunity I would support one or two or three people in need but its not easy to make those connections.

Regardless of all of this, and my fortune, I notice every homeless person and wonder how come? What happened in their life that they ended up in that situation? I know nobody decides at age 7 that they want to be homeless, something happens in their life that makes that happen.

“Homelessness” seems so institutionalized and agency run and that created barriers to simply one person extending a helping hand to another in need, or even just offering a hot meal and a place to sleep. People can not maximize their potential if they are constantly in survival mode. You need to have a warm bed and a full tummy to dream, well maybe not to dream, but definitely to formulate plans to make those dreams a reality.


I see that this site is primarily a US site and I wonder how many of the people come here are Canadian. If anyone knows of any good organizations helping the homeless in Ontario Canada, please email me at waveg@hotmail.com.

Thanks Zenny

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

I don't agree with very much of what you've said, Zenny, but your thoughts are typical of those who are not and have not been homeless. You seem nice and well meaning, but if you read more of the blog you might understand that I am not writing about tragic homelessness. I am not writing about the homelessness that is to be pitied.

Not all the homeless live in the same way. Like all communities, the homeless are diverse. Charity, such as you are inclined to give, and it is a good impulse on your part, is repugnant to me. Receiving it robs me of dignity. Furthermore, you don't need to feel guilty for having the things you have and the space you have. A line from a song, "surely you're not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot. There will be poor always, pathetically suffering, look at the good things you've got!" (Jesus to Judas in the cave in JC Superstar)

There's nothing wrong with taking some of the sweet life gives. Fortune can turn on you. Get it while you can.

If you want to share with others, consider making microloans. They maintain the dignity of the borrower and may expiate some of your guilt. I have some loans out on kiva.com.

 
At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Lei said...

has any one mentioned vinegar? it's $1 at the dollar store, it has SO many uses, on food, as a cleaner, for drug tests (drink a couple shots and a gallon of water), you can wash your face with it (i know but it works!), it disinfects, and you can wash your whites in it to get them extra white, i swear by it.

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Annie said...

Car!
Absolutely the best thing you can buy yourself if you're homeless is a car.

First - DO NOT get a car until you have enough money to handle a car repair, keep it registered, etc. I see lots of people for whom the car becomes a vicious cycle - spend all resources on a car, lose the car, repeat ad nauseum. Far better to get a car, use it to get a job, use the job to get a better car and sell the old one, repeat until you're living pleasantly in an RV.


What to get:
Get the best running car you can. Breakdowns are a huge nightmare.
Yes, I know, they're more money. But you'll lose the investment

Get an older car if you have mechanical skills. Almost anyone can keep a VW van going.

Now, what to get?
Options:
Cargo (not passenger!) van - very good choice.
Van conversion - more obviously 'camping', but might have amenities like a potty.
Panel Van - something like a U-haul van. If you have one of these, paint it white - try to do a nice job. Put a small sign on the box that says 'EJ Freight' or something (just black letters) and you're not a homeless person, you're the local delivery van.

If you have a box like vehicle, you have an RV.
5 gallon 'pickle bucket', a toilet seat (real or a sheet of plywood with a hole), lid for the bucket. You now have a potty. If you don't want to degrade the environment, dump it in a toilet in a park.
Fishing or other hobby gear carried in other hand makes the bucket 'make sense' when you go in the potty.

Another 5 gallon bucket makes a great water container. By using something with a removable lid you can make sure the water's not getting skanky. When you get a chance to fill it, dump the old water out first. If you're going to not need it for a couple days and will have unlimited water afterwards, dump the water, fill it, put in a couple capfuls of bleach, lid it. Next day scrub the #(*&$ out of it with soap (Dr. Bronners!) and rinse many times.
Diarrhea can be more than a nuisance, it can be fatal when you're on the road.

If you're in a large vehicle, try making a small 'box' are for your bed. If you have a box van with a cabover, hang a blanket across it. Astronauts would cook in their space suits if not for cooling systems - your body makes plenty of heat to keep you warm. Retain it - sleep in a small space with lots of blankets. Don't forget heat loss below you.
You can keep the space both cooler in day and warmer at night by insulating it. Free styrofoam from a dumpster.

I love the stuff from the hardware store, sold as insulation, that looks like 'bubble wrap' - it's got a silvered surface. Keeps light in and heat out.

I always sleep in clothes, usually including a hooded sweatshirt.

When I started I had a real mentality that the way you obtain something is to buy it. Now I'm always checking dumpsters, etc.

 
At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For homeless people without cars, like myself, these are the items I suggest, that I couldn't survive without.

-Cell Phone, I don't have good credit or any guaranteed income, so metroPCS, BoostULTD, Cricket, are unlimited cell phone companies with plans ranging from $30 to $60 a month.
-Laptop computer, this offers me access to any and all resources, the cure to boredom, craigslist.org is good for odd jobs, couch surfing, free clothes... (you can buy a used laptop for $80 to $100, on craigslist, or in the penny saver)
-Swiss Army back pack nuff said.
-Beach sized towel, acts as a towel, blanket, or pillow.

something else that helps me survive is change of scenery based on the seasons, and greyhound is a great help if u plan a city change at least 2 weeks in advance... all tickets are $99 if u book far enough in advance...

Summer - San Francisco or Tijuana
Fall - San Francisco or New York
Winter - Los Angeles or Miami
Spring - New York or Los Angeles

 
At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an FYI: Wal-Mart cell phones have been dropped to $10 and it's now $30 for 150 minutes.

It's a small cost to look average.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger Joel said...

I have tried various tools and tricks of the survival trade and have found two to be priceless. A pocket knife and a multi-tool (some people call them leathermans). I have a Gerber brand of each and in my opinion it can't be beat, for the price anyway. The multi-tool has all sorts of various tools, most notably pliers. If there was any other thing I could carry with me, it would probably be a lighter. Fire is a necessity to wilderness survival. The magnesium lighters that can be bought at any camping supply store are a good buy. They last for an unbelievable amount of time and water doesn't really affect them. Well, thats all I can think of for now. Great idea for a blog. I can vouch for a lot of the information on here. Good luck to everyone who chooses to pursue this lifestyle, it is definitely rewarding.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Poodle said...

happiness can happen anywhere

 
At 4:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can use Purel hand cleaner as sterno for cooking or heating water. Any of those gel type hand cleaners burn just like sterno, but they are a lot cheaper.

 
At 5:46 AM, Blogger victoriab5 said...

I'm sorry that the lady with the run away feels like she has to blame others. I hope her daughter is ok and does have access to this and other information that it helpful to her. I ran away when I was 15, I'm now 50 and still have no regrets. It was the best decision I ever made survival wise. Its too bad that there was no help for me while I was living by my wits. Good job here, and bless you for making life a little easier for those who need your help.

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best Laptop on the go: Dell inspiron mini 9 (windows or linux) around 200 referb. excellent battery life, easy to keep charged and clean. Wifi has incredible range. It's what I'm on right now. Bonus tip.. learn linux. Linux admins can get started with basic experience 'at home' with simple stuff. Read and contribute to the linux/unix forums, and read any of the linux admin guides on the web. Earn money performing wireless penetration tests, installing linux, network setup, get a free coffee at starbucks for fixing their internet connection, etc.

Best $0.09 ever P-38 can opener. Great on cans, fits on a keychain, makes a serviceable screwdriver, cutting tool, scraper, paint can opener (paint can makes an ok potty). P-50 is the bigger version, I think it had a notch that worked as a bottle opener, but not sure. I've carried the same P-38 for over a year.

Listerine... (or generic knockoff) general purpose disinfectant, with fluoride. There is no better feeling than washing my feet with it a couple times a week! Name brand stuff comes in a Vanilla Mint flavor that smells pretty good.

The Gym... Most suburban gyms have a trial membership available real cheap, or a daily pass. Stay in shape! store your pack in a locker, get a shower / shave, sauna, swim, and get some good cardio as you watch tv or read a magazine in total comfort. There's a couple gyms I've gotten into free for a day by saying my truck is in the shop for a repair, and your stuck for a few hours.

Butane heating stove: pick them up at the resturaunt supply store or asian market for under $15. Small and safe. Alternatively you can make your own out of a couple soda / beer cans that runs on cheap rubbing alcohol. They can be a little messy and hard to control temp.

Condoms: Free at many health clinics and schools. Besides the obvious use, they make great water proof storage. One guy keeps trying to convince me you can fish with them, but I havent seen it work. Keep a backup lighter in a tied off condom.

Thanks everyone for the mention of Dr. Bronner's soap! I finally found some, and I like it. I'll stick to the Listerine for brushing though.

iPhone / iPod touch, total convenience. If you can afford it, it's wonderful to have. Hang out at an Apple store long enough you'll have the opportunity to buy one of the generation 1 phones for $100 or less from someone that feels the need to upgrade (I got mine with a ton of music on it still). It's got wifi, and google maps with walking directions and public transit which I now consider a must have in a city. Forget about consulting bus schedules etc (google maps in general). Pretty easy to keep charged with the usb adapter and battery to ipod adapters. Excelent alternative to a laptop, and much easier to keep hidden.

Sorry to throw so much in one post, but I just found this site :)

Live free, and happy!

 
At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I became homeless to save money to pay off credit card debt I bought an inconspicuous looking white cargo van, had the windows tinted, and had nine feet of space in back which was just enough to hang a hammock. With a camping mat and a nice comforter I could sleep in 25 degree weather. Unlike a mattress, my hammock could stow out of the way every day. With a hammock and my stuff in tubs, nobody could tell by looking in that I lived in there.

White plastic board cut to fit the windows would black-out view of the inside so I could sit and check email and I looked like a commercial delivery vehicle outside.

You can find open wifi and surf the web while parked in almost any strip mall. People will eventually call the cops if you frequent their lot because it looks suspicious, but be courteous and the cops won't care if they don't know you're homeless, so keep things stowed away in tubs so they can't see your stuff. I was always "a courier waiting for a delivery" , with a smile, and it smoothed things over. Have your story ready and always be prepared to answer "where do you live" with an address and without flinching.

Being polite, smiling, and keeping clean shaven with clean clothes is a must. YMCA membership kept me fit and showered. On holidays I'd use truck stops for showers.

The other van-dwellers I met complained about getting hassled but were in 1968 molester vans with "keep out" signs in the windows, dogs, huge mattresses, elaborate curtain systems, unshaven, dirty, hippy-looking, and with trinkets, dishes, and small appliances strewn all over and stuff strapped to the outside of the van that screamed homelessness. Don't do that!

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen waterless shampoo in camping supply stores. I don't know any specific brands or prices, but it should work in a pinch when water is either unavailable or in short supply.

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About brushing your teeth with Listerine....don't. Fluoride is a toxin. It has no place being in your body and it doesn't do a thing to protect your teeth. Go ahead, Google it.

A much better alternative, one that our 18th and 19th century ancestors used, is baking soda. It's very cheap and a box of it will last you a month or two. It tastes like salt, which is, basically what it is (sodium bicarbonate). It will not only clean your teeth and gums, but prevent bad breath (people deodorize their refrigerator with it) and makes it impossible for harmful bacteria to exist in your mouth because it's alkaline and germs and bacteria can't survive in an alkaline environment. Just a little on your brush is all you need. Rinse with water. I've been brushing with it for over two years. Incidentally, it's also good for stomach aches, GI tract problems and will prevent or dissolve kidney stones (just a pink in a glass of water).

 
At 10:32 PM, Anonymous skilo said...

i just dont understand all these people on here leaving comments about carrying computers ipods and having gym memberships lol it would seem to me like the more posessions one has when homeless the more of a hendrix those posessions become. i know i couldent imagine toting around a laptop and ipod without being worried to death someone might steal it after all there are people out there that would kill you for your shoes and most certainly if the see you flaunting flashy things like ipods.

i plan on leaving all my posessions behind when i hit the streets im only going to bring the nessesitys . a knife a flint a folding portable pocket cooker a sleeping bag a poncho and maybe 1 change of clothes.

now granted i wont be using a car so i cant bring alot of the things talked about by other people on this blog like propane stoves etc as i would have no place to store such things. i will have to travel as light as possible .

i would have to say there would be a greater advantage to being homeless without a car rather than with for the simple fact that if you have a car you are still somewhat tied to society. you still have bills (car insurance, repairs) and those bills will mean you have to somehow find and keep a job. it would seem to me the car in the long run would be more of a burden on your freedom than its worth.

shelter seems easy enough to find just stay in rural areas and live in the woods build your own shack our of tree limbs then you dont have to worry about cops comming and giving you tickets or running you off.

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Hi Skilo. Thanks for your comment. It seems like the advice I give really isn't for you. I am trying to teach people to live homelessly seamlessly within society. You are trying to break the bonds of society. It is a different aesthetic. For the people interested in this site, laptops and ipods are important.

 
At 4:14 PM, Anonymous skilo said...

well i guess if you are going to be homeless with a car then it really dosent matter much what you carry around since you would have plenty of space to store it.

but if anyone is reading this and maybe is looking for a little info on tips to be homeless without a car then i might recommend a few tips.

the laptops and netbooks out there right now while portable are still to bulky to carry in a back pack loaded with other stuff so i would recommend replacing the laptop with a prepaid cell phone that supports e-mail because now days a cell phone can do almost the same things as a laptop can. heck i have even seen cell phones that have wifi and you know what that means right?... free web browsing and maybe if your phone supports wifi calling that could mean free phone calls also.

the gym membership really isint needed when you are gonna be on foot most of the time needless to say you will be getting plenty of exercise.

another thing you could replace would your heavy bulky sleeping bag with a ultra light and portable hammock with cover.(i know i said i would pack a sleeping bag in my last post buy the hammock would be a better choice).

other than that stuff the only other thing i could recommend being replaced is the car but as you said before this blog is mostly describing how to survive semi-homeless within society.

well thats all i can think of for now i would just like to say good luck to everyone whatever your situation may be. and thanks to the blog master for creating such a very informative blog.

thanks all.
skilo.

 
At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best advice I've heard from (respectable) homeless & van dwellers …

* Never associate with bums. Just because you're homeless doesn't mean you're a bum. Associating with them will make others view you as a bum. Their “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” system can get you into trouble later on when you get a job, etc.

For $40 you can buy 5 dress shirts (Geoffrey Beane, Ralph Lauren, etc) & 5 dress slacks at Goodwill. Rotate each per day, and wear a cheap t-shirt (not a wife-beater, but one with sleeves) underneath so you can wear it several times w/o washing.

For $10-20 you can buy a really nice name-brand suit at goodwill, and for another $10-20 have it tailored to fit right at a local dry cleaner (go to an asian mom/pop one ...they usually do great work for a great price, and are very friendly to boot.)

Everything you need for personal hygiene can be found in the first-aid section of grocery store (rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, mineral oil) for dirt-cheap, except baking soda, which you can get a small box of in the cooking section for like a $1. Baking Soda for bathing, deodorant, toothbrushing, washing clothes, scrubbing dishes, deodorizing, etc. It can be overly drying and may take more water than you want to wash with. But, it's safe to use in rivers or other outdoor areas without contaminating water sources. And a little mineral oil rubbed on afterwards will replenish your skins suppleness and keep you warm in the winter.

Someone mentioned cellphone at Wal-Mart ... for $25 I got a $10 ATT LG phone + $15/month calling card. It acts as an alarm clock, stop watch, calendar, phone, personal note taker, sound recorder, etc. Have to choose a plan to use, though. I chose the $0.25/min plan which sounds expensive, but avoids the $1.00/day access fee you can get charged on other plans just for using the phone that day. You have to load another $15 phone card onto it every 30 days or else you forfeit your account. But, the money adds onto whatever you have left. I put $15 on it over the months, and have racked up over $100 in my account since I hardly ever use it. Even if you don't get a phone card to load minutes/money on it, the phone can STILL be used to dial 911 in emergencies and act like a personal organizer. The alarm clock still goes off even when the phone is off. When off, the phone will last almost a week on 1 charge. Best $10 I ever spent.

If you work in a city with a recreation center, you may be able to show proof of employment in the city for a discounted membership. Was able to do that where Iive and only pay $55 PER YEAR for gym & shower. Rec centers usually also offer extra classes, like computer training. Take some cheap MS Office training courses, then find out where you can take the certification exams (for like $80 each). Certifications are cheap and easy to get (compared to a college degree), and can give you an extra edge on a resume.

Be courteous and polite. Some bums take the "just act like you're allowed there" idea to an extreme, becoming public nuisances (standing naked at a public restroom sink like it's your personal bath is not cool). People stigmatize homelessness, so it's your "job" to give it a good name. As moderator pointed out, easiest way to get around this is to make it so folks don't even know you're homeless to begin with. However, if you clean up places you stay at, and help folks out who need help, you may get looked upon as a welcome addition to an area, like a neighborhood watch.

As for food, eggs & beans are very cheap & more nutritious than rice/ramen. Raw eggs are easy to digest and quicker to make than cooking. The protein in eggs denaturing while cooking is usually what causes intolerances, so raw can be better. Eggs also keep for quite a while, even when unrefrigerated, as long as it's a cool place. Don't keep them in a blazing car.

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Warning: the last comment's suggestion to eat raw eggs may cause food borne illness. Raw eggs can carry salmonella.

Really not comfortable with the ethnic identifier concerning the tailoring services.

The judgment concerning "bums" is troubling, but essentially correct. I don't know what to say. I don't like the word "bum" very much.

Other than that, the comment is full of good advice.

 
At 5:19 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

I'd like to comment on a resource not yet mentioned - Costco.

I know this seems very counter intuitive, but there is something to be said for a cash-only business that sells canned food in bulk. Memberships are good for a whole year and they have many discounts (including gym memberships, and off-season camping gear) Certainly this is not of any use to someone in an emergency, but if you are well prepared enough to either have a van/car with storage space; or even better, self-storage places will usually lease a 5'x 5' x 5' storage unit for pennies a day, and that will hold a lot of canned food. I'm a fan of beef chili personally. It keeps forever, in a pinch you can eat it cold, and it's not a bad meal on a cold night if you can heat it first. Dried pasta bought in bulk goes a long way too, and you can buy large sacks of rice that bring individual meals down to about 25 cents.

The real problem with this is that you need to already have money which allows you to budget all of this. But if you have about $300 and a car, you're set. They do require an ID, but even a bogus "student ID" will do the trick. I can buy enough food to last nearly 6 months for about $250, but I don't need much variety - I was in the Navy for several years.

Invest in a "hoodie" with water repellant fabric, it will keep you dry and warm, and no one will suspect your status on a day with foul weather. Surplus stores sell really nice ones from time to time, I got one for $15 and have no regrets.

I cannot agree more with Mobile Homemaker about honking a horn to scare off would-be thieves, surprise is a strong deterrent. but if you are going to live in a vehicle I'd recommend at least getting a hatchback, if not a van. You'll burn a bit more gas with a van, but the storage space makes up for it, and if you keep the right appearances, the car cover is not needed. I do not however, recommend the RV. They are bulky and difficult to drive in cities, stand out more in residential places, they guzzle gas when you are on the road for long stretches and they always have hidden costs you may not be aware of. New ones cost way too much, and used ones WILL have problems the seller will not tell you about. Stick to a small van or hatchback, but I do not recommend a passenger car.

Also, Fabreeze. It really does do wonders for the smell of clothes. For persistent odors you can even kick it up a notch and get the stuff designed for pets.

Happy Camping.

 
At 5:48 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Thanks for the insightful advice, Steve. I just want to put in that just about any vehicle that seats four or more will do. Trucks don't work without a shell. I avoid vans because they have a social stigma, a reputation as creep-mobiles, that I don't want attached to me. RV's can work but you have more hassles with the cops, and you are dead on about hidden costs. My all time worst choice, though, was also my all time favorite car, a Datsun 280Z. It was a fun sports car, but a terrible place to live.

 
At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dudes!

Allot of what you post is common sense shiet. I live in Japan and been in between jobs more than I can think of. Im American, vet and all that but somedays its tough so, I improvise. man this place has taught me so much on how to live. Solar rechargers! You can recharge (trickle) 12V or any size batteries. You can then use that for your appliances. Inverters! Hot showers from the black bag you hang in the tree! Flint (dont need no damn match you fool!) Man I can salvage the trash and make anything. Melt down my own alluminum, make a hydronic system from scrapped radiators or a/c evap coils, make a green house. Shiet dude, if I was homeless, wouldnt be worrying about what others think, you know I aint saying be a criminal but I aint going hungry either.

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thing regarding costco ..Free Samples! They tend to not have samples out during lunch time, but when they do, you can get yourself a pretty decent meal from just walking the aisles and grazing. In one day I had chili, fried shrimp, shrimp wontons, slices of ham, cheese, two different kinds of juices, cashews, mixed nuts, fudge and chocolate!

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger wombat said...

Great site, thanks, very helpful. In regards to the car cover being made to access the vehicle after fitting. A 2way zipper could be fitted strategically around 1 of the doors enabling a flap to be zipped and unzipped from inside or outside the car. Velcrove could be another option.

 
At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a '72 240Z - great car!!

For Vegas homeless, some tips:

I currently work security at a major Las Vegas Strip casino/resort, and I can attest to the prior comment attitude is everything. It may not save you from a walk-out, but can save you from a 'trespass' which bans you for a year.

During extreme cold, we do look the other way unless the persons appearance or actions simply do not allow for any compassion.

If you have money in a slot machine, it almost gives blanket clemency, plus free drinks. Again, appearance and attitude are everything.

Casinos are open 24x7 and so are their restrooms, one never has an excuse to urinate (or worse) in public.

There are few water fountains on the strip so casinos can sell $6 bottles of water. The malls all have them, and as long as you stay awake they are a good refuge from heat and cold (STAY AWAKE no matter where you are - sleeping can be a one way ticket to eviction).

It is a crime to feed homeless people in Las Vegas in certain areas, and local charity people have gone to jail.

The IRS will likely seize my meager assets any day now (had to spend 401K to survive after being outsourced) so I am building a 'homeless survival kit' while I can.

So far I’ve accumulated a Fire Steel fire starter kit, a high-tech water purification bottle, several good quality ‘space’ blankets and hoodie, a sub-zero rated sleeping bag and of course most of the items listed in blog.

Next major purchase will be an Eagle Industries Patrol backpack and possibly a small all-weather tent.

I've even toyed with the idea of selling my 2-seat sports car for a VW Van!

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Samantha said...

I just wanted to join the ranks of people who have thanked you for your care, your time and your wisdom in writing this wonderful, sensible, helpful blog.

I'm 51, a single mom of a teenage son, on the verge of homelessness. It's a long, ugly story, full of legal battles with an abusive ex. He's about to win in the next few months. After that, I'll have to send my son back to Ontario to live with his dad because I won't be able to afford to support him anymore. I haven't been able to find steady work for years because I'm apparently over-educated and employers seem to think that's a problem. I just want work. I don't want to show anyone up or make anyone feel stupid. I've tried omitting info on my résumé, but Google is everyone's friend and so I always get found out. I can't get a low-paying job because the employers always think I won't stay for long--they're so sure I'll be offered something better very soon. Instead, I have only occasional success at finding some editorial or research work.

With no money, no property, no pension or anything else to help out, I'm going to have to sell what little I have. I hope I can cobble together a year's car insurance so that I can live in the car.

I feel trapped. I've fallen through all the cracks in the Canadian social safety net. The best that I can say is that it's very rare in Canada for someone to be in my situation. Fortunately, most people are not as isolated as I am. Having family and some good friends makes a huge difference in people's lives.

I'm glad that you eventually found your way to a more settled life. It sounds like you're happy and secure--I celebrate that for you and your family!

I don't expect a happily ever after outcome for myself. In truth, my own end isn't too far off and will just be dreary and a little sad. But I will live in my car and keep the cell phone going for a little while so that my son will be able to reach me when he wants or needs to for the first while. I hate knowing that I'm probably going to be a sorry statistic or dull story, but I will do my best not to be a burden or a problem for anyone.

Again, thank you for all the helpful advice and great ideas in your blog. I'm sure you've helped many, many more people than you will ever know. Blessings on you for that!

 
At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaving can be expensive. If you have access to an electrical outlet once a week to recharge, I have literally used my Braun (4775) electric razor for 6 years now without replacing any parts, and without oiling the blades once.

Great blog. I will live this way once I finish college. To the people who are confused about your blog, this isn't advocating being a homeless bum, this is about literally living outside the box. If we have no choice but to pay rent or buy a house, it's like being born into debt. This is a way out. It requires much thought and preparation, but I believe this will lead to a more interesting, more fulfilling life. I'm setting up my life so that I can work 3 days out of the week, and still build savings.

 
At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1 Resource: YOUR BRAIN

It happens to be one of those use it or lose it resources too, so hit up the library a couple times a week. Some even have a paperback swap program.

Another thing I would suggest for those that are around ethnic neighborhoods, learn a little of the language, it can light up someone's day and have the delightful side effect of earning you a discount at some of the mom & pop deals. (laundry, restaurants, thrift stores, etc) The languages I've found I use most besides English are Spanish and Chinese, depending on where I'm at. (go figure that those are also the languages that are spoken the most throughout the world)

 
At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In exactly one week I will be homeless, and I am terrified. I am disabled, 80 yrs. old, and disabled. I can hardly walk. I am so dispondent over this that I am seriously thinking of ending it all. Please give me some advice.

 
At 9:34 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

That's a tall order. I don't know enough about you to give you detailed advice. You need to contact your local senior center. You need to get some counseling to help with the depression. You need to go to your local office of welfare and ask what options they have for emergency housing. I am deeply sympathetic to your struggle at such an age. How is your physical health? Try to dismiss your fears by cataloging your strengths and assets. Take stock. Count experience as an asset.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Caleb said...

Samantha - your life is not even close to being over. A person's greatest asset (homeless or not) is her positive attitude. Your age, social standing, marital situation, nor the amount of money you have in the bank dictate your value and worth to society. This blog is one of the biggest proofs of the fact that one who is homeless can still be a great contribution to his or her fellow human. Maintain your sense of ability despite these circumstances - focus on survival, then try to effect your circumstances. Unemployment will go down eventually - you will survive and you will have a positive effect on those around you IF you maintain a positive outlook on life.

Thanks a ton for this book, Mobile Homemaker, you are truly imparting valuable knowledge to your readers, even if most of them don't go homeless, just the relief from the fear and the imprisonment of modern developed lifestyles is priceless.

Thanks,
Caleb

 
At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One item I think that is "best of the best" is the Maglite flashlight, preferably a five cell. With the standard bulb, they provide a very bright source of light. You can substitute the standard lamp with an LED and, while the light is much dimmer (but adequate for most situations), the batteries last much longer. Besides being a good general source of light, the flashlight can be used for self-defense in an emergency.

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Small mom and pop thrift stores will often have just what you are looking for in marginal living. I work part-time at a shop run by some church sisters as they needed a man for some of the heavier items. I like the small shops as opposed to the big chains for prices mainly, usually considerably lower. They have limited space and need to move their stuff. Amazing the things that come through. These places tend to be homeless/low income-friendly and will often post relevant notices about employment (how I got this job), services, etc., even rentals. The sub-zero bag I sleep in I got for $2. Yard sales tend to be upscale now and I usuallly avoid. If you have a Grocery Outlet (West Coast US) nearby you can't beat it for staples like rice, beans, flour, canned items, and sundries but beware of their meat dept., expensive.

 
At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Id have to say a all in one "solar" charger would be a wise investment...though a little costly can be a great tool in the homeless environment. You can use it to charge your phone/pager, laptop, and any other small device you have that uses a usb, or round connection...

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger T said...

I just finished reading through your blog and I was wondering if its possible for you to do an article on food?

I myself love home cooked food and I'm very apt with pan fried goodies from fresh produce. I'd love to take this with me once my lease is up. What kind of things will I need to compromise (give up) in this situation?

I guess my main question would be about keeping the food cold and safe for consumption. I have hypoglycemia, so getting enough sugar and protein is a major concern as well. What's the most economical way of approaching this?

 
At 1:47 AM, Anonymous Home is where you're at said...

I'm sure I'm posting years after this was written, but if I found it others are too...

I recommend the Acer eePC as a good traveling laptop. It's 12in by 8in by 1 1/4. Very lightweight and has a lot more power than the "netbooks" of a similar size. You can find them for about $180 on sale, it's the best thing I've ever invested in. I got myself a online phone number for a year for $60...
I used to pay that a month.
I get free calls when I have net access, and if I don't it forwards to my $10 prepaid cell. I got myself a address at a UPS store and my boss has never noticed.

I have a small storage unit for the things I don't need to pay for again and again and the food I pick up in as much bulk as I can with a good sale.
(No Perishables! buy those as needed)

My friends welcome me and let me shower and stay the night because I don't forget I'm a guest. No more than two nights in a week, I make dinner (at least partly with my some of my stash) clean up and am good company. If I don't feel like good company I don't come around. Good friends are too precious of a resource to use up.


If you are reading this, you have at your fingertips the ability to look up almost anything. The one thing that can't be taken from you is the knowledge in your head so put as much as you can in there.

Count your blessings. Honest, it helps.
I could hate life because I don't sleep in the same warm place every night, but I'm still in a first world country (if sliding) I have a car, a phone, a computer, a part time job. I wouldn't be able to keep those things if I let depression overwhelm me. Never give up. Don't let things slide because of a funk. Be really watchful of self-destruction. (i.e., "I give up, I screw up, I hate myself for it, I give up...")
Forgive yourself and try to forgive others.

Hang in there, folks. Remember that one of the most powerful forces in the world is hope...
Don't lose it.

 
At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

love your blog. 19 year old semi-homeless car-dweller here.

Best (almost) Free Food:
spaghetti suppers! at schools or at churches, these babies are all you can eat and its nice to have a hot meal indoors surrounded by people.

Condiments! At my local cafe they have prepackaged peanut butter (for bagels) and jelly (for toast). With a $1 mini loaf of bread i get about 6 sandwhiches for 9 cents a piece.

thank you so much for your blog. Just knowing I'm not the only one gives me hope and a feeling of support. I live in a more rural/suburban area where there arent many visible homeless, so i feel like an outcast alot of the time. Thank you thank you :)

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous David Murphy said...

I very much appreciate your blog. I dont know how recent any of these are, but 2009-10 have been rough years for me. I was laid off in March of 2009, my wife committed suicide in April 2010 and she owned a company that paid most of our bills. After being laid off I started back in school and will graduate in the summer of 2011. I have lost my whole world after my wife's death, but I am determined to keep 3 things...my car, my education, and my dog who has been my best friend. I know, having a dog fits in with the stereo-typical homeless, but I dont care. His waggin tail has somedays been the only reason I got out of bed.

Anyway, I didnt post this for sympathy, I LIKE the corporate world...but my rental agreement is up with my roommate and I cant afford an apartment on my own, plus I only have 5 payments left on my car before it is paid off so I am taking a large amount of my School loan this quarter and paying it off. So I am planning to give homelessness a try for the 10wks till I get another school loan.

I very much appreciate your advise on here, but the one thing I dont understand is the advise to put a cover over my car while it is sitting on the side of the road? I am thinking of trying that in a large apartment complex parking lot. I live in Atlanta and there aren't many spots to park and sleep at night. So I am a little scared, but in my teens I was quite rebellious and thrown out at 16....This world has some very dark corners in it and I learned from that time to stay away from them. Thanks for the blog man, I will begin my homelessness at the beginning of Nov.
Also I am purchasing a laptop car charger instead of the solar panel. I would also like to be able to send a link to my own blog about my experience when I start if that's ok?

 
At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the day, I owned several VW vans, the air-cooled versions. Easy to work on-- ( rebuilt several engines for myself and friends ). Most repairs are simple bolt-ons. Likewise, not much to break, so reasonably reliable. Reasonable gas mileage. With older ones, ya gotta adjust the valve lash every few thousand miles-- a one-hour job.

Don't be in any hurry to get somewhere though. Early ones in particular are seriously underengined and very sensitive to cross-winds.

VW's were built in Mexico long after importation stopped in US. Similarly, there is an entire industry revolving around hot VW's and dune buggies. So parts are still readily available.

BTW, many dune buggies use Van mechanicals. A correlary is that Vans ( which have reasonable ground clearance ) are good off-road, especially with proper tires. Hint: get stuck-- lower the tire pressure to about 10-15 PSI and you will likely pull right out.

Aftermarket-rebuilt engines are comparatively-cheap. and easily-interchangable-- a 1-2 hours job, once you learn how. Then you can run the thing for another 60-70K miles, easy. Important because you will almost certainly be getting such a rebuilt engine and/or transmission. Hopefully at some point someone installed electronic ignition-- a simple distributor swap. Saves hassles.

At a later stage, many had fuel injection. Due to unreliability, this has generally been replaced by a weber carborator. If not, watch out.

Separate body and frame means that body rust (common) is not a killer. This is one reason many vans are still on the road and have been completely reworked over the years by serial owners. Why throw away a perfectly-good automobile ?

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my girlfriend an i are about to spend a summer and possibly longer homeless [were not minors, just two lovers who yearn for a better life] i suggest getting a library card, and checking out an army surplus store. my german army parka served me well in a -25 upstate ny winter and i look forward to taking it on my next adventure.

i thank you from the bottom of my heart for this information. my only hope is to help another.

warmest regards

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger AW said...

Today is March 28, 2011.
I just found this blog. I've been homeless once before, about 3 years ago for 8 weeks.
I finished my post-secondary and ran out of money before getting a job. Backpacking, hitchhiking and dumpster diving were my only real options at the time. Since getting internet at home 2 months ago adding to my skill set with research. My current rent and job contracts are up in May and August respectively, so I may be homeless again soon. My girlfriend, who is the coolest, has wanderlust and homeless experience as well. We are both actually looking forward to being homeless again.

I highly recommend in particular:
"bushcraftonfire" - youtube videos from SoarnEagle, nice guy with informative videos. my favorite is the "lowly garbage bag"
digihitch - website/forums
and any ultralight hiking/backpacking sites.

can save you so much trouble and make life as homeless fun, enjoyable and sustainable.
Some day Lara and I hope perhaps to build and retire in a tumbleweed tiny house, but we are also considering a car/van/pickup as a covert homeless option. Thank you for your blog and to all the people who comment.

-Matt & Lara

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger kevin said...

A lot of really awesome ideas and resources have already been posted and I don't wish to be redundant just to exercise the joy of typing, but I will add one idea that I did not see mentioned and lend my wholehearted endorsement to the following previously mentioned ideas: Dr. Bonners Peppermint soap, homemade alcohol stoves, Nalgene bottles, vinegar for its many uses and baking soda (especially for toothpaste!) and Army surplus wool blankets (the higher percentage of wool the better).

One thing that I did not see mentioned was deoderant stones. One supplier is http://www.deodorantstones.com/. They are nothing more than crystallized organic salts and come about the size of a small tangerine or a duck egg. They work great for me, just wet it, rub under arms and you are good to go. The huge benefit is no nasty chemicals, and for roughly $10 you have something that will last you at least a year.

One other thought, that though I saw it mentioned, I think it bears mentioning again....hammocks. If you are moving about a lot and staying near or amongst the trees then a hammock system is very fast to put up. It can be put up fairly easily in low light if you are trying to setup for the night and get a late start. Hammocks to not have to be store bought or expensive. They can be made from blankets (for kids) but perhaps best would be a piece of parachute cloth. They are more comfortible to sleep in than a car seat, generally speaking. The link below will show a little about how to make one from a sheet of material with no sewing involved.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJlEQpcbM1I&feature=related

Once again, I love this blog and the sense of community it fosters for urban and suburban outdoorsman/women. Cheers.

Fuzzyolebear

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalgene

Best water bottles

 
At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mylar emergency blankets are great for staying very warm at night. As a 'camper' who uses a small, uninsulated utility trailer as shelter, I create a tent of one of the blankets that cover all of the part of me that isn't under the covers. The mylar blankets are stiff enough that they can be puffed up well above your face so that you don't feel you will suffocate yourself. You'll have a nice bubble of warmth all around your upper body and head, that is very comfortable. They can be purchased for under $3./pc. in camping sections at big name stores. You can purchase them in bulk from a medical supply place in Brooklyn, NY. Can't remember name, though (B&J?). Cost $.75 each plus shipping. It's worth it to buy 25. It'll last a couple of years, at least, as each one can be used for quite a while. After that they can be used to create a privacy curtain inside your vehicle, it continues to add some warmth, and you can see through them somewhat, if there's light on the outside.

 
At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

something I can say that would be absolutely invaluable but that I haven't seen anywhere and only mentioned by 1 poster, but GET A BIKE! Get a bike rack for your car, use it get around town so you don't waste gas or bus fare... or use it combined w/bus service to make an unusually long trek (buses all have racks now) and more and more cities are becoming bike friendly and have bike lanes. Also, its a great way to stay in shape and see things and places.. especially if your nomadic. If your moving state to state and want to explore you can find a local cycling club online and find organized rides, there is a whole culture of long distance cycling, like RV'ing

 
At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed a bike is a huge help for mobility if one does not have a car, but it does complicate sleeping. A bike with good panniers lets you carry a lot, and also lets someone ride off with the whole mess if the bike gets stolen while you sleep. On the other claw you want to keep it as fully loaded and ready to haul arse at a minutes notice if you are stealth camping. It can be a tricky compromise.

Another tip for those stuck without roof in hot climates, those mylar space blankets are great to dape over a tent or stretch between 2 branches for keeping the hot sun off you.

I am now in this boat myself in vegas and am learning the hard way, but this site has helped a great deal!

 
At 2:10 AM, Anonymous cHACKo said...

-Avoid driving the car. While it seems harmless, police do not take kindly to marginalized people. A danger is that they may write a report about you to a government office in the hope that they'll cancel your license.

-Never sleep in the driver seat if you can avoid it. Your body will quickly associate that seat with sleeping, creating risks when you are driving - especially when you're tired. Recline the passenger seat or lie down in the back if there is room.

-If you are sleeping in the car on a regular basis, do as few other things in the car as possible. Don't eat, read, or anything else that will cause you to spend more time than necessary in the car. The more time you spend in it, the more smells will accumulate.

-If you use a car cover, never run the car or smoke while it is on. You could easily suffocate or get carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not use it on a warm day without adequate ventilation.

-Be careful who you tell about your living in a car. If they're not likely to provide assistance, then don't bother, because you might end up endangering yourself.

-Be aware that having a gun in the car carries its risks. If you are startled awake and point the gun at the wrong person (i.e. a cop tapping on the window), you can wind up being shot yourself.

-Don't drink alcohol. Don't even bring any alcohol into your car. If cops find you with alcohol in your blood or in your car, you could get in serious trouble, even if you're not driving at the time.

 
At 2:19 AM, Anonymous cHACKo said...

-If your car has the capacity, install a hanging bar. This will provide a bit more storage space as well as keep clothes wrinkle-free for job interviews, etc.

-Tint your windows for privacy; tinting works better than using barriers (blankets etc.) because it enables you to see out while others cannot see in. This could be helpful when trying to live unnoticed. Barriers also attract attention and advertise what you are doing, while tinted windows are very common on many cars.

-If you wear contact lenses you will need a disinfectant for your hands. Better yet, wear glasses.

-Sleeping will likely be a challenge at first because there is a good chance that your vehicle is not large enough for you to fully stretch out your body. Find a position where you can comfortably sleep with your legs bent or against your chest. Alternatively, you can try sitting up in the back seat and propping a pillow against the wall of the car.

-Get an automobile association membership. This will help you if you drain your battery, or break down.

-Make sure you have vehicle documentation and insurance. Without them, your problems will increase.

-Personal safety should always be your number-one priority. Knives used for food preparation and tire irons can be used as weapons. You may want to learn your state's gun laws and purchase a handgun or other firearm if you do not already own one. Criminals seek out people who appear vulnerable, or travel alone. Sometimes the sound of a cocked gun will be sufficient enough to deter a potential mugger. However, be aware that if police become aware that you have a gun, they may shoot you for possessing a weapon. Police generally do not regard homeless people well and there has been many unfortunate cases of shootings of homeless people (even unarmed ones) by police.

-If you are spending the night in your car and you have been drinking alcohol, do not have the keys in the ignition, If it is winter and you need to run the car for heat, move over to the passenger or back seat. Otherwise, you could get a DUI/DWI just for being in your car.

-The garbage truck or other neighborhood noises can wake you up. Consider earplugs.

-Pay attention to your instincts. If a parking spot feels weird for any reason, find yourself a new one.

 
At 7:32 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

@cHACKo

While I strongly disagree with some of what you suggest, mildly disagree with other items, and already recommend most of tthe rest, your list shows thought and is worth looking at.

Don't carry weapons, and especially don't keep them in your car. This life brings too many encounters with police.

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned sites like SurvivalBlog for finding ten (not nine) gear. Here's a SurvivalBlog article where a homeless man is able to keep his dignity.

But there's one ten item I want to have if I'm ever homeless: skills. No mugger can steal skills from you. Learn self-defense, bike repair, computer programming, permaculture gardening, anything. The libraries and internet are overflowing with how-tos for getting skills.

Here's an example: With a laptop, cell phone, wireless modem, solar charger and oDesk, you can make $10/hour writing computer programs from almost anywhere in the world, even in the woods.

Unfortunately, you'll be competing w/ poor Indians and Russians (hence only $10/hr), but speaking excellent English and having a solid portfolio of previous work (even stuff done for free for a season) makes you far more likely to get hired.

I'm grateful that I'm not homeless, but I'd briefly been homeless once and I'm prepping myself in the event I am again (hence I'm reading this site). If I were homeless tomorrow, I'd focus on skills, skills and skills.

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learned this from camping- a $1.00 bottle of shampoo makes great hand soap, hair shampoo, body wash, laundry soap (works great!!), dish soap (use very little), etc. Put a $1.00 pack of baby wipes in a small ziplock bag for when you do not have water.

 
At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as food - CHIA SEEDS - provide tons of nutrients keep your stomach full and if you add water you've got chia pudding within 10 minutes - dirt cheap too

 
At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long list of comments here, so people have probably already left satisfactory explanations, but I have used those itchy wool military blankets, and even just a single thin sheet between ones self and the blanket will suffice to solve the itchiness problem. And of course, in the case of extreme cold, or extreme sleep deprivation, one will get over the itchiness. It might be worth mentioning that while these blankets are pretty efficient for their size and weight and a good color for concealment in general, more heat is lost through the head than anywhere else. wearing something with a hood or getting ahold of a ski mask or balaclava or beanie/watchcap and keeping the blankets up around ones neck can make all the differance in staying warm.
It may be overly obvious, but another thing to remember is, wrap your bedding around yourself. any space between your body and the bedding requires that your body sheds heat to warm it. if you do use a sleeping bag and there is space between your feet and the bottom, stuff it with your clothes. offhand, there is the risk of having to be ready to move if something unexpected happens, but in a sleeping bag, sleeping naked is more heat efficient, since wearing clothes slows your body heat from filling the dead air space between your clothes and the sleeping bag.
and btw, great blog here. as many others have said, it's great to have this knowledge, even if it's only 'just in case'. it's great that you are helping people to shrug off some of the fear and stress that society saddles people with.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Cindy said...

I found that the one thing that keeps me warm in my car is a vintage Persian lamb coat that I drape around my legs. They are outstanding for warmth (even used in Siberia). You can find them sometimes at Goodwill or Salvation Army; they’re usually worn along the edges and cheap. They’re usually black, with silky tight black wool curls. Just be sure to review internet articles for how to distinguish real Persian lamb from fake. They don’t itch at all. They are even warmer than wool fabric, and are water repellant, plus they wick moisture away. You can put a cold drink under one in summer, and hours later it will still be cold. Same with something hot. You would have to cut them up (they’re easy to cut) and sew or pin them with blanket pins to make a blanket or sleeping bag. You could even use fabric glue and attach the pieces to another blanket. Persian lamb is very heavy—not something you would want to carry around. If you had two layers of Persian lamb, it would be as warm as any subzero sleeping bag. I know some will object that this is fur, but buying vintage fur is not causing any new harm to any animal, and it is not going to influence the fashion industry if you’re using it as a blanket. It’s super soft and comfortable, and it doesn’t look feminine or like fur.

 
At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know what stores offer returns without a receipt, and which ones give cash back. My Walmart gives cash for returns under five bucks. My grocery store does it for returns under ten bucks. So if you have foodstamps, you can buy something and then return it, and use the money to buy a necessity like gas or toiletries that you can’t buy with foodstamps.

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you are using a zip lock storage bag take a soda straw and suck out all the air. Insert the straw an inch or two, zip the bag, pinch it close to the straw, and suck. Slip the straw out and finish sealing. No need to store air and you will be amazed at the increased amount of storage space you have gained.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger summerdaze said...

Love this site, I've been reading for a couple of hours now.
I am going to be living in my small SUV in just a few weeks. The car is roomy and has tinted windows. I have learned so much here, and am blown away with the good suggestions/ideas that I've read!
I have a decent job and a good vehicle, so this for me is a choice and I am reading everything I can that pertains to "camping".
My suggestion for a good night time potty is an empty plastic Maxwell House (or whatever) coffee container. It has a VERY wide opening, holds a lot, has a lid and a handle! Perfect.
Also, recently I was on Craig's List, and saw some apartment buildings that had some available garages for rent. I remembered that an apt I had a few yrs ago had them too. You could rent one cheap, pull your car in at night and sleep I thought. Might be safer and less hassles depending on location.
Just a thought. Thanks for all the great info here!

 
At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tracfone...I know disposable phones have been said but as this is an older blog i wanted to say my Tracfone has been a 10 out of 10.
Newer one now come with triple minutes for life. about 6 cents a min , 2 cent to send or receive a text.
It costs me $0.00 when I'm not using it, no hidden fees, no minutes that vanish if you don't use them.
If I'm broke I buy a $20 card to get by.
When I get paid, I buy a $80, 450 min card (gives me 1500 min) and I'm set for 6 months
It works all across the country.
Not a true smart phone but will surf the web on limited sites.

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised noone has mentioned this yet!!....I just finished a 6 month sojourn, homeless in SW Oregon, Eureka, SF/Marin County, Monterey county, Big Sur, and Morro Bay: State parks are where it's at! -Showers. Water. Toilets....Camp in the bushes near state park campgrounds and keep a low profile-no one will ever know you're not a legitimate (paying) camper...Blend in. Stay close to bus routes: Homeless agencies will give you bus passes so you can go into towns to resupply. State park campgrounds are safe-no cops, and the high camping fees keep ruffians out.
I use a $20 Wenzel tan low profile pup tent: just enough room for one person and some stuff. Raccoons are attracted to state park campsites, and sometimes bears, so keep your food IN your tent with you. Don't leave dirty cookware/dinnerware outside to attract scavengers...Burn your garbage/food scraps. Newspaper is the BEST insulation: keep it dry, line your clothes with it and line your blankets/bag with it, too. Maintain hope; never succumb to panic or despair....Best way to maintain good morale is to keep occupied, and devise strategies to make your existence palatable or even pleasurable. I sought out natural beauty; seasides, historic areas (Golden Gate bridge on Marin side is excellent for stealth campers) Stay where the rich camp and you will never have to worry about getting "rolled" in the middle of the night by aggressive druggies or criminals who prey on the homeless. I ate fine breakfasts at Hampton Inn and other 2-3 star hotels which have free continental breakfasts. You can stock up on coffee, tea, pastries, napkins, plasticware at these cont. bfasts. Just look presentable: the minimum wage front desk agent will never know you're not a hotel guest. You can cruise the maid's carts for shampoo, soap, and towels. And maybe even sneak into a room opened for cleaning, lock the door, and take a quick shower. Maybe tell the maid you forgot some things in 'your' room first, so she won't call security.

 
At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent several months in a homeless camp in the woods on a lot in the fringes of Portland with a group of about 15 other people.
It sucked, a lot, but it was better than sleeping under a bush or pine tree, I slept in the space under short pine trees for 3 weeks before I found the camp.
I didnt have a car but I had a bicycle with a rear rack. Thievery was a problem so I kept everything in a surplus military "A3" bag: a fabric box of about 12"x20"x24" with two strap handles. I could put everything I didnt want stolen in that and bungee it to my bike rack. It'd hold a LOT. And they're cheap.
Also, a simple shower is a liter bottle of water with two small holes poked in it, you squeeze the bottle to squirt water on you, lather up, and rinse off. Chilly but it works.

 
At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking of ideas dealing with being too hot or too cold.

Hot - buy cups of ice from resturant or gas station. Some places have their own cups and allow free refils if you bring cup back.

Just recently got a chillo once you put water in them and roll out the air they do really good at cooling you down just a bit to feel better.

I invest in a good ice pack and if you keep a cooler with ice in it you can keep re-cooling it as needed.

Cold - This one might not be easy but you can fill a pillow case with pinto beans and throw them in a microwave for 5 minutes and they keep warm for a good period of time to warm you up comfortably.

Also you can visit laundry mat and put clothing into the drying and then change into the warm clothes.

 
At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to also rave about Dr. Bronners soap. The mint can be used for everything. I personally love the citrus one, however would not recomend brushing your teeth with that one. Word of advise for women clean carefully down there. Getting it directly on your area without it watered down burns.

Also baking soda. I store it in a tupperware container and mix a small amount with a dab of water on the lid to make a toothpaste. It can also be placed in a sock and put in shoes to remove odors. Just make sure you have another pair to wear while you do this as it needs 24hrs.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best all around product for me as a homeless person are wet wipes (any brand).

I try to always keep a generic package with me.

If I run out, then I use hand sanitizer (not just for hands!) and a paper towel.

 
At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really got a lot of great info thank you. Just want to know what to watch out for will, be a homeless female. Most info was from males Plz any advice? Will have pickup truck no camper. Will be in warm climate.

 
At 4:46 AM, Blogger M.K. Greenwood said...

Cooking: You can make a solar oven out of cardboard boxes, tape and black tempra paint (may also need an oven bag), and use the box for storage when it isn't in use. Works like a slow cooker, especially good when camping. Cooks your dinner all afternoon while you do something else, no fuel expense required. Check solar cookers international for plans and recipes.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Shonn Frank said...

Thanks for the site. A few quick comments--as I am currently using the library computer. lol-- Using the library computer is fine when it's not packed, early morning-late evening. A laptop seems nice, but for me personally, having one negates any benefit of me being "homeless." That is, for me it has been a spiritual experience, one of inner-reflection. Having a laptop is wonderful, but it's just being at home, without a home....if that makes sense.

Thanks for the army blanket tip. I'll be spending my first winter here in NY and the cold weather is daunting. Will do that. As was said, I don't see how the itchiness would be a factor, unless some psycho was sleeping in the nude underneath it. lol

As MH said, shelters are a no-no---unless you like bed bugs, foul smell, and getting robbed. It's not the Holiday Inn.

I get along fine in a huge park in Brooklyn over night. It's full of cops but they turn the other way with most local homeless.

I disagree with the dreadlocks. I must also say, while there are definitely times I wish I had my car, I have been very happy without it. I don't miss the expense of gas, tags, insurance, tickets, fender benders etc.....and it is the number one way to get harassed by police. I travel very well, under the radar, on my bike----I just can't sleep in it, damn. lol

As far as products I can't do without, and sorry if they are repeats because I didn't have the time to make it all the way through the comments, but I'd have to say Antibacterial Wipes, Listerine, paper towels and a spray bottle.

The weather, too hot, too cold, and personal hygiene are the main points for me.

Finally, let me reiterate to those who "feel guilty" or "feel bad" -- contrary to what is portrayed, being "homeless" is not something to pity. In fact, many "homeless" people are not interested in finding a place to live, though some certainly are.
I think the biggest "problem" is the fact that people don't want them around. Basically, society doesn't want anyone outside of their boundaries. It's a small, limiting area indeed.

thanks again

 

Post a Comment