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Thousands of students, travelers and others live in cars and vans to save money. Some do it because they have to but many younger people do it to enjoy the vagabond lifestyle, at least for a while. If you ever find yourself in the situation where you need to actually live in a car, here’s some suggestions to help you.

Park in a safe place – You obviously don’t want to park anywhere where its dangerous to be. Look around for businesses in your area that allow people to stay overnight in their parking lots. Walmart, for example, allows parking during the night in their lots. It is not only completely legal, they may have a security force that will actually look out for you. Marinas are another good option because of the 24 hour lifestyle that commercial fisherman have, there’s usually someone around. Also, given the transient nature of fishermen and boaters, often offer services like showers and bathrooms. The folks at Metro Kia in Cartersville, a Georgia-based Kia dealership say don’t forget campgrounds! That’s the business that they are in, and most offer bathrooms and showers too for a small fee.

Get a post office box – Unless you have an address you can use, consider getting a P.O. box. This not only gives you somewhere to receive mail, it looks good if you are looking for work.

Find ways of making electricity – For charging and using 12V devices like smartphones and computers, you can use a cigarette lighter converter.  You can also purchase converters that use the 12V from your cigarette lighter to convert it to 120VAC but keep in mind that these converters will not power devices with high amperage requirements, like space heaters or cooking gear. By the way, a good buy for any car dweller is a “low voltage cut out device” for your car’s battery. This device stopping the electricity flow once the battery voltage gets too low, leaving just enough power so you can still start the vehicle. These devices are very common in RV stores.

You will need to shower – No question, you need a location to shower and go to the bathroom. You have a lot of options for this. Community or Recreation centers often have showers you can use for free. Truck stops are another option. Just be careful not to over use these establishments. And, of course, there are campgrounds that offer these services.

Feeding Yourself – OK, if you are really down out and you need to feed yourself cheaply, you do have options. Peanut butter, tuna and other sources of protein are cheap food items to have.  You can also get free food from food pantries.  The majority of towns have some sort of pantry and they allow almost anyone to get expired yet high-quality food.  The biggest problem you may run into with storing food is refrigeration.  Ice coolers aren’t really an option because of the need to have ice.  There are ice coolers that plug into 12VDC sources that do not keep food frozen but keep it “refrigerator cold’.

Safety – Safety should always be your number-one priority while living in a vehicle. First, put your keys close to the ignition so you can drive off when you suspect danger. Knives for food preparation and tire irons may be used as weapons. You could alternatively use pepper spray. Criminals seek out those who appear vulnerable, or travel alone so be careful all the time.
Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.