Should You Live in Your Vehicle?

After two months of living out of our SUV, we have learned a lot about ourselves and the ins and outs of setting up a vehicle for sleeping. We were not sure how it was going to go or if it was something that we would get sick of really quick. Overall it has gone better than we expected. It's also a good thing that we brought a tent as a back up because depending on the weather conditions a tent can be more comfortable. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are considering living out of a vehicle.

Are you mentally prepared?
You have to be comfortable with the idea of living in a vehicle and being able to put up with the possibility of discomfort. If you are used to going camping then it should be no big deal to you. You also have to be prepared for people thinking that sleeping in a vehicle is strange and sleeping in parking lots like Wal-Mart is strange. People will stare at your set up but I don't think they are being judgmental, they are just curious about what you are up to. It IS strange to sleep in a vehicle but as long as you aren't too concerned about what other people think and appearances then you should be fine. Plus there are quite a number of other people out there doing the same thing. Don't be surprised if border security is a little bit suspicious of you're going through the border.

Do you want more freedom?
Traveling in a vehicle is a great way to travel and have the freedom to come and go as you please. You are more flexible in your schedule and able to go to places you can't get to otherwise. Camping and sleeping in a vehicle also allow you to keep the costs down on a road trip allowing you to travel further than you could otherwise. If you are working on a small budget, a camping road trip is the cheapest way to see a lot of different places.

Are you okay with small spaces?
Living in a vehicle does not give you a lot of space, especially if the vehicle you are living in is on the smaller side like our GMC Jimmy. Also, if like us you are travelling as a couple you will have to make due with even less in the way of personal space. Make sure you are comfortable in tight spaces and do what you can to make the most of the space you have. We also found that having more pillows and blankets helped make the small space more of a relaxing comfortable space. 'Cozy' if you will.

Do you like Insects and bugs?
One of the main concerns you will have day to day living out of your vehicle and camping in your vehicle is getting away from insects. It is rather easy for insects to get inside your vehicle when you are getting in and out or when you have the doors open for loading and unloading your stuff. You may have to get creative and make a bug screen for your windows or use some sort of bug net.  Insect repellent might be a good idea as well.

Do you like being outside 24/7?
We found that there are challenges with living in a vehicle when it comes to the weather. It can get uncomfortably hot inside a vehicle in the summertime. There were also times in which it was not practical to have the windows open which made the problem worse. We had a bug screen on only one window so when the bugs were bad we couldn't open the other windows without letting the bugs inside the vehicle.
In parks with bears around, we left the windows closed since our food was in the vehicle and we didn't want the bears to be attracted to the scent of food. There were times where we had to use our tent because it was too hot. One idea that worked for us is to park in the shade during the day when the bugs aren't bad and roll down all the windows. This cooled down the truck so that by the time the sun went down the truck was comfortable enough to sleep inside. Rain creates a lot of humidity and if you can't have your windows open, it can get a bit stuffy. At the beginning of our trip when we were in the mountains it got a bit cold in the vehicle so make sure to have a suitable sleeping bag and blankets. Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.

Do you want to save money on accommodations? 
One great thing about living out of a vehicle is the savings. For a road trip like ours, having a vehicle set up for sleeping allowed us to have the option of sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots. It was also helpful when the weather was terrible for tent camping comfortably. That way we didn't have to get a hotel or something when the weather was miserable. You can't set up a tent in a Wal-Mart parking lot and sleeping in a vehicle is way more inconspicuous than tent camping.


If you have answered yes to all of these questions, then living in a vehicle is for you! We found that the positives of living out of a vehicle outweigh the negatives for a long trip. You find what works and doesn't. You find your routines and we both work together for set up and take down. It may not work for everyone, but it is something to consider if you want to travel for longer periods of time and save some money.



Comments

  1. Loved all the photos and especially the video (Since I'm a visual person). Never thought of some of the aspects like border security!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, we didn't even think of the border being a problem until we told them we were unemployed and they realised we lived in our SUV! :P

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  2. My husband and I have been living in an RV for most of the summer and we absolutely love it! Props to you for living in your SUV though. I think I could do it for a short while but it would be hard to do long term! Excellent questions and things to consider before deciding to take the plunge!

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    1. Two months was our breaking point. Maybe if we had a better mattress, and we didn't have to set up and take down everyday, we could have lasted longer.

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  3. I have thought about trying a trip or two doing some car sleeping, but haven't made the jump yet. Once we are on the road full time, this is a great option for trying to get places a little quicker than we could if we are hauling the camper the whole way. These tips are great things to consider! Thanks!

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    1. It is definitely more convenient than a camper, but not as comfortable. Try a weekend away or something before committing to longer term.

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  4. Wow fascinating. This seems to becoming more fashionable. Certainly, there's a lot of buzz about it. My two concerns would be heat and safety. I didn't even consider the bugs! You offered some practical tips. Nice touch with the vid! Great post.

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    1. As long as you can air out the vehicle and keep a window open it wont be hot. We also didn't sleep in and got up with sun rise.

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