Today is the first post in a new occasional series offering Road Trip Tips. Future installments will focus on traveling on a $7/day food budget and finding must-have gadgets for the road.
For today, I want to revisit a topic I first wrote about on Matador Abroad – how to sleep in your vehicle while traveling – and to provide an introduction to vandwelling. This post is obviously directed to road-trippers who do not own an RV. If you’ve got an RV, you’re five steps ahead.
Sleeping in your vehicle is not glamorous. But it’s a great way to stretch your budget. I won’t rehash the tips I mentioned in the Matador article. Instead, I’ll offer a few additional tips and answer some FAQs.
What is vandwelling?
Vandwelling is the basic term to describe living, traveling and/or sleeping in vehicles. There are numerous vandwelling blogs and resources out there. The documentary ‘Rubber Tramps‘ is a great profile of vandwellers who have pimped out their rides to the point that they become home.
For the average person, it’s not necessary to go to those lengths. I traveled in a simple conversion van with a couch that folded into a bed. I wasn’t a true vandweller since my experience was temporary.
How do you go to the bathroom in your vehicle?
Since you’re not in an RV, you won’t have a toilet inside your vehicle. So where to answer nature’s call?
I always try to use department stores or fast food bathrooms. At some point, though, you’ll need relief in the middle of the night, in which case, the pee bottle is your friend. Believe it or not, this works for the ladies, too. You can find portable female urinals on Amazon.
As for going #2, vandwellers sometimes fashion what could be described as “human litter boxes,” but that was a bit extreme for me. I stuck to public restrooms for that purpose.
What’s the best place to park?
I touched on this in the Matador article. You can sleep almost anywhere in your vehicle. The best place is a busy neighborhood with lots of on-street parking. You want to be in an area that is crowded enough that your new vehicle won’t stand out.
Large shopping malls usually have security vehicles that drive around the lot at night, but smaller strip malls typically do not, so they can be a good option. Walmarts sometimes work, as well.