There are much better living-mobiles, but since I already owned this low-mileage 2008 Honda CRV, I decided to see if I could make it work. 2014 was my first year to test it out on a few short trips. By 2016 I’d perfected the system and I found it a cozy cost-efficient way to travel while having a home away from home. The primary reasons I enjoy sleeping in my car are (1) budgetary constraints, (2) stunning sunrises/sunsets, (3) quick access to trails, (4) flexibility, (5) safer than tent camping, and (5) cleaner than cheap lodging.
My car came with a hard plastic 1″ security platform. It has worked perfectly as my table. Since my backseats don’t fold flat, I removed the larger of my backseat sections. At 5’4″ I can comfortably sleep lengthwise. A neighbor gave me the insulated curtains which I hang via 3M Command Mini hooks (when privacy or extra warmth is needed). I travel prepared for backpacking trips, thus I have my Jetboil stove with me for cooking the car.
The trick is traveling with as few items as possible, so (1) you can make your bed without spending time rearranging or storing things outside, and (2) most everything can be stored out of sight minimizing the chance of vandalism when your vehicle is unattended. This is what I’ve found works for me. I’ll add photos next time I load my car.
- Storage Bin 1 (resides on the backseat floor as part of my sleeping platform) – I usually keep things in this bin I don’t need frequently, such as maps for a future leg of the trip, boots or traction devices, seasonal clothes.
- Storage Bins 2-4 (stored under the table behind the small backseat) – One bin usually has all my backpacking gear, another has food, the third has extra supplies such as clothes detergent, repair & maintenance items, first aid, toiletries, vitamins, ziplock bags, etc.
- Storage Bin 5 (stored on floor in front of small backseat). I keep things I need to reach while in bed. Usually my eating/drinking containers and utensils, cookstove, fuel, cereal, coffee, lantern light, toiletries, etc.
- Storage Bin 6 (stored on backseat floor between Bins 1 & 5). I keep 3 gallons of water in this one and my trusty pee jar.
- Pillows, Air Mattress, and Towels (stored on sleeping platform).
- Sleeping bag (stored under table)
- Folding chair (stored at the very pack of my car).
- Ice Chest (stored on small backseat). I usually cover with towels and sometimes pillows to keep cool.
- Duffle Bags (stored under table, and moved to small seat when making bed). I use two small bags for my clothes. One for travel clothes and another for hiking clothes. I’ve learned to keep clothing as simple as possible, basically three uniforms. One for traveling, one for sleeping and one for hiking.
- Travel Uniform – Leggings (x2), Shorts (x2), Skirt (x1), short-sleeve shirt (x2), long-sleeve shirt (x2), layering shirt (x1), undies (x?), bra (x4), socks (x?), sleep clothes (x2). Everything mixes and matches.
- Shoes – usually sandals and 1-2 pairs of hiking shoes/boots depending on season
- Daily “sponge” bath.
- SUBOOS Ultimate Rechargeable LED Lantern and 5200mah USB Power Bank
- NEOS 15″ Adventurer All Season Nylon Overshoes
- Temperature Gauge
- Pee Jar (previously CostCo Nuts)
- Preparation, Maintenance & Aftermath
- Planning and Organization
- Where to Overnight
- Eats on the Road
- Showers, Laundry and Recharging
- Safety, Security and Self-Reliance
- Living on a Shoestring Budget