FRESNO, CA—While waiting for the weather to clear up in Yosemite, I’ve been passing the time in Fresno and taking full advantage of the facilities that any urban environment offers a van dweller.
Some recent mods I’ve made to Serenity (the van):
- I had the windows limo tinted. With this tint job, I don’t have to cover the windows for privacy. As long as I don’t have a light on inside, I can see out and no one can see in. This is particularly useful when “stealth sleeping” as you can see what’s going on “out there.”
- I finally got around to covering the van walls (three kitchen mats plus some wood trim).
- I added a short shelf over the refrigerator for some additional storage.
I still haven’t covered that glaring ceiling yet, but will when the time feels right.
Some “Urban Stealth Camping Tips” for the curious:
- When working on the van, I go to Lowes or Home Depot, park around the side or back, buy my supplies, and tinker right there in their lot. Saves driving back and forth (for the inevitable forgotten item). No one has complained.
- I often park and sleep in motel chain parking lots. My guiding moral principle is “Do No Harm,” so as long as there are plenty of spaces for paying guests, I see no harm in this practice.
- I leave the motel at sunrise, drive to an empty retail parking lot and bathe. The tinted windows come in handy here too.
- I usually then go to a coffee shop and work. I always purchase something from the shop to compensate for my wifi usage.
- Afternoons are for either more work (often at a city park) or exploring the surroundings.
- Evenings I often sit in the rig in a parking lot and watch a movie on my computer or read or web surf.
In any large town or small city you could live this way indefinitely.
I guess this post is mainly for those who are van dwelling curious. I live this way by choice, but many—due to financial circumstances—live this way by necessity. If the last is your case (or you are contemplating it), then I suggest you subscribe to Bob Wells’ blog, join his forum, and purchase his book as he tends to focus on van dwelling and has tons of useful advice on the subject.
And if you are contemplating living this way due to necessity, have faith—once you get acclimated to living this… untethered, it’s a great way to live.
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