How to Live in Your Car, Save Money and Be Free

(bike bell rings)>>Court Rye: Hey guys, I’m travelin’
through Southern California and I wanted to give you some insights, perspective into car-camping in a Prius. Now I do a website called I started it several years
ago and when I started out I was really concerned
how’m I going to make my dream come true of working on something that I felt is positive, that connects people,
it’s sustainable and still make money, have enough,
pay for insurance and maybe even save a little bit on the side. How was I gonna reconcile
those two things. There are two levers,
make more, or spend less. And so I’ve done my best
to balance those two. So initially you know I
would I’ve been here before. I’ve traveled in this area
before because there are a lot of bike companies
and stuff out this way. And I was thinking well you
know I’ll do an Airbnb or you know maybe I can get some hotel rooms, or rent for a month. And I actually tried
that, I tried to rent, and I’d lose security deposits ’cause I wouldn’t stay there super long. And even though I’m really
clean, I don’t have a lotta stuff, I’m kind of a minimalist. It just seemed like I
was compromising a lot. And it was still costing
me money and that’s when I came up with the idea of
well let’s try car camping. You know some Walmarts let you
camp out in the parking lot. I’ve got a lotta friends
that I’ve made especially now through the website, who say, “Sure you can park in my driveway.” And a lot of ’em offer,
“Yeah sleep on the couch, “go for it.” But what I found is sometimes their houses are sort of messy, and maybe
they have cats or dogs. I’m a little sensitive to cats especially, and it’s not the same
privacy that I was used to and just this sense of peace
that I was looking for. Sometimes people talk
and talk, and it’s like, I wanna hang out and be
friends, but I’m also working hard to drive a business here, to try to create a
lifestyle that I can build over time and that requires
some peace and quiet, getting to bed early. Not everyone has the same schedule. So enough about that. I bought a 4Runner, and it
was like a four cylinder it had like a timing chain
and so I was really thinking like this thing’s bullet proof. It’s awesome and it can
go anywhere you know, if I’m driving and I get
stuck in the snow or whatever it can just go anywhere with this thing. But what I found was that
the gas mileage wasn’t super great, and it
just wasn’t comfortable. There’s a lot of bouncing
and my neck and back, especially working at the
computer, sitting a lot, I just, it just didn’t work. So after a year of doing that I’d saved up enough money
that I bought a Prius. Now not only does this reflect my values, the sustainability and efficiency. But I mean you just get
awesome gas mileage, right. You don’t have to stop as
frequently at gas stations. I was constantly worried
on these long trips, there aren’t a lotta gas
stations in some of these places. And some of the ones I pass you know I would think to
myself do I really want to get gas there, you know is
that really the best place? And so I was struggling to
balance those two things. With the Prius, I’m saving
time and yes I could have got a Toyota Echo or a
Yaris or any other car, but this car in particular
has the hatchback. So it’s the seats fold down
and there’s enough space that you actually can car camp. I ended up finding a really
good deal on this one, used. It has a solar panel built into the top and so it runs the fans when I’m not in the
car and that’s awesome, ’cause it does get hot,
right now it’s a little cold. Again you can see the snow
and stuff, it’s the middle of the day it’s like
noon, and it’s decent out, but it gets, it was below
freezing last night. And I could actually sleep
in here and do alright ’cause I have a couple
sleeping bags, down comforter. And the really cool thing
about a Prius is that you can just let the car
run all night, run, right? It, the engine starts, it
charges the battery and then it stops, and then the
battery runs basically air-conditioning or your heater And I’ve done that all night
before and it used less than one gallon of gas. That’s like three dollars,
it’s like a three dollar hotel right there, if you’ve
got a driveway to park in, or you’re just on BLM land like this. Be careful, don’t get stuck,
this is a two-wheel drive car and the tires, you know they
don’t have super great tread or anything, they’re not real deep. They’re meant to be really
efficient, so they have high PSI. And as you can see I got a
bike rack here on the back that folds up, and it actually
stays pretty well within the airstream of the car so I don’t lose a lot of MPG’s on that. But when I go review bikes, I can put ’em on my car and drive around. You might notice this adopt
sticker, and you might have noticed Jack up here in
the passenger seat before. That is not a real dog,
that’s just something I got ’cause I thought it’s kinda
fun, it keeps me company a little bit, and if I’m
parking somewhere at night, and you know someone sees the car. I feel like it might be a
deterrent against break-ins or just messing around. A lotta people think it’s
real and again you know it’s like I have dogs and
it’s just kinda company. Little bit of company but
if I need, I can take out just these few things, I can
totally scoot the seat back and take a passenger with me. Same thing in the back. Right now everything is laid
down as low as it can be so that I can see out the back for safety. And I’m all about safety. This car does have a backup camera. Some of the trim on this one
was upgraded and again I just happened to get a good
deal on it, used, I bought it in Texas, it’s a darker
color, it’s a hybrid. And I think in Texas they’re
just isn’t as much demand for this so I got a good
deal on it you know. But again I saved up cash
I could make an offer. You could buy a Prius
like this, this is 2011. You could probably get one of these with higher miles on it at probably in the seven or eight thousand dollar range. And there you go. That’s like practically a home. And if you can save a 1,000
bucks a month on rent, or something and just use
a library or a Starbucks or a Panera Bread or
something to do your work, this can save you a lot of money. And it’s really not that uncomfortable. So I was just super excited
to share how I’ve set it up. So let’s jump back in here real quick. We’ve got this Wagan Tech cooler, and it actually has a built in electric cooler
so it keeps the contents in here at a much lower
temperature than the rest of the car and it just runs off
a nine-volt which I’ve got plugged in in that center console there. I can keep my yogurt, I’ve
go some hummus, some of these microwaveable Amy’s meals. And because it opens at the
top like this when you open it the cold air doesn’t escape,
’cause hot air rises. So this is awesome, I love this. Around it I’ve got some
granola and some stuff. I bought these you know
Husky liners down here ’cause you know I’m on
the sand and dirty areas, and sometimes it gets, it gets dirty. You can see the outside of the car. I like to keep the inside
as clean as possible. Notice that I’ve got plenty
of room here around this vent. This is to cool the hybrid batteries so you don’t wanna cover that. So what I end up doing when
I’m actually driving like this is I leave that down here,
plug it in and it cools off. There’s an of and off switches down here. It can actually heat stuff too. But then once I’m ready
to do the bed setup, I’ll grab one of these
extra pillows over here, so this lay it right there on top. I’ve seen a bunch of people
make these great hanging things and boards and I’ve
even bought like a custom made cutout board with these stilts and stuff. Just that cooler plus a
pillow is enough. (laughing) You know sometimes it’s
like better to have simple, flexible solutions than
these over-engineered like precision solutions, and
you save money that way too. So I’ve got this folding
like cot mattress next. So what I’m gonna do is fold it up, there we go like that, and down and you gotta just push it. Little hard to do with one
hand, there we go, awesome. And then I’ve got this
water proof mattress cover, like that, and then just a regular sheet. So you can see with two
hands I could get that figured out a little bit nicer. Got my sleeping bag right here, like that. Grab my pillow, put it right
here and then look at that. I mean and the other thing
is I would take this out so kinda pop this up. Now it’s completely out of the way, and I’ve got my nice sleeping bag here with good padding. And this one it’s not super
wide I think it’s 25 inches so it doesn’t collide with the
wheel well there on the left. And then I bought this, it’s
not a sleeping bag it’s just a blanket, I really like this
thing, tryin’ to remember what it’s called real quick here. This blanket is reversible
and a lotta times what I’ll do is it gives me a little
bit of extra warmth. But I use it to cover up
my head, ’cause it’s really lightweight, and I don’t
like wearing those masks. ’cause they just, when
you roll around they get bumped around, but I a
lotta times if you’re in a Walmart parking lot or
something it’s pretty bright. There’s the light outside which feels safe but then you can’t sleep as well. So this blanket I’ll just lay
this over my eyes a little bit and kinda camouflage myself
a little bit more like that. So I might look like
this under the covers. This is actually the
top of my standing desk, and it is awesome so I’m
gonna show you that next. Here’s the base, you’ll
notice that I’ve got it set up in such a way that if I
get in a car accident it’s not gonna come flying
through and decapitate me or knock me out or something. I put it down like this, then I take this top part like this. And look at that I can set
this on any desk at like a friend’s house or even at a library, and now I can use kind of a standup desk, and I much prefer that to sitting down. It just lets me relax my
arms a little bit more, it’s more ergonomic. I have a special platform that sits on it, a DJ stand basically and
I have my laptop and it’s just, it’s wonderful. I have room for my mouse,
room for my keyboard, but again when I’m driving
I keep it out of the way. I wanted to give you the full impression of what the standing desk looks like. So here it is, completely set up. There’s that DJ stand I was talkin’ about. Got my laptop, ergonomic
keyboard, adjustable height. This is really the key. And then just a kind of
a standard, cheap table from Walmart that goes completely flat. And most importantly this
little comfort stand here, ’cause when you’re standing
for a long time it can get you know your feet
and your knees and stuff. Got a few things layin’ over there. It’s just an Airbnb, you
know it’s really nice to be able to lay the foam
mattress out a little bit. This is actually a fold out couch, but it’s less comfortable ’cause you kinda sink in and it’s just uneven and stuff. And that’s all the space
I take very clean tidy gives me a chance to do my
laundry and most importantly use high-speed internet
because I’m uploading those electric bike reviews
and shooting on the go. So sometimes this is really
the best way to do it. And then I’m not intruding
too much on my friends, but thanks again for all
those people who have let me hang out a little bit. And here’s a quick look at my
food, got that cereal again. And some nuts and berries,
some fruits, fruits are great. Quinoa, much healthier
than rice, great protein. A little bit of organic
protein powder over here. And some oranges, and tortilla stuff. In the fridge, got the
yogurt, bunch of spinach, celery is a awesome
snack, dip it in hummus. And then I frequently
make a big thing of beans and do almond milk. And then I’m able to make
burritos and stuff like that without going out to
fast-food all the time. Another fun snack is just some
healthy popcorn. (laughing) So yeah that’s how I keep it you know affordable but healthy. I don’t wanna gain a whole buncha weight and be breaking out from
eating greasy fast-food, and I’m just not a fan of that model. So I know this is a bit off
topic, but I think eating and having foods that are
more nonperishable which tend to be more like
vegetables and stuff it’s good. And it’s important for when
you’re traveling and you’re already exposing yourself to
maybe not the best sleeping pattern every night and things like that. Over here on the left you can
see I’ve got my just a basic suitcase, got some extra files, some extra shoes. And down here I have a whole bunch of just kind of safety gear. So here’s a look in the extra storage. Got a hat, don’t wanna get skin cancer. Some of these reusable
bags for sustainability. This is a foldout solar
panel which can charge phones and things like that. I got bottles, hats, raincoats. I even got like a kind of
a jumper thing right here so that if my car battery
dies when I’m far away from other people I can do that. Some knee stuff, some
extra cables, hiking poles, first aid, one of those hand crank lights. Just a ton of stuff, bungee
cords, extra long cables, jumper cables, pocket mask
if you need to do CPR. Goggles this is from Burning
Man awhile back, and umbrellas. And then this yeah I’ve
got an inverter here, and I’m actually wired in directly from my Prius battery over here. I might show that because
it allows you to pull more watts and not mess up the
circuitry on your car. So yeah, let’s move to that. ‘Kay I got the cargo tray out, and you can see my spare tire. Got some big time duct tape,
also some binoculars over here those could be useful, and
then candle and mirror. You know just that survival camping stuff. Now this is what I think
is really interesting, take this cover off, and you
can see the Prius battery. It’s actually in the trunk
instead of under the hood and so that can be kinda
confusing sometimes. Of course there’s the big
hybrid battery but that’s really separate and the starter battery is actually kinda small. So they go out they seem
to go out more frequently than on some other cars. In any case, under here you
can see that I tapped into the positive and negative
prongs and then I’ve run some of my own cable up here
with a connection point. So I can actually connect
to that with my solar panel and charge my car battery
or I can run one of those inverters so I can get 120
volts out and run a power tool or run my cooler,
or really just anything. Another choice accessory
is this thing right here. That is a dash cam and it
actually taped over the LED’s a little bit ’cause I
don’t like ’em in my eyes. And I’ve you know kinda wired
it in and run everything down. You see I’ve got the
plugs all set up there. And then bunch of plugs
here, I really like that they’ve got several outlets on this car. Anyway this thing records all the time and it just kinda loops and I can press this button too, to mark sections and basically if there is an accident if
something happens then I’ll have video evidence and so I’ll be able to move through the court system better or defend myself in court. So it’s maybe worth thinking
about there’s a buncha dash cam options I’ve
got one in the front, one in the back, also some
security devices in the car so I’ll get like a text
message if someone is messing with my car and just a regular alarm. I don’t have too many
valuable things in here, and I’m often close to
my car or sleeping in it, but it’s just kinda nice to
have that level of security if you’re treating this more like a home. I also have this nice little
mat that covers the dash so it won’t crack over
time and it’s nice to just you know put stuff up here. Oh, and these do you see these? These things really make it
nice to put your arm down on the door, ’cause this
is actually kinda hard, like they are parts of the
car that are a little bit you know maybe not quite as nice. And then I love this little holder here. I put my cellphone right there
I can still do everything it stays out of the way,
but I use that to navigate ’cause I’m constantly
relying on GPS when I travel, and I can charge it and everything. If you’re gonna camp you
might as well make this an awesome setup and one of the ways that I’ve done this is I
got this head rest holder. It’s very adjustable it
can swivel in and out, and I got my iPad there so
I can sit here or take a passenger, I would probably
put that away if I had a passenger though, and
I can enjoy a movie. I can actually put my laptop
there and look at the screen and just hang out here
again, in a parking lot, at my friend’s house. I can catch up on stuff,
I could even do email. It’s a pretty nice setup,
and there is enough room down here I’ve got my little goodie bag with some granola bars. Right now I have some
extra bags and stuff. This isn’t usually like this. And I got another bracket
here that I can attach I can actually lay down over
here and then have my iPad right above me and just lay
down and watch the screen while I’m chillin’,
while I’m chillin’ out. That’s really awesome. Another quick call out I got
a range extender ’cause a lotta time I’ll go to
people’s houses and I can plug that in and extend the range out to my car or into a
spare bedroom or something. So just wanted to call that out, this is like my little entertainment area. You really don’t have to
get a gigantic trailer or RV to enjoy yourself,
and being able to have a gym membership like 24 Hour
Fitness or whatever travel all over the country, I can
shower, I can shave there, I can enjoy myself. I don’t need to take that
with me, I don’t need to have a bathroom with me and
using this car means I can park in really any parking spot anywhere. I can go into parking garages. I don’t have to worry about
going through drive-thrus and breakin’ somethin’ off. Even with a bike on the
back, I’m not gonna go into a garage and accidentally decapitate my car. Those are all considerations
that went into this purchase. Yes you give some things up,
and you know I’ve had to move a few things here to clear out that seat, but there’s plenty of room there. The bed is almost completely open still, so it’s very doable. Okay so here I am in the car,
ugh, kinda all the way in. Just wanted to give you some
idea of what it looks like. Course the trunk’s open
and they actually sell a really cool Prius tent thing that just sort of hangs
down if it’s hot out. Of course as I said before
it’s been really cold lately and so this is good for
me, I know I can stretch. I’m 5’9″, I can get to the
front seat if I need to, you know if the car is
running I’m actually using it like a generator for heat
or cool, but I usually don’t do that, I usually just do
fine with those extra blankets. I’ll go ahead and close the trunk now. It’s got these nice
handles reach up like this. (trunk closes) There we go, and there it is again. You know I’ve got shoes on
and I’m still able to fit. As you can see here
it’s pretty comfortable. I, you know, it’s easy to
hit your head and bump it but you got these handles
to help you out when you’re gettin’ ready to exit. Here’s the door handle
just pop it open like this. So a lotta times in the
morning I’ll just kinda scan around make sure that
I’m not gonna disrupt anyone. Turn myself sideways
like this, pop right out, and there we go. And again this car is just so stealthy because it’s nice. You know I keep it nice, I
wash it, I wax it myself. I keep it tuned up, I expect
it to go just forever. They’re very, very
efficient because it uses regenerative braking the brakes really don’t have to be replaced very often. It uses a continuously
variable transmission so that’s really smooth and again very efficient. Yes you’re paying a premium
because it’s a hybrid and stuff, but now that we’re onto the
next generation and stuff, this one you can pick up last generation and there’s tons of room. I actually think this, I
think this is gen three works better than the newest ones because there isn’t quite so much of a bump when you fold the seats down, or seat in this case,
so that’s really sweet. The other consideration
that I’ve been working on is yes I have tinted windows,
factory tinted in fact, and at night you really
can’t see in to well. But I wanted to make them
even more blocked out just in case someone comes up here. There’s not much you can
do for the front seat, you know I’ve got Jack up there. And the windshield you know
if I was back there and I had the blanket over my face I really don’t think people would notice. But still if I’m watching the
iPad, if I’m using my phone or something like this, and
I just don’t want people peekin’ in or gettin’ spooked
or somethin’ like that. So I’ve got one other solution
I ordered these special magnetic window covers,
custom cut for Toyota Prius from Europe, by the way I’m
gonna have all the links to the different you know
the computer holder and some, the mattress pad and these screens in the description. But I’m gonna go ahead and
put these on and show you how they work ’cause I
think they’re really cool and it’s just another step
in my little system here. Okay so I’ve put the
screens on the back half of the car, you can see
just looking in it’s just this pattern very similar
to what some people put for their kids so that their kids aren’t getting the sun in their
face quite so much. And I’ve only got it on
half here so you can see clear on this side and
then the mesh on this side. And it fits for all of them,
they just fit perfectly. I’m super happy about this
and now I did have to order them kinda custom, but even
from the inside look at that. Clear up front, kind of a mesh right there on the small window, and at the back, and then these are the
other ones right here. I’ll just give the shout out
Nigel Marston Motorsports from the United Kingdom,
thank you very much, buddy, these are sweet and they pack flat so I can lay them under my mattress and I’m not sure I would even
need to use them all the time. But it would just act as a
privacy screen a little bit more. They even have half pieces
that fit for part of the driver window just to
keep it even more private. You know one concern that I have had with Jack the dog is that some
people would actually think it’s a real dog and call the police or try to break the windows. So you know as real at it
looks, you get close enough and you’re like maybe
that’s not a real dog. So I hope that, that’s
somethin’ I’m still working on. I’ve heard about people in
LA getting like blowup dolls and putting them in their passenger seat you know to drive in the HOV
high occupancy vehicle lanes. I’m not quite there, I just
think the dog is kinda cool and friendly, and if I’m
ever approached by the law or you know something like
that, usually I’m parking in places that are legal,
it’s a friend’s house, and I just prefer to sleep in my car. But there’s also you know,
there are times where I’m not sleeping, I’m just hanging
out relaxing in my car, using my iPad or something
like that, this is a nice way to feel some sense of
home, some sense of peace when you aren’t at home,
or you don’t have a home. You know my family lives in Texas. I’ve got some family in
Colorado and Arizona. And I can easily get to them,
and I can do it in such a way that I’m not standing out hopefully. I always drive the speed limit, ’cause I have out-of-state plates. These are just all the considerations. Having done this now for several years, and just trying to really
dial it in and think about all the things that could happen and thankfully none of them really have. You know I have triple
A, I’ve got my cellphone, I’ve got all the safety
gear that we talked about before so, it’s just a neat setup. I was excited to share
but I wanted to do so after I’d actually lived this way for awhile and could chime in
on some of those fringe cases. And I hope it helps you. Again this is kind of a
unique way to go about it, but it means I can do something
I love and help people, and to me that’s worth
the world right there. So for any reviews on electric
bikes I’ll see you back at But occasionally I’ll do
little videos like this that just talk about the way I live and hopefully help you
to reach your dreams too. (lively rock music) (driving rock music) (driving rock music) (driving rock music)

About the Author: Michael Flood

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