Experiment: Live in a Car

This is an experiment on myself to see what works best when learning new things. Check out skillhacking to find out what works best when learning something new!

Animals habituate to their environment, becoming acclimated to its difficulties over times, and we humans are no different. We can become used to difficult things, even so far as that they will no longer seem difficult.


To the left, you see my home for the last 8 days as I travel Ireland. I have slept in it almost every night. The groceries I bought I have carried in the trunk, eating only small meals at rest stops. I have used free campsite showers and bathrooms to keep clean. I have continued to work from the road (as I always do) using cafes and free wifi access points.


Why? To save money. To do something different. To prove I could, I suppose.



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I’ve written a lot more about living abroad (click here)! Learn about what it’s like to live in a foreign country, packing, visas, safety, and a lot more. If you have any questions, please contact me.



What’s so Bad About It?


Really – what is so bad about sleeping in a car? The first night or two may be uncomfortable, but the human body really does learn quite quickly how to adapt. Our ancestors slept on the ground and on rocks – how bad can a cushioned seat really be?


This is true of most things in life. Too often we stop from doing something because of perceived difficulties that do not actually exist. When I told people about my plan to live out of a car, most said “ew, I could never do that.”


Why not? What is so great about a hotel room? You just show up at the end of the day and plop into bed. I’ll grant you that big fluffy pillows can be nice (and who doesn’t like having a chocolate on top?), but when did they become necessary? I am here in Ireland to travel the country, not to see the inside of more hotels.



That said, I will no make no claims that this has been a walk in the park. Yes, it was even taxing at times. The car broke down once (more about that soon…), and some nights were quite cold (luckily I was prepared). At no point, though, was I truly tempted to give up.




The Sweet Tastes Sweeter


Last night was one of the few I spent in a proper bed (at a B&B), and it was quite nice. To have a relatively large space to myself, a bed to spread out in and a full 3 course meal was pleasant.


Yet, when we have these things each day, we forget to appreciate them. It is acclimation in the other direction, and soon we find ourselves addicts. I am convinced that many people become obese not because of a lack of willpower but simply because of acclimation. It is the same reason I quit caffeine every once in a while – by breaking the cycle of habituation, you perform a sort of “reset” on your priorities. It does not matter that I will always go right back to drinking coffee – the fact that I quit it for a period of time means that I appreciate it more (and it effects me more strongly, after, too).


Traveling this way I have seen some very interesting things that I would not have otherwise. Driving around looking for a free and quiet place to park for the night has led me to capture some interesting photos and experiences. I have over 400 photos to sort through on my plane ride back to the US this week!

  • Jack

    How do you find a suitable, free, legal place to park and sleep overnight? Here in the Land of the Free I usually see signs in parks and parking lots saying “NO OVERNIGHT PARKING” and even if there aren’t signs, police still might hassle you about it.

    • Zane the Experimenter

      Well, I tend to stay away from signs like that. There are lots of campsites that have parking lots, but they only charge for campers. Plus, most people won’t notice you if the seat is back and a blanket over you. Even if they did, I’d just say that I was driving through the night, felt tired, and thought it would  be safer to have a quick nap than to be a risk to other drivers. No cop could really argue with that =P

  • Guessed

    Just reminds of this old pop classic:

  • Max Hydrogen

    Je connaissais un gars qui vivait dans son auto. Il m’a dit qu’a Montréal c’est parfaitement légal de dormir dans son véhicule.

    Back in the States! Ça te fera du bien de rentrer chez toi pour un bout.

  • Steve Pedersen

    A van would have made the experiment a lot more comfortable. Vehicle living is great I enjoyed it so much I became a truck driver to do it full time and make money at it.

  • Anonymous

    Great minds think alike! Last month I was thinking about what it would be like to live out of a car. Today I searched for it again on Google, and your blog post came up! Been a while since we graduated from USC. I hope to run into you during our travels :)

  • April Lofgren

    That’s awesome!  I could totally do that!  Especially if it was in my current car, a hatchback Toyota Matrix because the seats fold down flat and it’s easy to make into a bed.  I’ve slept in it overnight a few times now.  Good for you, dude!

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