You live in a crazy expensive neck of the woods? Nice to meet you; I live in Japan, cry me a river. There's old folks on social security and single mothers in your town. Most of them don't shower with wet wipes.
I can't tell if my revulsion for this idea is class disdain because I'm too well off to consider it or class disdain because when I wasn't well off we had too much pride to ever stoop to anything like that.
Put yourself in the shoes of a call-center worker (and if you want to be mean to the issue, make that call-center worker female). These jobs have dress codes. They're also aggressively monitored during the day and require attentiveness and a cordial demeanor. And obviously, a typical call-center worker cannot depend on the idea of taking off in the van for a month, driving to some other city, and having the same economic prospects when they arrive. Most people cannot afford to be playful with the idea of job security.
It's weird to find yourself thinking, "must be nice to be an iOS developer who can live in a van". Especially when you think of the people who do it because they're forced to do it.
I found the article to be a little glib about its subject. Glib is the word I would use, for romanticizing a scenario that many Americans actually experience as an intractable nightmare. I found myself first thinking about how nice it would be to pull up to the oceanfront, lay down in my "living room" van, and doze off reading a book while listening to the waves... then I thought of the scene in The Pursuit Of Happiness (not a great movie, but a great scene) where Will Smith has to put his kid to bed in a closet in a train station.
More formal places did tend to pay better and provide better equipment though. I had experiences in some where you had to twiddle with the headphone wire and hold it in the right position or you wouldn't be able to hear the customer.
The market for call centre workers back in ~2007 was highly liquid, if you got sick of one job after a few months it was no big deal to just quit on the spot and be able to walk into another one within a week or two.
The one thing I can never figure out is why managers of some types of companies run them the way they do. Why couldn't a call center employee work with a headset from a van and wear whatever they please? There's all sorts of strange practices that some of these companies do. Never in a million years would I ask an employee to submit to a drug test before being employed for example- yet that's what things like call centers do.
I want my employees to be happy, because they are the people that make the company work. When I talk to a manager of a company like this - they act like I've never managed anything before and just 'dont get it'.
Presumably the managerial types are trying to help cultivate a "professional" environment.
Never in a million years would I ask an employee to submit to a drug test
I understand the personal freedoms angle, but I can also sympathize with employers who are tired of discovering that guy they hired last week is actually a raging meth head.
If they are unproductive, look like shit, have poor time management, have mood swings etc then they are a liability to their employer because of those things, not because they "do drugs".
On the other hand if they are productive, are professional, [any other positive attribute] and contribute to their employer, does it matter if they are on drugs at the time?
Granted, I've never meet anyone that are actually functional members of society once they start abusing something like meth, but my point is that employees should be judged purely on their performance in the workplace or how they contribute.
Someone can go from comparatively normal to crazy enough to freak everyone out and maybe get someone hurt in no time flat. That's a bit of a problem, especially given that some people work at places where accidents like slitting one's wrist wide open, crushing one's hand and being killed by an item dropped by a forklift happen a little too regularly, even to people who are not thus impaired.
When I worked in low paid (mainly call centre) jobs, people coming to work high was a pretty common thing. The jobs were easy and repetitive enough that it didn't affect performance at all. In fact if they had started drug testing they would probably have lost many of their best employees.
Basically we're talking about low-skilled jobs that always have plenty of applicants, filtering a bit too many people isn't that big of a deal when there're still plenty of others remaining afterwards.
It's just a cheap initial filter, as long as it's better than completely arbitrary it's probably beneficial to have.
So you would get a positive reading from somebody who went to a party 2 weekends ago and took a couple of hits from a joint.
On topic: I think that if you're looking for a cost effective way to live, do what someone said earlier and move to a less prominent neighborhood. This seems like it would be more along the lines of "fun to do for a couple weeks".
Do you disagree that this is the case?
You can work from anywhere, as long as you have a good phone line and good Internet.
[EDIT] single father/middle class technocrat here, living paycheck to paycheck. Many of my friends make less than I do. By this measure of hubris, I should not go out to eat so long as fellow engineers are looking for work.
I meant to draw attention to you writing that living in a van was an insincere (glib) and unrealistic (romantic) undertaking.
Sounds as a very good, if difficult to attain, guideline for the improvement of society.
And very close to the original message of Christianity too (I'm talking milleniums ago).
I would use glib in the same way that people romanticize people living in poverty. Particularly single moms with good kids living in the ghetto. Single mom works so hard holding down 3 jobs cleaning offices and her kids all work hard if only they were given a chance and didn't live in the projects. (Watch http://www.pruitt-igoe.com/ on netflix to see a little back story)
While that situation exists of course (and in fact I remember growing up commercials for the united negro college fund)
...most likely in reality (drive through any poor neighborhood) there is something else going on that produces the behavior that is observed.
Even with this hard work, only 2 of my siblings have managed to excel to middle class or beyond. None of us have ever been arrested or addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Why did the 3 children advance, while 2 are still struggling? It is because when my father died, my younger 2 siblings were 3 and 4 years old. We moved to the bad neighborhood the year after, and they grew up with no realistic model of "success" with which to strive. The model they were exposed to was that of my mother's new role - take on as many back-breaking jobs as possible just to barely scrape by. My younger brothers work VASTLY harder than I do, with little to show for the effort.
I tell this story as a contrast to your analysis. While poverty breeds desperation (you are definitely more likely to get robbed of your luxury items while in a bad neighborhood), it also adds a grit that is hard to describe. I saw children of Crack-addicted prostitutes making sure that they got themselves and siblings to school each morning. I saw good, honest kids who had little expectation from themselves, or from the world at large. And they achieved (and received) their expectations.
I think its easy to romanticize any situation, but I would seriously implore you to reconsider your preconceived notion on the inhabitants of these low income neighborhoods. The more widespread this belief, the fewer intelligent people willing to work to fix these difficult issues.
But you say "fewer intelligent people willing to work to fix these difficult issues" juxtaposed against "2 are still struggling? It is because when my father died, my younger 2 siblings were 3 and 4 years old. We moved to the bad neighborhood the year after, and they grew up with no realistic model of "success" with which to strive."
So what have the 3 children who advanced (including you) done to help the 2 that did not? I'm curious because you are suggesting that there is something that an outsider can do (and surely they can do something agreed) so I'd like to know what someone in that situation does to help their own family?
On another note do you also feel that part of the problem is perhaps having more kids than you can support? Depending on your income it would generally be easier to provide a good lifestyle for 2 kids then for 5, correct? Don't take offense I simply would like to know your thoughts.
Non-snarkily, I think people are the same everywhere, mostly good and hard working with occasional cheating when they think they can get away with it. From my personal anecdata, I've seen both shady deplorable acts and admirable selfless acts from millionaires, middle class, working poor, and even from homeless people on the street.
I do think that the fact that poor people have to rely on help from their social network more often makes them more humble in general.
If that is the case then why do I keep my windows up when I drive through those neighborhoods. Are you saying I have nothing to fear driving my new expensive car through, say, many areas of Newark NJ or areas such as the "Badlands" in Phila PA? Or that I am safe to walk the streets in those areas? And if those areas are so great and wonderful places to raise families why are the actual good hard working people that live there trying to get out to provide better for their children?
You do what you can do to protect yourself. While crime can and does happen everywhere there are places that you are more likely to be a victim of a crime. Probability wise of course.
Even with respect to car theft you will find that insurance companies charged rates depending on where you live and even where you park your car (garage etc.) There is a basis for this you know.
A horrible, dangerous place, seething with evil, yes? Far worse than the reality, no doubt, but let's go with it.
What do you make of the other 60%?
That they're good people who allowed evil to triumph by doing nothing to stop it?
Because you are paranoid or watch too much TV maybe?
The fact that you feel in danger, does not mean you actually are, and inversely just because you feel safe does not mean that you are. You are vastly more likely to hurt yourself by crashing your car than by someone else attacking you after seeing that you have your windows down.
This goes for most things really. In terms of injury, the most dangerous person in most people's lives is themselves.
The belief in the hardworking poor person who can't get ahead is also a romanticization of poverty.
My brother's definition of rich is the ability to control your own schedule.
I was a lower middle class kid with a lackluster middle class education and good manners so I was able to scrape by on $17K a year and "live" off my motorcycle and later out of my truck in between stints at a lodge in back country Alaska. It was privileged. Sure. And there were before the crash many of us doing it. None of us had any responsibilities. Why the disdain? No one ever claimed it was more than it was. There's a leisure class at both ends of the economic spectrum. For the most part, there were very few Trustafarians. We were middle class kids who wanted to climb/write novels/surf/snowboard/insert your interest here.
We all sacrificed future income for those days. No need for disdain. We all make our own choices.
[EDIT] Here's a current stream of a couple living the dream: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drive-Nacho-Drive/21838885820...
That's pretty insulting, Patrick. Having been a person who grew up very, very poor and a person who's also done something similar to this (lived in the woods), I can tell you that (for me) it was not about trying to "experience" poverty. It was about getting away from the madness and complexities of modern life... the bills, the spending, the distraction, the self-reliance, the responsibilities.
The author didn't say anything about giving away money and collecting cans. They only espoused "minimalism".
I will say that it gave me a newfound appreciation for society and the infrastructure we have that I had previously taken for granted. I don't have to be constantly cold and wet, I can take hot showers when I want to, I can eat what I want, when I want and so on.
The reason? I don't like to have too many things, I feel it complicates my life. I'm fine w/ a working internet connection and a comfy bed. I don't understand why I am abusing white privilege or engaging in lower class tourism by simplifying my life.
I think there is a big problem w/ wealth distribution in this country. But, I think most of that can be blamed on our political system that basically gives the most benefits to the people who pay politicians the most to vote for bills they support and can bills they disdain. Also we have a banking system with absurd incentives that ensures rich bankers are payed by the government each time they gamble away all the nation's capital on insane investments or ponzi schemes.
That's just me, though. Perhaps I'm wrong here.
edit: I should probably clarify what I said. Living in a van, in my mind as an outside observer suggests either some sort of inability to commit, or perhaps falling on hard times, or someone who is dillusional about their circumstances; and, as an outside observer, speaks poorly of the person who is in this situation. What I was refering to with speaking to her mother -- though it truly could be any person that is a friend to your ladyfriend -- is this: This person is looking out for your ladyfriend, and when they hear such things as "he lives out of his car", and "oh, he doesn't have a home", or any other number of issues.
I think you mean "deleting code and starting from scratch". Refactoring code involves making changes to existing code in order to optimize it - I don't think it's analogous to packing up and moving on.
I was under the impression that things weren't too bad out in the inaka. Is Gifu that expensive compared to SF or NYC?
Normally when you read stories about these outliers in life there is always a story behind it. I remember the case of the guy on the street corner who was discovered as having singing talent, made it to network news shows, was given some sort of leg up opportunity and then it turned out (iirc) that he was just some mentally ill guy and that's why he was living on street corners and homeless.
In a quote in the OP there is this as one related example:
"I didn’t waste time watching re-runs of Cheers for three hours on Netflix. I read a lot of books, I worked on my music more. When I lived in a house, I never really used my guitar because it was in another room. When I was in the RV, everything I owned was in the same room so I played my guitar a lot.”"
So we have someone who didn't play his guitar because it was in another room. And someone who spent 3 hours per day watching a sitcom on netflix. And you wonder why he is living in a van?
By the way, I located my personal laser printer in an outer office. That way each time I print something I have to getup to get the printout. I could easily put it next to my desk and only have to lift my hand. But I choose to do the extra work and get the nominal health benefits from getting off my ass as much as I can (which costs $0).
Watching Netflix for a few hours in a row and having an instrument you don't play as much as you should are incredibly common experiences. I don't know how you extrapolate that into some sort of mental illness or moral failure that leads to living in a van. I don't think he was literally too lazy to go to another room to play his guitar. It's just a way of saying that when you have a big house and a lot of stuff you can lose track of things you used to find important and fulfilling.
Where did I say that he had a mental illness?
Ask yourself this question. If you were on a job interview for a job where the employer was not desperate to fill that job with a "body", and you didn't have some super stupendous big deal advantage, or credentials, would you think that offering that anecdote reflected highly on you? Or do you think it portrays you a little like a slacker?
Actually I've been running about 340 days per year for the last 14 years as well.
I lived in a van for a summer. I have a story, but I don't think it involves mental illness or laziness or wasting my life. I was working fulltime as a sysadmin at an Ivey League school and taking classes fulltime there at the same time. Yes, that meant I slept very little and had no "free time", whatever that is. One spring I was moving out of an apt I had rented with some friends for the school year and I had another apt set up for fall, but hadn't set up anything for the summer. My parents unmarked white utility van fit my bed perfectly and I decided to just not move my bed out and live in the van for the summer. I had a place to shower at work, I decorated the inside of the van, and it became home. I wasn't a creep, I wasn't homeless, my parents lived 45 minutes away so I had a fallback if it didn't work out, I had a place to shower, I had a job.
However, what I underestimated was how much people freak out if you're doing something even slightly outside of their concept of normal. I had found a great parking spot pretty near work, in a corner under some trees, however, within a week a construction worker called Safety and Security and reported a suspicious van (he was driving a jacked up mufflerless pickup truck with a rifle in the back -- who's the suspicious one?). 6am one morning, I was jolted awake by the loudest scariest banging noise I've ever heard, it felt like someone was punching me in the heart. A security guard was knocking on the sides of the van trying to see if someone was inside. I was too groggy/freaked to just stay put behind my curtains and tinted windows, I got out. He told me I can't sleep on college property, recorded my license plate and said they would be watching me.
I can't describe the lack of feeling of safety that having a locked door and a wall, specifically something thick that muffles knocking gives. I then tried parking on the streets discretely but had a hard time sleeping because I kept waiting for the cops to come knocking. I started parking a few miles away at a Walmart -- what a weird experience that was. RV's would come in and set up in a circle in the middle of the lot (I stayed on the outskirts). Every night around 2am some locals would come by and drive in circles around the RVers and throw bottles at them while yelling and squealing tires. No peace of mind there. I started parking at the local truck stop, no locals there, but now I had to worry about a sleepy truck driver backing into me in the middle of the night. Breakfast at the 24hr diner there was delicious though.
I started reading some forums about van living and found an article about how people who are forced to live in a car or van temporarily often find themselves pushed further into the fringes. I was doing this by choice, but I couldn't imagine someone who thought they could just live out of their car for a few weeks until their first paycheck from their new job could cover first/last/security deposit in a new city, only to be constantly hassled to move and then fired when someone at work found out. The numbers were troubling, something like 80% of people who temporarily attempt to live out of their cars end up actually homeless, jobless and carless.
Eventually some people renting an apt nearby and had a free parking spot let me park there. OP mentions loneliness. I didn't necessarily feel lonely, I was busy and had stuff to do, and I still had friends. But I definitely felt something, that people thought I was troubled, or needed help, or that something was wrong. And maybe they didn't really, but I realized that I myself was starting to avoid social contact. I would wake up early and sneak into work to take a shower before other people came in so they wouldn't notice, even though my boss knew I was living in a van and didn't care -- I wasn't going to lose my job if anybody found out.
When it came time to move out of the van, it was with mixed feelings. It as getting colder at night, and I would sleep better, but I had gotten used to it and now whenever I borrow my parents van to move something I feel nostalgic for that time when it was my home.
What I learned was that society does not take kindly to seemingly slight deviations from normal. The movie "Wendy and Lucy" came out a bit later and reminded me strongly of that outward push that society initiates on people who appear as "outliers". Certainly, it makes sense for the health of the system, but I was surprised by how tight the tolerances are.
I don't necessarily agree with some of the judgements you are making about how society treated you. You were acting strange and should not be surprised that people were concerned about you. There are also good social reasons why society doesn't make it easy for people to live in their cars. Safety, cleanliness, property rights, collection of taxes, etc.
You say "society does not take kindly to seemingly slight deviations from normal". I don't think your experiment that summer was a slight deviation. What you did was two standard deviations away from normal. If only 0.1% of society would ever do what you did voluntarily, that by definition makes it abnormal.
That's doesn't make it bad or wrong. Just not normal.
That's because it isn't efficient for society and people to not jump to conclusions. Nobody is going to take the time to see that your situation is really different then the creep that is living in a van parked outside a school for a different reason.
We hear plenty of stories of how Bill Gates and Jobs didn't shower and of course we know that they ended up fine. But we don't have any data to compare on people that followed the same strategy and didn't end up in a good place because society jumped to it's natural conclusions about people who eschew all social graces.
Moving into a bad neighborhood seems awful to me; for me, living in a 100 sq ft apartment would be only better than living in a 1000 sq ft one. I'm stuck living in an apartment with 2 roommates, a totally unused dining room and a very lightly used and unnecessary living room because there's no reasonable alternatives.
Leaves a lot of the old (and therefor small) apartments in the old (and therefor central) part of town available for rent at a semi-decent rate.
So much for the life of a cheapskate.
There is something that appeals to my personality to live out of a van and just move on a whim but I don't think I would ever have the guts to go for it.
Though I do enjoy our time on the road, I also really enjoy coming back to my home.
For the entire trip, my monthly expenses were less than they were in the 2 years prior just going to work every day. Yes, that includes gas for 40,000mi.
I lived in my Jeep/tent the entire way.
I plan on doing something similar (but bigger) again, and I'll be building a more livable vehicle with a sink, stove, fridge, better sleeping, etc. etc.
Started in Vermont and currently beach front on the Oregon coast. Truly awesome
It is turning out to be just slightly cheaper than when we owned a house. Averaged $27 a night the last two months for campground fees and $20 a day on gas.
You do know you've lowered the value by taking out all the original kit, right :)
(I wonder how much worse a van is than a military trailer. Those range from 40x12 with private bathroom and nice furnishings down to 10x8 with a roommate and no bathroom. It's probably a lot easier due to everyone else around you doing exactly the same thing, and there being portapotties, shower trailers, etc. freely available.)
I lived in a car for a month or so around the Bay Area (mostly because it was easier than finding an apartment); I'd do a hotel once or twice a week (and stay from 6am one day to 4pm the next day), and a 24h fitness membership (showers, etc. nationally) is $10-12.50/mo through Costco. I really wouldn't recommend car living, though.
I'd like to visit San Francisco, but, apart from the US Visa and airfare, accomodation doesn't seem cheap (I haven't researched much but it comes up all the time here on HN). Food, oddly enough, sounds cheaper than in my 3rd world country.
Craigslist used to have short-term sublet inventory, but now it's pretty weak.
I dumped the 'black' water from the toilet at public dumping stations (many towns have these) and stayed in state parks, which are not only beautiful in most cases, but are also usually just $10 or so a night. When I needed to fully charge, replenish supplies and so on, I would pay for an overnight in a RV park.
I was on an extremely limited budget on the time, so free camped whenever I could, particularly so in expensive places like Monterey (bind : the most expensive places also have the most restrictive overnight parking laws). I never once got moved on.
My tip is to find a public building that is empty at night to camp in front of. Pick a school, a local sports club, a library something like that. Something that won't have a ton of security but is also likely to be deserted. Don't park in front of peoples houses, you never know when you're going to get a paranoid who will call the cops. But at the same time, don't drive down lonely roads and park up, you're asking for trouble.
You can always do the wal-mart thing, but only out of desperation. They aren't great places to stay, and because they are well-known, it's not a great idea if you're the only one.
Be prepared to packup and move on early in the day, and most of the time you'll be OK
Using this method, I saw 38 states & provinces, covered 11,000 miles and spent less money than most would spend on the average Las Vegas trip. A couple of buddies pitched in and filled up one of the storage areas with beer for me as a goodbye present.
When I was done I donated the camper to one of those charity car collection companies and they drove it away.
I think most young people should do something like this - living a frugal and simple life while enjoying travel is a great learning experience. Having since done a lot of travel in the 'modern' way of nice hotels, rental cars and the like, I still get wistful when I see a couple of scruffy looking youngsters making their way on a shoestring cash budget but a burgeoning enthusiasm supply.
covered 11,000 miles
I'll be generous and say your 1978 RV got 10mpg. That puts you at around $4,000 in fuel costs, assuming this trip was in the past couple years.
1978 Dodge RV, which I bought in LA for about $3000... When I was done I donated the camper
spent less money than most would spend on the average Las Vegas trip.
Good lord. Based on my estimates, you racked up $7-8,000; how much do people spend in Vegas?
I also like big engines, the dodge had a big block and returned about 7 mpg. Stupid choice in hindsight but that's youth for you.
State parks were an occasional choice - the aim was for at least 50% free camping.
I forget the total amount now, you're probably not far off. If I had sold the camper at the end, it would have been better financially. I didn't have the time, there was no Craigslist then, and I was starting a new job so the cash wasn't going to be an issue.
The average las Vegas trip covers a lot of ground. It's a rhetorical flourish, yes.
Http://www.wanderingeurope.co.uk is our blog
There were good things and bad things. It definitely simplified my possessions and when I was in Alaska I could basically park my van anywhere overnight. But when I got back to Portland, it was a lot harder to find places to park where I wouldn't get harassed.
I used my college (as an alum) gym showers and spent time in parks. This was 1996 so I wasn't too worried about internet connectivity and there definitely weren't any free wifi hotspots ;)
Many of them are small enough that you can legally tow them anywhere.
Im actually founding a community similar to this right now. We have2.25 acres of land, and each house can have no bigger than 400 square foot footprint (though can be 2 stories tall). Land not occupied by houses will be shared.
Worth checking out as it offers a very different perspective on the experience:
>>An RV is basically a house on wheels and isn’t particularly inexpensive or minimalist.
Our was pretty inexpensive, is more minimalist than most US based folks and will hold its value just like the camper vans you mention.
>>If you pay to stay at a campsite, it’s most certainly legal, but then this lifestyle ceases to be inexpensive.
$25-$30 a night is most certainly cheaper than most mortgages or apartments.
I know that this comment reads like a big advert, but if hackers here are actually interested in living on the cheap while launching their bootstrapped startup, these are actually viable options.
Random, slightly OT thought: I never thought about buying used vehicles from this perspective. I've always thought of an auto as purely a liability.
New cars lose a lot of value the moment you buy them, and then start to follow the used-car curve.
Everyday cars with a reputation for reliability lose their value very slowly. Luxury cars lose their value very quickly at first, but then slow down a lot.
Buying and selling to/from private parties saves a lot of money, but adds a lot of hassle.
There are virtually no lamborghinis that have ever increased in value over their original purchase price.
This might work if you live in a country with exceptionally high inflation - although you're still losing money (in real terms) the re-sale price might be nominally higher.
Exotic car speculation is the sport of kings - from time to time, it pays off (an orignal McLaren F1 is worth approximately double what they cost new, allowing for inflation). But plenty of 'special models' and such fail to reach icon status, and lose value rapidly.
Supercars have the steepest depreciation curves around. You would honestly do better with a portfolio of 100 sound campers than one supercar.
I did the math and you wouldn't be getting all of your money back; but at the end you made a profit and you did get to drive a rather expensive car.
In order for your plan to work, you'd need said car to increase in value more than the combined amount of:
- taxes paid
- storage costs
- service costs
- insurance costs
- interest costs on the loan
The car would have to do what 99.9999% of all cars on the planet fail to do - increase in value once it was purchased.
Now, if you live in a high inflation country, then the car may nominally increase in value more than the loan - but you're still losing money. You wouldn't be able to, say, swap the used car for a new one, so it's not really worth more.
>I did the math and you wouldn't be getting all of your money back; but at the end you made a profit and you did get to drive a rather expensive car.
If you didn't get your money back, by definition you didn't make a profit. You made a loss. A profit would be where you got all of your original capital back, and then some extra after all the expenses paid.
It just doesn't happen. Especially with brand new supercars.
I was bit by this in my early 20s when I bought a really nice BMW, I hadn't considered that dealer servicing would end up costing so much.
But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
Exceptionally rich people who buy Lamborghini and other exotic cars usually have several or even dozens of them. For the most part, they just sit in the garage.
It's not cheap, we are able to live on basically half of what we were living on before, but that's not the point of this journey for us.
If your interested in our travels our blog is here http://www.wanderingeurope.co.uk
I've always wondered if, when flying high, folks might put together a 'bug out plan' which included mobile accommodations.
We have a wifi extender on the roof of our travel trailer. Finding an open wifi is fairly rare these days. Even campground offered wifi is hit or miss on speed. Our 3g data card rocks. 20gig a month gives us a little leeway on streaming. We make due with local news and a stash of Seinfeld and Sopranos.
Every paddler I know living out of a van gets an old Toyota Previa. Why? They're cheap, fuel-efficient, readily available, easy to gut the back, and deal with dirt roads fairly well.
Mostly, the flexibility and minimalism appealed to me, the $ savings were a secondary benefit (and weren't that beneficial, as food costs go up without a refrigerator).
I've never lived in a van, but my family used to go camping and we used a similar system (inflatable bathtub inside the tent) so that my younger brother could take a bath even if it was too cold outside for him.
One thing to remember - when you stop in a layby for the night, you will get on average 2-3 people think it is HILARIOUS to drive past with hand on their car horn.
Their are plenty of interviews on the web about what that is like.