- Storage. Staying with a relative or a friend is frequently a logical first step for people who lose their homes or are evicted from their apartments. Possessions may be stored in
public storage areas for a while, but if the money completely runs out, then attempts are made to sell off goods stored in the PSA. I recommend you attempt to sell off the goods stored in a
PSA sooner rather than later. For example, if all your stored possession fit in a 10' x 10' storage area, sell as many goods as possible to fit in a 5' x 10' storage area instead. This
potentially halves the money you pay for storage and frees up cash for other uses. Try and store all your possessions with your relatives or friends so you don't have to pay any storage
fees at all. However, I have found that most friends and relatives will only let you store your possessions for only a limited time because they really don't have the room to store all that
extra stuff. If you do decide to store stuff with a friend or relative that you are not staying with, be sure to contact them frequently (at least once a month) to keep them informed on
your progress towards getting your own place. I had one friend store stuff with me when he lost his apartment and became homeless and I didn't hear from him for a year. Luckily, he found a
place to live (with his new girlfriend) right before I tossed his stuff. I had another friend who lost her apartment and become homeless who did not contact me for 2-3 years and then
contacted me to set up a time to get her stuff. Naturally, I had thrown out her stuff after 6 months of her not contacting me because I needed the extra storage space.
- Backpack. A place to keep all your important possessions. A backpack is probably the single most important item you can buy for your homeless survival kit. A backpack allows you
to carry all your belongings with you at all times. Unattended items will usually get stolen or vandalized, so everything you absolutely need must come with you wherever you go. Sleep with
your backpack on. I used to reverse mine and wear it on my front when I slept. You can buy a backpack at a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army for about $5. Don't worry about how
it looks, if it has cartoon characters on it or whatever, only concern yourself with whether or not it is tough and will hold up with lots of use. Don't buy anything too fancy or it might
get stolen. Keep this in mind if you are buying a backpack for someone else, too. A compression sack may help fit everything in. Used by the army, this is a sack meant to be carried inside
your backpack. Fill it with compressible items (usually sleeping bag and clothes), then squeeze everything down, usually by sitting on it. At the same time, tighten all the straps around
the sack. It will retain its smaller size until opened again.
- Mylar Emergency (Space) Blanket. Mylar (space) blankets are great for any type of survival kit. A Mylar emergency blanket can keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the
winter. Face the shiny side in to stay warm. Face the shiny side out to stay cool. Emergency preparedness kits have become popular and they usually include a Mylar blanket. You can usually
find a kit containing a Mylar blanket and other useful items or a Mylar blanket by itself at stores like Target, Walmart, and K-Mart. I've also seen the blankets sold by themselves in
drug-stores like Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, and CVS as well as in some dollar stores. You can usually buy a Mylar emergency blanket for under $3.
- Bar Soap, Antiperspirant, Baby Wipes, and Toilet Paper. It's hard to stay clean and smelling fresh without them. You can use bar soap to get yourself and even your clothes clean in a pinch.
Bar soap usually costs less than $2. I like Ivory soap because it floats, which comes in handy if bathing in a river, stream, or lake. Since a major source of infection and illness is your
hands, wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible. Get some good, scented antiperspirant. Be sure it says it's antiperspirant and not just deodorant. Antiperspirant contains
deodorant but it also reduces the amount you sweat. Deodorant usually just covers up odors with a scent or perhaps neutralizes them. But deodorant still allows you to sweat and the sweat
that wicks into your clothes will soon start to stink. You can get a stick of antiperspirant for around $2. If you have no access to water, baby wipes can be used as a substitute
for soap and water. If you can not afford toilet paper, one homeless man said he used the easily
available napkins found at every fast-food joint he ever wandered into and grabbed a BIG handful. He said "Wendy's have the best butt wipes".
- Brushes for Teeth and Hair, Razor, and a Toenail Clipper. Homeless does not have to equal unkempt. Well-brushed hair can pass for clean longer than unbrushed hair. A wide tooth
comb will work too, and it is smaller to carry. You can buy travel-sized brushes for a dollar or less in many stores and combs run even less. Don't share your (wide tooth) comb or hair
brush with anyone else to prevent the spread of head lice. You can't keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh without using a toothbrush so invest in a toothbrush and some toothpaste.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste can usually be found for $2 or less. A toenail clipper can do double duty as both a fingernail clipper and a toenail clipper. Cutting your toenails regularly
will prevent help them from becoming infected with fungus or creating holes in your socks and regular cutting and cleaning the dirt from under your fingernails will help make you more
presentable on job interviews, especially when the job interviewer is female or when interviewing for a job involving the preparation of food. Shaving and trimming beards, moustaches, and
sideburns will help make you more presentable during job interviews especially when interviewing for a job involving the preparation of food. Regularly shave underarm hair to reduce
underarm odor. Cut and shave your pubic hair (as much as you can) to prevent the spread of pubic lice (crabs).
Pants and Shirts. Certain fabrics withstand the rigors of living in your car better than others. Buy any clothing you can't get from a charity at a thrift store. If you can't find
everything you need at a single one, go to others. If you can't find a particular item, wait a few days, they might get it in. Buy polyester or other thin, synthetic fiber shirts and
pants; they might not look as nice but they shed dirt and wrinkles much more easily than natural fibers, also they can be rolled or folded up very small to pack away in a small bag or
suitcase. Additionally, they dry more quickly when washed. Also, buy some colored cotton-polyester blend t-shirts (remember that cotton kills; use Polypropelene, Capilene, Polyester, Fleece, Nylon, Wool, or Gore-Tex for clothing wherever
possible) of the sort that can be worn without a shirt over them. You can wear these t-shirts on days you don't have a job interview or work to go to. In my opinion, black should be the
color of all your items, including bags. Black looks right at home in the city, can go longer between washings without looking dirty, makes your bags and pockets look smaller despite
being packed with stuff, and will render you practically invisible at night. Try to get at least three shirts, three pairs of pants, and three t-shirts. If you stick to the suggested
fabrics, your entire wardrobe will fit in a single washer and dryer load so you may be able to cheaply wash your clothes at a laundromat if your funds allow. When you do your laundry, if
you can, wash your clothes in hot water and dry them on the "normal" setting to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
Underclothes. Underclothes that dry quickly are the best choices. For women, the socks to get are called trouser socks. For men they are called dress socks. You can usually get
these for about a dollar a pair in dollar stores or big box stores. If you can't wear synthetic material socks, buy the kind you can wear. Try and stay away from cotton because remember
that cotton kills; use Polypropelene, Capilene, Polyester, Fleece, Nylon, Wool, or Gore-Tex for clothing
wherever possible. Try to have at least three pairs of socks (preferably identical). The best underpants you can get for men are actually those silky bikini style briefs. The best
underwear and bras for women also follow this trend: thin, synthetic fabrics which can be hand wash and dry quickly. They don't take as long to dry as cotton. In cold weather, I add long
underwear. Try to have at least three sets of underwear. These are not the undergarments homed people tend to desire but their ease of care and ability to dry quickly allows you to have
clean underclothes which feels a lot better than the alternative. Washing clean and shedding dirt easily as well as drying very quickly are what make me consider these types of
underclothing to be good choices.
- Phone Number. Cell phones can provide stable phone numbers. If you can't convince someone to let you use their phone number as a message phone you may need to get a cell phone.
Pay as you go cell phones are getting cheaper these days. You can buy a cell phone for as little as $15 and you can get enough minutes for three months use for about $25. This will give you
a functional phone number to put on job applications. Additionally, many cell phones have an alarm clock function which will help you keep appointments and get to interviews on time. If
your cell phone has a clock and alarm function, you won't need to also buy a wristwatch or a travel alarm clock. It can be tricky to keep your cell phone charged. If possible, try to pick
up a solar cell phone charger. If you have a job, plug your phone in at work. If not, perhaps a friend or acquaintance who has a home could be convinced to let you charge it at their
- Internet. Free WiFi is one of the things that make life bearable for the homeless. Every homeless person I met had a cell phone, tablet, or laptop. It's your lifeline to
civilization. From your phone, tablet, or laptop, you can gain on-line access and apply for jobs, find out information about where to shelter or park and stay in touch with contacts through
text, call, or email. This makes parking areas near free WiFi hotly desired spots. Libraries also generally offer free WiFi. (Note: When using public wi-fi, always use a Virtual Private
Network or VPN, like the free service Hotspot Shield, when entering passwords.)
- Wristwatch with an Alarm or Travel Alarm Clock. These help people get to work, interviews, and other appointments on time. You will need something to keep time with such as a
wristwatch with an alarm or travel alarm clock if you want to get to interviews, appointments and work on time. A watch is probably most practical as you can look at it at any point without
pulling it out of your pack. You can usually buy a cheap digital watch for around ten dollars. If you are lucky, you may find a functioning watch with a battery in a second hand store for
less. If you already have a cell phone or intend to get one, check to see if it has an alarm and clock function before buying a watch. however, then you need some reliable way to keep the
cell phone always at least 1/2 charged.
- Basic First Aid Kit: For those minor injuries that don't require dialing 911, a few bandages, gauze, surgical tape, disinfectant, tweezers and ibuprofen are handy for handling
minor cuts and scrapes. I recommend Adventure Medical Kits if you can afford them because they are designed for remote medical needs. These kits are superior to the average Red Cross First
- Food. It's not easy getting reliable meals. Check out the food banks and soup kitchens in your area before buying food. Also, apply for food assistance through your local human
resources department. They may also be able to direct you to other helpful resources. It can be hard to take charity but this will allow you to save up for that apartment or room. When
those free food resources are exhausted and you must buy food, think cheap, simple, won’t spoil quickly, require little to no cooking, easily prepared without a kitchen, and high in
calories. This is not a nutritionally sound diet for long term use but it will prevent outright starvation. Think beef jerky, Granola bars, raisins and other dried fruits, corn chips,
banana chips, buns, bagels, raisin bread, peanuts, instant soups, etc. Ramen noodles are one of the best deals. They are high in calories, very light to carry around and you can eat them
dry if necessary. Bread is also light and cheap, especially if you buy day-old baked goods. Peanut butter and trail mix are also high in protein and calories. Canned beans are cheap and
provide protein. Dried (dehydrated) foods are the lightest. Again, dollar stores are good places to procure these items cheaply. Once you can swing it, buy nutritious foods including plenty
of vegetables and fruits. Avoid buying meat as it is difficult to prepare without a stove and is not a cost effective source of protein. Avoid soda, candy, and salty snacks, they have no
real nutritive value and don't provide the energy other foods do. Obviously, you should avoid foods that require having a stove to prepare them. If you live in a rural area, you may be able
to convince farmers to either let you glean their fields (pick leftover fruit or vegetables after the harvest) or pay a small fee to pick fruit or vegetables from their fields. Because your
diet is sure to drop in quality, take a multivitamin daily as well. This advice is not intended as a suggestion for your long-term diet. These are survival strategies intended to help you
make it to a point when food is readily available and you have the luxury of making healthy choices rather than just eating to staying alive.
- Manual Can-Opener, Eating Utensils, and Drinking Utensils. You will also need a manual can-opener and eating and drinking utensils. I suggest a cheap, small, WWII Army style P-38
or P-51 manual can-opener (keep in a zip-lock bag) that you can get in any camping section of a department store. Eating utensils could be plastic as they are cheap, lightweight, and
disposable. However, plastic eating utensils aren't very durable. The "spork" is the most useful single plastic eating utensil. You can get free plastic sporks at most fast food
restaurants. One homeless man said that Taco Bell has the best sporks. I was able to buy a lightweight compact 7-function stainless steel Camping Cutlery kit made by Adventuridge
(Essentials) at Aldi for $3.49 at a special sale. They also may be available at Dollar and Wal-Mart stores. You should carry at least one 1 liter/quart water bottle and get in the habit of
topping it up every time you come to a tap or drinking fountain. Once you get used to water, you need never pay money for drinks again.
- Small Canister of Pepper Spray and Lightweight Folding Lock-Back Knife. These are a defense against the many predators who prey on the poor. I was reluctant to put these on the
list but the fact is that homeless people are frequently assaulted. It's not pretty but it's true. So pepper spray and a folding lock-back knife are a good things to have on hand for
protection. However, if you are making up packs for other people, I'd leave these items out just on principle because it could be used by them to do harm.
- Mailing Address. Do your best to get a friend or acquaintance to let you use their mailing address on job applications. Check at local churches to see if they would allow you to
use their address for this purpose. I have heard that many of them will provide this service for homeless people. Another option is to go to the Post Office and apply to get your mail by
general delivery, which means you get your mail right at that specific Post Office. Unfortunately, many Post Offices don't do this any more. The other alternative is to buy a Post Office
box so you can have an address. The cost of this varies but you should be able to get a basic Post Office box for $25 - $45 for six months rent. Unfortunately, most PO boxes have to be paid
in a lump and some require an additional deposit. If you are unable to get a box at the Post Office because you don't have an address, try the private mail service companies like Mail Boxes
Etc, the UPS Store, Pak Mail, or similar stores. Even if you can't get a friend or acquaintance to let you use their address to receive mail at or to list on applications, you may be able
to get them to let you use their address to get a Post Office box or mail box at a mail store.
Buying Showers and Keeping Clean. It's difficult to shower often enough when you are homeless. Now here's the difficult part. It's hard to stay clean when you are sleeping outside.
Lay down your tarp and put your bedding on it before lying down. Wear the same clothes to sleep in for several nights and change into clean clothes from your backpack for work or
interviews. Don't sleep in your day clothes, roll them up neatly and store them in your pack to avoid getting them soiled or wrinkled. Though cities are filled with public bathrooms, it
is hard to find one private enough to do anything more than use the toilet and wash your hands. When you go into a public restroom, grab some paper towels and wet them before going into
the stall. You can do a little clean up in the stall with the wet towels. A quick partial bath only includes the five basic points: face and neck, hands, axilla (region under
the arms), genitalia, and buttocks. I recommend carrying a collapsible pail (found at camping stores) and a magnetic mirror (from a school supply
store or dollar store). Collapsible pails fold down flat to take up very little space in your backpack. Fill one with warm water from the sink and bring it into one of the stalls. Set the
pail atop the toilet tank or hang it from something if possible. Stick your magnetic mirror to the stall wall and use the pail as your sink. Now you can shave, brush teeth, and scrub your
armpits in relative privacy. If you find a bathroom with a locking door like a gas station restroom, wash right at the sink as best you can. Try and clean up quickly before someone else
wants to use the bathroom and, because he is tired of waiting, summons the gas station manager. The gas station manager will kick you out without your stuff, potentially while you are
still washing your hair. You will need a wash cloth to soap up and a hand towel measuring approximately 16" x 28" to dry off. Consider substituting a cheaper bath sponge for the wash
cloth and a cheaper (automotive) microfiber towel for the hand towel. Microfiber towels are less bulky, more absorbent, and dry out quicker. Try and get a microfiber towel as close to 16"
x 28" in size as possible. Use lots of soap and water, shave your underarm hair, and use a lot of antiperspirant after you dry your underarms. Shaving your underarms will reduce odor from
perspiration and reduce the amount of antiperspirant you need to apply over time. To get even more out of your antiperspirant turn your shirts inside out and rub a bunch of antiperspirant
into the cloth of the shirt everywhere your underarms might touch. That way, in case some of the antiperspirant wears off of your body there will be a little bit of a backup on your
clothes. If you can find a truck stop, you have hit cleanliness gold. You can buy a shower for several dollars at many truck stops. Also, I have found two private gym clubs/fitness clubs
with showering facilities located within walking distance that only charge $10/month to join. Gyms and YMCAs that are open around the clock also give you a safe place to legally be. If
you can't afford a truck stop shower, a fitness club membership, or persuade a friend to let you shower in his bathroom, you can use a Homeless Water Sanitation
Kit to obtain warm sanitized water for a warm sponge bath.
- Hats (Beanies) and Gloves. Without a home, people need more protection from the elements. Even if it isn't particularly cold where you live, wearing a hat and gloves at night can
help keep a homeless sleeper warmer. The hat will not only keep your head warm it will also keep you from getting stuff in your hair if you roll off your bedroll and onto the ground if you
are sleeping outdoors. I've found some really great hats, gloves, and scarves in my local dollar stores lately so these can generally be found for a dollar or so.
- Rain Gear/Lightweight Foldable Plastic Poncho: You can use a lightweight foldable plastic poncho to avoid getting soaked in a thunderstorm if you are unable to find shelter from
the rain. You can use a Mylar (space) blanket or a plastic tarp as rain gear in a pinch but they won't serve the purpose well and are easily blown about in a windy thunderstorm causing you
to get soaked.
Pets. If you don't have a pet, don't get one. If you do have a pet, try and get a relative or friend to house the pet while you are homeless. Pets often live with homeless people
and they need help too. During the foreclosure crisis, people losing their houses often bumped up against landlords unwilling to rent to them with a pet. Homeless shelters don't generally
welcome pets either. Between 5 percent to 10 percent of homeless people have cats or dogs as pets. In some places, that number is as high as 24 percent. Pets of the Homeless is a non-profit volunteer organization that provides pet food and veterinary care to the pets of the
homeless across the United States and Canada. They distribute pet food and volunteer veterinarians hold Wellness Clinics in areas where the homeless congregate, providing vaccines and
other needed treatments.
Clear Plastic Drop Cloth or Tarp. Protection from the elements and dirt for homeless people. A plastic drop cloth of the kind people use to shield floors and furnishings when they
paint will provide you with a clean surface to sleep on when you sleep outdoors and can shelter you from the rain in a pinch. You can fold it up very small to carry with you. Plus it can
be used to make an emergency solar still to distill grey (dirty) stream water, green vegetation, or even your own urine for drinking water. You can use a stick to dig the hole for the solar still if you don't have a
shovel or garden trowel. You can buy a plastic drop cloth for under $3 at most hardware or home improvement stores and in stores like Walmart, Target, or Sears. In winter the ground has a
way of conducting the heat right out of a warm body. (For the same reason, never sit directly on the ground without some sort of thermal cushion or some such insulating barrier.) Without
a sleeping pad of the type outdoor campers use, you will have to sleep on cardboard or newspapers, or use pine boughs when in the wilderness. Place the cardboard, newspapers, or pine
boughs under the drop cloth to keep them dry in case it rains.
- Transportation. I'd suggest using public transportation, purchased in multi-use cards or tickets as they are cheaper per use than individual fares. For those who are physically
able, getting a decent used trail bicycle will add flexibility to transportation options and many city buses have racks to hold them to use them with public transportation. Taxis are almost
always too expensive to use because the fares will eat up all your net-pay or funds quickly, but can be used in an occasional emergency when there is no other alternative.
- Protection From Extremes In Weather. Gyms that are open around the clock also give you a safe place to legally be. Public libraries provide warmth in the winter, air conditioning
in the summer, and free public bathrooms all year long. They are open to the public and no one will generally bother a homeless guy who is sitting in the corner reading a book. There are
computers available to be used for free in job searches or checking emails. Homeless children can use public libraries and their free computers to do homework. Libraries also provide free
programs for both kids and adults. However, some libraries will ask you to leave if you fall asleep, so if you feel sleepy, walk around to help yourself wake up. In a serious storm, train
stations, bus stations and airports are also choices. They are open 24 hours a day and are designed for people to wait in, with ample seating, bathrooms, snack bars, and sometimes WiFi. In
bad weather, some people will be sleeping in their seats or on the floor due to transit delays, and you can blend in with them. Keep a travel book from the library across your chest or some
old boarding passes sticking out of your pocket. If you are in an airport with multiple terminals, change terminals every so often. Lingering in one place too long may attract the attention
of security (though I have heard of one woman living for months at the airport before anyone caught on). Hospital waiting rooms may be almost as good.
- What to Do With the Rest of Your Money. Save it. If possible, put it in a bank account. If that isn't possible, buy Traveller's Checks or money orders made out to yourself. This
will prevent people from stealing your hard earned cash. Do not spend any money on anything at all but necessities. This means no entertainment, no alcohol, no drugs, no single nights in
motel rooms. Be strong and think about the future. Save every penny you possibly can to get an apartment or to rent a room. Keep that room with a locking door in mind as your