Posted August 03 2005 - 03:05 PM
This thread is NOT intended to instruct or encourge runaways. If you're under 18 you won't be able to use most of the information in here anyway.
Bear in mind that no matter how bad things may be at home you're almost certain to get into worse trouble if you leave, you will probably get caught, and you will cause untold problems for yourself and whoever you happen to be hanging out with when they catch you.
That said, if anyone has anything to add to the information in this thread, please feel free but if you have any questions or storys please start another thread.
I'm hoping to have this thread turned into a sticky that people can refer to without having to sort through too much other material.
Here's the best all around road forum I know of;
Hitchhiking, Road Travel & subCultural Movement - digihitch.com
Hitchhiking and road travel portal with stories, advice articles, photos
Here's a few helpful links courtesy of TrippnBTM:
Here's a link to a site that teaches you how to make a very simple alcohol stove, I made one and works great:
On freezerbag cooking (easy method of cooking, includes many recipies, often updated):
General Camping/Hiking tips:
Links to sites about living on the (very) cheap:
I'll add more links as I find them.
Posted August 03 2005 - 03:41 PM
Fests and Gatherrings:
If you're just starting out on the road the best advise I can give you is make your first destination a fest or rainbow gatherring.
You'll meet people there who live on the road more or less full time (especially the vendors) who'll be able to give you advise about how to get by and where to go next.
If you're hitch hiking you should be able to score a ride pretty easy in whatever direction you want to go.
If you're driving you can become part of a caravan and should be able to find riders to pitch in on gas money.
Stick to the smaller towns and rural hi-ways:
Whatever way you're travelling you'll be better off staying off the interstates as much as possible.
Stick to the smaller state hi-ways and two laners that run between small towns and rural areas. For the most part you'll have less hassles, meet fewer weirdos, find work easier, and just generally find more acceptance and tolerance if you stay off the main hi-ways and out of the big citys.
Smaller towns are usually more receptive to wanderrers and more willing to help you on your way.
The cities these days have been so inundated with homeless people that as soon as you step off the hi-way all you are is one more person with a backpack, lowerring property values and making the citizens uncomfortable.
Works alot harder to find, churches have been begged to death, the free food places are crowded to capacity, finding a place to camp or clean up is alot harder, and life in general is alot less fun and alot more dangerous.
Posted August 03 2005 - 04:21 PM
My favorite places to stop along the way are always college towns (note:just because a town has a college in it doesn't necessarily make it a college town).
College towns are much more laid back and alot more fun than just about any other town or city you're likely to find of the same size.
Resources for homeless people are usually abundant, camping (illegally) is usually easier and less dangerous, cleaning up is no problem, busking, spanging (panhandleing), and street performing is usually permitted and profitable, people are generally more open minded, there are more young people and cooler older people, and of course partys are easier to find.
Most college towns have a farmers market and usually a flea market (good places to score a little work, play your guitar for change, street perform, and pick up cheap supplys).
Most universitys and every community college I've ever seen has a locker room with showers and a student lounge with a microwave you can use and most have free internet.
Alot of college towns have free concerts and events.
Every one I've ever been to had a food co-op and a few natural food stores (good places to score free veggies and pakaged goods past their expiration date).
Most food co-ops are staffed by hippies who won't be freaked out by your lifestyle and who've probably been on the road themselves (or are planning to be).
College towns are just overall the best places for a transient hippy to chill and meet like minded people.
Some of my favorites:
Colorado Springs, Colorado
and San Luis Obispo, Santa barabra, Santa Cruz, and Chico California.
Posted August 03 2005 - 04:30 PM
Posted August 03 2005 - 04:43 PM
Carnivals. they're everywhere this time of year and they'll hire anybody. One good fair and you're set fo a cpl weeks easy. (note; you can always get a job helping set up or tear down the rides but it's some hardass work for not much money.
You're much better off trying to get a job in one of the game booths and working the whole fair.
Working for the food vendors or novelty sellers can be a good gig too)
Note: In recent years carnivals have gotten more hardcore about apperances. All of them these days want you to be clean shaven and most will want you to cut your hair if you're planniung on working there for awhile.
Day labor at construction sites; Just walk up to one in the am, ask for the forman and tell him you'll work cheap.
Flea markets; get there as the vendors are pulling in in the morning and offer to help set up. It's an easy $20.
Busking (music)/ Street performing
These days I only do this for fun so I don't know how viable it is anymore as a way to make a steady living. I know some street muscians and performers who seem to be doing pretty well but everybody says it's harder than it used to be (during the Clinton years).
In any case college and tourist towns are still the best places to busk, perform, or sell jewelry or what-not on the street corners.
Best thing to do is look for other street performers as soon as you get in town (if you don't see any, it's probably not allowed) and ask them about the laws/rules for that town. Also find out what corners are open and which are already spoken for (you'll do better all around if you respect the other performers space).
Music: Just about any instument will do and really you don't even have to be that good, just bold. Make sure you have a hat or guitar case--anything people can throw money in (this makes a big difference).
Performing: If you can do anything interesting--juggling, sketching, reading tarot, making balloon animals, origamy, miming, you name it--people will toss you money to entertain them.
Posted August 03 2005 - 04:44 PM
Posted August 03 2005 - 04:51 PM
could even hook ya up with someone they know for a bit for $$$
In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
Posted August 03 2005 - 05:40 PM
These are better tryed in small towns
Churches; go to the church office and ask if they have any work they need done around the grounds, or if they have any contractors in their congragation who might be able to give you a cpl days work.
AA meetings; find out when and where the morning meeting is and try to get there just before it ends (unless you want to sit through the meeting). Check to see if there are any work trucks in the parking lot (there usually are) and when the meeting breaks up ask the guys headed for the trucks, or hanging out in the parking lot (contractors usually hang together after the meetings) and let them know you need a day or two or whatever of work.
Diners; small towns and even some big ones usually have a diner where the contractors stop for coffee or breakfast in the morning. Look for work trucks in the parking lot.
Go inside, order a some coffee and let the waitress know your a loborer looking for work (note; it's best to feel the situation out first. If you get alot of dirty looks when you walk in with your gear, better get your coffee to go and try somewhere else).
If you have any kind of skill/talent or just a good imagination you can, with a little practice and stratagy, usually find some way to make enough $$$ (legally) to get by.
I've met several people who make and sell jewelry at swap meets, fest, college campuses, or just on the street.
I know one guy who manages to stay on the road as much as he wants by sharpening chefs knives at resturants (sharpening's a good skill to have if you're going to be camping anyway).
I've met more than one person who carrys a set of stencils, a cpl brushes, and a small can of white paint and makes a living painting addresses on curbs at residences.
One old guy I met was making $100 a day washing storefront windows.
Posted August 03 2005 - 05:55 PM
Recycling: Aluminium cans are going for $1.25 a lb these days. Which comes out to about $4 for every 100 cans you find.
Last year in southern cal I spent 4 months collecting cans and bottles (Plastic bottles are right about 70 cents a lb.) on a bicycle with a homemade trailer.
I was living on a commune at the time and spending about $5 a day so the $25-$40 a day I was making recycling was more than enough to live on and save up some $ to hit the road with.
It might sound a bit gross but recycling's actually one of my favorite ways to make money; no boss, zero pressure, work as much or as little as you want, pick your own hours (lol! almost sounds like one of those bogus work at home adds in the classifeids)
Between collecting, sorting, and taking it all to the recycling center I figure I was averaging about $8 an hour, which is more than most retail jobs pay.
Again, college towns are probably the best places to collect recyclables (mostly beer cans).
What you'll need; Trash bags, rubber gloves, a bottle of rubbing alcohol (to wash your hands when soap and water isn't readily available). That's about it.
Look in the phonebook to find out where the recycling center is and what their hours are.
Posted August 03 2005 - 06:04 PM
This on spanging/flying a sign courtesy of nesta:
well, i've got some buddies that have been on the road for quite some time, and periodically they'll stop back in for a while. they've been asked this question a million times.....basically they sell/trade drugs at shows and festivals for a large part, but they'll also do things for a few bucks. but basically their philosophy is "life is free if you're willing to fly a sign"
if you're in a more leave-it-to-beaver small town or someplace a bit more uptight and conservative, you may do best working for pity saying you're on the road and hungry, out of gas, etc. if you lie, don't be obvious.
if you're in a big city, a place with a lot of "freaks" (hippies, ravers, goths, whatever) or just a generally cool place, try stealing their attention instead. good signs i've heard of include "rival ninja clan killed parents, need change to save up for kung fu training" and the up front, honest, and widespread "need spare change for pot/booze/whatever"
wierd signs reoprtedly are far more common out west. i don't know, personally. that may mean they work better there, or it may mean that people out there are just more laid back and "wierd."
wierd things or really out-there things tend to get people's attention. even if they dont sympathize with you and wouldnt give you money otherwise, if you can make someone laugh you're a lot likelier to get money from them. i bet the guy with the ninja sign made a killing. similarly, people realize that panhandlers are often lying to you about why they want money. even if they dont like it, saying you need money for drugs or wine or whatever may be honest enough for people to go ahead and give you money anyway.
theres also always dumpster diving, too, but thats really a severe last resort for most people, in terms of food. but you can sometimes find decent merchandise in dumpsters behind stores that you can use yourself or sell/trade to someone else for something of more use to you.
you can always check open shelters and things about their policies, and see if you may be able to get a place to sleep for a little while.
hmm....hope this helps
Posted August 03 2005 - 06:31 PM
I haven't tryed this in awhile and things may have changed but at one time you could make a decent living working out of truckstops by:
"Lumping" (loading/unloading trucks).
Washing truck windows (bottle of windex and some paper towels)
Polishing chrome--tanks $15 each, wheels $5 each, stacks $5-$7 each, bumpers $5-$10each. (chrome polish and lots and lots of rags).
Alot of truckstops won't let you do this anymore but some will. Best to ask.
Posted August 03 2005 - 10:32 PM
get ya a copy of the rainbow guide
where can said book be found?
Posted August 04 2005 - 10:43 AM
Most college towns feed and treat their homeless alot better than most other places.
Go to any church and ask at the church office or talk to the first homeless person you see and ask him to fill you in on the freebies in the area.
Some of the resources in college towns and most other good sized towns and citys are;
Homeless Recreation Centers: These places are popping up more and more in citys, towns, and especially college towns.
They usually have at least one free feed, showers, coffee, sometimes clothes, and will let you chill most of the day if you want.
Alot of hitchhikers and other wanders use these places as way-stations so it's a good place to look for other travellers.
Soup kitchens; Usually the smaller the town, the better the food. find out when and where.
Food Banks; These come in two kinds; some will just hand you a bag of groceries but the best ones will let you work for them for a few hours in exchange for a certain amount of whatever they have in the warehouse. They get donations from alot of different places so they usually have a pretty wide assortment or food ( a big plus if you're vegatarian, or just picky about what you eat), you get to pick.
Look for them in the phone book.
Salvation army/ St. Vincent DePaul Society/ Interfaith Ecumenical Services:
These places usually help people out with food (sometimes groceries, sometimes just a sack lunch), clothes or vouchers for their thrift stores, information, and (sometimes) gas vouchers or even bus tickets.
Churches: Generally you'll have better luck with these in small towns. The churches in citys and bigger towns are usually affiliated with, and will send you to, one of the places mentioned above.
Posted August 04 2005 - 10:52 AM
where can said book be found?
generally ya can get them for free at the national gatherin,,but im pretty sure ya can also have one sent from there web site,
,if not,, all the info thats in it is there as well..
Posted August 04 2005 - 11:36 AM
*COLLEGES (For showers, FREE INTERNET, etc:
All colleges and universitys have a locker room with showers.
Not all universitys will let you use theirs but some will and every community college (that I've ever tryed) does.
What I usually do is stash most of my gear in a bus locker or wherever I'm camping and take everything I need to clean up with me in a bookbag.
If you do it this way you can pass for just another student which means, aside from the showers, you can also use the student lounge, the microwave, chill and watch the TV if there is one (usually is), the cafeteria, the library, or even crash a class or two.
(note: Even an obvious non-student can use the cafeteria and library)
Best of all you can usually use (drum roll.......) THE COMPUTER LAB!!! Which means free internet all day long! Note, not all colleges let non-students use the comp lab (some require a student ID) but many do.
Posted August 04 2005 - 02:48 PM
Posted August 04 2005 - 02:51 PM
Posted August 04 2005 - 02:57 PM
Aside from the info I already gave under "RESOURCES" (scroll up) there's:
Resturants/fast food places: Alot of resturants, fast food places, doughnut shops, bagel places, bakeries, and pizza parlors have food left over at the end of the night that they were going to throw away.
If you get there close to closing you can usually score.
Doughnut and bagel places throw out their entire inventory at the end of the night. If you get there right about closing time you can usually get whatever you want.
Hit the resturauants right before closing and ask if you can help then clean up in exchange for a meal.
Fast food places that premake and pre-pakage their food (like Mcdonalds) have to throw it all away every few hours.
Go inside, pick out a cashier who looks cool and ask when they're going to dump the next batch.
Or hangout outside, figure out where the employees take their smoke breaks (look for the cigarrette butts) and ask the next person who comes out if you can grab some food before they throw it away.
Pizza places almost always have some pizzas left over at the end of the night. Get there about closing time, ask a cashier, or catch someone outside. You can also offer to help them clean up in exchange for food.
Pizza places, for some reason, seem to hire alot of heads and laid back people, mostly kids. I've always done especially well at these places (the smaller. privately owned shops as opposed to the franchises).
Natural food stores and co-ops: alot of these places go out of their way to hire counter-culture folks (Although at some places it's a facade. There's a chain here in cali that advises all new employees to dress "hippyish" for the sake of the stores image). Co-ops especially are usually staffed by hippys, ie, people who won't be freaked out by you or your lifestyle. alot of them have probably been on the road themselves or are planning to be.
These can be good places to score dented can goods, damaged pakages of food, or bruised vegatables and fruit. Plus you'll probably meet some cool people.
Posted August 05 2005 - 08:00 AM
Posted August 05 2005 - 11:41 AM
Dumpster Diving: If you get to any of the food places I mentioned after closing you can always dumpster dive.
For health reasons (and these days for legal reasons) I'd only recomend this as a last resort, but it'll do in a pinch.
Some places, some natural food stores and co-ops, purposely set any left over food off to the side near the back door specifically for homeless people. It's worth checking out.
Leftovers from MacDonalds are always prepakaged and stuffed in their own garbage bag so if you find a McD's that doesn't use a compacter or lock their dumpster the food's about as safe as it would be if you bought it at the counter (check for warmth).
Bagel shop and bakery throw aways can be reasonably safe too, depending on how their disposed of.
Alot of places lock their dumpsters or use trash compacters these days so you're better off getting to the resturants before closing.
Living off the Land: This requries an education, but it's worth it if you have the time. For anybody who's interested in learning how I'd recomend any of Tom Browns books (think he's got a website too).
Even if you have the education foraging for food is pretty time consuming, not very practical for some one who's travelling and isn't familiar with the area, but it can come in handy none the less.
Fishing always requires a licensce. You can get away without one if you're sly, but for the most part in most places it's not all that pracical.
Orchards and Farms: I've raided orchards (orange, peach, grapefruit, lemon, you name it) and never had a problem. You can get by on fruit for a few days and be Ok, it's actually supposed to be pretty good for you.
Farms are a little different. Growers take it a little more personally when you tramp through their crop on your way to pull some of it out of the ground than when walk between their trees and pluck something that was ready to fall on the ground anyway (easier to hide in an orchard too).
Posted August 05 2005 - 12:20 PM
Go into any large pet store, into the fish aquarium department -- read the print on the back of the packages for tablets to drop into the aquarium for various fish ailments like Fin and Tail Rot and you should find some of them are just tablets of penicillin, erythromycin and tetracycline. Take a handful like M&M's after evening with said sex workers and all should be well.
Never fuck street whores. If you should catch the clap from one of them, your respiratory system will not work so well for your long journey to no where.
Posted August 05 2005 - 12:25 PM
Posted August 06 2005 - 03:04 PM
IV CHEAP FOOD: Probably the best staple you can carry with you is rice. It's easy to make, you can carry enough of it for several meals without adding too much weight to your pack (I forget what the weight to serving ratio is but it's very low) you can mix it with just about anything, and it's cheap.
Ramen is great travelling food too for most of the same reasons rice is (light, easy to make, mixes with anything), plus it's more nutricious by itself (in a pinch you can eat it raw). I see it on sale for about 10 cents a pack all the time.
Instant coffee or bulk tea will save you alot of $, plus it will save you from having to hunt for a coffee shop in the morning (you can get wired on instant for about 10 cents or less as opposed to the $2 you'd spend at Starbucks).
Having your own one burner stove is a big help as far as convience and keeping the cost of food down. If you look around at thrift stores, garage sales, or flea markets you can usually score one pretty cheap, pretty quick.
Or you can make your own;
(This from TrippinTBM): "Here's a link to a site that teaches you how to make a very simple alcohol stove, I made one and works great:"
Nothing like waking up in the morning and having your coffee right there without having to leave the woods.
Anytime I get to a town I check the phonebook to see if they have a "Grocery Outlet" or a "food 4 Less". You can gat some great deals on the essentials in these places; food, shampoo, suntan lotion, batteries, coffee/tea, etc.)
I also carry "club cards" to every major grocery store here in California. Saves alot of $.
I can usually get by on the road pretty easy for $5 a day or less (including tabacco).
Posted August 06 2005 - 06:07 PM
Like I keep saying, colleges are your best bet for free showers and alot of other things (see section on Colleges above).
Public campgrounds: most of these have coin operated showers. It'll take you about $1.50 for a good one. Technicaly, these showers are supposed to be for registired campers but I've used them a bunch of times without a problem.
Trailer parks: alot of these have a shower building. It's best to be low profile when using these (stash most of your stuff somewhere and just bring what you need to clean up).
Public swimming pools and tennis courts: Most of these charge anywhere from free to $4.50. Sometimes you can sneak in when it's crowded.
Homeless resource/recreation centers: (see section on Resources above).
Churches: Some churches have a shower they'll let you use. Go to the church office during business hours (usually before 4:00 pm) and ask.
One thing I always have with me is a hose with a shower head. The kind I use is rubber and plastic and has a rubber attachment on one end that fits over most fawcetts. You can pick one up at any hardware store and most drugstores for under $10. they also pop up at thrift stores pretty often.
With one of these you can go into any gas station bathroom and take a full on shower (best to do it late at night when business is slow, and make sure there's a drain in the middle of the floor.) Don't try this in places that have the restroom inside the store (duh).
Just about any fawcett that's situated somewhere where you won't be seen will do (also, carry a pair of pliars of multi-tool so you can turn the fawcett on if the knob's missing).
Or just put your shorts or bathing suit on and do it it plain sight. Sometimes cops will give you a hard time about it but I've never actually been ticketed for it.
Another trick that works pretty well: Look for anyplace that has a sprinkling system (wooded parks, along the freeway, along bicycle paths) wait for the sprinklers to come on and, if they're the type that ratches back and forth, take a stick r twig and jam the rotation mechanism.
That way you can point the stream anywhere you like. If you can direct it towards a patch of woods or brush where you can get out of sight--there you go.
Of course there's lakes, rivers, streams, creeks...sadly, most of these are pretty polluted these days (here in cali at least) from improper septic caused by too much development too fast, or by runoff from irragition and industry.
My attitude is "fuck it, I'll take my chances" but I'm not sure how wise this is. I've never gotten sick but I've known people who have.
In any case if you decide to take a dip it's a good idea not to let any of the water get in your mouth. If you can try to get some idea about where the waters coming from and what kind of terrain it has to travel through.
Generally if there's a designated area for people to swim, the waters probably pretty safe.
Posted August 06 2005 - 06:10 PM
[quote name='MamaTheLama']Make photocopies of your ID's and leave the copies with someone that'll mail 'em to you if you need them. I can't count how many road people I've come across in my work that were literally stuck on the road long past when they wanted to be simply for lack of idntification (it geets stolen and lost frequently out there).[/QUOTE
Posted August 06 2005 - 07:25 PM
Posted August 06 2005 - 07:49 PM
Posted August 07 2005 - 05:25 PM
Showers can be attained for free in State Campgrounds in Michigan (not sure about other states). If you aren't camping there, sneak in. None of the campgrounds I've ever been to were coin operated, it's just a regular stall in the bathrooms, since they figure everyone there is a paying camper.
Actually, my last trip I just took some soap (biodegradable camp soap, cheap and is soap for everything: body, hair, dishes, laundry) and waded into a lake. Not a hot shower, but you get clean, and your clothes as well. Had to do it because I was backpacking, but it's about as pleasurable as a shower, because of the scenery, the solitude, the Nature. That's the whole point right? Beats a grimy shower stall.
The world is not a black and white place... It's green and blue
Posted August 07 2005 - 08:19 PM