How To Live on the Road With No Money (8 Tips)

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Leaving a routine and stable life for a nomadic lifestyle is an adventure only a few are willing to go on. The uncertainty in living a life on the road multiplies when you have no money to start your journey. However, some tips will help you live on the road if you don’t have any money.

Here are 8 tips for living on the road with no money:

  1. Look for places that offer free meals or samples.
  2. Look for outlets that offer free or inexpensive clothes.
  3. Use public bathrooms and keep yourself clean.
  4. Sleep in public places.
  5. Start working remotely.
  6. Look for cash-in-hand work jobs.
  7. Hold a sign and ask for money.
  8. Spend money only on the necessary things.

Living on the road can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re short on cash. In this article, we’ll have a detailed look at the pointer that will come in handy while you’re on the road.

1. Look for Places That Offer Free Meals or Samples

The priority, while on the road, should be to find food. Since you are financially constrained, look for places that offer free meals or samples. If you’re traveling to an unknown place, you can surf the internet or ask people around to find food outlets that offer samples of their food.

If you’re unsuccessful, ask people about soup kitchens or other charitable and outreach programs that donate food to needy people.

You can also visit a religious facility to see if they can help you in any way. Moreover, visiting a farmer’s market after working hours can also help you get something to eat. Usually, they have a lot of unsold produce and will be happy to give the food instead of throwing it away.

If none of the above tips work, you can go near restaurants and hotels for a dumpster drive. Restaurants, hotels, and stores often throw out perfectly healthy food that can fill your stomach. 

Sometimes, due to stocking issues, stores like Walmart discard food items before the expiration date, so you can also pay a visit to their dumplings sites.

However, if you find food in a dumpster that you’re not sure is healthy, don’t eat it. The last thing you would want is to get sick on the road with no money. Moreover, don’t trespass on private properties searching for dumpsters if you don’t want any trouble with the police.

However, if you find more food than you need, use it sensibly and store it for the future. The unpredictability of living on the road could mean that you don’t find anything for the next few days and want to be ready for such scenarios.

2. Look for Outlets That Offer Free or Inexpensive Clothes

Another important thing on your checklist should be to look for outlets that offer free or affordable garments. 

You can search for websites that list charitable organizations in the area that give away free clothes. This website looks into detail at some of the other websites and brands that can help you get free clothes.

The places mentioned above where you can find free food are also viable places to find clothes.

You’ll want to remember to get clothes that are suitable for the weather and climate. If the area is in a colder climate, get some jackets, coats, and hats. On the other hand, it would be best to get t-shirts and light clothes if it’s a warmer season. 

Always have a blanket and a cushion to help you sleep.

3. Use Public Bathrooms To Keep Yourself Clean

Public bathrooms are also an important place to look for while you’re on the road. These bathrooms have running water, soap, and they provide you privacy to relieve and clean yourself. Some bathroom spaces have showers as well. 

If you find a bathroom with a shower, use it to wash and change your clothes.

You’ll want to keep up your appearance and stay clean, which will decrease the chances of you getting sick. Moreover, although it is a sad reality, some people will interact and help you based on what clothes you’re wearing and how tidy you are. 

Another essential thing to remember is to wash your clothes every time you find an opportunity. You don’t want to wear the same stinky clothes for weeks.  

You can use the bathrooms of public gyms and schools to clean your clothes. Some gyms give their customers free trials of the facilities. You can use these chances to wash yourself and your belongings.

The public shelter is another place that you can check to wash your clothes. Moreover, if you have a little change on you, you can use coin-based washing and drying machines.

Regarding the cleaning aspect, baking soda is one thing that will come in very handy. You can use it to clean yourself and your dirty clothes.

More info: Showering on the road - full guide

4. Sleep in Public Places

Finding a safe place to sleep is a pressing issue when you’re living on the road, as there are more chances of you getting mugged while you’re sleeping. 

That is why it will be best if you choose a public place to sleep. Sleeping in a public place will give more of a sense of security because you can rely on other people to help you when you’re in danger.

Rest areas and campgrounds are places that can allow you to park your cars and rest for a few hours. However, these might not be free and might not allow you to park for a whole night’s sleep.

Other places include truck stops and retailers that are open for 24 hours. You might have to ask for permission to stay on their property.

Although federal law allows you to sleep in your cars, some cities with local ordinances prohibit you from spending a night in your car at a rest area. That is why it is crucial to ensure that area does not have such laws.

However, many rest areas on the interstate highways will allow you to park for a few hours at best. They might say something if you’re there past 24 hours. The attendants that keep track of people on the property only are on-site for 10-12 hours during the day, if it’s not a terribly busy area.

If you show up to a rest area around bedtime, you could technically sleep in your vehicle on the property, as long as you are gone by sometime in the early morning. 

If you are in a city that makes it illegal to sleep in your car and don’t have any money to rent a hotel, you can live in a local shelter. The shelters have different facilities that you can use for free.

However, many people come and live and shelters, so you should remain alert and keep your belongings close to you.

Lastly, don’t forget to lock your vehicle whether you’re sleeping in it or not. 

5. Start Working Remotely

When you’re on the road and don’t have any money, you’ll want to start looking for ways to earn some cash because you don’t want to stretch your luck and live without money for a longer duration.

One feasible way to earn money on the road is to start working remotely as a freelancer. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr provide you with several opportunities to get paid by giving services online.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the jobs you can do online.

Content Writing

You will find hundreds of opportunities on freelancing websites to write content for different companies, within several genres or niches. You can choose your favorite genre to write something about.

Furthermore, with the rapid increase in digitalization in the business space, companies hire freelance writers to increase their digital footprint and outreach. These are temporary jobs where you may have to write about the company’s products or review other items.

You can also do content writing for people who have a website that provides information related to a particular niche. They can hire you to write blogs and articles.

Another viable option to earn money remotely is to start a profitable blog. Although this option will not help you make a massive amount of money right away, you can start this as a sidekick until it grows enough to provide you a stable income.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is another job that doesn’t require special skills and can help you earn money. The likely job specification of a virtual assistant is to schedule meetings and calls, send out an email, or handle media accounts.

Virtual assistants might also need to store and update data files online. However, even with minimal know-how of the Microsoft Office software, you will be able to handle the work efficiently.

Transcription and Proofreading 

You can also make money online by transcribing and proofreading for other people.

Transcribing is the process of turning verbal speech into written form. People hire transcribers to document the details of a youtube video, a movie, or an important meeting. You don’t need to be a writer to become a transcriber. If you can listen carefully and write down the said words, you will be good to go.

On the other hand, proofreading is going through a document to look for grammatical or spelling mistakes. You don’t have to be proficient in English to do this job. Even a limited understanding of grammar can help you to succeed. But to make any real money, you should be more than proficient in English grammar and spelling.

In essence, you need to edit and write like a native English speaker to succeed. Otherwise, you won’t have a job very long.

More info: 
Van life how to make money on the road - 40+ ideas
How to Make Money on the Road Living in a Skoolie
Or check the Finance section of our Van life resource page.

6. Look for Cash-in-Hand Work Jobs

If you don’t have a working laptop or a reliable internet connection to provide online services, you can look for cash-in-hand work jobs.

The good thing about these jobs is that you do not need any paperwork to start working. The employer can have another set of hands to complete their work, and you will have the chance to earn some extra cash on the road.

Cash-in-hand work consists of menial and repetitive jobs like laboring and picking fruit, but these jobs don’t require you to have a particular skill set. You can show up, do what the employer tells you and take your payment.

However, there are also some risks with the jobs that require no paperwork. There could be a situation where you complete the work and keep your end of the bargain, but your employer refuses to pay you at the end of the day. 

Since you didn’t sign any contract, you can’t sue the employer for the fraud.

That is why it is essential to get involved with these businesses with a person that seems trustworthy and who will keep their word.

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7. Hold a Sign and Ask for Money

If the solutions mentioned above don’t work for you and you are in desperate need of some money, you can hold a sign and ask for money from other people. In the U.S, you are within your rights to ask for money from other people. You can place the sign on your car with a container while you’re off to relieve or clean yourself.

You can also earn some money by showcasing your skills. If you can sing or dance, you can hold a sign that says you can perform for people for some cash. 

8. Spend Money Only on the Necessary Things

While you’re living on the road, you have to be extra careful when you’re spending money. Only spend money on the things that you will need during the trip.

Some essential things that you might need include:

  • Water Bottles
  • First Aid
  • Torch
  • Soap
  • Tools to repair your vehicle.

It will also be good to carry some light snacks for the road. If you’re traveling to an unknown place where you’re not sure about where the local stores are, or when you’re traveling between states, these snacks might keep you from getting hungry. 

It will be best to have some extra tires in case the tires get a hole and lose air.

Lastly, always save some money for any unforeseen circumstances. Since you’re on the road, you will be on your own if you get stuck.


Living on the road with no money will not be easy at first. However, there are ways you can navigate such a situation successfully.

The trick is to use all the resources and skills you have and spend within the resources.

Lastly, ensure that you have a proper license and registration for your vehicle and cooperate with law enforcement when they stop you.

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