A hobo guide post

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello everyone, wanted to write this out, for the entertainment and possible education of the members here..

This is just a short guide on how to live without a home, field tested and distilled by myself..

Without further ado:

Gear i would suggest:

.. i once got told by a homele
ss man that the only gear you really need is a gallon jug of water, a pair of gloves and some dirty clothes.

But you would do better with

• Backpack
• Sleeping bag.. or blanket, or sheet dependent on season/weather
• Tarp or plastic drop cloth
• P-38 can opener
• Multitool (i use a victorinox tinker, some people like the plier-multitools)
• Knife / Box cutter or both
• Gloves
• Gallon jug of water
• Lots of socks and underwear (3+ pairs each)
• Napkins / tissues
• dr. Bronners soap
• Toothbrush & toothpaste
• 1 or 2 pairs of pants
• Water resistant shell jacket
• Other jacket (i use denim)
• 3-4 thinner shirts (flannel, a white dress shirt, 2-3 t shirts for instance)
• First aid kit with lots of 4x4 gauze and neosporin, alcohol
• Triangle bandage
• Hemp string
• Paracord
• Beanie (skullcap)
• Bandana
• Headlamp
• Compass
• Map of your current area
• Markers, i like king size sharpies
• Gorilla tape
• Charger cords and wall brick
• Cell phone / tablet / laptop (something you can use wifi on)
• Burner phone (Flip phone, super durable, battery lasts forever)
• Headphones
• Quality boots / shoes
• Deodorant
• Dental floss and sewing needles for repairs
• Small pouch of some sort
• Spoon/fork/spork (i find a new plastic one and reuse it)
• Brightly colored lighters (easy to find in your pack)
• Hot hands hand warmers
• Padlock.. i keep a lock tied to a piece of paracord as a defense tool
• Baby powder in a travel size

Hobby gear

I like to carry a light suspension trainer to do rows and chin ups. Mine is a cheap one from Gaiam

Harmonica / any other instrument thats not huge, even guitars are ok to travel with, use the case to store some of your gear. Some guitars are smaller than others. Some people carry trumpets, saxaphones, or other horns with them.

Hand gripper, gotta stay strong

Art supplies of your choice.. i like the fat sharpies in a few different colors.. useful for hitchhiking signs too

Books

Notes (gear).

When choosing a backpack try to avoid new "midrange" price products, my current pack is a desert storm era army pack from the surplus, its tough as nails. About 30L. A simple jansport style school bag is good too. Any pack from a thrift store should do. I once made the mistake of buying a $100 Ogio pack from Target and it was a terrible purchase, once again avoid midrange.. amazon has some good bags for about $20 each.

Ive had the best luck with coleman sleeping bags, mine is a mildew resistant polyester filled bag. I bought it from a thrift store when i got to Utah for 10 dollars. If you move to a new area and your current bag isnt warm enough try to get a bag liner from a surplus or a new bag from a thrift store in your area. I wouldnt skimp on the warmth of your bag..

Sometimes i will carry a small blanket in my back instead of lugging the coleman bag around. Ive had good nights sleep with nothing but an unfitted bed sheet before, but that was in the desert (vegas). It is very area dependent.

I use a $4 headlamp from harbor freight and it works well enough for me.

Try to get some tough gloves. You can find some at most dollar stores. The cotton kind with blue dots are especially useful. Right now my gloves are nitrile coated on the palm side, $1 price tag.

Dr. Bronners is used for laundry, showering, handwashing, as toothpaste. I think you can get away with using a generic brand shampoo for all your washing needs, just dont try brushing your teeth with that stuff

The travel toothbrushes and travel sized toothpaste are really useful and can be found together in a pack in most dollar stores or at target in the travel toilettries section for cheap. I like the kind where the toothbrush breaks down into 2 pieces. You can also buy a regular toothbrush and cut it down to size.

I use baby powder in my shoes and sometimes on my person after showering/bathing to stay fresh and dry when the weather is not good. Dont skip this one

Using dental floss for sewing is a great trick to repair your pack, clothes, sleeping bag and other gear. That stuff is tougher than any string you will buy

I will make things out of gorilla tape, like palm guards, small pouches. You can also apply direct pressure to bleeding wounds by tightly taping napkins or 4x4 gauze pads. If this doesnt stop bleeding (in the case of a major bleed) try a tourniquet made from your triangle bandage and a ballpoint pen. Or you can splurge on a real tourniquet and easily save a life including your own. Google the skill of "bleeding control and shock management" before heading out.

You can use the hemp string to hang up a tarp shelter, make trip wire, get creative with possibke uses.

Knives are awesome. I use a swiss army knife every day. I carry another small single blade pocket knife and sometimes a box cutter too.

I carry a plastic spoon in my bag. Will get a metal spork one day though.

Picking an area. Finding work / money, (looking for love) socialization

If you are travelling try to pick relatively safe areas, environment is everything when sleeping rough. I hated sleeping outside in (dangerous, scummy) El Cajon, Ca for instance but most areas in utah and vegas have been alright. Trust your instinct, if you feel in your gut that you should leave an area, pack up, get out..

My favorite places to sleep rough are behind bushes, power boxes, in parks, baseball dugouts, and wooded areas near town. Sometimes ill hop a fence onto state owned "no trespassing" land. Try to stay at least slightly hidden. Be nice to cops if they rouse you. I'd rather be roused by the police any night than by some lunatic. Keep that in mind when looking for a spot.

If you dont like your current area you can hitchhike or jump on a greyhound bus for very little money. If you have no money try to find a temp job in a good area for a few days / weeks to stack up. Some temp agencies pay you same day. I just got a job at Dennys and worked for 16 hours before quitting and moving towns again, just dont include that on your resume. Its pretty easy to get a low paying job in food service or similar, go through a weeks worth or training, and then respectfully quit after making a few hundred dollars. I dont suggest being a lousy employee during your stay, however the personal satisfaction i get from quitting a job after a few days of work is pretty cool stuff honestly. Just say "i quit, when do i get paid?" in a respectful manner. Most of the crappier jobs in the US have a high turnover rate anyway.

You can find lots of super temporary jobs in the "gig" section of craigslist, just email around.

If youre really lucky you'll find a job that puts you up in a place for your stay there. This is actually a good way to establish yourself in a town if you want to quit travelling and rest for a bit. I actually have a job lined up with a group home taking care of disabled individuals that will provide me lodging, I'll probabky stay there for at least a few months time and use that job on my resume before making my next move. A lot of employers value employees who are willing to relocate and live in during their employment, take a look at "work camping" some time.

Talking to people is going to be your best survival tactic while living out. You get a lot better at the art of conversation as a vagabond. This is a skill that can be improved on. "How to win friends and influence people" is a great resource for getting good at finding friends/work/lovers (as temporary as they may be). Ive honestly had more luck with the opposite sex while living as a dirty traveller person than i ever did before while housed up. just be honest about your situation and dont make promises you cant keep. Dont screw people over, practice basic human decency as best you can. Having a good talk game (aka being respectful and talking properly) will take peoples guard down very quickly if you are genuine about it. Be honest.

I keep a flip phone for getting in contact with people i meet. I also have a tablet with facebook which is good too, you can message new contacts and stay in touch over years this way. A 10 minute phone call or uplifting text / facebook message goes a long way in keeping someone as your friend and possible resource for years. Youd be surprised at how many people will want to feed you, give you stuff and let you sleep in their home for a night just because youre a nice and interesting personm that reaches out.

Dont get lonely out there, theres people literally chomping at the bit to have someone to talk to and especiallynbe listened to. Have a genuine interest in other people and watch the world. Approach anxiety goes out the window when youre cold and desperate for human interaction. The guy sitting at the bus stop is probably cool and friendly. He might even know about a job or cheap housing that is available. Ive noticed a lot of people really open up when you are wearing a dirty shirt and carrying a sleeping bag slung around your shoulder. I dont know why.
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Food:

Some towns have programs that hand out free food or meals / meal vouchers. They might be sketchy but a lot of them arent. Ive meet some interesting people in the "soup kitchens" and breadlines. Theres a place in provo utah that serves free food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. These places will vary in quality of food / sketchiness. But its not hard to eat free in the US fortunately. If you want to give back a lot of these places will let you volunteer and still feed you too.

I would avoid fast food because its relatively expensive and usually horrible for you.

You can carry around a small jar of Peanut butter and a pack of tortillas im case you get hungry and cant find food. Its about a $4 investment for 10 or so calorie rich sandwhiches. Tuna pouches are good too, i like starkist flavored pouches because they fit easily into a pack. You can buy cheap produce as needed in most states, this keeps your fiber and vitamin levels up plus eating raw fruits/veggies is an extemely healthful and affordable way to eat between hot meals.

May turn some people off, but Ive found plenty of good meals in dumpsters behind businesses. Grocery stores, bakeries, and pizza chains are especially good places to look through the dumpster for meals. In some cases ive been overwhelmed by the amount of fresh food i was able to find from dumpster diving, more than i was able to carry / eat. Im talking whole pizzas and bags of fresh apples. Just make sure you wear gloves and be discreet. Use a headlamp and a stick with a hook attached to the end. Look up "the art and science of dumpster diving" or pm me and ill send you the pdf. Theres gold in them there cans. I once had a conversation with a homeless man about dumpster diving where he told me that almost everything he had came from dumpsters, clothes, shoes, backpack, etc. Is this post dirty enough for you yet?

There are some pretty good "complete meal" powders out there if you want to drink a shake twice a day and buy / stand in line for a hot meal once per day. You can eat pretty well like that.
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Misc tips

DONT LEAVE TRASH ANYWHERE

• Dont go to the bathroom in obvious areas..
• Brush your teeth a lot
• Dont do any or carry any drugs on you
• Drink a lot of water
• Try to get a few decent meals per day
• Stretch / do joint mobility before and after sleeping
• Dont be a weirdo
• Dont associate with sketchy people or weirdos
• Seriously, avoid weirdos
• Smile a lot, at everyone, even weirdos
• Keep up with your exercise program..
• Have a plan for your day, even its 3 things written down on the back of a receipt
• Have faith in yourself and a higher power if thats your thing
• Get involved in the community somehow, join a church, volunteer..
• Talk to someone new every day if you can, have an actual conversation, connect..
• Stay dry and warm
• Have fun
 

Bret S.

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Any questions please let me know
Wow Jak! Who knew.. unconventional.. takes alot of guts and people skills to live like that, talk about memories for a lifetime. Sounds like you're young, with a great attitude and full of life.

El Cajon does have some scummy areas haha, good luck and stay safe, keep the faith brother! :)

I'm still thinking about a motorcycle road trip with some tent camping in the future, nothing major but maybe an itch I have to scratch, this post is full of good tips.
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Wow Jak! Who knew.. unconventional.. takes alot of guts and people skills to live like that, talk about memories for a lifetime. Sounds like you're young, with a great attitude and full of life.

El Cajon does have some scummy areas haha, good luck and stay safe, keep the faith brother! :)

I'm still thinking about a motorcycle road trip with some tent camping in the future, nothing major but maybe an itch I have to scratch, this post is full of good tips.
Thanks for the kind words, happy easter to you Bret
 

Jacques van der Merwe

Level 3 Valued Member
Wow @Jak Nieuwenhuis - this is by far one of the best posts I've read this year! I'm not familiar with your workout regime but I assume that when you can, you find some Kettlebells etc. in a gym wherever you are at the time? You are an inspiration sir!

Edit: This really puts everything into perspective and shows you that we don't need a lot to lead fulfilling lives.
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Wow @Jak Nieuwenhuis - this is by far one of the best posts I've read this year! I'm not familiar with your workout regime but I assume that when you can, you find some Kettlebells etc. in a gym wherever you are at the time? You are an inspiration sir!

Edit: This really puts everything into perspective and shows you that we don't need a lot to lead fulfilling lives.
I like gettng cheap gym memberships where i can shower and workout. The gym i currently use is awesome and very cheap. I dont like to workout that much unless i can shower afterward so even though i do mostly bodyweight stuff i still workn out in gyms
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
@Jak Nieuwenhuis, I shared your post with my son, who has at times shared your lifestyle and lived out west, often living out of his vehicle. He said, "Hey! That's a lot of good, well-compiled advice. And I like his point about midrange items--don't buy them. You can get specialized gear that's fantastic value or incredible performance, but you lose out by picking the middle. Conversation tips are also true. Would rather get woken by cops than weirdos, and if you just wake up and speak respectfully they'll just tell you to scram and try to get some sleep somewhere else." Also, "I also liked his take on sketchy cities. I agree that Vegas is good, Utah and Nevada you usually can't go wrong with, but the highway desert towns in southeast California are not so good. I once got some poison water from the tap near Barstow or Ludlow, and the place looked pretty stabby. I think there's some places humans just shouldn't live, and those places' residents are the people unwilling to leave."
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
And I like his point about midrange items--don't buy them. You can get specialized gear that's fantastic value or incredible performance, but you lose out by picking the middle.
This is an interesting point you and @Jak Nieuwenhuis bring. I dont usually buy top-of-the-line, I mostly buy mid range. Except for mechanical equipment like my car, that I also use for work, that I prefer top of the line reliability wise.

I understand in your case that mid range might not be a good idea because is heavier and you have to carry it around, and also you dont want it to fail when you need it. But for an average joe, is mid-range a good idea or not?
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
@Jak Nieuwenhuis Do you freight hop? I love freight hopping YouTube videos.
No sir. I dont like breaking the law (besides unlawful camping) or traveling for its own sake that much. i would rather work a temp job for a day or 2 and buy a cheap greyhound ticket with the money.

I do think the train hoppers have an interesting culture that ive certainly borrowed lifestyle tips from

Hitchhiking, i am not opposed to....
 

Bret S.

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
This is an interesting point you and @Jak Nieuwenhuis bring. I dont usually buy top-of-the-line, I mostly buy mid range. Except for mechanical equipment like my car, that I also use for work, that I prefer top of the line reliability wise.
Oscar, my dad told me many years ago when I was buying tools, buy the best you can afford because in the end, you'll spend at least that much replacing sub par tools.. Of course, this was before Harbor Freight came along ROFL some of the cheap crap they sell amazes me with the durability, I'm talking casual use though, for a professional mechanic.. not so much. :)
 

Tirofijo

Level 5 Valued Member
Oscar, my dad told me many years ago when I was buying tools, buy the best you can afford because in the end, you'll spend at least that much replacing sub par tools.. Of course, this was before Harbor Freight came along ROFL some of the cheap crap they sell amazes me with the durability, I'm talking casual use though, for a professional mechanic.. not so much. :)
Adam Savage from Mythbusters has some advice that's often quoted on the internet - buy cheap until you break it or you know what your really need, and then buy the best version you can afford. (paraphrased)
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
This is an interesting point you and @Jak Nieuwenhuis bring. I dont usually buy top-of-the-line, I mostly buy mid range. Except for mechanical equipment like my car, that I also use for work, that I prefer top of the line reliability wise.

I understand in your case that mid range might not be a good idea because is heavier and you have to carry it around, and also you dont want it to fail when you need it. But for an average joe, is mid-range a good idea or not?

If i had been using that $100 target bag for school or non-hobo travel, it probably would have been fine, as an example

But for hobo items i would buy either top of the line items directly from the retailer or cheap items from thrift stores, dollar stored, and places likes amazon or Habor Freight ( which is a great resource for all things hobo, btw)

Durability is king for me right now, and midrange products usually arent the best for that.

Buy as much from the surplus as you can. Some people talk down on military grade supplies but they have served me well and most of the surplus stores are "mom and pop" places that really appreciate your business
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
An interesting discussion of tools and gear. As a musician and a music teacher, I've both followed and given advice about buying musical instruments, and it's always the same - if you can hear the difference, it's worth it. A beginner isn't going to be able to make a multi-thousand-dollar trumpet sound better than a $150 ebay special, but a professional player will. (And they'll sound great on the $150 ebay special, too.)

The idea of buying cheap until you know what you want - basically the same thing. As an adult student who still takes lessons and practices, my approach is similar but I phrase it differently - I don't want my instrument to be the limiting factor in what I can do. For me, that means I have a number of what might be described as "entry level professional" instruments because that's about my playing level.

-S-
 
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