For over two months now I have been living out of a car and travelling round Europe. I bought my Nissan X-trail the day before I drove down to the south of England and boarded a ferry to France. The reason why I bought it? Well, I could lie down fully when the back seats are down meaning I could sleep in my car comfortably.
Fast forward just a few days and I had a lovely camping car with curtains and a blow up bed. This post is all about how I did this and how I am now living in my car.
It was a little bit rushed to be honest as I only had 3 weeks at home after 8 months of travels before I was heading off on my next adventure onto mainland Europe. I had previously thought about buying a campervan but wrote it off due to the expense of fuel and ferries for a campervan. Living in my car would be so much cheaper but my plan was to CouchSurf my way round Europe.
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Then just a few day before I was about to leave, my friend suggested that he might be looking at selling his Nissan X-trail and that the back was big enough to lie fully down. I jumped into action as it needed MOTing soon and I wasn’t going to be bringing it back to the UK for that. The day before I was leaving, the 14 year old car passed it’s MOT and I was good to go.
I managed to find an insurance company who would let me drive for an extended time abroad and I booked my ferry from Dover to Calais. Since I was only allowed back home for 21 days on my travel insurance terms, I had to leave the country on July 15th so there was no time for modifications or even thoughts as to what to pack.
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After spending a night in an Airbnb near Calais I headed over to Orleans to stay with my friend Céline for a few days. Céline is amazing on the sewing machine and kindly helped me make some blinds and curtains for the car for privacy. It makes living in my car so much nicer knowing that it is private.
It is surprising what some Velcro, blackout material and an extendable shower pole can do. It really keeps the daylight and prying eyes out whilst allowing me to transform it back to a normal car by day.
Changing it from a car I was sleeping in to one that I could take passengers meant I could rent out my spare seats when travelling longer journeys. Websites like Blablacars makes this so easy. This would help me pay for fuel and any toll roads.
Next I checked if my blow up bed fitted when the back seats were down. Not only did it fit a single bed but it also fitted a double air bed. I had brought a duvet and pillows from home. It was becoming a proper home. With the addition of an electric cooler box, a stove and plastic plates, I had a fully functioning kitchen.
My plan? Well I didn’t really have a plan. I was just going to drive and see where I ended up. I had a slight plan to head towards Spain but as I didn’t have a time limit, I was happy to take any route.
So what’s in store for me. Well you will have to continue to follow my blog. All I can say is that I have seen some amazing places, met some amazing people and rescued a few animals on the way.
So for now, let me leave you with this video which shows you why my Nissan X-Trail has been the perfect car to live out of and to sleep in.
Would this type of travelling appeal to you? What’s the best road trip that you have taken? What are your car living essentials? And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog (It’s free) to follow my adventures and get travel tips to your inbox fortnightly.
Hi did you feel safe with your windows open in your car when sleeping? I love your inspiring adventures!
Hey Kiran, Thanks for your kind words. I only had the window open slightly but actually i would recommend the wind protectors for your windows, you know the ones that give you a slight lip at the top to stop the wind from coming in when you drive. This makes it harder for fingers to get in and also protect you from the rain. If you don’t know what I mean then I can send you a link but you stick them round the frame of your car window. I have these now on my van.
Did you stay in campsites around Europe ? Or did you find places to park/stay for free ?
I didn’t stay in any campsites. I just found places to park for free either in rural areas or carparks which allow overnight parking. The great thing about being in the car is that no one suspects you are sleeping in it so you can be off the radar a lot more.
This must have been a unique travel experience. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips! How many days did this road trip take, Kathy?
I am actually still doing it and I am 4 months in now 🙂
This is incredible what you did with this car. It looks so cozy in the back. Hiring out your front seat on Bla Bla car is genius too! Not only are you using it to save on accommodation and travel but also to make some money. Such a unique idea, I should pay more attention to your advice!
This is so cool! I would love to do something like this. But first I gotta learn to drive lol
So I just did a 30 day trip around the United States and did (almost) the same thing! Only thing was that the back of my SUV was full so I bought a $50 tent at Wal-Mart that popped up in about 1 minute!! In there I put a blow up mattress that I could inflate using my converter for the car! I loved it honestly!! Great Post!
I also have a tent for moments where I can put it up safely and sleep in it as a lone female. It just gives me a little bit more room. However the car is still really comfortable. A pop up tent is a dream as long as it is easy to pop back down again 🙂