PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: Practical advice on how to be homeless and live in your car.
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PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.

Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) hotmail.com. Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

Practical advice on how to be homeless and live in your car.

Practical advise from someone who's lived in a car long-term.

Locations:

Most Wal-Marts let you park overnight for free
Rest stops can be good, especially if there is security provided
Most National Forests (grasslands, etc.) and Bureau of Land Management properties allow free camping for up to 2 weeks (but no one actually checks..)
Church parking lots are usually good
Some hotels, especially along the interstate, won't notice if you park overnight. However, some will kick you out at 3 am so it's a craps shoot.
Find a place at least an hour before sundown so you're not driving around at night
Sleeping in nicer residential neighborhoods will get the cops called on you. Sleeping in bad residential neighborhoods will get you robbed.
Bum a place from friends. Join Couchsurfing.org and set your status to "Traveling at the moment."
Become a member of a gym. Many are open 24 hours per day and you can shower and relax and keep in shape.

Hygiene:

Staying clean is very important. Trust me on this. People trust you more when you're clean and you'll have an easier time spinning yourself as "adventurous" rather than "destitute." More on this later.
If you can find a restroom with a lock, you can take a fairly complete bath with a washcloth and a sink.
If you can't actually bathe, do a whore's bath once a day. Get some hand sanitizer, the gel with high alcohol content, and rub yourself down, especially in the stinky areas. It won't get you clean per se and the alcohol will dry out your skin, but it'll disinfect you and kill all the smell-causing microorganisms. Follow this with deodorant and baby powder.
The easiest way to LOOK clean and safe is to keep your hair and beard trimmed. The simplest and cheapest way to do this is to get some inexpensive hair clippers and clip it short once or twice a week.
Dark clothes hide stains. If you can't wash clothes regularly, turn them inside out and place them in direct sunlight to inhibit funk and get that nice outdoorsy smell.
Avoid cologne! Masking odors is the enemy. You want to have as neutral a smell as possible. Unkept hair and powerful body odor make it much more difficult to get help from people.
Baby wipes are awesome.

Socializing:

Libraries! Internet! Search for a job and read books! Keep your mind occupied and hone your intelligence.
Parks, especially dog parks, are great places for meeting people
If you find yourself in a hobo camp, like the ones that crop up in national forests and BLM camp sites, if you can make a hot cup of coffee you will have both friends and (more importantly) people to watch your back. It's as simple as Wal-Mart-->camp stove-->stovetop coffee maker. Take creamers and sugar from gas stations and the like. Oh yeah, it doesn't hurt to have 5-10 gallons of water in your car, especially if you're away from a city.
If you maintain yourself, and you look clean and safe, you'll have an easy time convincing people that you're adventurous rather than destitute. Adventurous gets you much farther than destitute, because secretly (or not so secretly) a lot of people our age want exactly what you have--The freedom of the road, no responsibility, time to write and reflect, no obligations, nothing but days and weeks to focus on yourself. Being destitute might get you a dollar or a cup of coffee. Being adventurous might get you in a pretty girl's bed, or better yet, a hot shower..
Go to where the young people are and mix it up once in a while. You'll fit right in as long as you stay clean and pretty. The easiest way back into the game is through a social network, so work on building a strong one.
Always, always be on the bounce. Keep an eye peeled for opportunities. Don't let the massive chasm of unencumbered time overwhelm you. Have a project for EVERY SINGLE DAY. Make a plan and stay clean, because as fun as it is to tramp around for a while, you don't want to do this forever.

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