For the first few days, I parked about 20 minutes away in a friend's driveway. Work started daily at 7am, so I got up at 6:00 every morning, got ready inside my van, headed out by 6:30, and arrived at the job 10 minutes early. I definitely felt like part of the busy-city job-commute, jumping on the freeway every morning with the intense mad-morning traffic rush. Driving to work was always this fast blur of red brake-lights, tail-lights, speed-racers, and congestion. Driving in AM-hour work-traffic like that is not my thing. I am much more of a country mouse than a city mouse. So after 3 days of the Tampa workforce commute, I decided to change my routine. For my last 3 days of work, I just kept my van parked in the lot where I was working. That was just wonderful, because it was a shared business lot that contained a busy supermarket, so there were other cars parked there all night as well. Nobody bothered me or my van a bit, and I didn't even change parking spots because I was just so lazy and tired when I got out work. Parking there allowed me to sleep in half an hour later each morning, still get ready inside my van, and then just walk only 30 seconds to get into work.
Every night before I went to bed, I made sure to set out everything I needed for the next morning. That made getting ready much easier each morning since I'm always a little sluggish when I first wake up. I have a tendency to hit snooze several times before getting out of bed (using the alarm feature on my iPhone) if it is still dark outside ...
I keep all my clothes folded neatly inside plastic totes so they don't end up all wrinkly. I laid out the clothes that I wanted to wear the next day, and I put my vitamins in a little plastic baggie to take to work with me. If I needed to make a lunch for the next day, I made it the night before. I also made sure that I had my laundry done ahead of time and that I had something in my van to eat for breakfast. I emptied out my portable urinal so it wouldn't be full when I tried to use it in the morning while half asleep, and I made sure that I had enough water for the next morning: to drink, rinse out my cereal bowl, brush my teeth, and things like that. Usually I've got at least one extra jug full of water, but I double-checked at night, just in case. It is no fun to run behind in the morning or make things harder for yourself when there is no need for that. Just plan ahead. The place I worked this week was right next to a supermarket, which was wonderful. It was easy for me to re-fill my gallon water jugs in the evening for only 30 cents each.
Going to the Bathroom:
When I wake up, I need to go to the bathroom. Doesn't everyone? For going #1, I use a Lady J (like a funnel for a woman to easily pee into a bottle) and the complementary portable urinal (both of these gadgets are essential for me, I use them all the time!!). Even if I am parked outside of a 24-hour Walmart, I prefer to just pee inside my van, using my Lady J and my leak-proof bottle. For going #2, I've got a coffee can & plastic bags inside my van (just dispose of them in public garbage cans), but I hardly ever use that method. I'd rather sit on a toilet, so when it comes to going #2, I look for a bathroom. If I am parked outside of a Walmart or truck-stop, I just go inside and use the bathroom first thing in the morning. For the first 3 days of this work week, when I woke up parked in my friend's driveway, I used the toilet that is hooked upto sewer in his backyard. For the last 3 days of work, when I was parked in the job's parking lot, I just waited until I actually went into work and used the bathroom there. No biggie. You never really have to worry about it that much. Just get yourself a pee bottle and park somewhere where a public bathroom is pretty close nearby. When you've gotta go, you've gotta go, and something will come up. There are bathrooms (and bushes) everywhere. Just keep toilet paper inside your van :)
For different options of where to get showers, first check out this earlier posting where I gave various possibilities. My favorite places to shower are at community swimming pools/aquatic centers, state or city parks, and friend's houses. If you've got a long-term job or are staying in one place for awhile, a fitness-center or gym is a terrific shower option.
This week, I washed my hair 3 times, but only showered twice. The first time I showered, I used a friend's house. The second time I showered, I used a solar-shower in my friend's backyard. The next time I desperately needed a shower (but one wasn't readily accessible), I simply washed my hair in the bathroom sink at the place I was working. The owner was extremely nice about it, he was more than willing to let me clean up in there (I asked first) :)
Solar showers are the best shower option, though, in my opinion. I love solar showers because showering outdoors is the most refreshing feeling ever (on a warm day), and using the sun to heat up your water is free, environmentally friendly, and efficient.
If you don't have time to wait for the sun to heat up your solar shower (or if it is a cloudy day), you can just fill up your solar shower with hot water from a sink in a bathroom somewhere. Fast-food restaurant bathrooms work well because the bathrooms are usually private, with only one door that you can lock. Put the solar shower in a backpack, go into a bathroom, and fill er up (as much as you can)!
I actually filled up our solar shower in a Wendy's bathroom the other day and took a shower inside my van. I bought an inflatable kid's pool (4 feet across) at Walmart, and it fits perfectly on the floor inside my van. I hung the solar shower on the bar for the pop-top, sat down in the kiddie pool, and showered. It worked great! :) Then I just emptied the pool out into a nearby patch of grass.
My morning getting-ready routine:
Hit snooze a few times, get out of bed, turn on my bright little LED lantern, pop in my contacts, wipe my face off with some witch hazel on a cotton ball, eat a chocolate calcium chew, pee into my portable urinal, wash my hands with an antibacterial wet-wipe, eat a bowl of cereal (with semi-warm soy milk), swish some water around in my bowl to rinse it (dump the water on the ground outside the van), dry out the bowl and spoon with my dish-towel, get dressed, drink some water, take a couple vitamins, brush my hair, brush my teeth, rinse out my mouth with water, spit it on the ground outside the van, put my phone in its holster on my hip pocket, put my ID in my back pocket, slip on my shoes, grab my key, lock up the van, and head out to work for the day.
It really is as easy as 123. There is a simple solution for just about everything, you just need to be optimistic, flexible, and open-minded. I tend to rough it a little bit, but it works well for me, and I have fun doing it. That is the most important thing. Just to have fun. If you aren't enjoying what you are doing, then perhaps you should be doing something else, or you should try to do what you are doing a little bit differently. Trial and error is how we all learn, and eventually you will get down the routine that works best for you.