Now I’m sure that we can agree that most of us wouldn’t CHOOSE to be homeless; however, there are a surprising amount of homeless survival tips out there for how to survive on the streets.
This information will be crucial once SHTF, or if you do find yourself homeless one day due to natural disaster, financial ruin and lack of friends/family ties.
Note: Keep in mind that even if you never have the misfortune of becoming homeless, you’re still at a few disadvantages by living in an urban area when SHTF. Read our blog here to discover how you can cope (and survive) despite the setbacks.
Homeless people have learned a lot of crucial information about how to survive in a broken world and with limited handouts; that’s why it’s imperative we learn from them to see how they’re able to survive.
I’m always trying to prepare for any/every survival situation out there just in case. That’s why I want to show you these…
16 Homeless Survival Tips For How To Survive On The Streets
Now before I show you these tips, it’s important for you to get in the mindset of a homeless person by watching the video below. It shows the experiences of two young men who voluntarily chose to be homeless for a day to see what it was really like. Take a look:
1 – Newspaper Is Your Friend
Homeless people use newspaper for a multitude of purposes in order to survive. Here are a few examples:
- Bedding: There’s a reason why this use is so prevalent among homeless people – newspaper can act as a sheet to cover you when you’re sleeping, and a thick amount of newspaper can act as a mattress. You can even stuff an old pillowcase with newspaper for a soft (albeit crunchy) pillow.
- Insulation: The homeless often stuff their jackets and clothing with newspaper in order to insulate themselves from the cold. They can also insulate their shelter (in some situations) with newspaper in order to provide a little extra heat.
- Kindling: Newspaper can be used as kindling if you need to warm your hands from the cold.
- Education: We can’t forget the importance of education, even if you’re living on the streets. Reading the newspaper will give you essential information as to what’s going on in the world, so you can be better prepared for what’s about to happen.
2 – Learn To Sleep On The Streets
Sleeping on the streets is a whole lot harder than we’d like to think. That’s because sleeping out there leaves you vulnerable to a whole lot of extra factors, such as city noises, freezing temperatures, passersby, and even theft.
Here’s a few ways that many homeless people have learned to get some extra shuteye:
- Find A Mattress: Whether it’s blankets, newspaper, cardboard, or some other material, it’s important to find something you can lay your body on in order to insulate you and protect you from the cold, hard pavement (or the sharp rocks and dirt of a city park).
- Find A Friend: Believe it or not, it can be extremely difficult finding another homeless person you can trust when you’re living on the streets. If you have the good fortune of making a friend you can trust, you can sleep next to each other and protect each other if something happens.
- Get Some Earplugs: If you can obtain some earplugs, these can work wonders to drown out the traffic and downtown city noises.
- Find A Sleeping Bag: Homeless people that have found a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, or similar device are in much better shape when sleeping on the streets. These will help keep you warm in freezing temperatures, and also give you an additional hiding spot for your stuff to help prevent theft.
- Find A Shelter: Homeless shelters provide a warm bed for the night, so it’s important to know when they open so you can wait in line. However, the downsides to shelters are that not everyone gets in due to space, and there’s a higher potential for theft, disease, and fights.
- Sleep In An Open Area: One of the dangers of sleeping on the streets is it leaves you susceptible to theft and attack (which is a big reason many choose not to sleep in shelters). However, many have found success sleeping out in the open, where they can clearly see anyone coming from any direction.
3 – Remain Hopeful
This is perhaps the hardest thing to master when you’re homeless, as it’s incredibly easy to become filled with rage, desperation, and depression when you’re depending on handouts and sleeping on the street. However, hope and a positive outlook can be the very thing that gets you through it.
One way is to recognize your own innate resources. Whether you’re a CEO or you’re a high school drop-out, each of us has a set of resources and skill-sets we were born with that can benefit us. Your job is to find yours. Are you funny? A hard worker? Street-savvy? Generous? A good problem solver? Do you like to learn? Do you have a strong focus? How about perseverance?
You can call upon these innate resources to begin forming a plan, gaining friends, receiving help, and getting on track.
Another way is to change your perspective. After all, at the end of the day the only thing that we can control is ourselves, and so our perspective/actions needs to reflect a positive, hopeful outlook.
Think of the last angry, belligerent homeless person you saw on the street. Were you more willing to help them out, or the one that was kind? By changing your outlook and actions, you can work to change your outcomes.
More than anything, you need to focus on what you DO have and what you ARE capable of; this belief, gratefulness and confidence will help you gain far better outcomes.
4 – Dress For Survival
Oddly enough, you don’t want to wear big heavy coats as your only protection, since if you overheat you’ll easily freeze from the sweat you’ll accumulate.
Instead, layers are your friend when you’re living on the streets. This means having a few light jackets, as well as a variety of t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts.
Zip-off cargo pants can also be a good thing, as you can switch between shorts and pants with ease, and the pockets provide essential storage space.
Be sure to choose clothing options that have lots of pockets for storage, and that are neutral colors such as black, grey or tan. This will prevent you from standing out, and can keep you hidden in the dark.
5 – Look As Presentable As Possible
One of the best ways to boost your spirits is to clean up your appearance. Travel-sized hygienic materials such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, deodorant, etc. can be found at your local supermarket or gas station, and shelters can provide you a shower to clean up in.
Wet wipes can also be used as an effective tool to clean yourself off.
By keeping yourself clean and as presentable looking as possible, your self-confidence and outlook on life will improve. Plus, this will also help you gain friendships and handouts from others, as people typically respond more positively to someone that looks clean and put-together.
6 – Have A Few Pieces Of Versatile Clothing
T-shirts and long-sleeve shirts can be made into ropes, sweatbands or bandages, and hats can be used to collect water. The more uses you can come up with for your clothing, the better off you’ll be (and the less stuff you’ll have to carry around).
7 – Get A Stray Dog
Friendly stray dogs can make great companions when you’re living on the streets, and can actually benefit you in multiple ways.
For one, they can protect you from thieves, and can provide you extra warmth while you’re sleeping. They’re also great for decreasing depression and anxiety, and can provide you a friend to care for and bond with when you’re feeling alone in the world.
8 – Keep Your Stuff On You At All Times
Whether you’ve got a backpack, grocery bag, or suitcase, you need to keep your stuff with you at ALL times. Not doing so will leave you susceptible to theft, which is a real danger when you’re living on the streets (after all, many homeless people would love to get their hands on your things).
If you have a backpack, it’s important to either use it as a pillow (and keep your arms through the straps), or to stuff it in your sleeping bag (if you have one).
9 – Stay Packed
Don’t get too comfy even if you’ve found the perfect sleeping arrangements; that’s because your situation can change at a moment’s notice. For instance, cops can come and shoo you away, another homeless group might come and kick you out, or the city may begin construction directly where you’ve set up camp.
No matter the situation, always be packed and prepared to leave at any moment.
10 – Avoid Fighting Unless Being Attacked
It may feel weak and even shameful to not fight if a belligerent person (homeless or not) is yelling at you or degrading you. However, you need to think of how much you have to lose in the situation.
For example, if the antagonist doesn’t appear to be homeless, he likely has access to a doctor’s office to get bandaged up. You, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. Plus, if the cops come, who are they more likely to believe started it – the “upstanding citizen” or the homeless person?
Survival is hard enough to bear without having to deal with bruised bones and broken limbs. It’s often best to swallow your ego and move on.
However, if someone is physically attacking you, it’s important to fight back and defend yourself until you can run.
11 – Blend In
A crucial way to survive in almost any scenario is to blend in with your surroundings. In this case, that means to lay low and not get into trouble.
It also means to keep quiet about what you know and what you have. For example, if you were lucky enough to get a few bucks or to find something of value, don’t go telling other people about it. You’ll likely be the one they come after to get it for themselves.
Also, be sure to keep the stuff you do have well-hidden.
12 – Keep Yourself Warm
There are multiple ways to keep yourself warm on the streets. For example, mylar blankets can work wonders, as their reflective material bounces your own body heat back to you, raising your temperature by as much as 20°F.
You can also place the mylar blanket between two normal blankets, and then wrap them around you for some extra warmth.
Other ways to keep warm are to start a small fire to warm your hands, or to boil water and store it in water bottles to protect your hands from frostbite.
It’s also crucial you choose your sleep spot wisely, and don’t sleep under overpasses in the winter. This video explains why:
13 – Stick To Familiar Terrain
Before you set up camp it’s important to make sure you know the area. Get to know the businesses and streets around you, and navigate the area as much as possible before settling down.
Doing so can help keep you safe, as there won’t be as many surprises lurking around every corner. It may also help for receiving food and other handouts, as you’ll become a familiar face to the passersby.
14 – Have Access To First-Aid
Whether you have a large medical kit or just a few bandages, it’s imperative you keep these on you at all times. That’s because when you’re homeless you often don’t have access to medical care, and thus can’t afford to get diseases from cuts/scrapes you obtain on the street.
Peroxide, band-aids, and antibiotic ointment can go a long way to helping you stay alive.
15 – Choose Your Foods Wisely
When you do have the means to buy some food, you need to choose very carefully. Chips are a bad idea, as they’re full of empty calories and don’t fill you up. The same goes for most candies.
Options like granola bars, jerky, trail mix, and peanut butter are great choices, as they’re packed with protein, keep you full, and don’t have to be refrigerated. They also come in resealable containers, which is crucial when you’re living on the streets.
Make sure that all the food you buy is lightweight, compact and isn’t too bulky; this will make it easier to store in your bag or to hide in your pockets.
Be sure to eat the food you buy or store it in a tree using rope or paracord. If you leave it in your pockets or in your tent overnight, you could wind up with some raccoons, squirrels and other critters trying to steal it.
16 – Carry Refillable Bottles
Purchase a couple water bottles at the store (bigger is better) and keep these with you at all times. These bottles are refillable, making it easy for you to have a constant intake of water.
Fast food restaurants will often let you fill up your bottle with water, as will gas stations and other places with soda machines.
It’s also helpful to keep a pack of water purification tablets on you to help make the water drinkable if you get it from somewhere not from a tap (i.e: lakes, rivers, etc.).
Need more info? Here are more homeless survival tips from a real homeless person:
The fact is, whether we like it or not, homelessness is a daily reality for millions of Americans nationwide. And, whether it’s from financial hardship, family troubles, natural disasters, or any other sort of event, homelessness can often come out of the blue, leaving you stranded, alone, and desperate to survive.
The key here is to prepare NOW for homelessness so that you’re ready for the unexpected. Doing so will help you become better adjusted to living on the streets, and will make you more mindful of what it takes to survive.
Plus, even if you’re lucky enough to not become homeless, preparing for it now will provide you the knowledge and survival tools you can use for countless other situations, such as biking, hiking, camping, and more.
I’ve compiled some survival tools that could really help you out in a survival situation. These tools have been chosen for their compact stature, ease in portability, and versatility. These are sure to make your time on the streets ten times better: