Being a drifter is not easy; it can be dangerous and lonely. Drifters choose to drift for reasons like exploration, new experiences and meeting new people; which they may otherwise have never been able to do, due to either legal or monetary constraints. Many people see drifting as liberating and exhilarating. Remember survival essentials to prepare yourself for your journey both mentally and physically.
Part 1 Finding Shelter
- Know the law. The law is different everywhere so know your location and what laws immediately affect you. For example, if you are in a busy metropolitan city there usually are laws against putting up any temporary shelter. Many cities have outlawed sleeping outdoors and have placed precautions including having police harass anyone they suspect of living outside. 
- Many homeless people find shelter in a doorway, tunnel or under a bridge. Be careful not to get fined as cities know that these are popular places of refuge.
- Visit the local library, search online, talk to a paralegal, visit the local courthouse, or city hall. Local laws are limited to the vicinity to which they apply so there may not be a lot of written information available to the public except for online resources.
- Find a shelter. Many charitable organizations and larger municipalities offer shelter at low to no cost. Find churches and religious organizations as well to ask if they offer such programs. Research online, talk to other travelers, or find the downtown core of your location for the best chance at finding a shelter.
- Find a hostel. Hostels are a temporary residence that can be found throughout major cities. Make sure that the place is safe and that you know exactly what they offer as some hostels may provide food while others provide shared accommodations at a reduced cost. You may have to sign up in advance so sort out where you plan to stay as soon as you are in a new location.
- Put up a tent. Find an inexpensive pop up dome tent. They can be purchased online or at your local camping store. A pop-up tent requires minimal setup and can be taken down easily. Find a secluded area, preferably in a wooded part of your location, and put up your tent. You want to have your tent set up for the least amount of time possible and only during the night to avoid detection. 
Part 2 Getting Proper Clothing
- Choose protective clothing for the season. Pick your outfit carefully as the materials need to be durable and versatile. Your clothes must protect you from the elements with little to no maintenance. You do not want to stick out with tattered or dirty rags after you have been drifting for some time. Black is a good colour that keeps its integrity without having to wash frequently. It also gives you a sleek profile if you need to carry a lot of items in pockets.
- For example, find garments that are waterproof especially shoes. You may be walking a lot so shoes need to be comfortable and durable. Also, cargo pants or clothing with a lot of pockets can help ease the weight of a backpack.
- Pack extra clothing. Have more the one of each item of clothing. Prepare to be able to survive without fresh clothing. It’s safe to have at least a week’s worth of socks and underwear. Also, have a couple sweaters and pairs of pants for when you are unable to do laundry. If you know that you will be in colder climates, pack warm socks, thermal underwear, gloves, and wool caps to keep your head warm.
- Carry everything in a backpack. A backpack can free up your hands and be a lot more convenient to move around with relative to a duffle bag or suitcase. Make sure the backpack is large enough to fit your belongings and distributes the weight to your hips and off your shoulders..
- You can purchase durable backpacks at army surplus stores or search online.
- A compression sack can help make extra room. A compression sack squeezes items like clothes and sleeping bags into a backpack to help conserve space by deflating any air stuck in creases and folds. Designed to be easily used in the army, simply sit on the sack to release the air as you tighten all the straps to ensure that it retains its size.
- Find a locker. Whenever possible, find a locker to keep your clothing and belongings in to ensure nothing gets lost or damaged. Keep any formal clothing like suits in your locker to allow you to have an outfit ready in case you want to go on job interviews or other important meetings.
Part 3 Staying Hygienic
- Invest in a collapsible bucket and small mirror. Purchase a collapsible pail online or at your local camping store. You may find a magnetic mirror at your local dollar store or school supply store. Together with the mirror, use a bucket of water to brush your teeth, shave, and clean yourself.
- Use the collapsible pail to when you are in a public bathroom. Fill it with water and bring it to an empty stall so you can clean yourself in privacy.
- Know your public washrooms. A good rule of thumb is to use bathrooms in hotels, theatres, office buildings, universities, and upscale malls. These washrooms are usually clean and maintained regularly. Avoid bathrooms in areas with a lot of homeless people congregate such as those in public squares, beaches, parks, and subways. These may be filthy and sometimes dangerous.
- Gas stations may have clean bathrooms to use depending on the neighbourhood. Like coffee shops, you may need to purchase something in order to use it.
- Grab a hot shower. It’s good to relax and clean yourself when you have the opportunity. Find a hot shower at a gym, public swimming pool, community center, YMCA, or athletic center. Fitness centers on a university campus are often open to the public and provide a safe and cheap way to shower.
- If you can afford it and know that you will be staying at this location for an extended period of time, purchase a membership at a community center to use the shower and its many other resources. The membership may include wi-fi access, lockers, and a place to rest and socialize.
- If you are in a warm climate, you may be able to enjoy lakes or rivers if you don’t have access to a hot shower or would rather be closer to nature.
- Utilize the dollar store. Purchase lightweight hygiene products like soap, toothpaste, and shampoo at the travel aisle of your local dollar store. You may also find containers for your toothbrush and soap as well as pill boxes for any medication or Tylenol.
- Pack cleaning cloths and hand sanitizer for when you don’t have access to a shower or water.
Part 4 Familiarizing Yourself with Basic Resources
- Utilize the library. Libraries are free to the public and can provide you with a warm place to sit and communicate with friends and family. They also provide free internet access and public washrooms. If you need an address to use the internet, provide your old family address or the address of the shelter or hostel that you are staying at.
- Some libraries may have programs to help with temporary employment, counseling, or transportation. They may also have a list or a map to help you find hostels and shelters.
- Eat at a soup kitchen. Give yourself a break from cold or unhealthy food by visiting a soup kitchen. Usually run by charitable organizations, community groups, or church groups, soup kitchens offer a hot meal for free or minimal charge. They may also offer a bagged lunch if you have found temporary employment.
- Soup kitchens may be located close to shelters or run in conjunction with other shelter programs. For example, you may be able to get new clothing or repair electronics at your local soup kitchen.
- Shop with purpose. Cut out junk food, cook your own meals, stick to a list, and cook meals that provide large portions. Buy non-perishable food that packs light like beef jerky or trail mix. Make a weekly meal plan so you know how many meals your food should last you.
- Shop at the end of the night as grocery stores will place discounts on food that will be going bad in the next few days.
- Avoid name brands and buy in bulk as these are often much cheaper than their counterparts.
- Shop at discount stores, farmer markets, and ethnic markets as they will be cheaper than big name grocery chains.
- Purchase less expensive cuts of meat, find alternative sources of protein in beans and lentils, and look for canned fish and chicken.
- Be intelligent! Knowledge and awareness are primary sources of power for drifters. Being a drifter means depending mainly on yourself, so don't rely on what books or mass-media tells you. Instead, study things yourself and become self-educated and self-aware. Your personal experience is the most important and valuable source from which to build a knowledge base.
- Accept the place where you drift to as your home. Try to blend in with the locals instead of standing out, including wearing down-to-earth clothes instead of flashy ones, though it may sometimes be a good idea to appear as a regular tourist/traveler rather than a drifter to lower unwarranted suspicions. If you find yourself in a country with a language that you don't speak, try finding a polite way to avoid strangers from engaging in verbal communication with you.
- Connect with people and surroundings, and form relationships whenever you can. If you get the rare chance, take a traveling companion with you. A human being is always better than a dog, so treat others as you would treat yourself. Having a good set of personal moral code will allow you to drift for a long time. Always avoid trouble and never resort to any kind of threat or violence. Do as many general good deeds as you can instead of personal favors, and don't become obsessed with money.
- Foolish shopping can quickly turn you from a drifter into a beggar. Pack smart. Always keep your backpack as light and small as possible. Pack non-perishable foods that don't need to be cooked, like nuts and muesli. Always have at least half a gallon of clean tap water supply with you wherever you go. If you are packing any small and light electronic device that requires electricity, it's a good idea to carry a compact universal adapter with you. This can be bought in electronic stores, or it can be manually constructed from separate parts on the go.
- Take care of your mental health. Drifting can mean long periods of isolation or periods of self-reflection. Be sure to find counseling if you feel overwhelmed or lost in your new surroundings.
- While there are many available short-term jobs with no consequences to leaving at any time in many progressive countries, keep in mind that you will most often get rejected as a drifter with no legal documents that prove who you are, as many legal employers will refuse to take a risk of hiring an undocumented worker. Odd and dirty jobs may still be widely available for you, but it's often best practice to avoid such jobs because as a drifter with no legal documents, you will have very little to no rights for government protection against unfair treatment or abuse. In short, legal ways of getting a job are extremely limited, and illegal ways are usually not worth risking.
- Your personal safety is your number one priority. Do not put yourself at risk with foolish decisions on diet, travel, lodgings, or company.
Tags: How to Be