Traversing the US East Coast

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Questions and Answers

Thinking of traversing the US east coast

This is just something I’ve been thing about lately.

What if I was to take my guitar, and a camper van up and down the east coast to busk (street perform) for money to pay for gas and food?

I figure it would be a nice way to explore more of my home country, get better at playing, meet people, be able to move to places that have auditions (I’m a theatre Major), and if I’m lucky maybe make some extra money.

I’m not really ready to do it right this moment but I’m trying to get peoples opinions and make sure that I’ve thought of everything, so any thoughts are appreciated 🙂

Posted by J-Way 🙂

< 14millionyearsold >

Many places you will want to go won’t let you sleep in your van on the streets. A lot of cities have gotten really nasty about enforcement because of all the homeless bums living in ratty vans and rvs.

< Oydman >

You can sleep in a van IF you’re quiet about it

Mostly VISUAL stealth is what’s required. Get a nondescript white cargo van. Put stick on numbers on the driver’s side door (LR corner) and passenger side rear cargo door (also LR corner). Something like 014 in 3″ high black letters makes you look like a fleet vehicle of some kind. A magnetic sign or two claiming you’re a cleaning or maintenance service wouldn’t hurt.

Remember: You are a WORK vehicle. Light spilling from inside ruins the illusion. I’d do up total blackout curtains separating the front seats from the cargo/living area and keep the front clear of stuff like guitar cases that don’t belong in a parked work van. A clipboard and really cheap safety vest (harbor freight has these) left in a heap in the passenger seat looks legit to security/cops. Work vans usually have some junk in the front window areas too — empty cigarette packs and such.

Ventilation is a huge problem, and cracking front windows is not the least bit stealthy. I’ve seen metal roof-vents that can be painted white to match vehicle at surplus RV places. You can also cut holes in the side and buy louvered RV exhaust covers to make things look pretty/professional from the outside.

Truck stops are usually fine with you parking there overnight and trucker might let you beg a free shower credit too. Many chain motels aren’t particularly on top of random vans parked in their lot either — especially near the highways. Keep in mind that you have every right to be parked at a business like Home Depot until half-hour after closing. Then you find a place to hole up for the night.

BTW, if you have such a van, you might be able to scrape up a little pocket money through UShip carrying real cargo. Rates there a crappy, but it’s worth considering.

< by_the_cops_and >

One problem to this is if you ever get stopped

you have commercial markings on your van, they are going to want to know why you don’t have it registered as a commercial vehicle! Also, you might get nailed for bypassing a weigh station at some point.

< Oydman >

Don’t put any DOT numbers on the vehicle

If you are officially “for hire” it’s likely you need proper Dept of Transportation numbers displayed. Weigh stations are mostly to check logbooks of truck drivers — vehicles <10000# don’t have to stop. I’ve heard this might be different in Connecticut, but even then OP explains he’s just a musician, not a delivery guy. It gets much trickier if you have a shrink-wrapped pallet of cardboard boxes in the back, obviously.

I suggested putting small “fleet” numbers on a white van, which would give the appearance of being in a commercial fleet — of some kind or other. Cops give you grief, you claim they came with the van. If you have money, Penske and other rental fleets maintain their vehicles fairly well and are a source for such vans.

Honestly, you probably won’t need fake signs. Plain white cargo vans are super common in any commercial area. Chevy has the best rep, but Ford would be OK too.

< some-of-you >

Ford or Chevy? I don’t understand the ‘logic” of some of you

The kid’s worried about meals and gas, and you have him investing in a Ford or Chevy van. And then the concern over DOT numbers are way over the top. Hell, he just wants to drive from place to place, sit on the corner, and strum his guitar. DOT numbers? What the hell?

< Oydman >

OP needs a reliable vehicle that

will allow him to “car camp” for free while busking in various locales along the East Coast. I didn’t inject DOT into the discussion. Just a couple hints as to how to look “legit” while traveling. I’m sure OP wants any cops to simply edit his vehicle out as background noise and move along.

< Call_Me_Barn >

You’re in southwestern Ohio….got a hell of a trip planned ahead of you… hope you hold up ….

and this is a wrap.

< – > 

That’s actually doable

The East Coast is better than the West Coast for sleeping in a van. West Coast towns mostly make it illegal. Not so many East Coast towns make it illegal to park and sleep. But parking rules can slip you up.
And you may not know this, but in hot weather, trying to sleep in a vehicle is miserable. You will simply suffocate and be soaking in sweat.

< DaSox >


East coast cities big urban centers with plenty of homeless (Boston, NY, Philly, DC) where tourists are trained not to give out their money.

West coast is more laid back and easier to make a living doing this kind of thing.

< CaptWarner >

I think it will work.

As you travel you can ask around if anybody is looking for a guitar player.
In a tourist area a lot of small bars and restaurants have entertainment.
If you offered to play one night for free and they just let you sit out your tips jar
they may go for it. Give it a try. If they like you they may give you a job.
Hay if you have a job there you can park there. Things may come together.
Some of these restaurants are at marinas. That means that they have showers.

If you need a place to park it is best to find a place that is open 24 hours.
If you can’t find such a place you can park at the auto supply store.
If anyone asks any questions, you are having trouble with your brakes.
You want to buy some brake fluid as soon as this place opens.

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One Response

  1. Sampar December 2, 2015

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