Life in My Mobile Bed Pod

The future of mobility is about a lot more than just transportation.

I expect I am one of the very few people that made over $100,000 last year and slept in his car for more than 75 days. I became a “city camper,” for research purposes: I believe the future of mobility is about a lot more than just transportation. 

I transformed my car into a “Mobile Bed Pod” (MBP). I have a wonderful 5-inch thick mattress in the back that is as comfortable for me as sleeping on any mattress in the best hotels. Last month, I spent 2 weeks in Los Angeles for business, sleeping near my morning meeting locations (to avoid LA’s soul-crushing traffic), for only $20 each day/night. That includes everything.

My car is a 2007 (40-mpg) Prius in near perfect condition. Being only 5-feet, 6 inches tall, I fit easily in my rear bed.  I love the gas-hybrid format of my Prius, which allows me to have heat or air conditioning at night, as the engine becomes a “generator” starting and stopping throughout the night, only when the batteries need charging. (I would hate to have a non-hybrid car engine run all night for my in-car climate needs).

The windows in the back have the darkest tint allowed in Arizona, and the front windows are tinted as well. This level of privacy is essential. The other essential is my membership at Planet Fitness, a growing network of health clubs across the United States, which offers me a nearby hot morning shower. My membership costs only $20/ month.

And arguably it is also a “garage,” as it carries my mini Segway, which I use for “last-mile” transport.

Why did I start sleeping in my car? I landed a 3-month consulting gig early last year that required me to either rent a monthly apartment or seek an alternative. I generally don’t like these monthly rentals. I began to use Airbnb, which I enjoyed, and stayed at many different apartments and homes. I also would use lower priced motels as well. I began to consider sleeping in my car to have an easy back-up place to crash if I had not reserved a place at night.

It took a few nights to get used to sleeping in my car. There is less security than we are accustomed to in our conventional dwellings. I would park in some private driveways of friends, or even at Walmart parking lots, many of which allow overnight parking of RVs. I always look for a level parking space if possible, to have a flat bed. I have been thinking of creating a new tilting mattress platform that can raise a few degrees on one side to create a flat bed surface when parked on the side of the street that has a slope to it.

McDonald's is great for morning oatmeal and coffee. Saving so much money on hotels, I like to spend my savings on great healthy food at Whole Foods. I also hang out in coffee shops, libraries and catch a Netflix movie some evenings in my car camper.

On my recent LA trip, I loved being able to avoid all the awful morning traffic, to reach a meeting in Chatsworth, or Long Beach. I also loved being able to drive to these meeting areas later at night, when traffic is light, and had no hotel registration process to deal with.  I also often pull over and hang out in my bed when traffic is hardly moving.

I only recently had a co-driver on a trip, which allowed me to enjoy my bed while travelling at 70 mph. As we move into an autonomous car future, I now know I would prefer a recliner or even a bed for longer trips, as I have experienced how nice it could be. It’s so great not having to sit upright for longer trips.

As designs for mobility are developed both in terms of vehicles and city infrastructure, the Mobile Bed Pod is something that should be taken into account by automotive designers and municipal employees alike.