Self Sufficiency

11 Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets



Feature | Couple looking for food | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets

Learn these homeless survival tips and know how to survive homeless because you never know when they could be useful sooner or later!

RELATED: Top Survival Skills | Learn Now, Survive Later

Homeless Survival Tips and Tricks to Learn From

1. Collect Old Newspapers

Stack of newspaper | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets
First up on our homeless survival tips list is to gather as many newspapers as you can. Newspapers are fine tools since they have many uses and are accessible, especially on the streets.

For example, you can use it to improve your shelter or as bedding for you to sleep on. You can also use it to cover yourself up for insulation or burn it for fire.

The newspaper is also a source of information for current events, even entertainment to keep your mind off your situation. It's best to know what's going on around you so you're prepared for what might possibly happen.

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2. Find Where to Sleep

One of the main concerns of being homeless is where to sleep or rest, too. There are shelters for the homeless or abandoned buildings you can temporarily stay in, though.

You need to check the structure of the building as it may already be weak since it's abandoned. Find a spot closer to the exit or beneath a support beam so it's safer.

In case you don't find shelter and you're forced to sleep on the streets, try finding a spot where there are other homeless people. This area is probably where the police won't bother them, and there's also safety in numbers.

It's also possible they'll intimidate you, so you need to prepare for that. If you want to have a more intimate spot though, try looking for bushy areas.

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3. Find Practical Clothes

Homeless man sitting in the street | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets
It's hard to survive as a homeless person if you don't wear the right kind of clothes. So wear enough to cover your body and keep you warm but not hot.

You can wear long sleeves and layers of thin clothes. A pair of zip-off cargo pants is also a good choice since you can easily switch from pants to shorts. The pockets could also give you extra storage for your essentials.

4. Keep Yourself Warm

When winter comes up, store thick winter coats, wool beanies, and lots of socks in your survival gear. Besides practical clothes, you need other items to keep you warm in your survival gear.

You can also get your hands on a thermal blanket if you can. But if there are not enough to maintain body heat, boil water and place it inside water bottles.

Then, surround yourself with these hot water bottles before covering yourself with blankets. They can keep you warm and protect your hands from frostbite, indeed.

5. Keep a Clean Look

Homeless man wearing glasses sitting in the sofa | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets
Try to keep yourself neat, even if the chance of taking a shower does not come by often. So, make it a point to store wet wipes in your survival gear.

Go to public toilets where you have access to running water and clean yourself properly. By keeping a clean look, you can improve your self-confidence and have a more positive outlook on life.

Making yourself presentable will help you gain friends and handouts easier, too. That's because people are most likely to respond positively to someone who looks clean. Having a clean look also makes it easier for you to blend in and not be shooed away by security guards.

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6. Recycle Your Things

Your old torn shirts, pants, or shoelaces can turn into a rope, bandages for first aid, or sweatbands. If you have a hat, you can use it for collecting water or a sort of a basket for carrying goods.

Use your creativity and imagination and repurpose things to your advantage. That way, you wouldn't need more things to carry around while you're on the street.

RELATED: Lost In The Woods 101: What To Do When Lost In The Woods

7. Get a Companion

Homeless with two Dogs | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets
Find yourself a stray pet dog that will serve as both your friend and companion. Even though you'll have another mouth to feed, you’ll find they’re worth it.

Your pet dog can even be your bodyguard, protecting you from thieves and harassers, too. In fact, dogs are loyal animals that will stick with you through thick and thin — just as you need.

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8. Keep Your Things Close

Never leave your things unattended because others may be worse off than you. Always have them beside you and don't get too comfortable, even if the place looks safe.

You can't afford getting robbed when you're homeless since you have limited resources, so have your things packed and always prepared to leave when you need to. Cops and other homeless groups might kick you out.

9. Avoid Fighting

This is among the basic survival skills you need to learn while you’re out in the streets. That is to avoid conflict at all costs.

Unless you’re physically attacked and need to defend yourself, fighting simply isn’t worth it. You may end up with scratches, bruises, or even broken bones, and this is a bad thing if you don’t have access to a clinic or hospital.

Worse, a cop may pick you up so what happens then? That's why you need to stay calm and always walk away from trouble before they even begin.

10. Keep a First Aid Kit

Survival kit in the pocket | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets
Always keep a first-aid kit in your survival gear because in your situation anything can happen. What's even worse is you don't have easy access to medical facilities so you have to rely on your own.

You can recycle some of your things to apply first aid, but you really need to have medicines with you. Pain relievers, antiseptic solution, and antibacterial ointments are some of the items you need.

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11. Store Food

Buying food or even scavenging is sometimes not an option, so you need to store food in your survival gear. Of course, you must keep long-storing food and food that fills you up like canned goods, beef jerky, trail mix, and so on.

Here's one more to add to these homeless survival tips: keep refillable bottles. You can fill them with water from gas stations or restaurants for drinking or washing.

Take note that while all these homeless survival tips help, the most important thing is to never lose hope. Things will get better eventually but for now, take these homeless survival tips.


Watch this video by Bicycle Touring Pro so you can learn some stealth camping survival tips that may help you survive the streets:

There are many reasons people become homeless including financial collapse, natural disasters, and lack of support system from friends and family. If you're wondering what is it like to be homeless, the list above will give you a good idea.

Although nobody aims to be homeless, it's better to know some homeless survival tips to use for life in the streets in case SHTF!

What other homeless survival tips can you add to the list? Share them in the comments section below!

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Placard | Survive on the streets | Homeless Survival Tips | How To Survive On The Streets | Survival Gear

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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  1. Anonymous

    January 28, 2018 at 4:33 PM

    You have never been homeless.

    • Chris Wells

      February 5, 2018 at 2:10 PM

      No I have never been homeless but I go to the 7-11 here in orange in my wheelchair from the nursing homes and there are a lot of homeless people that hang out there. I like to talk to them because most of them are really cool people. Because I’m in a wheelchair people have tried to give me money.I don’t take it because I’m not homeless and I thank them anyway and point out other homeless people. I do feel bad the people who are homeless but I don’t need any money even though its tempting. I do tell almost every one about how Jesus has helped me and how He can help them.Well God bless us all and the next time you see a homeless person be kind.☮️✝️

      • Anonymous

        March 27, 2018 at 1:15 AM

        I do.

        • Anonymous

          June 15, 2018 at 11:45 PM

          I do too! I am a Vet!

          • Lynda Mallory

            October 5, 2018 at 10:13 PM

            It’s sometimes hard to help them in monetary ways because a lot of them,, not all, are just running scams. They get a monthly income and by the first couple of days in the month or for beginning of the month it’s gone cuz they spend it frivolously and spend the rest of the month beggng hard working ppl for money just ta do the same thing all over again. smh. Then, there are others who keep their monthly income and lie and say they’re broke just to spend hard-working ppls money. my theory is, when you want something bad enough you’ll go out and get it. Not being unsympathetic—-I’ve been homeless myself more than once and found a way to do better. js

      • Z

        January 30, 2019 at 4:53 PM

        Use Shelters, religious or other, and get clothes from charities ask people for directions or rides or phone calls to them by asking to use their phones. Also, find heat sources and use blankets u get from charities or any other covers and secure hem around the vent or whatever or just lay on the heat source with a blanket to contain the heat. Maybe go inside buildings to rest and also ask to shelter in there. Make urself look like they’ll fell sympathy but not turn u away and also ask to spend night? Maybe but maybe not on the last one. Ask people u know or companies these in order to take advantage of kindness

    • Anonymous

      January 30, 2019 at 5:02 PM

      Use Shelters, religious or other, and get clothes from charities ask people for directions or rides or phone calls to them by asking to use their phones. Also, find heat sources and use blankets u get from charities or any other covers and secure hem around the vent or whatever or just lay on the heat source with a blanket to contain the heat. Maybe go inside buildings to rest and also ask to shelter in there. Make urself look like they’ll fell sympathy but not turn u away and also ask to spend night? Maybe but maybe not on the last one. Ask people u know or companies these in order to take advantage of kindness. Maybe sympathize Witt them ask them a q and say no way me too, like asking about whats ur faith. Connect with them so they’re help you. Find info on them to connect. Share your story and mistreatment while begging it anything too you to get sympathy. Ask to use phones and people’s cars (ask for ride) to get accès to or find out about help. Also find out about welfare and welfare like programs near you. Plus call people u know to get help or maybe 911 though u might get in trouble If not emergency call. Get help. Look up how others survive. And ask others and people for help. If u see a homeless person and u r the helper, follow what I’ve said a helper should do. If a victim follow what I’ve said and the helper things in order to ask for the right help. Use other ideas too to help and get help. Helpers give non money things, and tell about investing safely so that u haven money to live on not invested. Invest small shares
      Not even full ones if you can’t in constant getters to grow cash. Learn about investing. U want to have stock go and maybe sell before crash or st really high point or see if cash grows. Teach this, and tel to not get addicted to investing in a risky way. Also if homeless, learn a lot at libraries or their computers in order to do fer fun facts or video game cheat codes for money . Offer to do cool magic tricks or have a dog do tricks ur dog or start or a friends. Call old friends anywhere or family anywhere for help, even if you have broken or lost relationships.

    • Z

      February 18, 2019 at 5:59 PM

      Check my reply lower on this thread from z go slowly so you won’t miss it. Also ask for shelter in companies and stuff and share mistreatments if they do or refuse so other companies especially will help you to get press or praise over the otter co that refused you. Also say that it will give good press f you help me if your wrokers do even if it’s not still st or having to do with the store when you ask. Take advantage of other périple like this maybe say get your crush to notice or Hearn of this and they’ll like you stuff like this. Or that you can get friends by sharing what you did or their god will reward or what will happen they will get citizenship awards like the good citizenship award or the American citizenship award if they share deeds ir find ways to have others find out or say you’ll show or whatever and look up if they report you for not sharing so you can say that’s was another guy if u try the same trick and people don’t help and also don’t let the money take pics tell them I don’t want my image seen but that’s can help them describe you on the net for peopl to not help so maybe don’t be that descriptive. Am praying for you.

  2. Jennifer

    February 4, 2018 at 8:49 PM

    Almost. I spent a summer in a campground living in my tent. I was working and had primitive facility’s. But Job was seasonal and came to an end. I had to move to get another job-so spent one night in a homeless shelter-then found someone to take easy payments to live while I waited for my second job to start. I always have essentials now,

  3. Ralston Heath

    February 5, 2018 at 9:49 AM

    Good article, gives you something to think about. Not all preps should be for wilderness living. The city streets are just as challenging, as well as more likely, as any wilderness.

    • Terry

      August 18, 2018 at 2:47 PM

      Yeah I’m more worried about force protection I’m a vet and will be homeless soon I don’t mind sharing but trust has to be earned don’t want someone taking my stuff so this is a big issue for me I’m wary of people anyways

  4. Anonymous

    February 5, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Coming from someone who has been homeless some of these ideas are good while there is so much missing to inform others how to survive other problems that come up, including bad weather.

  5. Linda Happenny

    February 5, 2018 at 3:34 PM

    I have been homeless and one thing that I learned along time ago is keep your eyes open and your gut feelins on caution mode. Most homeless are not nice and I with my husband have been threatened body harm to get our stuff and our cats. We didn’t drink or do drugs so they thought that was the only way. You have no idea what the streets are like. You can’t be f**k up because they will get you in a second. 5 people died when we were out there. These are good Ideas to start but there is more to it.

  6. Caelo

    February 6, 2018 at 1:01 AM

    Think survival behind enemy lines, being street smart, being invisible and blending in. Stay on the move, have multiple resting environments, multiple sources of income, avoid trouble, don’t look homeless and most important, don’t give up and never lose hope. You’ll be ok.

    • George

      February 13, 2018 at 4:03 PM

      You are totally right …You have to keep up appearances at camp as well as your self ..Police are kinder to you if your not littering and or making a scene…I was homeless for 5 years..and learned alot..Use your resourses like churches for showers , laundry, and a hot meal..There are more shelters during cold weather…Below freezing alot more opens up..At least up north ..

  7. Gee Bee

    February 6, 2018 at 2:02 PM

    check out A. Americans series of books

  8. Douglas E Schwad

    March 8, 2018 at 9:41 PM

    I have been doing a lot of interstate tent camping and touring on my motorcycle for the last 30 years and learned a lot from it. Keeping the cold away always seemed to be the most important thing. Staying dry and going to cheap places to eat, like the Mom & Pop Restaurants, who almost always seemed to have good food. What I would do. in a small town, is find a M&P Restaurant with the most local cars parked by it and then ask the locals what they thought of it. Also, always be polite and humble with the locals, as it costs you nothing to be that way and people will open up to you more.

  9. Sandy

    March 27, 2018 at 1:23 AM

    I believe Veterans should come before immigrants! I hope things get better for our Vets. Not all people mess with drugs! Just a streak of bad luck can happen to anyone! Always remember to pray, God helps those who try to help themselves.

    • Anonymous

      March 12, 2019 at 9:26 PM

      Shut up

  10. Homeless Harry

    May 22, 2018 at 11:01 PM

    Where do we store our gopro camera that we use to film ourselves being homeless?

    • larry barnhardt

      February 17, 2019 at 4:44 PM

      of course you want to keep your electronics warm and dry. sooo put them (if your lucky enough to have it) in your sleeping bag at night and in a plastic grocerybag or trash bag… and don’t let the morning dew get to it. that is an instant electronic killer.. also if its raining put a grocery bag between two pairs of socks and trim the ends so people don’t see it.

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  13. Anonymous

    June 12, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Start learning more about being homeless because most people will need to survive in an urban enviorment not in the woods if SHTF. Ninety percent of people heading to the woods wont make it maybe more , good to have this survival knowlege for much of it will be important even in urban areas.

  14. J

    June 28, 2018 at 5:26 PM

    My first 3 days on the street I’m using lemon bomb shower foam to keep mosquitos away fashioned a pair of socks into fingerless gloves. It was cold last night. Live and learn. Hope I can find some hope as I’m an anxious depressive. I hope that bends in my favour when speaking with the council but you know how unhelpful they are.

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  16. Lazereth

    October 23, 2018 at 4:50 PM

    I am about to be homeless. I’m 52, I have late stage COPD and no source of income. Just want to say God Bless all of you that are homeless, especially our Vets. As for me, I’m packing my bags and getting ready to meet Jesus. Lazereth

  17. Hugh

    October 25, 2018 at 8:31 PM

    When I was homeless in England a few years back, one of the most useful places I found was the local adult education centre which was open until 10pm. They never asked if I was a student when I walked in and I just walked into the cafe. There was a power socket where I could recharge my phone and external battery. There was a toilet in the building which was ideal for shaving and there was a disabled toilet which was ideal for cleaning up using wet wipes. The place had those sort of big, heavy-duty old-fashioned radiators which dried wet clothes in next to no time. The place was always very warm even in the middle of winter.
    There was a water cooler in the cafe so I was never short of water.
    There was also free WiFi.
    The place was great and then I stupidly told other homeless people about it.
    They managed to get us all barred from the premises.
    My advice: If you find a good place, never tell other homeless people about it because they’ll ruin it for you.

  18. William Gregory

    November 22, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    Hi I was only homeless for 6 month’s but I learned alot . I learned that you should stash your belongings in a safe place so you can find a job.

  19. Visionque

    December 2, 2018 at 1:00 AM

    Unless you have health issues that prevent you from working, I disagree with getting a dog. You cannot take the dog into the store, restaurant or library. The library is a huge resource to do internet search for jobs, housing, food stamps EBT, life line cellphones, check email, use toilet and clean yourself. A evening restaurant job will provide food and a check while you look for better paying work. Definitely don’t sleep with other homeless people. Find some tall weeds or bushes away from roads and foot paths. Let no one see you come or go. Leave nothing behind when you exit the area. Volunteer at thrift stores in exchange for things you need, backpack, blanket, warm clothes. Carry a water bottle and drink often. Being outside dehydrates you. Refill from any fountain or sink. Large churches with gyms have showers. Don’t look homeless. Stay clean and do laundry frequently.

  20. Lily Mulhall

    December 5, 2018 at 10:46 AM

    helpful and kind but how do you boil water?

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  22. Linda H

    February 8, 2019 at 1:27 PM

    I have been homeless with 5 children. There are charities out there to help, but you really have to help yourself. I found a job and still had no place to live but the company knew and allowed me to use a small travel trailer parked in their parking lot farthest away from the building for a short time. Getting a place to live with my dog was easier than getting one with 5 kids. But lots of places won’t take animals.

    When you get help, be very grateful and genuinely thank them. Let them know you are looking for work &/or shelter and they will often be able and willing to help. If you look and act like a career vagrant, it won’t work. I’ve seen beggars throw away food given to them (sometimes because they want the money for drugs, not food; sometimes they don’t like or trust the food), so I have not been willing to give food. I won’t give money because I don’t know where it will go. I have given services and supplies when I have seen the true need. But supporting someone to be homeless long term because they won’t/can’t get back on their feet is not helping them – or society as a whole.

    Keeping yourself sane and healthy is the biggest challenge. Stay as clean as possible. Stay as quiet as possible. I stayed away from other homeless people because of the danger (especially to my kids). But living in a public park for awhile, the most helpful people were the other “campers” there who would share any excess they were given. Unfortunately, they also shared drugs with the kids while I was gone looking for work. Only one kid accepted, but it ruined his life permanently. Protecting your belongings is the 2nd hardest thing to do. The sexual predators were there, but the dog kept them away from us. You can get good used clothes from clothing banks, food from food banks, and other supplies as well. It’ not the most healthy food, but it will keep you alive until you can afford better. Just be sure you keep looking for ways to improve your situation and pray for God’s help.

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  24. Anonymous

    February 20, 2019 at 11:36 AM

    when was this

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  26. Pamela Wayans

    March 7, 2019 at 5:22 AM

    In 2016 my sister in-law told us about Rich Herbs Foundation (ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om) and their successfully treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). After reading positive reviews about the treatment, we immediately ordered the COPD Formula treatment, i am happy to report this COPD treatment reversed my lungs condition and damage. My quality of life has greatly improved and every one of my symptoms including difficulty breathing, Chronic cough and wheezing are gone. I will be 52 soon and have never been healthier.

  27. EP Weirdcalm

    July 12, 2019 at 9:40 PM

    Can anyone provide some tips about bodily functions, such as peeing and especially defalcating, in a brutal urban environment. Chicago considers urinating in public a ‘sex-crime’ (exposing yourself). And, crapping in public will get you a ride in the trunk of a patrol car to the Cook County Jail or worse Cook County Hospital. Any creative ideas welcome.

    HIS DAY 3
    —I ran into a guy, who said he passed out in a McDonalds bathroom, handicap stall
    HIS DAY 1 and 2
    He woke up in the ICU of Cook County Hospital (this place is noise than hell) he was told the following:
    —Brought in by two cops, with blood running out of nose and mouth, in the trunk of their patrol
    —He had congestive heart failure, then two more heart attacks
    —Was treated to double bypass surgery, while unconscious as it was deemed life-threatening
    —Judging by incision / staple / stitches / free-computerlibrary-research. Surgeon? A mediocre student)
    HIS DAY 3
    —Was given some clean dirty clothing
    —Released, with staples and stitches in his chest apparently whacked on pain killers
    —Had no where safe to go
    —Two cops gave him a ride (you guessed it) in trunk of patrol car, back to neighborhood where found
    —I met him by a dumpster, protected from West wind by large back wall, behind ‘Old Country Buffet’
    —He said someone gave him $50, which he used to score heroin (Wouldn’t you? / No pain killers!)
    —I told him he was crazy (as we munched on some dirty food he found at the bottom of the dumpster)
    —He replied by unbuttoning his shirt and showing me a gaping hole in his chest
    —I saw his heart beating / oozing infection.
    —He said he would be OK in a few days, while putting old newspaper in the torn incision
    —He passed out, after eating a little.
    —I threw a box over him and went to a park nearby to sleep.
    —I went back to the same strip mall and there was another guy inside the dumpster
    —He told me that two cops found a guy dead by the dumpster
    —They took him away (you guessed it) in the trunk of their patrol car
    —Cook County Morgue would have been my first preference, from the very beginning.

    ANY TIPS about creative crapping places are welcome. Thank you.

  28. Anonymous

    August 22, 2019 at 4:38 PM

    There should be euthanasia for this situation. We do this for our pets because it is considered to be more humane. Giving someone heart surgery, I would have kept a note and said no to, knowing of the situation because yes that does lead to infection. Everyone says there is hope, but not really.

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