Lesson 14: Starting New Friendships is NOT as Fun as Starting New Restaurants

FullSizeRender 22If you have ever wondered how #hotelprius funds its adventures, restaurant startups is your answer. As an experience server, educator, and all around efficiency efficinato , I had this great idea once.

My idea? I would combine all the things I was good at and pursue a field that could benefit from my skillsets and experiences. I wasn’t looking for a career, just something to give me an excuse to travel. After some thought, an idea come to the forefront. But in order to make it seem “legit” to the outside world, I needed a fancy title. So I made it up.

I now call myself a “Quality and Efficiency Specialist.” (I may be giving my secrets away here but I don’t care.)

Now, I make a living by jumping on board promising restaurant start-ups in new-to-me-cities and teach what I know about efficiency and the customer service experience. It is my excuse to travel, and it’s a great excuse to try new delicious food from chefs all over the world. The secret to my success? With proper timing and marketing, most restaurants are successful in the first 90 days. Why? Simply because people love new food and new experiences and there will be always be people wanting to try a local food source in their city. Essentially, I make my money from tips delivering stellar service and promising to bring in positive reviews. With each new restaurant and new city I drive into, comes with it a new set of people.

What I’ve leaned, investing in restaurants is easy. Investing in friends is much harder. With new restaurants, the order of action is, I come in, present my knowledge, implement some efficiency strategies and teach it to the team when needed. The tools for my work exists in document form on my computer and my initial investment is minimal, but highly educational and productive. When it’s over, I walk away with more experience, full pockets, and a sweet lingering taste in my mouth.

My new made friends on the other hand, not as easy. Simply because investing in people is much different than investing in restaurants. There are no easy tools and efficiency tactics to be a good friend. Only time and a willingness to be venerable and show your true self is how to be successful in this market. True friendships, well they take time that a 90 day period most always doesn’t allow. When I leave a restaurant my job is done and I don’t need to come back. With new friends however, that is never my intention. I don’t want to be a friend for 90 days and leave, but inevitably that is what ends up happening. Starting a new restaurant is always fun. Starting new friends over and over, not so much. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to how to maintain long lasting frienships while only being in a city for only a few months. I wish I did. If this lifestyle has taught me anything though, it is that I CAN’T do this forever, (at least not in #hotelprius), but it is a great way to travel and make money and gain experience at the same time.

1 Year Today!

IMG_5343 It’s hard to believe, but exactly one year ago today I embarked on a journey that would forever change my perspective of life and the world around me. I have learned so many valuable life lessons not just about myself, but about people, about God, about different cities and cultures, about traffic, about the thirst for adventure and the importance of great friends and healthy relationships. Although a very enlightening experience, there is such a thing of spending too much time alone and after a full year of the “rolling-stone, carry no moss” lifestyle, I’m at the place where I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and apply it to a more consistent, well-balanced life around great friends and people I can invest in. I’m thankful for all the places I got to see and the people I met along the way. If #hotelprius has taught me anything it is that I don’t ever want to have experiences like these again, by myself. Life was meant to be shared and experienced in community. As for what’s next, I’m headed back to Austin to be with friends and regroup for the holidays. I have a few tentative plans for what is next, but need to rest and really assess what is best for me in the the next season of life. I do have plans to turn this last year of my life into a little coffee table book, to remember for years to come. I hope to have it printed with many of the pictures and morning musings not published on the blog soon. I can only hope you will all buy it, as it would be nice to share what I have learned and pass it on to others who could maybe benefit from the experience. Who knows? Thank you to everyone who has supported me and followed me during this crazy journey of mine this last year. I’m thankful for all your kind words and support, more than you know. Let Life’s Big Adventure continue…. -Chris

Inside #Hotelprius: EXCLUSIVE LOOK

There is a lot that goes into living out of a car. For this post, Ive added some text to a few pictures to show you exactly how I have organized my Prius into a fully functional efficiency apartment. Complete with Bed, table, stove, desk, coffee table, pantry, closet, laundry room, mailbox, bathroom, curtains, bike, fan, basement and attic!

Gotta see it to believe it.

Starting The Day off Right…

With Coffee. Delicious. Strong. Easy to make, Coffee. I’ve tried all kinds of methods for making a quick, messless cup of Joe in the morning, but this way is by far my favorite. The Jetboil Flash Stove is perhaps the biggest contributor for a quick delicious cup of the good stuff. This thing can boil 80z of water in under 2 and a half minutes.  Woah! But the GSI H2Jo coffee filter is my go-to for a great tasting  cup of coffee. Originally designed for a filter for a Nalgene bottle, the H2Jo doubles as a coffeecup filter, with the right coffeecup of course. Highly recommend these great products for fresh coffee on the road.




10 of the most frequently asked questions about #Hotelprius

When people first learn about how I live out of my car, questions always follow. And that’s cool. I get it, you’re curious. Here are the top 10 questions I get about Hotel Prius. Hopefully, this will help shed some light on how and why I choose to live out of my car. If you have a question thats not listed below, add a comment, I’ll be happy to reply.

#1 Where do you shower?
For some reason this is the #1 most asked question about hotel prius. Its simple, the YMCA. For $25 a month (student membership) I have access to all the local YMCAs in Austin. Fortunately for me, there is always one close to the areas of town I like to hang out so showering or washing up is never really an issue. The downside is its not anytime I want. It takes a little planning because of their business hours. But other than that, it is as simple as bringing a backpack with my toiletries, a towel, and an extra change of clothes. It couldn’t be any easier honestly. And for only $25. Some people pay more that that on their water bill.

#2 Where do you park?
Anywhere I want really. I have my favorite spots around town depending on what neighborhood I am in and where I want to be close to the next morning.  Really, I can park anywhere that isn’t private property and doesn’t have some kind of curfew.  I have a few favorite views of the city that I go to more than others, but after two months of really knowing the city I am in, this is really the least of my concerns. Want to know how I find parking? See my other post here: 4 Tips to Finding Places to Park and Sleep While on the Road. 

#3 What fits in your car?
Surprisingly alot. More than most people would expect. Maybe that attests to my ability to maximize space or my fixation with efficiency, but with just over two months of trial and error, I now feel my car has everything it needs to live (reasonably) comfortably. I have a soft bed, a closet, curtains, a desk, a kitchen table and chair, a pantry, a bike rack, a laundry basket, a charging outlet, and a balcony (my roof). I even mounted a solar panel for harnessing free electricity during the day for changing at night. I also have a bathroom if you count the nearby tree. Its a small efficiency apartment and its all I really need. The only thing it really needs is an ironing board, but i’m still working on a fold out design concept for that. Coming Spring 2014. 🙂

#4 Does it get Old?
I imagine it could get old for some people but not me. I like it. I’m weird like that. And honestly, after you’ve been doing something for long enough, you get used to it. Things just become easier over time. It’s really all about developing systems and sticking to those systems. See my post on that here: The Importance of Developing Systems

#5 How long are you going to live out of your car?
As long as it takes. For me it comes down to saving money in order to do the things I want to do in the future, while at the same time being able to say yes to the things I want to do now. With the mobility of a moving home, and with minimized bills I have that freedom. If I want to take a week off I can. If I want to drive to a national park for the heck of it and stay in the mountains for a few days (my favorite thing ever) I can. If I get a job and need to move, I’m ready. I’m willing and able to do this as long as needed. If I’m honest with myself though, I wouldn’t want to do this for more than a year. 

#6 Where do you do for work/money?
I work in Austin at a 4 star hotel right in the center of town. I work for tips. I work banquets and various lunch-ins and wedding parties during the day and serve tables at night. I really enjoy it. At least for the time being. I meet really great people from all over the world and have really great conversations about life and business and am making great money just being myself and doing what I’m good at. It’s a temporary gig until I’m able to find the next thing. But for now, its my money maker and a great place to be for this season in life. My real passion is working with kids, but finding a salary that I can live on is hard to find. 

#7 What is the best part of living out of your car?
IMG_0043The freedom. That, and the satisfaction of knowing that I can make this work. It feels so rewarding to live the life I choose. Because I choose it, and its not forced upon me. I love the the freedom of going and doing what I want and not having the constant pressure of fitting into a mold and a lifestyle that I don’t want or feel I need in this season of life. I am open and free to do what I want when I want, and the limited space that #hotelprius brings me prevents me from buying things that I know I don’t need. I don’t buy the extra stuff i don’t really need simply because I just don’t have the room for it. It’s the perfect kind of accountability and forces me to save my money for more important things, like living life and blessing those around me with things they need. It’s fun.

#8 What is the hardest part of living out of your car?
If I’m honest, being alone. Don’t get me wrong, having my alone time is great and is certainly needed for as much as I am around people everyday. But too much time alone is unhealthy. The truth is, when I spend too much time alone, I have a tendency to start overthinking things and stay inside my head. There is a whole world inside my head and I can go there and get lost if I let myself. Usually when I get to that place I get fixated on my problems and stoop into a weird kind of depression. I don’t like getting to that place and have to stay intentional about finding good friends and good people to stay around. But that is not always available, and in those moments, I find it to be most difficult thing in living in hotel prius. Either that or needing to poop late at night. #kiddingbutnotreally

#9 What’s next for you?
Who knows. Right now I’m just enjoying living life and making the most of what I have. I’m staying open to opportunities and saying yes to them when those opportunities present themselves. I’m learning to let go and let God take care of the rest. Its one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had and I really see myself as a blessed person for being able to take such an adventure.

#10 What would you say to someone who wants to live out of their car?
It’s not for everyone. I probably make it look more glamorous than it really is. I mean its cool, don’t get me wrong, but i’d just say be questioning your motives for why you want to do it. If you want to do it because you want to run away from your problems or because you are desperate for change, all you will be really doing is exchanging your problems for different ones, and the change you think are looking for, this might not be it. If you are doing it because you need to minimize your bills and live more efficiently, then this may be a good option for you. I will say this, having the right kind of car is very important. You probably couldn’t do this in a civic or anything of that size. Quite frankly a van is the best way to go if your looking for space, but nothing beats the MPG of a prius. That being said, there are right ways to do this and there are many more wrong ways to go about it. If you are considering this, just make sure you prepare yourself adequately and learn as much as you can from other people first. Learn from their mistakes to minimize yours. And follow this blog. 🙂

You have any more pressing questions, shoot a comment. I’ll answer. Promise.

Week 1 Photos

Welp, Today marks 1 full week of life in the #hotelprius. I’ve gathered a few photos of the adventure and posted them below, each with small descriptions for each picture.

The Importance of Developing Systems

Systems are important. I’m not talking about the kinds of systems that try to control everything like the government or public schools. Those kinds of systems fail us on a daily basis. No, I’m talking about organizational systems. Systems that will make life easier if you can learn to stick with them. I call my system, “Everything has its place.”

When you are living out of a car, you don’t have too much space to work with. The bed takes up the biggest amount of space, then your clothes, then food. If your lucky you can have a few other things neatly stowed away for quick accessibility, but for the most part, you don’t have room for “non essentials” or clutter. Because clutter just waists space. Here are a few quick pointers I use that help me be as efficient as possible in my car. These few great rules of thumb apply to anyone trying the same thing or going on an extended road trip.

1. Preparation
They say the hardest part of any journey is the first step. Well in this case your first step is preparation- setting yourself up to succeed. In my experience climbing various mountains, we climbers have a term we refer to as “Base Camp.” Base camp is where all climbers gather to discuss strategy, plan of attack, and to prep and check gear. It’s absolutely essential that this preparation be taken before every single climb. The same is true for any big trip. Why? Because the last thing a climber wants (or needs) is to carry up weight that they will never use. Or worse, forget something of importance because they just didn’t prepare well enough. Proper preparation is sitting down and making a list, keeping in mind the purpose of your trip and how long you will be there. The best part about a list is it provides you the ability to double check yourself. If instead of sitting down and making a list, I were to walk around my house asking myself “do I need this? Do I need this? or this…?” more often than not, I’m going to find a way to justify bringing a ton of extra stuff that I just don’t need.

Tip:  If you can’t find more than 3 immediate uses for it, then don’t bring it.

2. Consolidation
This is huge! Spending a little extra time to maximize your space is so essential to living in small spaces. What I mean by this is, find ways to put things inside of other things without compromising ease of access. For example, my toiletry bag. I have two, and one is a Nalgene bottle. The other is a normal toiletry bag I store underneath my seat when I need to refill. I keep my Nalgene close and most often in my backpack stored in the front seat for accessibility whenever I need it, but everything else I need to  clean up fits nicely into my water bottle. There are so many ways to consolidate, so be mindful and always on the look out to conserve your space.

Tip: The habit of some is to over consolidate. Yes, there is such a thing. It happens most often when trying to fit too much into a space and the result is having difficult access to what you need. The idea is to pack, not stuff. An example of over consolidating might be stuffing shirts in your shoes. While this would maximize your space , you would be compromising convenience (and potentially smelly shirts). My suggestion would be to roll up your belts and place it in your shoes instead. Still saving space, but compromising less.

3. Clothes

Bring only what you need. “Oh yeah Chris, because it’s that simple.” No, trust me, I wish it was. If you have ever packed for any kind of trip before, even for a weekend trip, you know you are faced with countless decisions on what to and what not-to bring. What you need to bring will vary depending on the length of your trip. Just keep in mind, you do not need as much as you think you do. Contrary to popular belief, no one is looking at you saying, “Wait, didn’t he/she wear that yesterday?” Listen. You don’t need your whole wardrobe. Remember, the trick is layers. A base layer for warmth, a good pair of jeans, a shirt for style, a sweater for that little extra, and a jacket. Throw a couple of other shirts in there for sweat factor and don’t forget your socks. Socks are your friends. (Why do you think they have sock puppets?) Having a few good pair of socks to wear during the day and a nice warm pair of socks to sleep in at night is the way to go. After a long cold day, the last thing you want is to slip into your sleeping bag with stinky socks. If its cold, you are most likely going to have your sleeping bag over your head, and having to smell those god-awful things all night is the worst, trust me. It only takes once to learn. Socks, underwear and base layers are what get smelly. So pack extras of those. Everything else,  keep to a minimal. Last thing, Don’t make the rookie “7 mistake.” The “7 mistake” is thinking you need 7 of everything to make it through the week. No, no, no.

Tip: Throw a clean pair of wool socks and a pair of long underwear at the bottom of your sleeping bag (and keep them there) so they stay clean and extra warm when you slip them on at night.When you change throw them back and remember to wash them every once in a while.

4. Placement
Where you store things is also really important when on a road trip or living out of your car. When my girlfriend and I took our two-and-a-half week stint across the Northeast, one of the things we did that was so critical to our time management at pitstops was having our clothing accessible from our back doors. Her clothes by her back door and my clothes by mine. This allowed for quick and easy access to change into warmer layers or to change at pitstops quickly without having to move a ton of things around. A good rule of thumb here is, ideally you want to move things around as less often as possible, so keep what you need close and things you use most often, closer. 

Tip: If living out of your car (or trying #hotelprius) I recommend going to home depot and buying a 2in dowel rod as a clothing rack for $4, measuring what you need (for the Prius its 40in), and cut it using their in-store hack saw. It’s cheap and is a perfect solution for keeping clothes consolidated, tidy and fresh.

5. Food
The more food you can bring and store with you, the less money you will need to spend on the road. If you value cost efficiency and want to keep costs down, make room for your food. What you have room for may vary but in my experience food is the thing you will be reaching for most while driving, so you want to keep it close. For me, I have a snack bin that sits comfortably in my passenger seat for munching while driving and I also have a food storage bin thats sits behind my passenger seat, right underneath my head when I sleep. This is located right next to my passenger back door for easy access when I need to pull over and prepare something more substantial. This serves two purposes, 1. it gives me an extra foot of sleeping room and 2. keeps it tidy and convenient for when I need to prepare something.

Tip: The top of the Steralite lid provides an excellent table while preparing your food. Moving it to your trunk, and setting up a chair makes the perfect impromptu kitchen table.

6. The Little things

Little things are fine. But keep them little. If you insist on sleeping with a teddy bear, don’t bring you’re stuffed moose. Think small.  This is often where I get caught up myself. “But what if I get stranded and need this giant roll of duct tape?” While I’ll agree duct tape is a very useful and multifunctional item, finding a compromise is often your best bet. Perhaps wrapping a few feet around a old medicine bottle stuffed with other items like safety pins, spare matches, a few cotton balls for tender, etc. will serve you best. This will also relieve any stress you have about being stranded “out in the wild.”

Tip: Creating an emergency kit and keeping a small bag of tools in your trunk somewhere isn’t a bad idea. I use an old Altoids can for the emergency kit and a fanny pack to store my tools.  I’ll create a post soon with the perfect emergency kit for any situation. Just stay tuned.

If you keep these things in mind, added to your own personal style, you should be all set.

Happy Traveling.

Adventure on friends.