Living the van life is one thing. But most of us don’t aspire to live out of our cars for any length of time. They’re cramped, there’s no bathroom, and, if you’ve ever tried sleeping in your car, you know that it just sucks. One YouTuber decided to take on the challenge of living out of his Tesla. With a bit of customization and some ingenuity, he managed to travel the United States for an entire year in relative comfort.
Like all great (read crazy) ideas, Sandro van Kuijck’s cross-country road trip started as an experiment of sorts. The YouTuber, who goes by Everyday Sandro, bought a Tesla Model 3 EV and tested his car camping skills in and around Texas in 2022. In the early days of his trip, he confirmed that he was getting kicked out of pretty much everywhere, and constantly having to pay to charge his electric car was crazy expensive. But he soon learned how to set up privacy screens and sleep at public charging stations to avoid detection by cops and other nosey passers-by. Using the PlugShare app, he could also find free charging stations to keep the cost of refueling his electric vehicle down.
Six months after his trip began, he upgraded to a Model X. This provided more sleeping space to spread out and even enough room to set up a mobile camp kitchen of sorts. The new Tesla’s hatch allowed for stretching out into the rear at night, which was not only way more comfortable but stealthier, too. Van Kuijck custom-built the kitchen from scratch out of plywood and off-the-rack camp cooking gear. It features a clever telescoping design extending well past the car’s tailgate for easy access to the toaster, blender, electric kettle, and even an induction cooktop. He claims the all-in price was about $1,200, plus about $500 for the portable power station that powers it all from the hatch of his electric vehicle.
Of course, an all-electric long-haul road trip isn’t cheap. He spent two months ahead of his trip scrimping and saving for the journey by working on-demand jobs like Uber Eats, Amazon Flex, and DoorDash. While touring the U.S., his in-car cooking setup allowed him to save money by not dining out.
Ahead of his roundtrip drive to Alaska, Van Kuijck shared this video (complete with a Bob Barker-style microphone) demonstrating his Model X’s full sleeping, cooking, and living setup.
Not surprisingly, Van Kuijck isn’t the first daydreaming van lifer to take their Tesla on a whirlwind camping tour. A quick YouTube search of “car camping Tesla” returns hundreds of results. That’s largely thanks to the EV’s clever Camp Mode, which allows tech-savvy car campers to charge their devices and keep the cabin comfortable with automatic climate control (both heat and AC) overnight with minimal drain on the battery.
Van Kuijck seems to have no regrets about his journey. Although, he does admit to feeling unsafe in some parts of the country. Because the Tesla Model X is a bit of a novelty in places like Alaska and northern Canada, looky-loos would occasionally check out his ride, sometimes not realizing a person was sleeping inside. On those rare occasions, he said he would just activate the Tesla’s Sentry Mode to monitor his surroundings and keep him safe.
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