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How to sleep rough Print
I estimate have made a saving of a couple of thausend euro over a year of sleeping rough. Most of that time I spent in shacks and in a tent, occasionally in an open bivvy. Finding a decent shack is not an easy task and you have to be lucky as their whereabouts are a secret that spreads only by "word of mouth" amongst reliable friends. If you find one you have to obey the house-rules. This normally means being flexible, cooperative and paying lots of respect to other shack-dwellers. You will learn them from the shack master, the person who has been living there for the longest time. Shacks are mostly men inhabited places and you have to be prepared to face often very radically orthodox and alternative approaches to life.

Camping wild is officially forbidden in most places. You have to show creativity to local watch-man who are rewarded by B&B owners for keeping you off the free zone. A small green tent gives you an advantage in this hide and seek game. Proximity to water source and rubbish bins is an absolute must if you are staying for more than a week.
scroll over and click on to get inside of the shack

If you want to stay close to a town look for big parks on the outskirts of its richer districts. You may pitch your tent on a bushy patch on the border of a private propriety and a public park. This might help you to pretend to be a confused tourist when caught. When found by the proprietor you can claim you had thought it to be public ground and when by public authorities, the other way round. Playing a "dumb blond" game is the best tactic to use when faced with the authorities. Another good approach, which I used, is clearing the surrounding area of all rubbish and claiming that you are part of a "Environmental Clear-up Day". Additionally, you can leave a note on a piece of a board pined to your tent, saying something in the lines of "I am sorry for invading this grassy patch, I will not be staying for much longer, thank you for your understanding". I stayed like this for 3 months in Annecy and for a month in Paris. My mate Ollie was most amused discovering that I even managed to start up and run a lanscape designing business from Parisian woods. The biggest annoyance is ticks and in June and July you have to invest in a powerful insect repellent. Spray your skin before you get into your sleeping bag and don't be lazy to de-bug when you feel one crawling around, already cosily wrapped up. Fold up the bag and spray the tent in the morning before leaving. Regularly check soft parts of your body for the bustards. You tend to get them in your armpits, on your stomach and in your crotch. A simple way to get rid of them is to spread them with grease, or screw out anticlockwise. The latter is sometimes difficult to do on your own. For the former I used mayonnaise, a straw and aluminium ashtray, all of which you can get from fast food restaurants. How to do it? Take the straw, half fill it with mayonnaise by sucking it. Blow out enough to coat the bustard well. Cover with the ashtray to prevent from grease getting wiped off by your clothes and tape it to your body. With this system it should be gone one hour later. Pulling it out within first 12 hours is the safest method according to my GP. Visit a doctor immediately if you have nausea, vomiting or a high fewer. Ticks can cause fatal diseases 12 hours to 7 days after injecting their painkilling venom.

Choosing a cosy open air bivvy. A hammock is the best way of sleeping in the woods and building sites work safely in the towns. Find a house that is under construction but has got stairs and floors already installed. High piles of bricks or wood ply on building sites make a bed like platform and keep you away from dodgy scum of the city.


  • Get yourself a caravan or find a shacking, squatting place
  • When in a shack obey its rules, respect flatmates, be flexible and understanding
  • When sleeping rough, it's better to confront animals than people