Okay, so I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and Facebook groups for full-time RVers, and when one of them mentioned living in a van, I felt like that appealed to my minimalist aspirations. But then someone mentioned living in their Toyota Prius, and my jaw dropped. You gotta be kidding!
She’s not. She is Suanne, and here is her blog. She travels alone, and carries everything she needs with her in her “Prius RV” as she calls it. She says she uses it as a sort of hard-sided tent, which if you think about it, makes a lot of sense! It’s secure, with locking doors and an alarm system for emergencies. Because it’s a hybrid, it’s also climate-controlled because you can run the engine all night and it runs on battery power for most of the time. You can set the temperature to whatever you prefer, and then just go to sleep. The gasoline engine will come on for about 5 minutes out of every 30 or 40 minutes, long enough to charge the big hybrid battery, and then turn back off again.
The Prius hatchback style has the rear seats that fold down flat, so you can put a mattress back there and stretch out. If you’re very tall, you could even build a bit of a platform over the front seats and have more than 7 feet of sleeping space! I’ve heard of some pre-made platforms, in fact, but it seems fairly straightforward to just build your own. Keithm did that on the Prius chat forums, and his end result looks great. Comfy, even.
The drawback is that there’s not a lot of height for rolling over or sitting up. However, there’s a nifty invention that bridges that gap as well: it’s called the Habitent.
It’s a little tent that fastens to the rear of a Prius, allowing you to sleep with the hatchback open. This would give you a lot more sitting-up space in the back, but still no more sleeping area since it covers the hatchback area but that’s it. It doesn’t even touch the ground.
I was curious about it, and asked the good people of my Prius fan Facebook group about it. I got the following reviews:
“I have one. I liked it and used it for a while…the set up time on the Habitent is fast, the air flow inside the car with the windows even cracked open a little, is substantial… the Habitent helps for two sleepers. It is good in rain and with insects.” –David Swanson
“I have a Habitent, and I love it for all but stealth. They are sturdy, and hold up surprisingly well to moderate winds. Mine succumbed to hurricane winds, and even then gave it the old college try.
I agree that it allows for greater movement. I check the light direction and change my clothes inside. I sit up and read. It protects from bugs. That’s a “yes” from me.“ –Roxi from The Good Luck Duck
Our one experience with all 3 of us sleeping in our Prius didn’t turn out well. Perhaps for my next solo trip I’ll give it a try. There is a small community online of people who live in their Priuses (Prii?), and they’re very loyal to their little hybrids. It might be worth a serious thought, if you’re traveling alone or with only 1 other person. For 3 it was definitely too tight a squeeze!