After picking a vehicle to live in, one of the most important steps in preparing for CarDwelling was figuring out window shades for privacy. Considering that Honda Fits have a ton of windows and are basically fishbowls, this was especially essential.
I did a lot of research on window coverings for VanDwelling/CarDwelling and there are a lot of options, including uber dark window tint, curtains, foam board cutouts, suction-cup shades, home-made reflectix inserts, and specially-designed window shades from the car manufacturer.
Since I was going to be traveling extensively around the country and dark window tint is illegal and strictly enforced in many states, I ruled that option out. I also ruled-out the manufacturer-designed sun shades, because of the price.
Curtains seem like they could be a good idea, except that hanging them is a huge hassle, as is finding/making curtains that are suitably dark/light-blocking for privacy use. But the main reason I decided against using curtains was because it makes it more obvious that someone is living in the vehicle. (This is slightly less true with a car, because in general people are highly unlikely to assume that someone is living in a small car. But if I see a van with curtains in it, I always assume that someone is living in it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it makes it a lot harder to blend in and a lot more difficult to be stealthy about the fact that you’re living in your vehicle, boondocking in front of people’s homes!)
From what I’ve read about suction-cup shades, they’re a pain to use… and finding one to fit every window would be virtually impossible.
That left reflectix or foam board. I liked the idea of foam board because it could be black (so would just look like dark tint,) but ultimately chose to go with reflectix because of the insulating factor as well as its flexibility – when not in use it can be rolled up, unlike foam board.
I bought a roll of reflectix for under $25, traced each of my Honda Fit’s windows, and then cut out a reflectix piece to fit each one.
I am 100% happy with my choice to use reflectix to cover my windows for CarDwelling.
- It’s insulating, so it keeps the car cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather.
- It is 100% light-proof. I will sit at night on a busy residential street with my lantern on, working on my laptop, and no one passing by my car has a clue.
- It has never attracted any attention, and since I live on the road alone, this is an important aspect to feeling safe for me. It basically just looks like I have sun shades in each window… which might make people think I’m eccentric, but it’s not an obvious “Oh, someone is living in this car,” like curtains would be.
At first I was concerned it would be a hassle to put them in each night and take them back out each morning, but it takes under 2 minutes and I don’t even think about it anymore. The reflectix is stiff enough to pop into each window and stay there, but flexible so I just roll the pieces together into a bundle and tie them up with a ribbon for storage during the day.
Having window coverings that are completely privacy-proof is essential if you’re going to be living in your car or van.
I would definitely recommend reflectix, but if you are using a different option I would love to hear about it!