Kylyssa Shay was homeless for over a year in her youth; it lead to her activism involving homelessness. She thinks, feels, and has opinions.
A Spending Plan for Homeless People, and Suggestions for Those Who Would Help
I wrote this page initially to help people without hope make a plan to spend any money they get to better their situations. This list of items and suggestions comes from my own experience and these items are some of the things I bought with an unexpected windfall when I was homeless.
Now mostly I maintain this list to encourage people to buy these sorts of items to give to homeless people they know. It's all about helping people make a plan, spreading awareness, and giving people something concrete and empowering to do about homelessness. I think it would be of great benefit to everyone if we citizens could take it upon ourselves to help end this problem, starting with the people we see every day.
The Washington couple who started the $20 backpack homeless care kit charity movement (see the end of this article) claim this article inspired the direction they took in helping those in need while sticking to a tight budget.
Small Items That Build a Ramp Out of Homelessness
When I was homeless about twenty-five years ago, I came across a hundred dollars in a cigarette pack. Someone's carelessness with his or her money saved my life. I think without it my life would have been very different, and may well have ended well before now.
The reason that relatively small amount of money made a life-changing difference is that I'd carefully worked out how to spend it long before that windfall came my way. I was tempted to spend it in other ways, like buying a couple nights in a motel room with a bed, a bathroom, and (best of all) a locking door, or seeing a doctor. But these temporary luxuries would not have helped me in my plan.
Others might face different temptations, but if carefully spent, even smaller amounts of money can be used to build a ramp up out of the pit of homelessness.
Goals, Tasks, and Items for Escaping Homelessness
If you are homeless, a survival kit can help you accomplish your goals:
- Getting a regular job.
- Keeping a regular job.
- Conserving enough money to get an apartment or rent a room.
To accomplish your goals you must be:
To accomplish your goals you must have:
- An address
- A phone number
- An alarm clock or watch
- A place to bathe
- A clean place to sleep, or a way to stay clean when you sleep
- Clean clothes
Below is my list of items you can get or buy to accomplish your goals.
1. A Backpack
You need a place for all your important possessions. A backpack is probably the single most important item you can buy for your homeless survival kit.
A backpack allows you to carry all your belongings with you at all times. Unattended items will usually get stolen or vandalized, so everything you absolutely need must come with you wherever you go.
Sleep with your backpack on. I used to reverse mine when I went to sleep, and wear it on my front where I could curl around it while sleeping on my side. If you can, tie the backpack shut at night, with a piece of wire or string through its closures, so thieves have to struggle to open it and wake you. It's very easy to do with backpacks that have a two-tab zipper arrangement on their closures; you can take your wire or string and tie it through both zipper tab holes.
You can buy a backpack at a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army for about $5. Don't worry about how it looks, if it has cartoon characters on it or whatever, only concern yourself with whether or not it is tough and will hold up with lots of use. Before buying, be sure it closes completely and that the zippers are sturdy and not broken.
Don't buy anything too fancy or it might get stolen and maybe even get you hurt in the process. Keep this in mind if you are buying a backpack for someone else, too.
2. Mylar Emergency Blanket
A Mylar emergency blanket can keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Face the shiny side in to stay warm. Face the shiny side out to stay cool.
Emergency preparedness kits have become popular, and they usually include a Mylar blanket. You can usually find a kit containing a Mylar blanket and other useful items, or a Mylar blanket by itself, at stores like Target, Walmart, and K-Mart. I've also seen the blankets sold by themselves in drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS as well as in some dollar stores.
You can usually buy a Mylar emergency blanket for under $3.
3. Pads, Tampons, Feminine Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, and Dignity
If Making up knapsack packs for others who are women, please include pads, tampons, hand sanitizer, and flushable moist wipes. These items can be assembled in plastic zipper bags ahead of time to add to kits as they are given out.
- Homeless Periods, a Problem of Poverty, Dignity, and Feminine Hygiene
Menstruating isn't considered fun by anyone, but having your period while homeless sucks in its own special way. Learn how you can help women dealing with homelessness and menstruation, including suggestions for making homeless period hygiene kits.
4. Bar Soap and Antiperspirant
It's hard to stay clean and smelling fresh without them.
You can use bar soap to get yourself and even your clothes clean in a pinch. Combine it with a washcloth and a resealable plastic bag and it'll be a lot easier to wash up.
Bar soap usually costs less than $2 and washcloths can often be found in dollar stores.
Get some good, scented antiperspirant. Be sure it says it's antiperspirant and not just deodorant. Antiperspirant contains deodorant but it also reduces the amount you sweat. Deodorant usually just covers up odors with a scent or perhaps neutralizes them. But deodorant still allows you to sweat and the sweat that wicks into your clothes will soon start to stink.
You can get a stick of antiperspirant for around $2.
5. Brushes for Teeth and Hair
Homeless does not have to equal unkempt.
Well-brushed hair can pass for clean longer than un-brushed hair. A comb will work too, and it is smaller to carry. You can buy travel-sized brushes for a dollar or less in many stores and combs run even less.
You can't keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh without using a toothbrush, so invest in a toothbrush and some toothpaste. Toothbrushes and toothpaste can usually be found for $2 or less.
6. Pants and Shirts
Certain fabrics withstand the rigors of homelessness better than others.
To buy any clothes you don't get free from a charity, go to a thrift store. If you can't find everything you need at a single one, go to others. If you can't find a particular item, wait a few days, they might get it in.
Buy polyester or other thin, synthetic-fiber shirts and pants; they might not look as nice, but they shed dirt and wrinkles much more easily than natural fibers. Also they can be rolled or folded up very small to pack away in a small bag, and they dry more quickly when washed.
Also, buy some cotton t-shirts of the sort that can be worn without a shirt over them. You can wear these on days you don't have a job interview or work to go to.
Try to get at least three shirts, three pairs of pants, and three t-shirts.
If you stick to the suggested fabrics, your entire wardrobe will fit in a single washer and dryer load so you may be able to cheaply wash your clothes at a Laundromat if your funds allow.
7. Underclothes That Dry Quickly
For women, the socks to get are called trouser socks. For men they are called dress socks. You can usually get these for about a dollar a pair in dollar stores or big box stores. If you can't wear synthetic material socks, buy the kind you can wear. If synthetics don't work for you, cotton socks usually work for anyone.
Try to have at least three pairs of socks. Some charities hand out socks. It's better to have more than three pairs because a sock change in the middle of the day can greatly increase foot comfort.
The best underpants you can get for men are actually those silky bikini-style briefs. The best underwear and bras for women also follow this trend: thin, synthetic fabrics which can be hand washed and which dry quickly. Synthetics don't take as long to dry as cotton, but their most important advantage is they are more resistant to mold and mildew.
Try to have at least three sets of underwear.
These are not the undergarments homed people tend to desire, but their ease of care and ability to dry quickly allows you to have clean underclothes which feels a lot better than the alternative. Their resistance to mold and mildew helps prevent them from stinking up your pack when you have to store them damp inside it. It also helps you avoid stinking and having to wear moldy underwear.
Washing clean, shedding dirt easily, and resisting mildew as well as drying very quickly are what make me consider these types of underclothing to be good choices.
8. A Plastic Drop Cloth or Tarp
A plastic drop cloth of the kind people use to protect floors and furniture when they paint will provide you with a clean surface to sleep on and can shelter you from the rain in a pinch. You can fold it up small to carry with you.
You can buy a plastic drop cloth for under $3 at most hardware or home improvement stores or in stores like Walmart, Target, or Sears.
9. Pepper Spray
I was reluctant to put this on the list because I've been strongly criticized for doing so, but the fact remains that homeless people are frequently assaulted or raped. It's not pretty, but it's true. Many predators prey on the poor. So pepper spray is a good thing to have on hand for protection.
However, if you are making up packs to give to other people, you can leave this item out if you are concerned it could be used to do harm.
10. A Phone Number
Cell phones can provide stable phone numbers.
If you can't convince someone to let you use their phone number as a message phone, you may need to get a cell phone.
Pay-as-you-go cell phones are getting cheaper these days. You can buy a cell phone for as little as $20 and you can get enough minutes for three months' use for about $35. This will give you a functional phone number to put on job applications.
Additionally, many cell phones have an alarm clock function which will help you keep appointments and get to interviews on time. If your cell phone has a clock and alarm function, you won't need to also buy a watch or alarm clock.
It can be tricky to keep your cell phone charged. If possible, try to pick up a solar cell phone charger. If you have a job, plug your phone in at work. If not, perhaps a friend or acquaintance who has a home could be convinced to let you charge it at their home.
11. A Swiss Army Knife or Other Pocket-Sized Multi-Tool
A good, sturdy Swiss Army knife or multi-tool can be a life-saver. I used mine to open bottles and cans, to pull out slivers, to cut food packages open, to cut loose threads off my clothes, and just so many other things I couldn't list them all here without it getting ridiculous.
A multi-tool or Swiss Army knife is clearly a tool, so it might be less likely to get police all upset than a regular pocket knife if they do a stop and frisk on you. I found that to be the case, but I was a small and very young-looking white woman so what applied to me might not apply to others. Maybe it helped that it was in my pocket with a sewing kit?
12. Tools for Sewing
You'll probably want to have a sewing kit so you can repair your clothing. It will help you keep your clothes looking presentable longer and fix functional issues like missing buttons. The sewing kit pictured below is a good example of a pocket-sized sewing kit. Choose a kit that has a sturdy case because the ones in plastic bags or flimsy cases will fall apart on you, and eventually leave you with a tangled up wad of thread with needles stuck in it.
13. An Address
Beg, borrow, or buy an address. Do your darnedest to get a friend or acquaintance to let you use their mailing address on job applications. It's the easiest option for many people. If none of your friends, family members, or acquaintances are willing to let you use their mailing address on job applications check at local churches to see if they would allow you to use their address for this purpose. I have heard that many of them will provide this service for homeless people.
Another option is to go to the Post Office and apply to get your mail by general delivery, which means you get your mail right at that specific Post Office. Unfortunately, many Post Offices don't do this anymore, but a few small town offices still do so it can't hurt to ask if you live somewhere rural.
The other alternative is to buy a Post Office box so you can have an address. The cost of this varies but you should be able to get a basic Post Office box for $50 - $85 for six months rent. Unfortunately, most PO boxes have to be paid in a lump sum and some of them require an additional deposit.
If you are unable to get a box at the Post Office due to not having an address, try the private mail service companies like Mail Boxes Etc, the UPS Store, Pak Mail, or similar stores.
Even if you can't get a friend or acquaintance to let you use their address to receive mail at or to list on applications, you may be able to get them to let you use their address to get a Post Office box or mail box at a mail store.
14. Hats and Gloves
Without a home, people need more protection from the elements.
Even if it isn't particularly cold where you live, wearing a hat and gloves at night can help keep a homeless sleeper warmer. The hat will not only keep your head warm, it will also keep you from getting stuff in your hair if you roll off your bedroll and onto the ground.
I've found some really great hats, gloves, and scarves in my local dollar stores lately, so I know these can generally be found for a dollar or so.
It's not easy getting reliable meals on the street.
Check out the food banks and soup kitchens in your area before buying food. Also, apply for food assistance through your local human resources department. They may also be able to direct you to other helpful resources. It can be hard to take charity but this will allow you to save up for that apartment or room.
When those resources are exhausted and you must buy food, think cheap, easily prepared without a kitchen, and high in calories. This is not a nutritionally sound diet for long term use, but it will prevent outright starvation and give you enough energy to seek better. Ramen noodles are one of the best deals. They are high in calories, very light to carry around, and you can eat them dry if necessary. Bread is also light and cheap, especially if you buy day-old baked goods. Canned beans are cheap and provide protein.
Once you can swing it, buy nutritious foods including plenty of vegetables and fruits. Avoid buying meat, as it is difficult to prepare without a stove and is not a cost-effective source of protein. Avoid soda, candy, and salty snacks; they have no real nutritive value and don't provide the energy other foods do. Obviously, you should avoid foods that require preparation with a stove or oven.
If you live in a rural area, you may be able to convince farmers to either let you glean their fields (pick leftover fruit or vegetables after the harvest) or pay a small fee to pick fruit or vegetables from their fields.
This advice is not intended as a suggestion for your long-term diet. These are bare survival strategies intended to help you make it to a point when food is readily available and you have the luxury of making healthy choices rather than just staying alive.
If buying food to give to others, choose ready-to-eat non-perishables like canned foods, granola bars, and peanut butter. Some people are allergic to peanut butter, but they will usually know if they are and trade or give it to someone who can eat it. It's high in protein and doesn't spoil quickly. If you buy canned food be sure it has a pull top so it can be opened without a can opener.
If you are filling a pack for other people, keep in mind that many homeless people have trouble chewing due to poor dental health from a variety of causes. For this reason, I wouldn't pack anything hard like granola bars in a generic pack intended for random distribution.
16. A Watch or Travel Alarm
A wrist watch or travel alarm helps people get to work, interviews, and other appointments on time.
A watch is probably most practical as you can look at it at any point without pulling it out of your pack.
You can usually buy a cheap digital watch for around ten dollars. If you are lucky, you may find a functioning watch with a battery in a secondhand store for less.
If you already have a cell phone or intend to get one, check to see if it has an alarm and clock function before buying a watch.
I'd suggest using public transportation, purchased in multi-use cards or tickets as they are cheaper per use than individual fares. For those who are physically able, adding a decent used bicycle will add flexibility to transportation options, and many city buses have racks to hold them so you can combine them with public transportation.
18. Showers and Keeping Clean
Now here's the difficult part. It's hard to stay clean when you are sleeping outside. It's difficult to shower often enough.
Lay down your tarp and put your bedding on it before lying down.
Wear the same clothes to sleep in for several nights. For work or interviews, change into clean clothes from your backpack. Don't sleep in your day clothes; roll them up neatly and store them in your pack to avoid getting them soiled or wrinkled.
When you go into a public restroom, grab some paper towels and wet them before going into the stall. You can do a little clean up in the stall with the wet towels. It works better to have a washcloth that you can store in a Ziploc type storage bag or other waterproof container.
If you find a bathroom with a locking door like a gas station bathroom, wash right at the sink as best you can. Use lots of soap and water and use a lot of antiperspirant after you dry your underarms. Never leave a mess behind because it will encourage business owners to lock their bathroom. Also it's basic courtesy.
Wet wipes are your best friend. While the kind that come a whole bunch in a pack are cheaper, the individually wrapped ones remove any concerns about their liquid evaporating or leaking all over your stuff. The individually wrapped ones fit easily into your pocket.
To get even more out of your antiperspirant, turn your shirts inside out and rub a bunch of antiperspirant into the cloth of the shirt everywhere your underarms might touch. That way, after the antiperspirant wears off of your body there will be a little bit of a backup on your clothes. When you get laundry access, pre-treat the underarm area of shirts and dresses by putting the soap on them and rubbing it in before washing. It will help you avoid underarm stains.
If you can find a truck stop that sells showers, you have hit cleanliness gold. You can buy a shower for several dollars at many truck stops.
What to Do With the Rest of Your Money
If possible, put it in a bank account. If that isn't possible, buy traveler's checks or money orders made out to yourself. This will prevent people from stealing your hard-earned cash.
Do not spend any money on anything at all but necessities. This means no entertainment, no alcohol, no drugs, no single nights in motel rooms.
Be strong and think about the future. Save every penny you possibly can to get an apartment or to rent a room. Keep that room with a locking door in mind as your motivation.
What These Amazing People Did With This List: A Personal Note
I found this video about a $20 homeless backpack care kit because it had gone viral on the Internet and I clicked on it. You can not possibly imagine my surprise when I was watching it, not knowing I had anything to do with it, when, there on the screen, was my article. The authors fulfilled my fondest wish, not only because they are doing what I hoped people would do with the information, but because they've successfully popularized the idea in a way I could not. Many more people will be doing this and other things to help people in need. It fills my heart with joy!
These lovely people not only put this list into use but were gracious enough to say where they got the idea. Putting love into action makes us all greater for it.
A very useful homeless backpack charity website inspired by the couple who claim to have been inspired by this article.
- Infographic: How to Survive the Street and Work oward Employment and a Home | The Homeless Hub
An article and infographic created by The Homeless Hub using text from this article.
How You Can Use The Information on This Page to Help Homeless People
Please, if this page is useful to your mission to help homeless people, feel free to print it out to share. If you want to use it on the web, please link to this page instead of cutting and pasting it to use. Pasting it in big pieces may get it taken down by the host website and make this resource unavailable to others who find it through existing links on charity websites. Some charities and activists have plugged fairly big direct quotes into infographics programs to make images to use on their websites. I love it when they do that! Images with my words in them will not harm this page but I ask that you allow such images to be freely shared as I do not extend copyright permission for any kind of exclusive use.
Some soup kitchens have printed out a less detailed version to hand out, making a slightly edited version of the text available for people to read. Some churches have edited the information in this lens to add to church bulletins.
If you want to take it to a more personal level you could print off this page (or the parts you'd like to) and put it and as many of the items listed as is practical into backpacks to distribute to homeless people. For the clothing, many thrift stores either have gift certificates or credit vouchers one can buy to serve in its stead.
I have been delighted and humbled by the number of people asking me how they can use this information to help others.
What Purpose Does This Page Serve?
This is not just about ending homelessness, it is about understanding our obligations to each other as human beings. I'm a humanist and to me that means that the only help and hope we have as human beings necessarily comes from each other. I also believe that helping the less fortunate members of the family of humanity helps the helpers as well. It's like being a good parent, child, or sibling; it gives a person a sense of connectedness and strength.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 Kylyssa Shay
What Items Would Be in Your Homelessness Survival and Escape Kit?
Patrick Du on September 03, 2020:
I am young man and is getting ready for a hard life but peaceful.
Margaret on May 09, 2020:
Thank you so much for your website. From your suggestions and all of the comments, I have put together a very long list of items. Because there are too many to fill even a backpack with, I am going to go through the list and make smaller theme lists to fill ziplock bags, as well as backpacks. Thank you for the inspiration!
Kelly kelly on April 14, 2019:
I just want to add a can opener and if someone could figure out a fool proof way to cook food that would be so helpful i k ow fromecpierience. Myself and how to keep a large amount of juice or tea cuz the sugar intake is very important you loose energy from the sun if you dont maintain sertain carbs and augars for aome reason teavh ppl how to can and grow your own food one thing being homeless you can always find anice size spot of dirt somewhere where ppl wont bug you give thwm seeds and let them grow a few things thru out the yeari did it in the middle. Of an abandoned field grew tomatoes varrots potaotoes watermelon and a few other things i vould get away with discretly thank you you have made me fewl alot bwtter about the way ppl look at us
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 16, 2018:
I'd suggest contacting local food pantries for advice because every location and situation is different. You may be able to simply drop them off at a local food pantry, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter.
carmen williams on December 10, 2018:
My 11 yr. old granddaughter found this link on Pinterest and wanted the two of us to create packs for the homeless using the info here. My question: what is the best way to distribute them? I'm leery of just handing them out a car window to someone on the street.
Hermione on July 30, 2018:
Thiis and the video have give me ideas to make care packages and hand them out in my city.Thank you!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 03, 2016:
That's a great idea. A local bus pass would make a great addition to packs you hand out to others.
H C DuChamp from USA on July 02, 2016:
This is fantastic, I've been trying to come up with some ideas of my own for a "kit" like this to have at the ready to hand out. Very good information on what are the best items to include.
One other thing it occurred to me to add - a 7 day bus pass for people who are on foot.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 03, 2015:
Thank you for reading and thank you for deciding to help people in need.
Indy on December 02, 2015:
Kylyssa, thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice. I've always wanted to do more to help the homeless and this gives me a focused direction. I was fortunate to have the resources to stay off the street, but it could've easily been different. Once you come that close to homelessness, you have a different perspective! I will be making up Homeless Care Backpacks and will share this info out on my Self-Reliance Blog (IndyQuillen.com) with a link to this page. Yes, it won't prevent poverty, but perhaps a backpack can help another person have some comfort and dignity and just maybe find their way off the streets.. Thanks again - bless you!
Jacqui from New Zealand on July 13, 2015:
Kylyssa - thanks for sharing this hub. Whilst it has not been a part of my past (and no-one assumes it will be part of their future, but it could so easily be any of us), it is a very useful hub to have read. I'm thinking that once we are a little more flush, I'm going to look into this - we have a rising poverty problem for some reason in NZ, and there are more people who are homeless than I remember being when I was a child and first realising that not everyone was as lucky as I was.
It's heartening to know that you managed to make your way out of homelessness, but have not forgotten what you learnt, who you met, and what helped - and passing this forward ensures that someone else does not have the same struggles you had - the actions of a truely decent human. Thank you.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 17, 2015:
Thank you. If you click the first link under the video you'll find several crowd-sourced projects. The URL for the listing of homeless backpack care kits projects is http://homelessbackpack.net/index.html if you'd like to contribute to one of them. I am disabled now so most of what I do myself is provide ideas, suggestions, advice, and written materials for charities. I no longer can do so now I try to teach.
poetryman6969 on June 17, 2015:
I love the emphasis in your post. If you ever decide to crowd fund your back pack idea sure to let it be known here on hubpages so that those of us who agree with your point of view can support what you are doing.
Be blessed. I think your advice can really help some people.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 17, 2015:
Thanks to all for reading.
@Shyron E Shenko
You are absolutely right, one never knows when job loss, a condemned or foreclosed apartment, fire, natural disaster, injury, illness, or something else might render a person or family homeless. I know people who keep a similar kit in a backpack in case of emergency.
I'm delighted by how people have been using this page and with the videos they've made. Thank you for sharing. I hope it leads to more people acting on the information.
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on June 17, 2015:
Great article with lots of tips and great videos. So much so I have promoted your post in my blog with a link to your post. Many thanks for sharing.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 16, 2015:
Kylyssa, bless you for the information you have given here, you never know when you/me may end up being homeless.
Blessings and Hugs
Monica on June 06, 2015:
Great article and video..... the only thing I would add is to have some small packs of sanitary pads or tampons in ones car to pop into the backpack if giving it to a female.
Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on May 25, 2015:
Such an inspiring hub. I'm glad it has already been used by good people- the video adaption is great! I would usually buy a hot drink and a sandwich or something like that, but I see now how other items can be better used!
TheSameoldsonganddance on September 08, 2014:
Thank you for this wonderful post! It's too bad we are stuck between either religious facism or Big Brother facism with both groups fighting each other giving Americans an illusion of choice when in reality it's all the same to you!
What I see in American and world wide politics is the same problem in/during WW2 of the Right Wing Nazi's VS Left Wing Communism where both paths have lead to a mountain of skulls.
Only they are doing it secretly by patrolling our skies with geo engineering and toxins in our water supply to help make us dumb so we won't think for ourselves.
Foods these days have GMO without telling you and if you are allergic to GMO you will notice right away after eating the said food so pay attention to what you're body tells you!!!!!!! Do not let the US Government deceive you!!!!
I was part of the Religious movement so I can see thru the lies and am now a fugitive myself and risk homelessness all the time. It won't take much for the *Homeless* button to be pushed.
It's the same old story. Same old song and dance!!!!
SolarLighting on August 18, 2014:
Truly interesting read! @CalobrenaOmai - I've come to really appreciate baby wipes, too. Excellent addition. The solar phone charger also caught my eye, brilliant. I believe a good solar light for darker, seasonal days would be a good addition, too. Thanks for the ideas.
htozion on August 15, 2014:
I love the part when you said to be strong. This is one inspiring lense. I'm planning of sharing this lense here in the Philippines. As there are lots of people that are homeless and stayed that way for years here. Thanks!
lawrencealcala on July 31, 2014:
The hints and guides you've shared is really an inspiration to me. Thanks for that.
Franchesca W from Atlanta, GA on July 31, 2014:
This is a wonderful article. I was hesitant to read it at first because I didn't know why someone would write about this topic but the impact your ideas have had is inspiring. Kudos to you for overcoming the obstacles life put in your path and using your knowledge to help others!
June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on July 30, 2014:
Bless you for the work you do. You are an inspiration.
file-thirteen on July 29, 2014:
Thank you very much for sharing this information. I have been there before, and my recovery was much different. But, that was well planned, and thought out. Thank you again. I know have a better idea on how that I can better help others in homeless situations with little money myself.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 27, 2014:
@taigameno1: That's a great idea.
taigameno1 on July 27, 2014:
It thought I could tape iprinted nstructions to the box on how to use it to treat bug bites
Lucy Bieri from Switzerland on July 26, 2014:
Somebody did not just carelessly left $100 in a cigarette pack for you to find. It was meant to be. As mention no condition is permanent.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 24, 2014:
@leonvd: I just read your comment aloud about two minutes ago and my friend is here still giggling. The reason is that I'm a multi-tool and Swiss Army knife nut and we can see two on my desk right now without even opening a drawer. I always have to get un-tooled to go to the airport or courthouse and I'd have one in my pocket right now if I weren't in my workout clothes. I've written a number of pieces about SAKs and multi-tools and even a piece some have described as an ode to Swiss Army knives.Great idea. I'll add it. I actually had one back then, a Swiss Army knife my dad gave me with my name hot etched into it when I got hooked on MacGyver, and I managed to keep it. I've carried a SAK since I was about twelve. It's almost a body part so I completely overlooked it! Thank you for suggesting it!
nicey on July 24, 2014:
Yes, I appreciate the ideas you listed. No condition is permanent in life. It's a joy to know that you conquered and won through all odds.
leonvd on July 24, 2014:
Great article, but im missing a good pocket knive/multi tool. I have never been homeless but i never leave the house without one.
gottaloveit2 on July 23, 2014:
Interesting, thought provoking article. Really well done.
CalobrenaOmai on July 23, 2014:
Babywipes! I like the paper towel idea but have babywipes to be of good use too for cleaning up. I've been homeless about two to three times while growing up. There were so many last minute expenses that kept surfacing. I was too young to work to help but my older siblings did what they could to help my mom out. Making good use of the public library can help as well especially if you have plans of obtaining a job in a particular field. There are loads of books on various topics and spending some time there reading them can help. Utilizing a creative talent can help bring in some money to help you out; even if its just pocket change. The Dollar Tree is a great place to buy food for on the go consumption; both nutritional and other. They've expanded their collection of food so finding healthy options is more easy. Not sure but I feel I have read another one of your lenses but not sure which one and I think it was on a similar topic. Anywho, thanks for sharing this amazing piece.
Joan Haines on July 23, 2014:
Maybe subway tokens? Thank you for giving this well thought out advice from a voice of experience. It empowers everybody to try to make things better.
taichiway on July 18, 2014:
@goldenecho: Something I just found and love is a spiral bracelet bug repellent, cheap, no bug bite, no critters flying about, just wonderful. Like one of those key ring spring bracelet.
SawadeeWhat on July 17, 2014:
A really good lens. A good backpack is always helpful. But it should have a waterproof rain cover! Preferably with an elastic band.
gracie9484 on July 16, 2014:
@goldenecho: I think your idea of including baking soda is wonderful. With an unopened box, you could include a list of things it can be used for. It's great for washing your hair (no shampoo necessary), it's a great exfoliant/ cleanser (no bar soap necessary), it's great for brushing your teeth and it is also an antimicrobial, meaning it kills several types of bacterium. I wonder how small a box/container it can be purchased in? Including several different little ones maybe be safer than a whole big box.
cantfindmywayhome on July 14, 2014:
A good pair of finger/toenail clippers and for job seeking women, a "diamond" nail file. I bought a Revlon file at Amazon for around $5.00 long before I became homeless. They last "forever" unlike emory boards which break or quickly wear out. Funky, ragged finger nails look ...funky! A tiny tear or break inevitebly gets caught on something and "to the quick" is a homeless bummer. Long toe nails are a discomfort and can cause a myriad of problems. If you can't afford or find a "diamond" file, ladies, get a good pair of clippers for sure.
RoadMonkey on July 13, 2014:
A good pair of strong shoes. It's hard to walk when your feet are sore or cold and wet. Fantastic lens.
Gale from Texas on July 12, 2014:
@Kylyssa: Thanks...and sorry for all my typos. Yikes! :-)
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 12, 2014:
@goldenecho: I think it's a good idea. At the very least, a box of baking soda will keep the package from smelling funky if it gets moist. It works for brushing teeth and getting smells out of clothing, too. As long as it is kept in the original box no one is likely to make any accusations about it.
Gale from Texas on July 12, 2014:
I was thinking about doing something like this, so this is wonderful. One thing I thought about putting in that may sound sort of weird is s small package of baking soda. I'd read somewhere else that bug bites (fleas, mosquitoes whatever) were a real problem. But spray would be great but is really expensive and doesn't last long, so I might not be able to do that much. But I know from experience that baking powder mixed with a little water works great to treat bug bites of all sorts (really reduces the itching if you get it on within 15 minutes of being bitten). It thought I could tape iprinted nstructions to the box on how to use it to treat bug bites...but was worried that it could get homeless people in trouble (white powder, could be confused for drugs). What do you think about including that in a pack? Good or bad idea?
seenitalready on July 06, 2014:
If you have or can get a car it makes your life safer (a place to sleep and get to job interviews).
eiramarie on July 03, 2014:
A very great and informative article, thank you for sharing..
jen09 writes on May 29, 2014:
Thank you so much for another great article! I have been thinking about making up some sort of goody bags for the homeless we meet on an almost daily basis. I love the thought you put into the items they would really need.
Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on April 17, 2014:
I've read many of your lenses. I find them helpful and informative. I am lucky never to have been homeless, but I feel for those who are. I am glad you survived your ordeals, and love that you are using what happened to you to educate others.
nolanmb on January 15, 2014:
Found your blog as a result of seeing a video that put many of your ideas into action. The video does not have a link to the list they use. I also thought there would be more ideas/info at the source. True and thank you. My church is assembling backpacks as part of 30 Days of Love (Standing on the Side of Love initiative) and by sharing this project with children and youth, as well as adults, we can engage our whole community in how to help homeless people, reasons for homelessness, how to be better advocates for the homeless and work to end homelessness.
NYtoSCimjustme on January 11, 2014:
I found this page and you because of a video I just saw on wimp.com - ( http://www.wimp.com/homelessbackpack/ ) What an awesome page you have, and I wasn't sure if you knew this video existed - so I felt it was important to make sure you knew that you have made a difference and the word is getting out. Kudos to you!
Flora Crew from Evanston, Illinois on December 27, 2013:
You have definitely thought through homelessness a lot. I was very interested in your ideas. I think churches and other institutions that help people who are homeless might get some good ideas from reading this too!
jadegdot on December 02, 2013:
This was very interesting. I am planning to hand out homeless care kits in 2 days to random people in need around the city. SInce I am in Beijing, China, I could only use this list as a rough guideline. Homelessness is a much more permanent situation here. They are extremely poor or disabled and have been this way their entire life. Almost none of them can read or write. They have close to no chance to turn their life around, so the only way to help them would be to possibly make their current situation a little bit less uncomfortable as apposed to trying to help them get back on their feet. I'm afraid if I gave them a box of baking sofa, they wouldn't even know what it was or what to do with it. Winter is also coming and the weather is about to be very windy, dry and cold so blankets, hats and socks along with some food might be the best solution. Thank you for sharing your experience and giving such great advice. I will continue to hand out care packages for as long as I am capable. If $100 can change a life, why aren't more people doing it? P.S. I think a roll of duct tape could also be very useful.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 09, 2013:
@anonymous: Possibly it's because of the tendency to also get physically assaulted, raped, etc. a lot as well as developing related health problems frequently. I considered it a condition to escape even before my first time getting raped. With the average American woman experiencing homeless experiencing her first sexual assault by her eleventh day of homelessness, most folks don't consider it a desirable condition.
anonymous on September 07, 2013:
@AlwaysOnABudget: get a tent. Do not make a nest with trash, that's one of the reasons people don't want homeless in their towns. the tent will protect you from the windchill too. Airports are good places to get some sleep but not for more than a few nights in a row.there are a lot of weirdos on craigslist. a lot of the live-in ads just want to get a young hottie into their house, use your best judgement. ... ok the tent, and the wool blankets from the army navy surplus. they are super cheap and super warm. if you get a tent, get one that blends in, and a tarp to put under it. you will probably need a cache somewhere if you don't have a car or storage unit.
anonymous on September 07, 2013:
@earaja: im homeless too, if you can help it don't loiter on private property (wifi at dennys) colleges and libraries have wireless internet and free electricity.
anonymous on September 07, 2013:
@bevl250: Why does everyone look at homelessness as an affliction the person needs to be cured of? I dumped all my money into rent for years and have nothing to show for it. I would be a lot better off right now if I had been homeless before when I did have a good job, and saved it to get training for some skills.
anonymous on September 07, 2013:
@Kylyssa: I make bath and body products and before that I made my own on the cheap. Believe it or not, home made deodorant works a LOT better than store bought. All you need is baking soda, coconut oil, and cornstarch (or any other type of starch, arrowroot and tapioca are silkier than cornstarch). Bonus, all these ingredients can be bought with food stamps. The maker can also add a few drops of tea tree essential oil (available at most drustores, sometimes with vitamins, sometimes with acne products, sometimes with antiseptics) to help kill bacteria.
anonymous on September 07, 2013:
About the showers. For $19 a month (soon free pending application for financial assistance membership) I get a hot shower every day and use of a gym at the local recreation center. My membership is good at all 5 of the city's rec centers. You may have to fib about your address. Use the address on your license if it is still local and do not mention being homeless. I mentioned being homeless at the library and they would not issue me a library card. Get these two things right away after becoming homeless because some will require you provide a piece of mail no older than 30 days to prove residency. The library recognized my address as being the post office so I had to try again at another one and just say I lived at the address on my license.
Tom Maybrier on August 21, 2013:
You've covered almost everything. One thing I found I needed - clothes that were comfortable to sleep in but durable enough to wear multiple days. I agree with Betty about the library card. The public library was my best friend when I was homeless.This is a great lens.
CrazyHomemaker on July 10, 2013:
Excellent lens, Kylyssa! You are doing the world a great service with your lenses. I would definitely use a backpack. I'd get soap, the Mylar cover, tarp and a few other things you mentioned. One thing I would get is a box of baking soda. A little bit dampened in your hand and smeared under the armpits makes an excellent deodorizer. I use this on the days I don't shave my underarms. DON'T use right after shaving! Burns like crazy! Wait a day. Also, it's a good toothpaste/breath freshener and general scrubber. It costs about 33 cents to buy a decent size. You only use a little and it lasts. Best of luck to you and thanks, again.
anonymous on May 08, 2013:
Absolutely antiperspirant, a washcloth and a freezer bag to store it in when wet. A bar of soap, shampoo, and because I live in the desert - hand lotion for my dry skin. Also a library card in order to be able to use their computers as I am doing to write this comment. A gallon jug of water for drinking, with a cup to refill it. A roll of toilet paper. A can opener. A bettery operated light that clips to my hat.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on March 16, 2013:
@Pat Goltz: If antiperspirants should not be used what do you recommend for folks who don't have daily access to bathing to stay free of underarm wetness and odor? I agree that antiperspirant isn't exactly good for people but I've never encountered a workplace that did not require people to smell clean or at least to not smell bad. Ramen noodles are very good for not starving to death. I tended to eat them dry and thus did not use the seasoning packets. As mentioned above, this is for bare survival and not intended to serve as a permanent life plan.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 16, 2013:
Your survival kit for the homeless is excellent. Living on the streets brings the simplest items to the forefront of your basic needs. A warm cup of coffee is not nutritious but it is enjoyment and hope. A can of beans is a rich filling protein source. I hope many take your advice to heart when they purchase items for the homeless.
Pat Goltz on March 08, 2013:
There are a lot of good ideas here, and I thank you for them. I am allergic to synthetics, so I would not be able to buy the clothes you recommend. They'd have to be cotton. Antiperspirants contain toxic chemicals, so I don't recommend them, and they're not necessary. They tend to leave stains on clothes. Ramen noodle sauce contains monosodium glutamate, which is a deadly neurotoxin. People become sensitized over time. If you buy Ramen noodles, don't eat the sauce! The sauce could make you very sick. When reading advice, always adapt to your situation. I agree backpacks are essential, and so are some of the other things you mentioned. That brings home all the more what a crime it was when I saw one homeless person steal a backpack from another he had just beaten up.
kimadagem on March 04, 2013:
Your story about finding $100 reminded me of an experience I had in Denver. I was waiting at a bus stop when a woman in a wheelchair came up to me and asked if I had any spare change. I had no change and the smallest bill I had was a $5 so that's what I gave her. She was absolutely thrilled - she hugged me and she kissed the bill and held it up looking at it and saying, "Oh, a beautiful, beautiful five." Then she went over to another person - probably a friend - and showed it to her, talking about it the whole time. It got me thinking about how everything is relative; $5 to a person who was probably expecting a quarter must have seemed like a windfall. And for you to find $100 must have been even better.
kimadagem on March 04, 2013:
I'm wondering about those cleaning wipes you can buy in plastic jars at places like Walmart. They seem like they might be useful because you would have something wet to use for cleaning even if you weren't near a fresh water supply. There's more than one kind too - I've seen them for personal care and for general cleaning.
ChristyZ on February 23, 2013:
Wow, I am blown away by your courage and resourcefulness! Amazing lens!
bevl250 on February 21, 2013:
This is an eye-opener. If $100 did it for you, i'd advise homeless people to search for loans to get out of their situation. I know this might sound 'out of this world' but i've seen people offering loans on the basis of the friends one introduces to a social network (no credit checks or other collateral). It might be a long shot but it might help. Am in the process of testing one out to find out whether its real
AlwaysOnABudget on January 17, 2013:
@anonymous: I've seen a lot of homeless in cold areas collect trash and light a small bon fire. it might not be legal everywhere though. There are hand warmers sold at most camping stores or walmarts that last a few hours, but it could mean the difference between freezing or keeping a bit warm. Because you're a mom you may have luck offering babysitting services for cheap. Get some of your friends to be your "references" saying that u cared for their children. Check sites like care.com or craigslist.com or backpage.com for babysitting jobs in ur area. There are places that offer live-in sitter jobs, which may seem horrible because you'll have to stay away from your kids, but it may give you enough $ to find a cheap tiny apartment and that will give you an address to offer babysitting from. Stay positive, pray (faith helps in the worse of times), and don't give up.
AlwaysOnABudget on January 17, 2013:
@earaja: Don't give up. Your school can sometimes offer employment within the school, or you can do cleaning. Try putting up an ad on craigslist.com to find even a part time job doing odd things. This lens can be super helpful for those who keep a level head, which is difficult in the streets. But trust me when I say effort and hard work pay off in the end. Apply at some restaurants, fast food places, and grocery stores, you never know where you'll find a salvation.
earaja on January 07, 2013:
i really luv this article i am homeless as i speak. With my two brother my dog and my mom. I have no relative that care. My dad say he care but really he doesn't i can't get a job cuzz i am in school that is why i join squidoo to help me out but i don't have time to write as much lens as possible .but your lens inspired me to write my struggles as being homeless. i recharge my laptop in the park and get wifi in dennys.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 05, 2012:
@anonymous: This is a brilliant suggestion! I'll look into buying some online to give to local homeless people.
anonymous on December 04, 2012:
@anonymous: many libraries have internet access so actually a lot of homeless people are online. many also have smart phones, they invest their small incomes in a phone that can help them stay in touch.
anonymous on December 04, 2012:
Thnaks for the articvle, I would recommend adding a p-38, which is the military stylee can opener that fits easily on a keyring and is quite useful! They cost about 8 cents a piece but can't be purchased in a regular store. You can find them in surplus stores or online. I buy them in bulk and make them available to homeless clients.
cjbmeb14 lm on December 04, 2012:
In this day and age nobody should be homeless, great lens.
anonymous on November 29, 2012:
Question~ I'm a mom about to be homeless in a few weeks and no shelters are available... family in another state will take in my 2 kids for awhile so they will be ok. I. Have to stay here and its getting really cold. No shelter space available..where should I sleep? Woods with the mylar blanket etc? My options are slim or unknown..anyone have suggestions? Been scouring online via cell.
anonymous on November 19, 2012:
how a homeless person going to read this? Someone should print this out and hand a few copys out. :)
Lori Green from Las Vegas on October 16, 2012:
I work with the Majave Desert Animal Rescue. It is a food bank for pet food so homeless people can feed their pets and those animals do not end up in shelters. We frequently (multiple times per week) do food drops for an increasing number of homeless. I love this lens so much. I am going to make copies and give them out. We give away human care packages because we get offered a lot of donations of human things. I am going to put the emergency blanket on our wish list and the painters drop cloth. Believe it or not but we have had women cry because we gave them tampons. God bless you and bless this lens 10 fold.
anonymous on October 04, 2012:
a scissors (preferably double sharps nursing scissors) - not only are they useful for cutting things, you can use them as a "knife and fork", a digging implement, a tool for cutting your beard, or hair (to be presentable for interviews), and as a last resort defence weapon against attack!. I would also collect string, rubber bands, and shoe laces to use for tying newspaper, cardboard, and temporary shelter. Supermarket bags are useful as "hats" when you are sleeping rough, and also when staying at a shelter. They are great as shoe storage and to separate items in your backpack too.
Allison Whitehead on September 27, 2012:
Amazing lens, definitely deserving of the purple star!
Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on August 06, 2012:
Very practical tips for what to buy for or as a homeless person! Thanks for sharing.
anonymous on August 06, 2012:
if you are near a truckstop, the drivers usually get a ticket for a free shower when they fuel, a lot of them will give you that shower ticket for free if you ask
motobidia on July 18, 2012:
Very good advice! I'll definitely consider buying some of the items on your list to give as a gift to someone on the street - cash is king, but a thoughtful gift can make a bigger difference than the few bucks it cost.
denise777alexan on July 05, 2012:
I found you after I had a run in with a homeless man.. Thanks for the information. I am going to ask a local officer to help me find someone in need and save some of my next check to give them a hand up. I will be asking for help since I could get swarmed as the homeless population in Miami in crazy high!!I was able to find a few small bottles of shampoo, Schick razor with trimmer on the end, crest toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, small hotel soap bar, and trial size deodorant/antiperspirant degree stick and a comb. All of the items are new and I hope it will be a start for someone, I realize since I don't have as much to give it won't get them off the street, but maybe it will be step one. I am thinking I may go buy some peanut butter and dry cereal too.This is what I put on facebook to try to get my friends to wake up and help.On the way home I stopped at 7-11 and got a corn dog and taquito, the sign said it was 2/$2.22, I ended up paying $0.07 more, no accident I am sure..... I also got a brownie and big gulp soda. I started to think about our new diet and exactly how everything I was eating was wrong 3X at least for each item. As I go to eat the brownie I see a man who had taken off his shirt and rolled it into a ball sleeping so peacefully I thought he was dead. Lying on the sidewalk under the freeway, I had to make sure he was breathing, he was very unalert, I kept yelling sir, sir, are you ok and similar things. I kept thinking I have this brownie and soda, well I have a cough, likely from allergies/sinus', but just in case I won't give it him, but the brownie... I asked if he would like the brownie and he mumbled yes and slowly lifted his arm to mine. Shaking the whole way up, with his dirty arm, he gracefully and gently grabbed the brownie. The moment it was in his hand, he smiled and his teeth where just barely yellow, this made me think this guy was a victim of the economy.... maybe health issues he tried to have treated and ran out of money, or maybe he is just mentally defective and knows no better.. either way, I should feel good about my parents teaching me to share and help those in need, and good about this act, but I don't. This one act and volunteering at the food bank is not enough. I know why other countries look down on us... we help them all day long which is great, but what have we done for our own?
anonymous on July 04, 2012:
Dawn dishwashing liquid and a good cheap multi-tool ( $10- ozarks trail at wally world).
yellowbrickroad on June 13, 2012:
Kylyssa, thank you so much for this post. It goes farther than anything I've ever read in showing what it's really like to be homeless. Your list of essentials is so telling and really moving. I admire you for finding your way out with $100. Your story is amazing.
anonymous on June 12, 2012:
my survival kit is a tent, kennel (have pups) blankets, pillows cooler (to store food) and a grill (just the part you cook on) and a lighter
Rose Jones on June 02, 2012:
OMG - found another one of your lenses that somehow I had not Squid Angel Blessed - obvious oversite, taken care of now. Social Bookmarked too - visitors - please send great lenses like this out to twitter, digg, etc! I think of your story very often - you are an inspiration to me.
jazziyarbrough on May 31, 2012:
My Bible would be one of the major things in my homelessness survival kit. Toothpaste, toothbrush, wash cloth, comb, soap, and coconut oil. Clean clothes too!
Hanziejane on May 28, 2012:
I'm constantly astounded by the quality of your lenses!
huvalbd on May 22, 2012:
It looks like you have updated this lens since I first visited. Between your additions and some of the comments, this has become truly superb. This lens is sure to make a difference for people who need this plan.
KokoTravel on May 21, 2012:
I live in the Pacific NW and would include an hooded, waterproof raincoat, hat and warm fleece clothing.I wish you the very best always.
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on May 14, 2012:
Hi lot of great info and tips here.
anonymous on May 03, 2012:
people that read this is a weirdo
anonymous on April 27, 2012:
Here in Mississippi, there are plenty of rivers and streams to fish from, so I keep several pan fish hand fishing lines, one turtle/large catfish hand line, small trot line, and spare fishing tackle in my backpack. Plenty of bait in the tall grass (crickets, grasshoppers) and under rocks and logs near the river (frogs, grubs, and crawdads). Public boat landings and spillways have proven to be good places to pick up extra tackle that people drop. Really good places for dropped tackle is below spillways where you families and guys in bass boats fishing. Can pick up lots of free fishing line and patiently untangle it. Found plenty of dead minnows on the bank and used that as bait. I keep my annual fishing and hunting license current as well as my ID. You don't want any kind of mark on your public record, so keep honest and get a fishing license.I keep a military grade poncho (camo, strong with a rubber coated nylon shell) in my pack. Large enough to keep me and the backpack dry when it's on. Have a warm poncho liner (lightweight and ties to the poncho).Sunglasses are a must to prevent early onset cataracts. I wear the wrap around kind to protect my eyes during windy days when sand is blowing about. A large fixed blade sheathed hunting knife with sharpener. Folding pocket knife with a knife blade, saw blade, and gutting blade.Four inch barrel .22 pistol, ammo, and tiny cleaning kit. Wire snares.Change of clothes, socks, underwear, etc. Toilet paper. Remove the cardboard tube and roll up tight. Keep in a plastic bag so it stays dry.No need to cook food (from peanuts and dried fruit to potted meat or vienna sausages). Canned corn tastes good as well as certain canned beans when not heated. You can leave the can out in the sun or build a solar oven from aluminum foil to hasten it's heating time. You can heat a can of food in the coals and hot ashes of a campfire AFTER YOU MAKE A DIME SIZED OR ONE INCH GASH/HOLE IN THE CAN to vent the steam and heat. If you don't make a hole in the can, the can's contents will expand more and more as it grows hotter and cause the can to EXPLODE!. This will send metal shards flying towards you, your eyes, or your gear and ruin the food as well.A plastic military canteen in a cover with metal cup that hooks to the ALICE backpack. P38 (to open canned food that is not in the pop top kind of can). The spare P38 is kept with the canteen as well as a metal match. P52 is a little bit larger P38 and works just as well.Several methods to start a fire (metal match, flint, steel, and char cloth to solar with a tiny magnifying glass as well as matches. Matchbooks hold more matches and take up less room than stick matches). All are kept in a small bag with dry tinder wrapped in paper in case I can't find any dry tinder where I camp on a rainy day.Solar cell phone charger. ( www.accessorygenie.com or at www.amazon.com ). iPhone in a full case. Put in a plastic bag to keep it dry.Basic first aid kit (band aids, sinus med, aspirin, etc.) with additional butterfly band aids for the little bit more serious cuts, lip balm, antibacterial ointment, medicated skin care, and a cord tourniquet. White vinegar has many medical uses from washing your hair to douching. Google white vinegar and it's medical properties. Cheaper than OTC medicines sometimes.Leatherman tool to pull out fish hooks, has a small saw blade to make fishing lures with, small screw drivers, bottle opener, small file. Great for opening a water hydrant with no handle. Camo ball cap. Folds easily to store in the backpack. Keeps the sun out of my eyes or used to swat bugs. Small towel and two hand towels. Small, homemade roll up basin and bathing kit with Octagon soap (cleans body, clothes, and hair and is good to dry up poison ivy). You can make four small towels from one regular sized bath towel. Sew the cut edges so it doesn't fray too bad. You can make a cheapo bath basin by sewing a good quality one gallon freezer bag to the pant leg part you remove when you make shorts out of your jeans. Add a strong loop to the denim leg because a gallon of water weighs eight pounds +/-. When the basin springs a leak, simple remove the plastic bag and sew another one gallon plastic bag back into the leg. The denim keeps the bag from puncturing and helps it to retain it's shape. I hang mine up on a strong loop and a length of cord. Added some two inch fringe to the denim leg bottom to speed up the drying time because the denim will get wet as you bathe and could sour. The bottom of the leg is sewn shut to protect the bottom of the plastic bag.Daily doses of vitamin supplements, aspirin (for heart), and arthritis medication. Garlic is a good heart/blood medication that also kills gut parasites. Comb (fine tooth for pushing out dirt and creatures trying to live in your scalp), hair brush, toothbrush, flosses. Small hand mirror (great for examining areas of your body for ticks or other blood suckers when you are alone. I keep my hair cut short because it takes less water to wash it and it dries faster, too.A half-gallon aluminum camp cooking pot with handle and lid for boiling water to purify it. Lid makes a great plate. Can hold warm rinse water after you bathe, too. Deck of card sized AM/FM radio with ear buds for private listening and not to draw curious people to your location as you hole up in the brush or empty building staying out of sight of outlaws and cops. Keeping up with the news is important during bad weather or floods.iPhone has Kindle which I have downloaded books about wild plants as food and medicine, minor medical procedures, favorite books, and all the free or cheap 99 cents military FM-survival series books. Holy Bible as a free app on the iPhone, too. iPhone has apps like local weather conditions and news plus an app for traffic conditions and river conditions. You can keep a Facebook page updated with a smart phone or keep up with your bank account. Let's face it. Big Brother is going to make all of us have to have bank accounts if we want to work for a business. With direct deposit, you don't have to run to the bank to withdraw funds. Some iPhone apps let you pay your bills directly from your bank account or credit card.A couple of tiny flashlights on a headband. Holding a flashlight in your mouth looks weird and feels weird while you are doing it.Military compass. Getting lost in the woods is no fun when it's cold and dark and you can't see the stars to find north or south. The Big Dipper is a constant northerly direction more or less and Orion is south. But Orion moves east to west in the night so you might wound up going southeast or south west if you follow Orion. The Big Dipper is fairly close to magnetic north and circles the North Star (the handle tip of the Little Dipper). It doesn't hurt to know basic constellations like the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Cassiopeia (the big W or M in the northern sky) or Orion if you travel at night in the northern hemisphere. Keeping up with the moon phases helps, too, if you fish or walk through the woods at night. Small notebook as a tiny daily journal and a New Testament Bible given to me when I was baptized into the Christian faith. A monocular (like half of a binocular). The sooner you see an enemy or an opportunity the better. A light weight monocular can help you do that.Catfish skinning pliers which is good for skinning rabbits and squirrels, too. Various lengths and widths of cordage. Cotton cordage can be made into wicks if you have oil available. Even motor oil makes a stinky light though edible oils work best.Moon phase and compass watch. Coughlin(?) water filter (filter clean as possible water then boil it before using it to hydrate, cook, or clean wounds with). Dirty/muddy/mucky water will clog up a filter before it's time. Catch rainwater out in the open and not from under trees or off roofs if you need to drink it right away. Rain water through the trees or off roofs picks up bug and bird poop and dust and dirt as it filters over the leaves and branches or roofing material. That rain water should be filtered and boiled first before used for anything because it's no better than wat
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on April 23, 2012:
I think probably most of the choices on your list. Thank you for sharing. I hope things are turning around again for you.
saneTV on April 21, 2012:
sunglasses, a toothbrush, vitamins, 1 pair wool socks (wool stays warm when wet), lip balm, coconut oil or cocoa butter (all purpose emollient, can be mixed with zinc oxide to make sunscreen), corn starch powder (makes a good dry shampoo), superglue, sewing kit.
Rose Jones on April 14, 2012:
Back to pin this on the "Doing Good" and "Social Justice" boards I have created.
KittySmith on April 14, 2012:
Being practical, and a photographer, I would have to keep my digital camera with me because pictures mean $$$ to me. I felt like I was too close to homeless many years ago when my children were very young, it never happened, but always a consideration isn't it? I have friends and family that have found themselves homeless, a nephew by choice, a girlfriend by fate and a son by lack of planning. My nephew is dead, my girlfriend has turned her situation into a positive one, written an e-book on it and lives/travels in her van with a small dog & my son has learned to stand up to fear and hopelessness, is working and has a future again. I applaud you for sharing something your story. Asberger's really puts a challenge before you, I have another nephew with the syndrome and as he enters adulthood, he faces new challenges. I don't know if he could survive if he had to go through what you did.
anonymous on March 23, 2012:
Something in which to carry water such as a large water bottle. Alcohol infused Wet Wipes for most of the body and baby wipes for face and privates. Vitamens; not as good as food, but better than nothing for warding of scurvy and other diseases and one large bottle can last a couple of monthes. Sunglasses and sunscreen; skin cancer can happen any time of year in any climate. Chapstick, again to protect the thin skin of the lips against the wind and sun. No rinse shampoo and a cheap headband; paired up with the brush you'll have clean, polished hair.
Kathryn Wallace from Greenbank, WA, USA on March 15, 2012:
Matches. Bless you for sharing from your experience and your heart.
lesliesinclair on February 28, 2012:
As many of the items you list, as I could afford, I would pack into a thrift store backpack. You are doing a great service to share this information.