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Choices to the Rat Race

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Rat_Race-StopIf you ask me why I am a vandweller, my answer is simple, “Freedom!” I long for freedom just as I think many of you do. Why else would you be reading my blog? But then the question must be asked, “Freedom from what?” And that is a tougher question for me to answer. What I can tell you for sure is that I hated my old life as a “normal” Joe following the American Dream.
I can summarize what I hated so much in two words: Rat Race. Imagine a rat in a lab being forced to run a maze endlessly to get enough food to live. That is just what my life felt like to me. Every day was the same; get up, fight traffic and weather, go to work, fight traffic and weather, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed, repeat, endlessly. And after running the maze what did I get, barely enough to survive on and have a few extras. It went like that year-after-year, decade-after-decade.

Drone: A person who does tedious or menial work; a drudge: “undervalued drones who labored in obscurity” (Caroline Bates).

Rat-Race-CageThere were two main things about that life that I hated: the monotony and the stress. The monotony was mind-numbing and life-sapping. Every day was the same with just minor variations. I was living for the excitement of the weekend and my vacations every year. But when they got there they just flew by and were full of busy-work to catch up on. Or, if we took a vacation and traveled, then it was so busy with trying to pack as much as possible into it that I came home more tired and stressed out than when I left. I needed a vacation from the vacation.
Let me say that I was raising two kids and I knew of no other way to support my family except by living in the Rat Race; so it was a necessary evil. Also, I worked at the same job all my life and it had a good pension plan. So when my youngest son turned 18 I was able to retire early and finally climb out of the endless maze of my dreary existence. So some really wonderful things came as a reward for my time in the Rat Race, but that doesn’t change the fact it was a total, perpetual misery to me. I am reminded of a quote by a person I tremendously admire:

“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do.
Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

After I became an “adult” I never once did anything I loved to do. My whole life was fulfilling one obligation after another. Is there any way to look at my life except to say I lived as a prostitute, selling my precious time and life energy for money even though there was no joy or happiness in it for me? I was a rat in a maze doing the bidding of my Master. He told me to run and I ran. He told me to stop running and I stopped. He gave me enough food to live on and no more. The only love I got in return was the Master didn’t kill me and kept me alive.
I must be quick to say no one was to blame for my situation but me. I had options; I just failed to take them. I could have gone to college, or started a business. I could have dropped out and been a vandweller. Instead I found a high-paying blue collar job I could live on and settled into it for the rest of my life. I lacked courage, imagination and boldness so I took the easiest, most risk-free path in front of me. Society gave me options; no one is to blame for my life but me.

The price of being a sheep is boredom
The price to being a wolf is loneliness
Choose one or the other with great care.

Wolf-HowlLet’s face it, I was a sheep and I reaped the reward of great boredom. I agreed to be a good productive member of the flock and was fleeced regularly for it. Then I had a mid-life crisis and had an “Aha” moment of revelation and decided I would no longer live like a sheep. I started living in a van, worked less and made plans to become a wolf. When my kids were out of the house I abandoned the flock and went off to live life as a wolf on the road, living on public land like the wild thing I was born to be. My only regrets are waiting so long to do it and failing to do it when I was young. I greatly regret raising my children as sheep and not as wolves. I have found the risk of loneliness as a wolf to be minimal. As I have often said, I have made more, deep, intense, life-long friendships and connections living as a lone wolf than I ever made as a sheep. Vandwelling was the cure for my loneliness and my boredom.
I guess the real intent of this post is to tell you that you do have choices. You can run on the treadmill and search the maze if you want. It does offer security (although less and less every year) but at a tremendously great price. Or you can change and follow another path, a path of risk, and adventure and a life truly lived.

You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. ~Steven D. Woodhull

Here it is in a nut shell:

  1. Start selling everything you own and save money to buy a van.
  2. Get rid of everything that won’t fit in the van
  3. Walk away from the house or apartment and move into the van
  4. Save every penny you earn and once you have saved enough, hit the road.

There is more to it than that and it’s harder if you have a family and kids, but honestly, you can change your life if you really want to.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.” ~Jack London
To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.  ~William James

(I know many of you are happy with your “normal” life, and for you it is not a Rat Race at all. But this is my blog so I am telling you my experience. I am not saying “normal” is “bad,” I am only saying it was bad for me.)


  1. Chuck

    Another awesome post from an awesome guy. Thank you

    • Bob

      You are welcome Chuck, you are much too kind!

  2. CAE

    That’s pretty much it. But I’ve noticed that wolves tend to be in packs. So I don’t know where you got the lonely part?
    Society and our families tend to be very strong socialization figures. They want you to be in the system as they have been. It’s sad, really, how many people try to tell you to be a sheep and are a little insecure about the fact that you don’t buy into their life choices and investment.
    Actually, I’m glad that most follow the rat race. I can’t imagine multi-millions vandwellers roaming the country without the legal system ruining it for all of us.

    • Bob

      CAE, you are right, wolves are very social animals and are almost always in packs. I’m not sure how the “lone” wolf part came about. You are also right about society molding us to conform. really it is just one big machine and it needs everyone serving their part for the machine to keep working so well. If many of us wised up and dropped out the machine would crumble. That would lead to chaos and another system would have to stop in and restore order. I can’t imagine it could be as good as the system we have now.
      Fortunately, the great majority are quite content to run the maze and the treadmill so there is no real danger of a mass dropping-out ever happening,

  3. Bodhi

    I am 45 yrs old and I am counting the days to my earliest retirement date.
    Working for the USPS right now and the federal budget/Gov’t being what it is right now, it is a bit up in the air regarding when my earliest retirement date may be. It could be next year (25 yrs service, regardless of age) or, it could be Jan 31, 2024 (age 56y 6m).
    My question is… How old were you when you began van-dwelling? I fear that I will get too old to cut myself free from the “rat race” that I have gotten myself into.
    Much love and admiration…

    • Bob

      Bodhi, I was 40 when I first moved into a van. I continued to work at my old job for the next 6 years while I lived in the van. Unless you live in a town where they strictly enforce No Overnight Parking rules you should be able to live in a van and keep working at the USPS. There is not a conflict between the two. I got a gym membership to take showers every morning and developed a routine of sleeping in a big circle around the gym and where I worked so I drove very little. My employers never knew or cared where I lived. I took early retirement and have never regretted it. Full retirement was 57 and I took it at 52. I used a heater to stay warm in the winter, but it wasn’t hot in the summer, so I don’t know how you would beat the heat in summer.
      Think about all the money you could save if you moved into a van!!! If they push retirment off that far, you could probably work part time by living in the van which would keep you sane until then. That is what I did. I switched to working 32 hours a week instead of 40 and that made a huge difference in my mental outlook!

      • Bodhi

        You are spot on with my thinking… however… there is one other factor that I failed to mention. I currently live with my parents (86 and 91) and I am here as long as they are here. You are absolutely right that I could get out now… if I were just me.
        I so appreciate all that you are doing here and can’t wait to meet you in person. The Summer RTR is not something I can do (no leave time because of the July 4th holiday)… but Winter 2014 RTR should be doable! I can’t wait!
        PS. The words “… buy a van…” have been ringing in my head for 24 hours now! Aaaauuuuuuuuughhhhh! =0)

        • Bob

          You are absolutely right Bodhi, family must come first! After I got divorced I moved into a van, but I got a box van so there was plenty of room for my two sons and our dog to spend their weekends with me. I lived in that box van for 6 years in Anchorage, AK through some incredibly cold winters, but I would gladly do it again. FAMILY COMES FIRST–NOW AND ALWAYS. When my youngest decided he wanted to live with me I bought a 24 foot travel trailer and put it in a RV park for a year. I think it was colder than the van! But I think we both look back fondly at those days.
          Sounds like it might be time to buy a van! Hopefully you can at least take very short local trips and maybe even over-nighters to get some time traveling in.

  4. Wolf

    `Siyo (hello) ,
    I totally agree with you its better to be a WOLF than a “lost sheep” !
    I am so happy CarDwelling or MobileDwelling and would not be happy
    being stagnate in life. Thanks for sharing ….. it`s great to “Live Free”.
    I am grateful to CREATOR !

    • Bob

      Thanks Wolf, stagnate is a good word for the life I used to live. I too love to live free.

    • Bob

      Thanks Wolf, stagnate is a good word for the life I used to live. I too love to “live free.”

  5. Kim

    What Chuck said. Awesome x 2.

    • Bob

      Thanks Kim, you are much too kind!

  6. grey

    Excellent!I’m feeling the same way,cant wait to get out there

    • Bob

      Grey, keep working at it, you will get there at the right time!

  7. fireman428

    Thanks Bob for great post my balance to the rat race is being a part time nomad hope to see you guys in the summer. I’ve posted the travels of Layla while with me on the road here in Mississippi. Also, weird karma… the ”anti-spam” word for this reply was my first name, gonna be a good day in the race today. 🙂

    • Bob

      fireman428, glad to help make your day through the maze a little better! Being a part time Nomad is a good start to doing it full time and makes life so much more bearable until then. Glad you are here!

  8. Offroad

    you know this is inspirational of course. having the kids grown is step one. might be hard for many if you have a spouse or child with disability. or a disability yourself.
    bob – can you cover living this life as a disabled person? age disables many. but have seen people manage even with disability. and do a great job of it too.
    six years to go for retirement. reducing expenses now and saving everything possible.

    • Bob

      Off road, a remarkable number of people I travel with are disabled and drawing disability. Fortunately most of them do not have physical disabilities that made their life much harder. I do know one inspiring couple Tony and Karen and Karen is in a wheelchair. They live and travel full-time in their RV and have been for many, many years. They are the experts on living as a nomad with disabilities so I recommend their blog to you. Find it here:

  9. Tim McDougall

    Great post Bob! Very inspirational.
    Fireman 428 mentioned Karma and I have to laugh at myself. As I scrolled down to the bottom I found my anti spam word was “MOVE.” Gotta be something to it.
    Best regards, stay well.

    • Bob

      Tim, quite the coincidence with two people getting messages from anti-spam word. Serendipity like that must mean something! We just need to figure out what.

  10. Martin Hamilton

    Loved some of the quotes you have in this article Bob. You hit it right on about being a Drone. I was there and would still be except the management really showed who they were and ran the company into the ground and stole the retirement money. Sad deal. But I just have to be glad i’m not that low down and miserable. True freedom and true living is what life is about.

  11. Gary

    The most common regret heard by hospice care workers is “I lived the life that others seemed to want rather than the life I chose for myself”. I think that about sums up your post. It only took five years on the couch to understand that the reason for being is to figure out who you are and to live the fullest life you can. Along the way, you may do great good for others, but the reason to get up is to enjoy another day of expanding your mind and fulfilling your dreams. Once you understand this, you are on the right path to freedom no matter where you are.

  12. Brian Howard

    Spot on Bob!

  13. Robert Witham

    This article nicely complements some thought in my own mind recently – and provided needed inspiration. Actually, it provided sufficient inspiration that I sat down and wrote an essay about my thoughts: Losing purpose. Me writing an essay would not normally be noteworthy (I am a writer), but recent months have frequently found me without words as I drown in grief. Thank you for sharing!
    As a few others have noted, the anti-spam words were appropriate. When I first loaded this article on my mobile device the word was “way.” When I reloaded it on my laptop to leave a comment the word was “move.” Both were appropriate for my situation.

    • Bob

      Robert, for most of us life is a confusing maze we really aren’t equipped to manage on our own. Finding our way through it really is our main life’s purpose and it is never the same for any two people. There is no right or wrong way, just “your” way. “Move” does seem totally appropriate, because unless you are moving, how can you be going the right way. Even going the wrong way is productive if you are open to changing your path.
      I went the wrong way for a long time and I’m grateful to know it didn’t work, that allowed me to turn and find the way that did. I hope you find your purpose and way and move towards it!

  14. Charlene Swankie

    Excellent Bob. But the life you are living is your NORM… Normal is a relative term… it’s different for each person.
    My grandmother used to say, “Small fish swim in schools, the great whale swims alone.”
    I hope others don’t “settle” for a mediocre life, but live boldy and take chances. Why not???

    • Bob

      You are so right Charlene, most of us do “settle” for a mediocre (or worse) life and miss a glorious one.
      Why not indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Marshall

    My spirit only rented this body for one life. Therefore, I will not burden it with things my spirit cannot carry home. I am living OUT LOUD! God bless Craigslist and all the people, wonderful and otherwise, who make my life the joy it is!

    • Bob

      Marshall, very interesting ideas you have there. Some concepts I could ponder for a long time.
      I may steal that as a quote!

  16. Karen

    Bob, one of the things that I find fascinating about your story is that you began this life style because of a crisis and then discovered that you loved it. Do you think that you would have followed the same path eventually, maybe when you retired, if you hadn’t unintentionally discovered it?

  17. rvaj

    Writing something that makes people do a gut check on what they really want from life is a special talent. Thanks Bob.

  18. shelly

    I worked full time for 6 years at a job that paid good enough but allowed me only two weeks of vacation a year. Talk about deadening! II swore that when left that job at age 31, I would never work a full time job again. I have many times worked far more hours than 40 hours weekly at various activities, graduate school, internships, etc but have yet go go back to a full time, one place job. I chose my career in part because it paid well enough at part time employment that I could live frugally and still save money. Graduate school allowed me that luxury, though of course it cost me a lot in time and money up front. I retired at 60 and have a very small but adequate pension to show for my efforts. It was easier for me than others as I chose not to have children or to bind myself to situations that would keep me from having this freedom. It really is all about the choices we make.

    • Livinfree(randy)

      As always….LOVE YOUR POSTS!!! I am hoping to finally get to meet you and the bunch this year,hopefully. I remember you had said that you might travel through Colorado this summer possibly if you don’t end up in Canada. Would love some advanced warning on your plans so I could make some plans to to hang out,even it’s just a couple of days for now..I am getting closer to getting everything in order for my van,moey,ect…Just takes alot of time to put everthing together to have enough confidence to “jump off” into the unknown… I need to plan well for my peace of mind…..Always a fan of yours…BE WELL!!!

      • Bob

        Randy, we are all different and need to work in different ways. If you can only be comfortable with a well-thought through plan, then that is the right path for you. I would never try to talk you out of it. My path can’t be yours, and yours can’t be mine. We must each make it through this life however it works best for us individually. Plan away my friend!
        I am afraid I am disappointment when people meet me in person. It’s easy for me to be open and “wise” behind a keyboard, but in person I am actually not good with making connections with people. I work at it and I try, but it does not come to me naturally. Sometimes there is a natural connection and I “click” with people, but not often. However, I am loyal, and when you are a friend, you are a friend forever. I work under the idea that if the Universe brought you into my life, it is for a purpose, and that is very important to me. But, I am also quite busy sitting behind a keyboard being “open and wise” LOL.
        But you are all always welcome in my camp and I look forward to meeting and getting to know you all. Just don’t expect too much!

        • Livinfree(randy)

          i fully understand where you are comin’ from as I too don’t always make good 1st impression with others. For me, I set the “bar” really low when I get up in the morning everyday(LOL).Thanks !

          • Bob

            You are welcome Randy!

    • Bob

      You were very wise at a young age Shelly, most of us are not! I was 40 when I decided to never work full-time again–so you beat me by a long shot–and it took a crisis to make me do it.
      You are also remarkable for having the foresight to beat your hormones and know that children and commitments were not the best path for you. It is just so easy to follow the dictates of society, our bodies and our hearts and make entanglements that guarantee loss of freedom through our most productive years. Home-ownership, marriage and children are NOT the only path to happiness.
      You are an amazing person, hopefully our paths will cross one of these days!

  19. Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

    Hell I dont know if it is anything but a personal choice at a basic level… Some have plenty of time to prepare while others are thrust into this life on a desperate whim… For me it was a choice of two evils and I took this familiar choice for me… I say for some life just sucks, work hard and get nothing, while for others it is a simple slam dunk and live great lives… I worked my ass off, gained the sweet house, white picket fence and beautiful wife only to lose it all… This is not the life for the light hearten, unadventurous or the thin skinned, this life is tough to say the least, getting better with time and experience… You are on your own, live with your decisions and work around all the problems that come with this life…
    If you choose this life you best be thinking in a mountain man way, no one is going to plow your field but you, understand this…
    Steve and Zeke…

    • Bob

      Steve, those are wise words my friend! I have always been puzzled why the American Dream really is a dream and for some, and for others it is a nightmare. Generally it is because of choices we made, but not always. Some people seem to be born unhappy, others seem to be born unlucky. And then for others everything falls together perfectly and life is a joy. It’s a puzzle to me. But I know life was not a joy for me, but vandwelling was part of the cure for what ailed me.
      Compromises and hard choices do have to be made in this life, and things can be difficult at times. But for me, vandwelling really has been a life of joy. I love this life!!!

  20. Naomi

    Right now, I am my elderly mother’s primary caregiver, and I am where I want and need to be. But I know -in the marrow of my bones – that I must one day live in this manner in order to be truly happy. Your websites and blog inspire me daily, and now when I make purchases, I do so wiht my future in mind. Thank you sooo much for your posts.

    • Bob

      Naomi, your comment really touched my heart. In all of life there is nothing as valuable to me as loyalty; and there is no loyalty so noble as to stay by the side of an ailing, elderly parent. I honestly have no idea what love is, but I know and understand loyalty. You have all my admiration!
      Whenever I write, I try to get in touch with certain people and imagine what they are going through and how I can speak to them in their moment. I remember so well when I used to stealth park in a city and I woke up one time to a small car beside me. It was fall and getting cold so the windows were frosted over. I could see a woman and her two small children sleeping under a ton of blankets. I think of them often when I write. They are a guiding vision to me.
      Naomi, I will think of you when I write, and try to speak to you and encourage you that it will all be worth it; there is a life of adventure, travel and joy waiting for you as a reward. Keep planning for your new life and taking those small steps and your time will come!

      • Naomi

        Thank you very much for those kind, supportive words! I will meet you and the other free spirits one day!

        • Bob

          Naomi, you are deeply, truly welcome!

        • Bodhi

          You are not alone. I am also caring for my elderly parents and dreaming/planning of a future without walls.
          Be strong. We are doing what is right and good and my Daddy says there will be “jewels in our crowns”.
          Peace, Love and Group Hugs,

          • Naomi

            Thanks for your kind words. I agree – we are where we need to be right now. I just started posting on the forum. I hope to see you there. Isn’t Bob wonderful for providing these sites and connecting folks?! 🙂
            Peace, love and hugs back!
            ~Naomi, the Nomad Wannabe.

          • Bob

            You are very welcome Naomi, you deserved all the kind words.

  21. Per-Gunnar H

    Hi Bob! This is my first comment. I have been reading your blog and comments for a while now and am REALLY enjoying your post about life and philosophy. You are a true source of inspiration!
    After years of collecting stuff, and thinking being on the right track (how wrong I have been..) I am now trying to sell just about everything. Quitting my hobbies (involving a lot of gadgets) is perhaps the hardest right now. It takes long time, and I am getting my head around to throw stuff away. It will take too long time otherwise. I am slowly getting my head around it. But again, it is just stuff, they are not really that important. I am really starting to get the “Less is more” wisdom, more time to focus on my priorities.
    You must read a lot of good books Bob, I can tell, you always have some really great quotes and your own blogtext is also very good.
    Thank you Bob,
    Sincerely Per-Gunnar from Sweden.

    • Bob

      Per-Gunnar, the truest sign of intelligence is the ability to look at your path and say it has been wrong. And then one of the greatest acts of courage is to say I will go a whole new different way. You demonstrate that wisdom and courage by changing your course! I was not, I was forced into it, so I always look up to people who can do it by choice. Don’t be surprised if such a radical shift in thinking takes some time to get used to, that’s normal. I am reminded of a quote:

      Thought is absent in seeing things intuitively. When you perceive directly, there is no thinking. When you think you understand, you don’t. You do not think that you are alive, you know that you are alive.
      ~Ramesh S. Balsekar

      Simplicity and minimalism are generally reached by intuition, not thinking. You simply know they are right. Often, after you know something intuitively, you can work it out intellectually as well. Minimalism has not been that easy for me. I intuit it but I still can’t quite put it to words or clear arguments. Or, at least not to arguments that would persuade me. You said, “I am slowly getting my head around it” and that is exactly the way to do it. Just let it simmer and stew and it will become more and more real to you.
      As far as quotes, yes, I do read some, but honestly, Google is my friend! I do a Google search of quotes on topics I am interested in or search for. I keep a Word .doc file of them so I can find them again. It is generally up and open my laptop all the time.

      • Bodhi

        I don’t know what kind of Gadget Intensive Hobbies you have… but I think GeoCaching is an EXCELLENT hobby for Van-Dwelling. It requires only a personal GPS which you can use anyway in your travels and it gets you out in nature and gets you moving. These are all things that I think most nomads consider GOOD THINGS. Give it a try.

        • Bob

          I also think geocaching is a perfect hobby for a vandweller. Thanks for reminding us.

        • Per-Gunnar H

          Thanks Bob, yes it’s all about courage, I am getting there =). Minimalism perhaps is too extreme even for me. I don’t want to live like a monk with no possession. I think that a van or a boat will have the size that is just about the right size (all you really need, except all those tools you might need (very seldom), but you can’t have it all as you have been pointing out (in your very good blog)). I want to “DeOwn”, simplify my life. Simplicity is Genius.
          It is a good suggestion Bodhi (Geocashing), yes I already have some GPS:s so no more stuff at least =). However I am not seeking any new hobbies right now :). I am still in the “Rat Race” or as we in Sweden call it “the hamster wheel” and my “free time” is very limited. I still will have some interest that I think will be enough, when I one day leave the apartment and aim for mobile living (whether it be a van or a boat). I am already trying to adapt so my “hobbies” don’t need that much stuff (for the future). Those “new” interest are for example, reading and writing. Reading good books is something I really enjoy. Taking pictures and so on. Perhaps produce some podcast. I also like to train my body, and this interest will perhaps be a little of a problem when hitting the road, cause it involves a lot of washing (cause the clothes gets a lot of sweat and so on). Here in Sweden there are not that many laundries (washing places) out in the public. I think you guys in America have a lot more (anyway, that’s the picture I have)?
          Little of my background in hobbies:
          I have so far terminated my windsurfing hobby (It was a hard decision). Plenty of stuff, cause I could sail in any weather, lots of boards and sail and so on. To busy working (rat race) and so on, didn’t find the time really (and again the input/output ratio was to low).
          I still have my “electronic hobby”, and man that involves a lots of “good to have” stuff, and instruments and so on. However I don’t find (priorities) the time now to construct any new little gadget. And I think the input/output ratio is too low. (Too much time in input and too little to show for it).
          I also have a former interest, collecting nice older racing bikes from the 80-ties. = A lot of nice bicycles (to many …) I have put a lot of time into this collecting thing.. And I have all sorts of tools to be able to fix whatever problems occur. Today I see it as waste of time :). Yes, many mistakes have been done.
          I also have a lot of other not so much stuff oriented interests. I am for example a radio amateur (Ham). But I will try to sell this stuff now.
          I know it will be good for me to downsize (by choice), so I can focus on the things that is most important to me. I have “been all over the place” with all interest and perhaps you know the speaking “he who chases two rabbits catches neither”, well that pretty much sums it up for me.
          Today I am feeling chained by all the stuff, not feeling free to move on. I have a huge pile of stuff/crap to get rid of and that is my biggest obstacle right now. There is a lot of money ‘invested’ in all this “crap”. =)
          I still have my “doubts” about taking the leap so I am taking it slow, so I don´t regret anything. This is because in the past, when I have terminated a interest/hobby and a few years later have been regretting it and I had to start all over (more waste of time).
          Today I am taking it slow and for example have promised myself that I can’t under any circumstances start to windsurf again (in that case I have to rent gears).
          Wow, that was a long post.. (My thoughts at the moment).

          • Bob

            I’m with you Per-Gunnar, I am not a minimalist either. I think for a lot of people (but not all) wanting to have the fewest number of things is really very similar to wanting to have the most. In both cases you are focused on the things and what they can do for you. For one person you fell better by buying and possessing it, for the other you feel better and superior by rejecting it. In both cases, the more the better–for one the more embraced the better, for the other the more rejected the better. Both are equally obsessed with possessions.
            Like you I have been involved with a lot of hobbies. I tried to take a bunch of them with me when I started on the road and they all simply would not fit in the truck, so I had to get rid of them. I was sorry to see them go, but I love this life so much it is well worth their minor loss.
            Hang in there, and your path will come become clear to you at the right time.

  22. CamperCouple

    Well my anti-spam word is brood. So don’t know exactly what that is telling me !! LOL My one concern, no fear, is of the car/van breaking down while on the road. This just freaks me out. I’m wondering if anyone can relate or share some advice. Since it is your home where do you go if you have to leave it at a mechanic’ ? And of your stuff, how does it fare when the car/van is left ? And the ‘biggie’ how in the world do you pick a reliable/honest mechanic when you are in a new town or just passing through an area. For those of you that are mechanically inclined this might not be that big of an issue. Maybe the ladies might hqave more insight.
    Thanks for all you do Bob. Blessings to all.

    • Bob

      CamperCouple, those are some very good questions! In fact it is a great topic for a post so I hope you will forgive me if I give you general answers and save the details for a full blog post.First, break-downs have always been one of my greatest fears as well. It’s not just a car, its my home!! Fortunately, after 11 years of full-timing and a fair number of break-downs, I can report from experience it is not as bad as it seems; the fear is exaggerated. During each experience you just deal with what is put in front of you. There is always a way to work through it!! I have even had mechanics let me sleep in the van while he worked on it. There is a solution to every problem as it comes up.
      Second, the most important thing you can do is have an emergency fund! It isn’t a matter if you will break down, it is only a matter of time. It will happen. Knowing that, it is critical you have a money set aside just for repairs or other emergencies. I suggest you shoot for $3000. That will let you get a rebuilt motor or transmission if they should go out.
      Third, it is not a woman’s issue, lots of men can’t work on their cars anymore. I can’t! If my van has a problem, it goes to a mechanic, period. i changed one starter in my life, and that was enough! So don’t think “I am a girl so I can’t be a vandweller.” Not being able to work on your van makes it a harder, but you can still do it.
      Okay, that’s enough. Thanks for the great question, I will do a post on this topic very soon so stay tuned!!

      • Naomi

        I used to feel guilty that I didn’t know how to change a flat tire. I always felt that I wasn’t strong enough. When I had a flat tire in New Mexico, I called AAA. The man was barely able to get the lug nuts off, and complained that the previous mechanic must have torqued them way too much. I no longer feel guilty. I’m not saying don’t try to do and learn, but realize your limitations and don’t feel bad about them.

        • Bob

          Naomi, I couldn’t agree more. Being a man it is pretty easy for me to be embarrassed about my lack of mechanical skills. I just remind myself I am good at lots of things and cars simply are not one of them. I’m still embarrassed, but I go on anyway.
          Roadside service is a good thing!!

          • Bodhi

            Did I say AAA? Triple A!
            This one organization should aleviate MANY if not MOST or ALL of your fears. It is GREAT for roadside help, trip planning, locating a reputable mechanic anywhere… etc…
            Don’t leave home without it. Or, in this case… Don’t be houseless without it!
            Sorry, don’t want to sound like an advertisement but it is that good.

      • CamperCouple

        Thanks Bob,
        You are such a kind man. You always answer everyone’s post with such respect. I’ll be looking for your post on this !
        Especially the ‘find an honest mechanic’ part !! LOL
        By the way, my anti-spam word RENT LOL… hmmm

        • Bob

          CamperCouple, it’s pretty amazing how many people are getting messages out of the anti-spam passwords! I love serendipity!!

  23. Laurie

    Bob, this is one of your most insightful posts I have read and you’ve had many. I am so inspired by it that I am going to send a link to the post to my Love is My Country: Living Life as an Ambassador of Love Mailing List because I feel you are are being an Ambassador of Love and Freedom with what you’ve so authentically shared here.
    With much appreciation for who you are,

  24. Walt

    I, too, hope to leave the rat race behind one day soon. My wife and I are both saving toward one day fulltiming in a motorhome, and I’ve been ready to take the plunge for several years now. My wife, though, says we aren’t ready financially yet.
    If it were just me, I’d probably go tomorrow. However, we have one other thing besides my wife’s financial peace of mind holding us back. We have a teenage autistic son who, while intelligent, creative, and high-functioning, will likely never be able to live on his own and probably will never be able to support himself. We’ve been told he can stay in the school system until he’s 21, which is what my wife wants to do. That means reaching the age of 60 before I could hit the road, another four years. I can’t wait.
    In the meantime, I content myself with dreams of a brighter, freer future and read blogs like yours and try to make the best of my current situation.
    This is my first visit to your blog, but it won’t be my last. Thanks for all you do and say to encourage those who are doing and those who are dreaming of doing what you do.

    • Bob

      Walt, it’s tough to wait but family comes first. I was fortunate I only had to wait till my son was 18, but wait I did. Hang in there, the good life will get here at the right time!

  25. Cyrus Palmer

    Word. I’m just glad I learned all of this at 28 instead of 60. I’m in my prime, and I’m living the hell out of my life.

    • Bob

      Cyrus, you came along at just the right time! When people my age or older were young the “American Dream” was ingrained into us in such a way that it didn’t look like there were any alternatives. I think the internet has played a huge part in changing that. People your age are much more likely to think completely outside the box–and therefore LIVE outside the box.
      But it still takes a brave person to act on it! Apparently you are one of the brave, adventurous ones!!

  26. Gabe

    This one was one of the best vandwelling entries that I’ve read in a long time because it hits home on every single level. I’m still hooked to the puppet strings of the rat race, society, and expectations of family, but each year there are less and less strings, and hopefully real soon there wont be any.
    Oh man, that middle age crisis thing has hit me like a ton of bricks at around 44 years old, and three years later it still hasn’t let up lol.
    I think that one of the reasons that the USA is having such a hard time with National Health Care options, is because if anyone could get affordable health care and a bit of a security net without working full time, then too many people would “drop out.” and the machinery would lose a lot of wheels.

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