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If Not Now, When?

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No one is guaranteed tomorrow, if you won’t live now, when will you?

Many people come to my site looking for an alternative to a life that they are growing increasingly discontent with. Some know instantly this is what they must do; they are so overwhelmed by the monotony and emptiness of their lives that they have no choice. But many more love the idea of changing, but their lives aren’t so bad that they can’t keep going. They are torn between  moving toward something they want but also afraid to leave the security of their old lives. For them,  an unpleasant, but acceptable present is better than an unknown and dangerous future. They are surviving and doing okay, so why rock the boat?
My question for you is, have you ever heard a child asked what he wanted to do when he rows up answer, “I want to endure life and survive without rocking the boat?” Of course not!! That defies human nature, the core of who you are.That’s not what you were born for!

Many times those folks write me and explain their situation and ask me for some wise words that will help them to finally decide. I’d really like to help them but I’m just a guy who lives in his van and loves it. I don’t have any wise or life changing words for anybody. But I I love quotes because they are widely recognized as wise words that have stood the test of time. When I find ones that summarizes what I want and need out of life,  I use them to guide my life. They become my North Star, that guides me throw the darkness and confusion  I sometimes find myself in. In this post I’m including some of my favorites, hoping they will help anyone wrestling with this decision.

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 man is to live, not to exist.

I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
― Jack London

Just last week I got the question twice, once from an email  and another  from a post on the forum. Here are excerpts from those letters  (of course I’ve left out anything that could reveal who they are):

  1. Now the dilemna…when I finish building this thing in a couple months, I really want to sell everything I own, we both quit our jobs and we both hit the road with our dog. Insane??? Help me out here…we are mortgage free, about 500K in equity, but if we sell everything, we have nothing but hope.
    Do it? Don’t do it?
  2.  I was just checking out your site for the first time tonight. I’ve gotta say it is inspiring. I have been thinking about doing what you are doing for quite a while now but have all the standard fears and trepidation’s about doing it. I could really use a little advice and encouragement as far as making the decision goes.

“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

In these quotes you can see my real heart toward the question: If not now, when? Just do it!! But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it dangerous to give that kind of blanket advice so I’ve learned to temper it. If someones whole heart isn’t into it, it may be better for them to try to find a way to ease into and test the water living in a van or RV rather than just taking a leap of faith off the cliff. Here is my answer to to one of the emails above as some steps I often recommend people consider taking to test the waters of vandwelling or RVing:

  • I’d suggest buying a good used RV and start taking trips in it. Maybe you’ll find a new hobby you love and even if you decide you don’t want to quit now you’ll still be ahead. If you decide you hate it then you can sell it for what you bought it for and be out nothing or very little. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
  • With Winter coming on I’d suggest coming down and spending some time camping with myself and some of the others that camp with me, Usually there are up to a dozen and sometimes more. Being around others will help overcome your fears.
  • I’d strongly recommend you come to the RTR in Quartzsite in January. You’ll get to meet lots of others and get a good taste for the life. Learn more about it here; Again, you have almost nothing to lose and plenty to gain. To see if you can live in a van, I suggest you drive or fly to Quartzsite and then rent a U-Haul van to live in for the 2 weeks of the RTR. Bring all the camping gear you will need and you will have an excellent taste of vandwelling. Because you won’t drive it much, it shouldn’t cost much.
  • You might consider buying an RV and putting it into a RV Park. That way you can sell your house, get the cash and see if you like living in an RV. That’ll give you a good idea if this life is for you. If you decide it is then you are a step closer to making it come true and if you decide it’s not for you, you can sell the RV and probably break even and have saved some money by the cheap rent.
  • If you’re still unsure, buy a used RV, rent your house out for awhile, put your stuff in storage, and try it out for 6 months to a year. Then once you’re sure take final steps to get rid of everything.

By following this advice one of two things will happen:

  1. You’ll fall in love with vandwelling or RVing and have found a way of life that brings you joy and peace.
  2. You’ll decide it really isn’t for you but you will have had a grand adventure that leaves you with memories you treasure for the rest of your life.

Either way, you win! 

 “I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, 
a torch, a promise.” Dawna Markova
This is among my favorite quotes. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross spent her life helping people die. I firmly believe that by knowing how to die well, we can know how to live well. This is a tremendous summary of a well lived life and a badly lived life:

“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 Kübler-Ross



  1. Alan

    This is great advice. Too often, people get stuck in black and white thinking: To do or not to do! There’s usually a middle way to try things without burning your bridges behind you.

    • Bob

      You are so right Alan. Creativity and thinking outside the box will get us the furthest in life.

  2. Canine

    My plans were to be in my own place by this time, but I just couldn’t make it before winter. (Winters in Northern U.S. are no joke.) I rushed myself and made a poor choice in vehicles. That cost me a few hundred dollars. While that isn’t a huge bummer, it did slow me down a small bit.
    Good news, though: I now have a truck and an S&S slide in camper that I will move into in April weather permitting. The camper won’t be my permanent home, but it will work nicely until I custom build one made for harsh winters and summers. The next few months will be spent saving more money and acquiring more materials. At least I will be that much better prepared to make the move. A few months isn’t that long of a time.
    Who knows? Maybe I will dislike it quite a bit, but you know what? At least I’m making an informed decision and committing to that in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not hem-hawing and living in trepidation for years. I gotta thank all of the people who have went before me and went through trouble of learning how to do it so I don’t have to! Thank you!

    • Bob

      Canine, all your hard work is going to pay off when your finally living your new life. I believe it will be worth all the work and trouble!

  3. John L.

    Well said Bob! We both know that fear of the unknown is what holds people back from actually living the van/RV life…..but–if they never at least give it a try they will never really know….its like your quote about ships. By the way, I have a 2011 Xtra-Tuff 6 x 12 trailer available for sale….barn doors in rear/wired for 30amp/13k BTU roof air/electrical outlets/(2) 4′ fluorescent ceiling lights/insulated and paneled/bull nose front/single axle/85 watt solar on roof….$3,000…..know anyone looking give me a shout…..flexible on delivery….Thanks much!

    • Bob

      John, absolutely, it’s fear that keeps us stuck in our safe ruts.
      That seems like a good price for the trailer. I’m sure it’s less than a new trailer and they get all the other extras you’ve done to it. I’d guess you’ll sale it fast.

  4. Rob

    “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
    I love the quote!

    • Bob

      Me too Rob! It’s one of my favorites!

  5. Naomi

    Wonderful post and quotations. Fear is my worst enemy and I fight it regularly. I usually win and that helps beyond words when Fear strikes the next time.

    • Bob

      Naomi, you aren’t alone, our whole society is rife with fear, it revolves around it. At least you recognize it and are taking steps to overcome it. You are way ahead of most people who are so deluded they don’t even know their whole life is ruled by fear.

  6. Shawna

    You have some wonderful and wise solutions for those worried if the vandwelling life is for them and nervous about jumping right in.

    • Bob

      Shawna, there’s nothing wrong with being cautious and taking baby-steps. The whole point is to be happy and if the mobile life doesn’t make you happy, then there’s no point in doing it.
      This way you can find out without to much hadrship

  7. Lori Hicks

    Excellent post. 🙂

    • Bob

      Thanks Lori! It’s good to see you again!

  8. TravelingFirefighter

    Bob, you do good work. Have you ever actually stopped to think about all the folks you help out there? Some you probably don’t even hear from, yet you’ve helped them in some big or small way. Well done and I, for one, appreciate your contribution to the world. You may just be a “guy living in a van”, but you get to the meat/core of things which inspires thought and change. That’s big. Thank you.

    • Bob

      TravelingFF, thank you for your very kind words! They mean a lot to me!

  9. Calvin R

    In my case, I know why I’m waiting. One reason is money. I have no vehicle today, and no income. That will come, and I will buy a minivan, I think.
    The other reason is more serious to me. The valuable thing I have now is my recovery community. I know very well that 12-step recovery is everywhere I’ll be going, but I’m trying to think my way through the continuity issue.
    My biggest blessing in all of this is that I missed the indoctrination in “security.” Realistically, there is no security. Illness, auto and other accidents, natural and man-made disasters happen. Not to everyone, but no person can count on avoiding them all.

    • Bob

      Your so right Calvin we have been totally indoctrinated into the whole concept of security. There is no such thing and the endless search for it keeps too many people from ever living.

  10. Ming

    great advice, Bob. Jumping in isn’t for all folks. Breaking it down into many different possibilities like this should help people come up with plans they can feel comfortable with.

    • Bob

      Thanks Ming, I’m so in love with vandwelling that I have to be careful to temper my advice. I’m learning!

  11. Sameer

    Bob, I told you when I last visited your camp in Flagstaff that I consider you the “Good Guru”. My life has forever been changed the day I began living in my Van. Now almost two years later, I am truly living everyday in a state of Peace and Happiness. I am finally here in Ehrenberg and my Soul is celebrating. It was a glorious Sunset last night in this beautiful desert I am so grateful for all I have learned from you and also your Website. It truly is possible to live the life of your dreams…! …Thank you!…

    • Bob

      Thank you for your kind words Sammer! I just pulled into Ehrenberg and I was glad to see you already here. Talk to you tomorrow!

  12. Walt

    I’m just now reading this (got a bit behind), so I don’t know if my response will be seen, but no matter.
    I honestly think if it were just me, I would find a way to get out there tomorrow (got to give myself a day to pack). My wife, though, has a job she enjoys and wants to work another eight-plus years in order to qualify for the pension. We also have our 18-year old autistic son’s future to prepare for.
    I had a job I did not enjoy (not challenging, not interesting, not high-paying), and my wife and I found a way for me to leave that job and stay home managing the house and working occasionally with our son. However, I still feel the call of the road.
    Our current fifth-wheel is a bit too big for me to take out on my own for extended trips. Nor can we afford a second rig and the required storage. (I haven’t been able to talk my wife into buying an older Class C.) Plus I can’t really go far enough away from Idaho to reach warmer temperatures and still be close enough to help out with our son. Unfortunately, I see no good answer for at least a couple of years. I’m in pretty good health, so my body can probably wait, even though I’m almost 58 now, but I don’t know if my soul and spirit can hold out.

    • Bob

      Walt, I can imagine how you feel, sometimes you can’t have what you want right now, all you can do is wait.
      But I bet that if you are creative you can find a way to compromise in some way that works for both of you and makes both of you happy. I don’t know you well enough to offer any advice, but if you are determined and honest with your wife I think you can find something. It could be as simple as buying and outfitting a van for solo trips and you take shot trips to renew ans=d restore your spirit.
      If you only give to the ones you love, the day will come when you run out of anything to give. Part of taking the best care of them, is taking care of yourself.
      God gave us two hands for a reason. With one we reach out a helping hand to others, with the other hand we nurture and care for ourself. You can’t let either hand atrophy.

      • Walt

        I’ve recently been inspired by videos I’ve seen of converted cargo trailers. I have a big truck (needed for the fifth wheel), so I wouldn’t need a vehicle for towing. I just don’t know whether I could convince my wife to support a “hobby” of getting a used cargo trailer and creating a living space out of it for those getaways. May have to give it a try, though.

        • Bob

          Walt, we all know that a happy wife means a happy life, so don’t press her too hard! You may only get one shot at it so you don’t want to get her into something she hates. You can always downsize but if she hates living in something too small she may not give it a second chance.

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