The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned as a Full-time Vandweller

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Making truly deep tribal connections while immersed in nature is one of the most healing and therapeutic things a human can do.

When I went full-time it really wasn’t in an RV, it was an old beat-up Chevy box van. Instead of being a small apartment on wheels, I had done only the most simple and basic modifications to make it liveable. You see, I had just gone through a divorce and after the settlement, literally could no longer afford to pay for a place to live. It was either live in a van or in a cardboard box under a bridge. The van seemed like the better idea. I lived in that van for 6 years, then re-married and moved back into a house–but, I was ruined for houses!  To my dismay I discovered that I now despised everything about living in a  house!!

A few years later I retired and moved to Asheville, NC for my “golden years” But they weren’t so golden; I found myself sitting in a chair, watching TV, waiting to die. I had enough money to survive on but not to have any kind of full, rich life on. The problem was the house, because so much of my retirement went into the house–a house I hated to live in. After paying the mortgage and utilities, I didn’t have the money to go off and do the things I wanted to do.

When I did everything I possibly could to follow society’s rules, like working all my life, having kids, buy lots of junk and getting a pension and retiring, I was unhappy and miserable the whole time!  I had been assured that it would all be worthwhile, I would be glad for all the sacrifices I had made after retirement. But none of that was true either! I was more miserable than ever as a retired person in my “Golden Years.”

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Which of these two pictures represent health and wholeness to you? Which is the good life?

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The only time I’d been happy my whole life was when my life had “failed” and I broke completely free of societies instructions and lived like a nomad in a van–then my life was suddenly great!! How could that be? Could society be lying to me, was their way wrong and the nomadic way better? If it was just me, then I would say yes, I was broken and society was right. But practically everyone I knew was just as unhappy with life as I was and they were just waiting to retire to finally be happy. But most of them ran into health or money problems and almost none of them were. Where were the happy lives society promised to deliver? There were none!

So I determined to live like a nomad for the rest of my life. Society had lied to me but I was going to start telling the truth to anyone who would listen!! I made final preparations to move out of a house for what I hoped would be the last time in my life. With a little luck, I’d never live in a house again!

Unfortunately, my ex-wife had to live in a house, so in March of 2008 I turned it over to her, and we amicably separated. Just like my heart had demanded, I hit the road and have been boondocking full-time now for the last 8 years.

The one thing I wish I had known before I hit the road was how tremendous the personal benefits are and therefore they are worth any cost and sacrifice to make them happen as early as possible.

If I had known just how cheap and easy it can be and how deeply it would impact and improve my heart, mind, body and soul, I would have done it in my 20s. Living as cheaply as I do requires some sacrifice, but anyone can do it. Now that I know how immense the benefits are, I would have paid the price and done it much earlier.
These are the three main benefits I’ve gotten (among many others):

  1. Freedom: but not just of travel and movement, no, that’s the least of what I’ve found. I’ve found freedom to think  about everything in my life differently and independently than I had before. My entire worldview has changed by opening my heart to see new things and hear different stories and experience different points of view. Travel  has broken through my hard shell of being certain I had everything figured out and allowed me to see there is much more than just one point of view. In fact there are many other ways to see the world–and more often than not, theirs is better than my “traditional view.”
  2. Healing: because I spend nearly all of my time on either BLM desert land or National Forests, I’ve discovered that re-connecting to nature has healed my deeply fractured and terribly stressed  heart and soul. In big and little ways it has has brought me peace of mind I had never experienced before. It has changed me at the cellular level.
  3. Connections: like most people, my life before full-timing was filled with alienation. Even though I was always surrounded by people, I almost always felt alone. Today, my life is just the opposite of that. While I am just as often alone as I am with people, I never feel alone. I have made tremendously more deep, profound connections with others since becoming a “hermit” than I ever had when living surrounded by people. Most importantly, those connections endure through time and space, so even when I’m alone, they are always with me.
This is the life you were born to live. Every fiber of your DNA cries out for this whether you are consciously aware of it or not.

This is the life you were born to live. Every fiber of your DNA cries out for this whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.

The most important thing I’ve learned as a full-time vandweller is that what I’ve gained has been so much greater than any slight cost, I would give anything to be able to go back to my 20s and start right then because there would have been so much less that I had to unlearn, and throw out. How much of society’s destructive indoctrination is so ingrained in me, that I will never be able to root it out? As great as my life is now, it would have been much better if I had the courage to start in my 20s.

The worst thing is I unknowingly allowed society to use me to mislead my own children. While my son’s life is a complete success by society’s standards, I know how much greater it could be if I had raised him to think truly independently.

What about you, how long will you wait before you take the steps that will set your soul free and allow you to truly live? Could today be the day you set your intentions to make your life exactly what it can and should be? I hope so!


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Bob
About

I’ve been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

125 comments on “The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned as a Full-time Vandweller
  1. Rob says:

    Thoughtful…

    I realized some time back that I am the sum of all my past.
    The me of today, right here, right now is what came from all the good & bad crap of the last 60 some years.
    Yesterday was yesterday, I can’t change any of it. Today is what I have… I’m trying to enjoy it.

    • Rob says:

      Bob, your blog is part of the today I’m enjoying!

      • Bob Bob says:

        I’ve very glad to be a small part of it!!

      • Larry Allen says:

        Bob, I’m Larry and have been following your blog for several years. I was in the Philippines for 7 years. But now I’m back in OREGON where it is soooo cold and this is March, and still having snow storms in the valley. I will be going South in about 7 days and would like to meet up with you. Are you still near Blye? I will be starting out in a 1996 Toyota Tercel (2 door) with an 8 man tent. I don’t have internet at home, but I use the library. Hope you get this…tried your email, but not getting it to work for me. Hope to hear from you soon.

    • Bob Bob says:

      I so totally agree Rob. A saying i remind myself of is “It took what it took to get me here.” And because I am so very happy with my life today, I can be grateful for every bit of it!

    • Harry says:

      Bob, In reading your blog, it’s as if I wrote it about myself!

      • Bob Bob says:

        Thank you Harry. That’s part of why I say “every fiber of your DNA cries out for this.” I believe it is a commonality we all share – even if most are unaware of it.

  2. Meg says:

    I am so torn. I just spent 4 months traveling across North America in my van, and I loved it (this was not my first Long Trip, either, and I always travel at least part of every summer, but most of the time I can only afford to leave for a few weeks). I am also an avid gardener who loves needlework (quilting in particular, which takes up a lot of space), neither of which I can do on the road. If I was forced to put a percentage on which way I’d rather go, it would be *precisely* 50/50 traveling or staying put. I would give my eyeteeth to be able to reconcile these two halves of myself, because trying to split my time 50/50 on the road and in one place is beyond my resources, financially and otherwise.

    • Pamela says:

      Meg–

      You are not alone. My life is also as you exactly describe. Traveling is my passion. So is my homestead and my hobbies (genealogy, gardening, and various needlework). I’m not sure what the answer is for folks like us who are so torn. Perhaps, the path will become clearer at some point. Thanks for sharing. Makes me feel less weird knowing at least one other soul feels the same as I do! 🙂

      • Bob Bob says:

        Pamela, we are the normal ones!

        It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
        J.Krishnamurti

      • Meg says:

        Thanks, Pamela, and ditto! Sometimes I think what I need is a patient spouse to keep the home fires burning while I go gallivanting around, so I can come home occasionally and sew and put my hands in the dirt. That said, I’ve been married twice, and it’s not something I’m any good at [wry g].

        But when I listen to the folk songs about the guy going off and having adventures while his sweetheart waits for him to come home, I want to be *him*, not *her*!

      • One or two suggestions…find the place you’d love to call your “travel” home and look up quilting clubs or community gardens. Meet Up is an online thing where people host group activities and you get invited to join. In Sedona Az. meet up groups do things like desert yoga or kayaking or hiking. Just a suggestion.

    • Jackie says:

      Lap quilting!

    • Linda Sand says:

      Container gardening?

    • haha I was thinking quilting on the road would be great – you’d keep warm in cold weather! Cant a portable sewing machine fit in your camper?
      Sincerely, Creative Devil’s Advocate.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Meg, you are not alone, many of us have green thumbs and need to garden. But rather than focus on the impossible choice, instead celebrate your very great fortune that you get to do both of your passions. A 4 month trip must have been so wonderful for you but then you get to go home to your other passions. You are a very blessed person.

      • Meg says:

        Calling it blessed always makes me feel like people think I did nothing to make that trip happen, but I suspect that’s just me, and the fact that I’m not Christian (I hope this doesn’t get me chased out of here [wry g]).

        And it really is not the best of both worlds. In some ways it’s the worst. When I’m on the road I miss the garden I had to give up (I had to sell my condo to make the trip, and I don’t regret it, but still) and miss my quilting — and no, you can’t even lap quilt in a Transit Connect, trust me — and when I’m home I want to be on the road. I need to figure out a way to accommodate both sides of me *at the same time.* I wish I knew how to do that. A larger RV is not in the cards for me financially or logistically, and that still wouldn’t solve the gardening, anyway.

        I know, I know. It’s a first world problem. I feel guilty for even being this unhappy about it. But I am, so what can I say?

    • Janelle says:

      I, too, struggle with this. I’m still trying to figure out how and where to find my sweet spot.

  3. jim says:

    Yep Mr Bob your right how hindsight is 20/20 if I had known what I know now when I was 20 I would be better off that I am setting here at 60 but I have to look to a higher power and think I’m where I am for a reason I may not know the reason but if I had took another path in my 20 I may not even be here so that does give me some piece of mine someday I hope to be free from working and dealing with people doing stupid shit when you talk about your life before van living it’s like you are looking at my life work,home tv buy gas back to work repeat repeat repeat will I truly hope you can live a long and health life to be able to do what you truly love to do because so few people every get to do that little long ever even figure out what that is that would make them happy what I have learned is your personal happiness had to come within think you so much for your work and time you have really brought me a lot of enjoyment through the years keeping up with you and your adventures

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jim, I’m delighted to hear I’ve made you life better in some small way. I’d encourage you to start taking small steps to live at least a little bit nomadic. Get your car ready to take short trips in and then actually go, if only in your own driveway or to a local State Park and spend the night. Little steps can lighten your load and seeing a little progress may encourage you enough to slowly do more. Worth a try?

  4. Gayle says:

    While I read through this post.. I keep thinking..”if only I could afford to do this” and then Meg’s comment “I am so torn” just resonated so deeply within. I have been following and dreaming here for years and yet because of being a *caretaker* for a 93yr old FNL… duty keeps me bound. For years I shouted above my heart that I was *happy to do this* but that covers the shadow of responsibility while you literally watch your life pass you by! For a brief period we convinced ourselves that we could take him with us and bought a very used camper to modify. It still sits in waiting….not going to happen. Reality conquers dreams. But someday….I’ll find this freedom that you speak of. Almost every day I do research, reading or planning to make this dream come true. I read through a website belonging to a young lady that you interviewed and once again found a brick wall of financial reality as she posted her income on the road vs expenses. Now of course we have no idea how one lives their lives with paper hell…LOL…but since we are not yet of SS age I believe the biggest hurdle to overcome in being mentally prepared is how to provide. Those of your older videos that spoke of workkamping as in the Sugar Beet Harvest to then have that bank account filled for awhile is nice but then it seems that one would have a short time off then back to work again…meaning its not that much different from S&B life. Please show me how wrong I am? Speaking of money has to be one of the most difficult and private conversations on this earth..yet it is a sore reality to making this life come true. Other than doing the math on necessities like phone, insurance, food… and one’s own personal necessities like meds, hobbies etc…it’s still so difficult to try and anticipate how much it would cost monthly to live *FREE*!! Agh….(getting to old to jump over road blocks)!! 🙂

    • Linda Sand says:

      You might want to check out the blog http://www.interstellarorchard.com to see how one young woman makes working occasionally pay for playing the rest of the time.

    • Rob says:

      My first season working at Adventureland (I found the job at the big tent in Quartzsite) was an eye opener. There are people who live the nomad life workcamping seasonal jobs. It not only can be done, it is being done.
      Come to the RTR & you’ll meet & talk with people who are doing it.

      How is it different from a S&B life? At Adventureland I had a very different view out my front door & I walked to work, the same with the my winter job at an RV park in Texas.

      It comes down to what I expect from my life.
      I did the math & decided that a “reduced expectation” from me that would allow something other than living where I had/as I had was acceptable.

      It’ your life, you make your choices. Good luck!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gayle, of you can reduce your expenses low enough, you don’t need much money, and can easily earn it, especially if you are a couple. That’s very easy to do if you live in a car, van and to some degree an RV. Here is the income from the big three jobs May-December. This is for one person, if you are a couple double it. How long could you live on that much money without any house payments?

      Here are 8 common jobs for nomads, and since you will live on wheels, you can go to where the job is:

      http://www.cheaprvliving.com/budget/workcamping-jobs-for-nomads/

    • I have found the best of both worlds! I camp host in the summer and work for Home Instead the rest of the year. I make money at both. I can work almost anywhere with both and I am currently living with my parents and building a new travel gypsy wagon. I save money by living with family temporarily. Yes I pay rent. But I’m also using the time and money to do things like put together and test out a solar system…thank you Bob! Both companies offer flexible schedules and flexible locations. My bills and paychecks are all auto pay. I’m safe warm and dry in the winter and out in nature in the summer. Spring and Fall are planning seasons. I’ve traveled from Oregon to Georgia to Arizona and back. Planning some time in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakota’s next.

  5. Tiki Lebby says:

    Hey Bob,
    I have enjoyed my life so far being wholly plugged in to society. It’s as I neared retirement that I began to reassess. Like you I did not want to relax into that chair. I’m happiest when creating and learning.
    However a ‘home base’ had its appeal, too.
    Here’s what my mom and I came up with. (We both have manufactured homes and just pay a nominal space rent.) Sell her home and share mine with her. I keep my bedroom, bath, and closet. My space is now set up like a hotel room, with seating area and desk. And she gets the rest to feather as she likes. Her house is now in escrow and will close on Nov. 3rd. She will be paying space rent on our shared home. That will allow me to live on SS in my 23′ bespoke C Class.
    I’ll be heading to Quartzsite as soon as mom is settled in. Tiki 🚎💨💨💨

  6. Cindy says:

    Another great post Bob.

    I am trying to make my get away. I have a used Toyota Tundra now but owe on it. Now I am looking for a used camper to put on it. Until I am 62 I would have to work camp. I am trying to wait until I have only 1 year to worry about. But I am growing so inpatient. So I take vacation and keep getting rid of things. I have actually always gotten rid of lots of stuff. Then I have to buy some again. I have moved many times in trying to be satisfied where I am at. Spent all my money doing it. I so wish I had seen your blog 5 years ago. I would of been out there now and could of bought vehicle outright.

    I have always hated societal norms. I just didn’t know I had a choice to do as you are doing.

    Still trudging to get there soon.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Cindy

    • Bob Bob says:

      Cindy, sometimes the best you can do is plod along and keep taking the steps that get you where you are going. Rather than focus on how far you have to go, maybe celebrate every small accomplishment that moves you closer to it, especially selling or giving away your things. Gratitude is the attitude that will turn everything around for you!

      • Cindy says:

        Thanks Bob, I looked at campers today. I still like that Capri, thanks for telling me about it. Cindy

        • Bob Bob says:

          I’m a big fan of the Capri. The original owners did sell the company recently and I honestly don’t know what impact that has had on them, time will tell I guess.

    • dave says:

      Cindy, the travellite 770 SL (super lite) is a great, lower cost camper for a older tundra sized truck. Still might need to boost the suspension with air bags or more leafs. It only has a small room for a porta potti if that is an issue for you. It’s hard to find a light camper that also has a bathroom. Travellite also just released a new camper “the Air” which comes in at an incredible 1120 lbs. I do not work for Travellite, to be clear.

      Lance has a new truck camper called the 625 which has a bathroom, fits almost any mid range truck and a pretty reasonable price, for a new truck camper that is.

      Six Pac made a camper for Tacomas and Tundras called the t-100, Six pac is probably permanently shuttered now, but you might luck out and find a used one.

      The pop up campers like Four Wheel Hawk and All Terrain Panther would work for your truck, but then you also have to contend with the downsides of pop ups. Like wind noise, poping it up and down, zero stealth and difficulty heating it properly. Most also have no bathroom.

  7. my name is nobody says:

    One thing’s for sure – vandwelling is not a psuedo-event like most of what is programmed by society for our consumption and distraction. I’m looking forward to returning to a nomadic life and joining my cousins on the road in 2017.

  8. Steve says:

    Bob, you are right. The American way of life is a trap. Having grown up in the middle class we were taught to go to school and get a job, marry and get a house. The problem with that is when you get a loan to buy a house you become a slave to the bank to pay off a loan that three times what the house sold for. That $100,000.00 house is now going to cost you $300,000.00 or more over the next 30 years you have to pay off the loan. If you miss a payment the bank can take your home. So you become a middle class slave until you die. The bankers get rich and you get poor. That is how the system is rigged. The Bankers who run the government got the psychiatrist to figure out how to make slaves out of us with out us knowing it. They want to keep us seeing the news they want us to see and keep busy working to make them rich and keep us out of trouble. Bob people like you and me are a threat to some of the evil people who have twisted minds who think they need to keep us down, stupid and living in fear. They do not want you to be free just under their control.Real freedom is a threat to slave masters. The World Bankers control the governments and religions who then control you. They have been doing for a long time. I always like it when I see people like you being honest and waking up to the fact that we are in a trap. Keep waking people up and helping them to see how they can be free, and one day we all will be free. Remember slaves are told to not talk and get together and by the slave masters who want to keep the slaves down and stupid and in fear. Thanks again Bob for keeping it real. You will find people will show up and try to stop you or others from doing what you do because they are working for the rich man. It seems everybody has a price and most people sell themselves short. Freedom is forever and slavery is death. Have a good one. Steve

  9. Wayne (Wirs) says:

    @Meg, Gail, Cindy, et al: What you may or may not realize is that when Bob first started living in his box van, he was (I believe) also working. It is quite easy to live and work in a city/town while living in a van and building up savings—just be sure your van is stealth-worthy.

    I have just finished a week long stint living stealthy in Reno NV while I went through a round of medical appointments. It was no problem. I could do it year-in and year out if I desired. Whenever I go down to FL to take care of my aging parents, I live out of the van for months at a time.

    My point is, this life doesn’t have to be binary, not an all-in or all-out thing. You can even quite easily “test it out” by buying/renting a van, renting out your home or apartment for a month or two, while continuing to work at your job. Not only will you learn first-hand the experience of van living, but you will also save a ton of money (income from your job, income from renting your place, savings in living expenses). Hang around town during working days, then take mini-vacations during the weekends.

    There’s always a way. To live in a little metal box, sometimes you just have to think outside the box.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Absolutely right Wayne. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The only wrong way is to let fear control you and refuse to follow your dreams whether a little at a time, or all in.

    • Meg says:

      Actually money’s not the issue, at least not if I was able to pick one or the other. I’m unhappy because I *do*, because of my particular logistical issues, which I won’t get into here, have to pick one or the other, and can’t go back and forth between them.

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks Wayne, I do want to go now! Just need to work out the money issue.

  10. Vanholio! says:

    Darn straight, I wish I’d escaped in my 20s. The irony is that even then I knew I was trapped and saw myself doing something of this ilk. At least I’m out now. Also, total ditto on the chillin’ in nature thing. That’s my chief love of this lifestyle. I’m much more at ease in the woods and desert. Not sure what stresses me out in populated areas, but I definitely can tell the difference.

  11. David Michael says:

    Another great posting Bob. That photo of the traffic in urban living says it all. I did the traditional thing over 30 years and actually enjoyed most of it. But I really liked retiring at 56. Due to a bout with cancer I sold my own company early before I was financially free but I have worked seasonal jobs when we needed more monies since then.

    We recently completed seven years full timing with an RV and loved it. Now that my wife wanted to return to our community and family, we have a small, cozy apartment. I sold the RV and purchased a new van to convert into a camper. Compromise on all sides. But it’s working for us as we plan to winter in Arizona, Texas, or Baja California with our small van. See you in January where we can swap stories and experiences.

  12. JIM PETERSON says:

    “And the bright horizon calls! Many a thing will keep till the world’s work is done, and youth is only a memory. When the old enchanter came to my door laden with dreams, I reached out with both hands. For I knew that he would not be lured with the gold that I might later offer, when age had come upon me.”
    Richard MacCullough
    Viking’s Wake

  13. JIM PETERSON says:

    “‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas,” some men say, “but I can’t afford it.’ 

    What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’ And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine–and before we know it our lives are gone.

    “What does a man need–really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in–and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all–in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

    “The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed.”

    – Sterling Hayden “Wanderer”

  14. JIM PETERSON says:

    Today we celebrate our first year living fulltime in our 33′ fifth wheel. For many in this group, something that big sounds palatial and — compared to a van — I suppose it is. But it only cost us $4,200 and we sold the older fifth wheel we were already living in (for five months prior to retirement) for $2,500 — not a whole lot more money for a significant upgrade = self-lighting appliances, more room, etc. We already had two old RV/Marine batteries (not ideal but that’s what we had) so I bought two new ones with my state discount before I retired. For $1,550 we bought a single 420 watt panel and a 100 volt MPPT charge controller and Solar Mike (at The Slabs) and his helper hooked it all up. We also added a 300 watt pure sine wave inverter from Power Up! for less than $200 which I installed myself. Now we are our own power company and live as if we’re plugged in 24/7 — we’ve always had more power than we use and the system hasn’t cost us another dime yet. For anyone contemplating this lifestyle, my standard advice is “Go cheap, go small, go NOW!” Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. Refuse to lay on your death bed filled with regret over all the things you wanted to do and never even tried. There are 1,000 ways to live this life — regardless of your income. Maybe you’ll travel fewer miles; maybe you’ll have to learn how to stretch a $5 pre-cooked chicken into four dinners for two like we do; maybe you’ll live on the BLM (as we do) for FREE — we only spent $150 last year for a place to be and every dollar of that was discretionary. This life is chock full of options at *every* income level — pick one!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jim, in my whole life, I have never read anything any smarter that your post! Brilliant!

      I’d love to get to meet you, my camp is always open to you!

      • JIM PETERSON says:

        Thanks Bob — actually we have met — my wife & I met you at last year’s RTR. We know you’re extremely busy at these events and did not want to tie you up but you & I chatted briefly as we volunteered to help do the clean-up after the chili feed. I was the tall (6’4″) good-looking and humble one 🙂 I also met Randy Vining at The Slabs before the RTR (saw him at the RTR as well). It was truly an honor to meet both of you (in the flesh as they say) after living vicariously through both of you for at least a decade prior. We’re hunkered down near Boise, ID until about 11/5 and then headed south for our 2nd winter in paradise — stopping in Arcata, CA and Lodi, CA enroute to The Slabs. This is the life — absolutely no regrets.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Sorry about that Jim, I do meet a LOT of people at the RTR and my already overcrowded brain is full to overflowing with so many things. I’m hoping to make it easier for myself in the future but haven’t quite figured out how.

          I’d love it if you camped with me before or after, then I can calm down and actually get to know people. I’d love that!!

          • JIM PETERSON says:

            Actually that would be better for us too. For 38 years Annie was in a church environment where she had to smile and be nice whether she felt like it or not. Even as a child, she was a PK (Pastor’s Kid) and always had to be on her best behavior. Now that she no longer has to pretend anymore, she’s more adverse to crowds than I am! I always thought *I* was the lone wolf but apparently not so much anymore 🙂 We also travel with two cats and therefore end up parking some distance away from dogs so they’re not stressed out 24/7 — especially if we set up their catio so they can go outside. We’ll try to make contact with you some time after the RTR. We’ll be in the area or points south like the Yuma area.

          • Bob Bob says:

            That works Jim, I’m really too busy during the RTR to be very social.

    • Exhale says:

      “Go cheap, go small, go NOW!” = my new mantra. Thank you.

  15. joe says:

    As you say in terms of what you are doing is fine but you still need money to be honest in this country and of course there are a lot what if factors illness car break downs at some point you will have to surrender what you are doing that is as fact but as long as you can afford to do what you are doing more power to you I do agree with you traveling is the best thing you can do for your soul I really do enjoy moving around also meeting new folks watching the sunsets in different locations but I just do not have the guts to take risks from what you have said to me in the past is your have workman’s comp that in it self would give me the drive to live a nomads life style I just do not want to get stuck somewhere and when you are broke no one seems to care this is why I do not have the guts to travel with no income it is just to risky so I wish you the best and I would like to be in your shoes for a while but i.m not you and money is the concern I would do it in a heartbeat if money was not a problem for me and you have been kind to give info about temp jobs but they pay poor sure something is better than nothing when your on the road but it’s really not enough in the long run any way enjoy your new truck when you get it

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joe, no workmans comp for me, I do have a small pension though. If you can reduce your expenses low enough, you don’t need much money, and can easily earn it. That’s very easy to do if you live in a car, van and to some degree an RV. Most of us can work 6 months and then tak 6 months off. If you will feel better, you could work the whole year and save a BIG amount of money.

      Here are 8 common jobs for nomads, and since you will live on wheels, you can go to where the job is:
      http://www.cheaprvliving.com/budget/workcamping-jobs-for-nomads/

  16. JIM PETERSON says:

    It’s also good to remember you’re part of a community here. If you’re broke down and have no money for repair, there’s a *very* good chance someone from this tribe is close enough to give you a hand. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. In the meantime (while you’re patiently waiting), you still have a place to sleep and a way to prepare food. At last winter’s RTR, that was a super cool thing to witness = the willingness of others in this community to help each other out at no charge (or a very modest fee — prearranged). If you wait until every T is crossed and every I dotted, I’m suggesting you may never make the required leap of faith. There are many, many options available to you which won’t even present themselves until *after* you commit to the new lifestyle — that just seems to be how the universe works. A long-time acquaintance of mine doesn’t travel much but he lives in the desert for FREE. His biggest expense is gas ‘cuz he likes to drive around — something to do I guess. He gets all his food (and clothing) from food banks in the large city (Boise) near where he lives. He gets SS now (didn’t for many years prior) and is saving big money because he only spends about $200/mo (mostly for gas). He has money in the bank and some would claim what he’s doing is dishonest. I don’t think so. Any country which can afford to spend $600 billion dollars a year on death and destruction (36% of all the military spending on the planet!) can easily afford to hand out some FREE food to those who want or need it.

  17. mike klein says:

    Bob,
    I so enjoy your adventures and I have/am seriously considered your way of life. I am 68 and very active. Right now I am considering another alternative. Moving to Costa Rica…living on my Social Security & teaching English pro bono (maybe a few $), gardening, welcoming my family to visit. I can see it so clearly. Not final, but will keep my options open and keep reading your blog.
    mike

    • Bob Bob says:

      Mike, this is a great life but Costa Rica sounds like it would be a good fit for you too. Best wishes with whichever way you go.

    • JIM PETERSON says:

      Mike,
      My daughter & SIL (and a group of their friends) are planning their 2nd(!) vacation to Costa Rica. Do they know something we don’t? I know everything is cheaper if you live a good distance away from any of the tourist areas. I’ve also been told that no matter how long you live there; no matter how much you like the natives; no matter how much they like you? You’ll always be a gringo — just good to know going in 🙂 Medicare won’t pay down there but local care is so cheap that it’s pretty much a non-issue with most of the expats.

  18. Michele says:

    Bob, this couldn’t have come at a better time, thank you for being an inspiration and mentor!

  19. margo says:

    as usual another good post bob. for people like joe that do worry about money and find it hard to break free, and there are many people in the same frame of mind, this kind of life style does not start the same way for every one. there are as many ways and different lengths of time to get started as there are people involved. just enjoy the thinking and planning and as you go along you may find your needs change and if you do just little things these little things grow into big things and suddenly its not a big impossible change. and if it doesn’t work the first time, so what, just start over if you want to. i guess what i’m trying to say is that life does not stay the same and even if you never are able to break free at least you can enjoy thinking about it.

  20. ~Karen~ says:

    I’m curious where the bumper to bumper traffic photo was taken? Looks like cute little yellow “vans”?

    To date, I’ve full-timed for over 25yrs in a wide assortment of vehicles & RVs, however, I always had a job…moved with it, & then I wouldn’t be tied into a rental/lease. Saved a lot that way.

    Since then, another 20+yrs part-timing, with some sort of home base in the states I frequent the most. I’ve been doing the “find the worst house in the best neighborhood”, refurbish it, & sell it. It’s been great fun! Have one almost ready to put up for sale now. Good way to make $$$.

    Home is CO., & that’s where I am the most, a cabin in the back country, off grid. I do come down to AZ every so often, including the RTRs. I’ve got a little patch of vacant land in AZ that I use as a “campground”. Real estate taxes are less than one night at a regular campground.

    For those looking to get into the lifestyle today, I’d suggest above all, make sure you have some sort of income, &, right up there with that, a biggy, is that you have NO payments on anything… especially your vehicle. Buy the best you can pay cash for. Set aside a certain amount for future maintenance & repairs. You’ll always need the usual at some point, tires, batteries, etc.
    Be as prepared as you can be.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Karen, you have learned very well by your time as a nomad, that is all excellent advice!! The photo was taken from Wikipedia (so it would be legal) and was taken in India.

    • Anon says:

      Opening the link indicates the traffic photo is of Delhi, India. Also the licence plates on vehicles indicate it is Dehli. The yellow “vans” and not cars – they are 3 wheeled motorized “Rickshaw” – originally made using the Italian “Vespa” scooter engines.

    • JIM PETERSON says:

      Have you figured out how to buy a fixer-upper without having to pay a commission on it? And then do you sell ‘by owner’ to avoid having to pay a commission on the sale? Feel free to respond direct to sail4free@zoho.com if you don’t want to share the details on a public forum. Thanks!
      =========
      BOB: If this post is out of line, feel free to delete it.
      =========

    • JIM PETERSON says:

      Have you figured out how to buy a fixer-upper without having to pay a commission on it? And then do you sell ‘by owner’ to avoid having to pay a commission on the sale? Feel free to respond direct to sail4free@zoho.com if you don’t want to share the details on a public forum. Thanks!
      =========
      BOB: If this post is out of line, feel free to delete it.
      =========

  21. squeakytiki says:

    This speaks to me in so many ways. I’m dreaming of going full time, but I feel like I’m drowning in stuff. The living expenses in my state are high to the point of being ridiculous, and at this rate I won’t be able to afford to retire in the state I’ve lived in my entire life. This is certainly not what I was promised when I joined the 9 to 5 world way back when. That may be why I find the simplicity of this lifestyle so appealing. You’re an inspiration to me 🙂

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you squeakytiki and that is EXACTLY why I recommend this lifestyle sooner than later. But it is never too late. Did you see Kathleen’s video? Come on out and join us my friend. Best wishes to you.

  22. Steve says:

    “Where ever you go there you are”

    I have found this to be completely true. I have traveled quite a bit, and have come to the realization that….
    I can’t run away from myself. If I am generally an unhappy person in one place I will a generally unhappy person anywhere I go. Sure, for a short time the newness of my surroundings will make me forget the unhappiness I have felt. But soon the dark clouds will come back and I will be just as unhappy as before. Maybe more so if I have given up comforts that I had before I completely changed my life and threw them aside to try to find a better life. The grass is always greener until we get there and see that it is still grass.

    I am going to repeat a short paragraph I read that sums up where the search for a better life and happiness lies.

    “We are like a musk deer that has a wonderful smell in its belly yet searches the forest for that smell. Wherever it goes, there’s the smell — but the deer can’t see it, so it has no idea where the smell is to be found. In the same way, we believe happiness is somewhere — anywhere —other than here, and spend all our time looking for it, without realizing it is already with us.”

    Your life is what YOU make it, where ever you are.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Nature WILL heal and change you, but only if you allow it. If you won’t nothing will change.

      Humility is the key to all change, “Maybe I’ve been wrong all along and should try being a different person.” So you are absolutely right, changing everything in your life but not being willing to change anything inside yourself, because you are already just fine, is a total waste of time.

      Steve, I apologize in advance for speculating about you without ever having met you, but based on your comments here I think that describes you to a T.

      • Steve says:

        No apology needed Bob. I had to quit trying to run away from myself and problems and just face them. And you are right I was talking about myself. It took a few trips of living out away from what I thought was the bad things in my life (namely a comfortable house with all I needed)to give me some perspective on myself. What I found out was that all the freedom and nature in the world was not going to change the way I was depressed and unhappy. I had to look deep inside to learn the truth. And that truth was that no matter where I was or what I was doing was going to change bad thinking and I was the one that had to get busy living no matter where I was.

        I am so glad that I didn’t just walk away from everything to have learned that. In short, I didn’t burn my bridges and still found out what the real problem was……ME and my way of thinking.
        Oh, I still take my road trips to occasionally get away to clear my mind and to remind myself of what is really important, and who is really in charge of my life……me.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Steve, and yet here yo are repeating the exact thinking that has been brainwashed into you your entire life. When we say to you, “Here is a whole nother way to look at that” you tell us we are wrong and repeat exactly what you have always been told and suggest we would be happier if e went back to the old thinking.

          You and I sound quite a bit alike, but I discovered I had to throw out ALL my OLD thinking and open up every area of my life to a totally new way to look at things. The spiritual path I follow says this about what needs to happen in our lives if we were truly going to change:

          “Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”

          I literally did that. Every idea I had ever been taught was thrown out and had to prove to me it was right. They nearly all proved to be false and once I threw then out I changed in ways I could not even conceive of. I was changed at the cellular level.

          So when you come here preaching the old ideas and truths and telling us how wrong we are not to follow them, I gotta admit that isn’t welcome. Everyone here has been taught the old lies repeatedly, we have no need for you to keep telling us right they are and how wrong we are.

          I think you should ask yourself why you have such a need to keep repeating it. That would be an interesting question.

  23. JAnn says:

    Well, said Steve.
    I impulsively chucked is all to live in a van. The life was made to sound oh so wonderful but the new wore off. Now I’m sitting here in nature waiting to die instead of in the rocking chair…not always happy about poopin’ in a bucket.

    • Steve says:

      “JAnn” I am sad to know that you wound up in such a bad way. Sometimes we have to just do something to know what it is really like. I came very close to doing exactly what you did. But some voice inside my head kept nagging me to just take some test runs first and live the life to see if I was cut out for it. And as it turned out I was not. Pooping in a bucket played a part in that for me as well. LOL
      I don’t look at that as a failure but a success in that I was saved from some permanent hard times because I listened to my inner voice of wisdom.
      I hope things somehow work out for you and you can get back to a more comfortable life.

    • Steve says:

      JAnn here is a link to the Salvation Army. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/housing-and-homeless-services

      They will help you if you are in need. As I understand they will provide you with food and shelter for a time and try to find you help with permanent living arrangements.

  24. “Wherever you go, there you are” applies in my life by taking the stress out of decisions like these. I have found it possible to work on my inner/spiritual issues and to enjoy life pretty much equally whether I had more income, less, or none and regardless of where and how I lived. None of that stuff matters much to my inner condition. Any agonizing or self-congratulation about having this or not having that has faded pretty quickly. I’ve been through enough changes in those things to be comfortable (or not) in nearly any outer situation.

    To be honest, I’m not sure why pooping in a bucket is a problem unless you don’t know how to keep the smell down. What is important to me is having a place to do it and being able to do it.

    • Steve says:

      I don’t know Calvin, I think it makes much more sense to poop in a normal toilet and push the flush handle to instantly get rid of what your body has gotten rid of (much more healthy as well). Instead of having to package it up and store for who knows how long till you can get to a garbage can or dumpster. Euwee……
      Seems like a lot to do for such a simple bodily function that can be taken care of in a modern toilet in our advanced modern society.
      Have I ever pooped in a bucket? Oh yes, in an emergency. But I don’t think I could do it on a day to day basis.
      To me pooping in a bucket is sorta third world country, since there are modern flush toilets everywhere you go.
      Pooping in a bucket in an emergency…yes, as a permanent part of my life…..never.
      Now….this is just my opinion, I am not an expert on the bucket thing but from the small few times I have had to do it I am no fan of it.

      • Ann says:

        I couldn’t disagree with you more Steve. Considering the water shortages all over the world, shitting and pissing in perfectly clean drinking water is grossly selfish and short sighted. Composted shit makes amazing soil and we are in desperate need of decent soil in this country. We have depleted the nutrients out of the soil with all the pesticides and herbicides. Please read the book Humanure. It will help you to understand how disgusting it is to shit and piss in drinking water vs. composting to protect our water and environment.

  25. I’ve done it, and I had a friend who did it daily for years. Her only bathroom was upstairs and she became unable to climb stairs. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but then I’m not interested in whether what I do is “third world.” That’s someone else’s problem, if it’s anyone’s. I have found I got used to various conditions more easily than I expected if I didn’t have “should” things in my head–I “should” shower every day with running water, I “should” live in a house or apartment “like everyone else,” stuff like that. “Should” and its synonyms are marketing in most cases.

    • Steve says:

      Oh, I can understand if you have no other choice like your friend. I would do the same if I were in that position. You do what you have to do. But I would not make it a choice if there were better alternatives.

    • Steve says:

      Which reminds me, there is a saying that says “if you have your health you have everything”. I believe in that fully and am very grateful that I am in pretty good health currently. And I always try to take care of myself as best I can to try to keep it for as long as I can.

  26. Michele says:

    Steve, I’m curious to know why you come here to this blog if this isn’t the lifestyle for you?

  27. Steve says:

    Michele, I occasionally browse through the forums to cherry pick ideas on different rigs and methods for some roadtrips I take. And every once in awhile I will stumble across ideas that I feel needs the other side of the sto ry sorta speak. Or I will interject some information that could maybe be helpful to some people who are on the fence on this lifestyle. I just try to throw in some information that they may be overlooking before they jump headfirst into this type of living.
    I have noticed that most people starting out wants answers to questions they need to know. I just give the other side. I always try to be polite and present my views in a respectable way.

    Michele, do you want me to not contribute anymore?

    • Steve says:

      One more thing, I think it makes a blog or forum more interesting to get varied ideas and experiences on any subject. Otherwise you wind up with a very boring yes, yes, yes, yes type of interchange.
      That’s just my opinion. I am sure there are many that disagree with me. But I welcome their opinion as well.

  28. Michele says:

    Steve,

    I appreciate hearing others experience on this lifestyle and hearing about others’ challenges can better help prepare me.

    What I don’t understand are some of your statements such as,

    “I don’t know Calvin, I think it makes much more sense to poop in a normal toilet and push the flush handle to instantly get rid of what your body has gotten rid of (much more healthy as well). ”

    I find those types of statements judgmental. We each can decide how to live our lives that makes the most ‘sense’ for us.

    • Steve says:

      I am not being judgmental, I am just stating my opinion on my own personal experience with pooping in a bucket compared with using a conventional flush toilet.
      I think you are making more out of it than it is.

      • Steve says:

        I am going to leave this particular blog, because I can tell that I am stepping on some toes and touching on some raw nerves. Bye bye.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Sorry to see you go Steve.

          • Whitey says:

            Steve is talking about the obstacles and inconveniences of the nomadic lifestyle, but I think the real issue is one of isolation and loneliness. Speaking from personal experience, it’s much more comfortable to isolate oneself in a house or apartment than it would be in a van. It’s also more socially acceptable, even the norm in our culture. I’m alone in my apartment typing this now, after ten hours of “wearing the mask” and dealing with the public. If I choose to remain isolated, this is the place to do it. Maybe something other than logistics brought me here. Steve, if you’re reading this, I hope you find what you came for.

            The main message I get from your posts,Bob,is the message of connection to other people. With that connection, “pooping in a bucket” and other inconveniences are just a minor annoyance. Without that connection living in a van would feel like another stop on the way to the bottom.

          • Bob Bob says:

            I can see how it would be that way for some people. But even if it weren’t a path toward the tribe for me, it would be a path to the peace and joy I find in being connected to nature–and that is worth any cost and any payment to me. The tribe is just an incredible bonus on top of that.

            Of course, the problem is if you are just sitting in your house, stressed, lonely and alone, you have no idea what you are missing out on. And the mild depression it causes you saps you of the desire to search for a better way.

          • Mark B says:

            Hi Bob,Thank you for trying to encourage folks to stay on the site provided they have constructive criticism and are not here to just be negative the lifestyle.
            You cover a tremendous amount of subjects and this will unfortunately leave you open to negativity at times.
            With ref to what JAnn posted I would like to point out that you have advised consistently and wisely that people should try the lifestyle with baby steps first,maybe a weekend then a week etc.
            You have also suggested they hire instead of buy first to give it a go.
            Like many on here I really appreciate the time you spend educating and entertaining us and I understand the difference between your generalisations on the lifestyle and the personal advise you offer those that ask for it.
            You are a wise man Bob and I mean no disrespect to anyone else here.

      • Michele says:

        Steve, And I think you are being dismissive of my view point and that of others’ here.

        I welcome respectful discussions.

        • Dust-in-the-Wind says:

          Dismissive? Michelle, respectfully, I disagree. If someone has a different point of view from me, I don’t necessarily read that as dismissive or an attack against me personally. It gives me an opportunity to offer additional ideas in support of my side of the discussion.

  29. Ann says:

    Hi Bob, As usual your insights are highly appreciated and valued. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. It is so inspiring and enlightening. ~Ann

  30. Diane Fitzsimmons says:

    Just letting you know why I read Bob’s blog (and subscribe to his channel) even though I never have wanted or plan to take up the nomadic lifestyle: I am dedicated to living more with less and frugal living. Bob is one of the few bloggers I have run across that understands what that means (too many “penny-pinching” blogs are about to get more stuff cheaply rather than enjoying owning less). Breaking free of the rat race is important whether you roam or plant yourself.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you, Dianne! I am very passionate about being a nomad and so I am afraid I get carried away with it sometimes. But my goal is that everyone can gain something from the blog, even if they are never nomad. Just getting their car ready to take trips and getting rid of their stuff will make everyone’s life better, no matter where they live!!

  31. JIM PETERSON says:

    For anyone adverse to “poopin in a bucket” there is an affordable alternative. New porta-potties are $50 and used ones can be had for 20 bucks. I used one for many years in my small slide-in camper and found it perfectly adequate. I did build a box with 2x6s on edge — covered with 1/2″ plywood — to raise the potti up to normal toilet height. My camper had a small closet at the right-rear corner and I put the potti in there — also left the window cracked open 24/7 for ventilation. The closet door opened across the entry door so I could have privacy without closing the entry door (if I didn’ want to). It’s easier for us guys as we can do most of our #1 outside or pee in a bottle in the night and pour it outside the next morning. Living by myself (and using public toilets whenever possible), it would sometimes take a month to fill up. I never filled the upper tank — preferring to ‘flush’ with a jug of water (which also kept it winterized at all times). One note of caution = leave the little slider thing open so pressure doesn’t build on a hot day! These can be easily carried into any public toilet and dumped. There are also additives (some are bio-degradeable = earth friendly) to keep the odor down (do not use bleach!) and I’ve been known to pour it down a gopher hole or two. The moral of the story is: Instead of getting bogged down with any particular ‘negative’ figure something else out; find a better way!

  32. Arthur says:

    I share your views Bob, do not regret not be able to start this life style when you was 20, we are here to learn and all pass experiences have helped us to gain wisdom.
    We never are to old to start a new life style regardless if we are 60, 70 or even 80 years old.
    The problem with all of us (human nature) is that we put barriers in our self (excuses) which stop us get out of our “comfort zone” ( an illusion I may add)
    I just read some comments by posters putting the excuse that they can not live on the road because they love gardening or some kind of craft that requires space.
    It will be not rewarding to do gardening by helping maintain or planning a garden in a home of an old person or one with disabilities?
    It will be not rewarding teaching crafts and sharing the skills with others?
    Can not be it not only a way to satisfying our hobbies but also to earn some income with those that can afford to pay for the services?
    IMHO our self erected barriers it is what the system use for their benefit and keeping us slave.
    Thank you Bob for sharing your life experience.
    Cheers for Tasmania

    • Bob Bob says:

      Arthur, I just try to remember the old saying, “Live and let live” I try to give everybody the info about mobile living but I know not everyone will do it. And that’s up to them, I’ve met my obligation by informing them.

  33. Johnson says:

    Bob,

    I’ve been a fan of your videography for a while now but didn’t realize until recently that you have an awesome website, too. This is my first post to read and I loved it!

    You highlighted so many things I easily identify with, past and future considerations and concerns.

    I’ve subscribed and will be doing a good bit of catching up, working my way through your posts.

    Wish you had a PayPal virtual tip jar on your site. I’d for sure leave a tip in it for excellent content. 👍

    • Bob Bob says:

      Johnson, that is very kind of you to say! I hope you find lots of valuable information in your reading! Actually, there is a donate button on my Youtube channel. At the channel page, it is at the top of the right-hand sidebar. Thanks for your interest!

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