This is a condensed and clarified transcript of a video Bob made earlier in the year
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OVER THE YEARS, many of you have commented that fear is the number one thing standing in the way of transitioning into your very best possible way of life. That means it’s important that we deal with how you overcome your fears so it’s not fear that keeps you locked into a way of life that has become miserable.
One thing you must understand about fear is that fear is a God-given biological evolutionary gift. A gift you should be embracing. It is never our enemy, even when it’s completely out of hand and we’re paralyzed by it. It’s our fear of fear that’s the enemy. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” is the famous quote of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). And it’s true. Fear is an ally.
Before ten thousand years ago, all humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers. That’s what we did, and that’s the way we lived. No one lived in a house, no one planted crops, and no one had domesticated animals. No one had any of that. It didn’t exist.
So how did they get their food? By going out hunting and gathering.
Say you were hunting one day and came across a tiger. A single human has no chance against a tiger. They are powerful, incredible, killing machines. When you see this tiger, there are three reactions you can have. They are fight, flight, or freeze. If you freeze, the tiger may not see you and will go off. Then again, the tiger may see you. Once he spots you, he’s the predator, and you’re the prey. He is coming for you. So freezing is not a good solution. That’s a really bad solution.
The proper solution is to crouch down, get low, steadily back away, and get away very quietly. Very calmly and under control. Being aware that if the tiger does see you and attack you, you’ll fight to the death. You’ll lose, but you’ll fight to the death. You’ll do your best. You’re in control; you’re calm; you’re rational. Your brain or your higher functioning is still in charge. That’s the proper reaction to fear, and the fear saves you. If you have too little fear, you’re bound to say, “Oh, there’s a tiger. That’s a lot of meat. I’ll go kill and eat him.” Well, that’s preposterous. Your lack of fear has overcome your sound reasoning and thinking. Now you’re charging after a tiger which is certain death, and you die.
The Goldilocks amount of fear- not too little, not too much, just right- is what we want and must always strive for.
If we make fear the enemy, we lose the ability to see a stupid thing we might do. One that is going to get us hurt. When you start thinking about becoming a nomad and talk to your friends and family almost universally, they say, “You’ll get killed… it’s horrible… that guy’s a cult leader…”
This fear of becoming a nomad is constantly poured upon you, and it builds up and builds up. It becomes completely disproportionate. You freeze, make a stupid mistake, or do nothing. Doing nothing is most likely what will happen. Some drop everything and run out completely unprepared. If you must do that, then you must do that, but usually, this is your worst choice. You want to have some preparation time. Prepare as best you can to be out here, which will greatly increase your chances of success.
1. Fear of the Unknown
Becoming a nomad, leaving everything, and driving off in your car, van, or RV, never living in a house again, is so radically different than what everyone else is doing. The idea creates different questions, problems, possibilities, and, ultimately, fears. Your worst fear is fear of the unknown.
The way we’re going to deal with this fear of the unknown is we’re going to identify all your other fears. We’re going to find solutions for each and every one of them. That will dispel the fear. When the thought comes up that you will run out of money, you pull out your plan. Make fear an ally. Think through how you can avoid the problems the fear points out.
You’re going to run out of money, so that’s fear number two.
2. Fear of Not Enough Money
You’re almost certainly going to think in your mind; I don’t have enough money. I’m going to run out of money. The first thing you must do with this fear is to identify it. Give it a name, feel it, embrace it, accept it. In fact, be grateful for it. It forces you to develop a plan. It will scream at you and say, “This is risky. You’re taking a stupid chance, don’t do it.” With a plan A, B, C, and D, you can show why it’s not as risky as you think, that it’s not a stupid risk, it’s not a wild chance, and here’s what I’m going to do.
If you have this fear of money, the first thing you want to do is develop an emergency fund. If your fear comes to you and says, “You don’t have enough money.” You say, “I’ve got three thousand dollars in savings. I have a budget, and I have a plan. I can live within my budget, and I can always stop and get another job.” Then you see a plan with an A, B, C, and D on it.
Whatever you’re doing right now, get a second job. You want to build up your emergency fund. If it’s at all possible, if you’re physically able, get a second job. Put every penny into your emergency fund. Stop buying things. From now on, you will only buy things that are absolutely essential to your new life. Start selling everything you have that isn’t essential. Buy things as cheap as you can. Buy what you can second-hand. Spend as little as you can. To build that emergency fund, make as much money doing side jobs and gigs as possible. Then when you go, you’ll say, “I have a plan. I’m going to be safe. I won’t run out of money; if I do, I have a plan. I’ll pull over. I’ll stop. I’ll get a job. I’ll stay there until I build my emergency fund back up.”
3. Fear of Predators
The next big fear is fear that you won’t be safe. In essence, you’re afraid of predators: two-legged predators or criminals. I have a series of videos on how to stay safe. I can promise you that if you do it right, use any sort of common sense; you’ll be safer than you’ve ever been in your life. Don’t let fear of safety from predators, two-legged or four-legged, stop you. You’ll be safe out here. You could be at the wrong place at the wrong time anywhere. At any time, bad luck hits us all. I can’t promise that won’t happen to you, but I can promise you that statistically speaking, you will be safer out here than anywhere else in the United States of America.
4. Fear of Break Downs
Of all the fears, this is the only one that really is statistically valid. It’s almost inevitable that if you’re out here long enough, you’re going to break down at some point. I’ve had a lot of breakdowns. I might have had a dozen in the last 20 years as a nomad. A dozen out of 20 years really isn’t all that bad. Most of them were in-and-out fixes. A few were overnight. I’ve been able to stay in the shop almost every time. Once, I had to rent a motel room. That’s why you have an emergency fund. If you break down, you have the money to pay for the repair. You have money to pay for the tow. You have money to pay for the motel room.
5. Fear of Being Alone
The next fear is a fear of loneliness and not having any friends. Not only is this such a radical change, becoming a nomad, but you’re leaving behind your infrastructure of family and friends, people that care about you. Fortunately, while social media, I think, is doing our country a lot of harm, it also is doing us a lot of good. If you choose the good and leave behind the harm, social media can be a very good thing. You can have a whole bunch of friends before you ever get on the road! That’s a distinct possibility for you, so let me give you some idea of social media you can use to make friends before you even go. We started a 501(c)(3) called Homes on Wheels Alliance (HOWA).
On our website, you will find two things that are really going to be helpful to you. First are virtual caravans. You can join the meeting via Zoom or just call on the phone. If you can dial a phone number, you can join in. If you use Zoom, you can see and be seen by people. That’s always a better thing, I think, but either way works. It’s a virtual campfire. You sit around, talk, and visit. There’s a topic, and you get to know each other; you get to tell your story. It’s a really good thing.
Second are in-person caravans. They are temporarily suspended but check our website to see when they will begin again. You can leave your house and meet a caravan wherever they happen to be. A caravan is a group of usually 15 to 40 people. A typical number is 10 or 15. You’ll camp together in one place for two weeks then you’ll move. You’ll move from place to place in your vehicles. It has been my experience that you will make better friends and create more deep friendships as a nomad than you ever had living in a house.
6. Fear of Camping
Some of you have never gone camping before, so the idea of setting up a tent in the wilderness like this is completely new. Some of you have lived your whole life in one town, one county, or one state, so the idea of driving cross-country can be intimidating. If camping or driving is a fear that kind of paralyzes you, the answer is to take baby steps.
If you go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist with a paralyzing phobia, the practice now is they inoculate you against the fear. You go up against the fear and then back away when it becomes too hard. You go up again, hopefully further, and then back away once that becomes overwhelming. After a while, you keep doing it, pressing into the fear and going forward. By doing what you’re afraid of, eventually, you overcome the phobia, the fear, and you’re no longer paralyzed.
To practice camping, get your camping gear, shut down your house, and stop using your kitchen. Get an ice chest, a camping stove, and a five-gallon water jug. Do all your camping right there. You’ve gone camping. You’re just in your house. Your house is your tent instead of a real tent. You’re learning how to camp before you ever go out on the road. You’re inoculating yourself against this fear, and you’re going to do research at the same time. You’ll watch YouTube videos, read books and websites, and learn how to camp. Then you can find a local campground. In your city, there’s probably a park that has overnight camping. Go there and sleep in your tent or vehicle.
It’s the same thing with driving. You start, and you get out. You buy a GPS or put GPS on your phone, and you learn how to navigate all around town with your GPS. You take a trip to a nearby town and eventually go camping an hour or two away. The next weekend you go camping three hours away, then eight hours away, and then a day away. Drive a day away, then drive a day back. You just press into it and practice.
7. Fear of Natural Disasters
Forest fires, floods, droughts, and heat waves, have all become an enormous part of our life wherever we are. How are we going to overcome that fear? Well, the main thing is you’ve got a key, and you put it in the ignition, turn it, and drive away. You have less fear of those things than you did when you were in a house. You couldn’t get away from the flood when you lived in a house. If you live in a vehicle and have a hurricane or wildfire suddenly come up, you simply go where those things aren’t happening.
There are websites that tell you where the fires are and what’s going on, with alerts and warnings. If you learn about these sites in your area before a disaster happens, you can stay on top of these events as they’re coming.
I really want you to know that if you make fear your ally, you can use it as a tool to prepare yourself. Have I left out any fears? How have you dealt with your fears that have made things easier?
Fear of the cost of fuel is decreased by simply staying each place longer and not driving as far between those campsites. Researching potential campsites is a good first step towards reducing that fear. I made a list of free or cheap city/county parks, state and national forests, BLM lands, Corps of Engineer campgrounds, Wildlife Management Areas, and Walmarts so I knew there would always be someplace not too far away I could go to next.
Good advice to start with practice trips if possible. You’ll learn fast without the pressure to know everything. There’s so much info on YouTube, e.g., apps to find water, safe camping, showers, etc.
LOVE the photo! Reminds me of my 15 years living in New Mexico.
Bob, outstanding article & gorgeous picture; another fear occurred to me, fear of getting sick & no having the medical services available or aceptable.
My only “fears” are:
1. Trouble/hassles of finding quiet, relaxing places to camp on BLM land.
2. Rude neighbors/campers. With all the talk of the “new” campers out there, plus the way society has taken a seemingly steep decline in terms of manners, respect for others, etc., the last thing I want to be doing is dealing with rude people so near me in the forest forcing me to keep on moving and moving.
adapt the KISS living system; “Keep It Simple Stupid” we camped a lot until age caught up with us.
we had a small camper that DID NOT require an electric hookup… we watched so may “new camper”
getting so frustrated by the cost and difficulty of “camping” ( their words) in their expensive “fully
equipped ” campers that require 50 amp power ( or more) to run….
9 times out of 10 the folks would wander over to see our setup and shake their heads at how SIMPLE
our style of “camping” was- ( and our camper was paid for !!)
While I love the idea of Vanlife, I doubt I’ll be able to do it. My wife is not onboard with this. I live vicariously through everyone I read about.
If I were to do this one day down the road, I do have a fear of age. I’m 62 now. I’m in OK health, but I fear what can happen as we get older. Health issues, and just the whole issue of being able to do things as I get older. Is this rational, or am I overthinking it?
Steve: one word answer to your concern(s) about “overthinking it”
you will meet some AMAZING people out there on the road…(some not so nice ones too) people who have dealt with age, physical issues, handicaps, etc…. they pushed them aside and continued on with their lives…..don’t look back and say “woulda, coulda, shoulda, and Ifa”…..
@Doug – Thanks for the reply. I probably am overthinking it. I do have the “woulda, coulda, shoulda, and Ifa” syndrome. I definitely wish I woulda done this when I was single. I coulda done it. I absolutely shoulda done it. But, ifa chance to do it comes up in the future, I’m not going to hesitate. As the saying goes, YOLO.