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If You Try to Have it All–You May End Up With Nothing

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Straight and narrow is the road to freedom. Keep your eye on the road or you will drift off course and miss your goal.

I get lots of emails from readers with questions. One I got recently stood out and as I pondered it I got new insights. I tend to be lazy and therefore I sometimes do things more from intuition without really thinking through why I do them. So sometimes when I get letters I am forced to formalize my thoughts and work through why I do the things I do. This letter was like that.
A guy wrote and said he currently lived in a house but was interested in living in a van and traveling. But first he wanted to work another 5 years and get to retirement and build up a nest egg. He also had a motorcycle and didn’t want to give it up. I wrote him back and made several suggestions and he answered and told me why each of them wouldn’t work because of this and that. The bottom line is he had a reason why he couldn’t do any of it because it would mean he would have to give up something he just couldn’t do without. This is the response I wrote him:

Here is the sad fact of vandwelling that I discovered a long time ago: It involves lots of compromises and you don’t get all that you want. We all had to make hard decisions and things we really wanted to keep had to be let go of.

In many ways the things we love are equally dead weights around our neck. Throwing them off is both tremendously painful and tremendously freeing. The great risk is that in trying to have everything, we end up with nothing.

The bottom line is you may have to make some hard decisions and compromise some of the things you want. For me, gaining the level of freedom I have found is worth the many, many things I had to give up. Only you can decide for you just what you are willing to abandon. Bob

My response crystalized some of the things I felt intuitively but never put into formal thought. The core thought being that in wanting to have everything we usually end up with nothing. We want security, a house, our stuff and our freedom, all too often we end up without any of those things.
There is a scene in the movie City Slickers where Billy Crystal (the city slicker out playing cowboy) asks Jack Palance (Curly the grizzled old cowboy in charge of the cattle drive) what the secret to happiness is and Jack Palance raises his hand with his forefinger extended and says nothing else. Then Billy Crystal replies in a puzzled voice something like, “The secret to happiness is your middle finger?” Jack Palance answers, “The secret to happiness is in finding the one thing that makes you happy and doing that one thing.” (that isn’t a direct quote, but the general idea of it). That scene has always stuck with me and I believe it is 100% true. Happiness comes from finding the one thing that makes you truly happy and being willing to eliminate anything in life that stands between you and it. (I think the reasons that scene appeals to me so much is that there is so much similarity between being a cowboy and a vandweller. They are both a life of freedom, travel, simplicity and love of nature carried to the extreme. The only real difference is in the mode of transportation.)

it's impossible to have true freedom when burdened with the debt of a house. Extreme freedom requires extreme sacrifice.

It’s impossible to have true freedom when burdened with the debt of a house. Extreme freedom requires extreme sacrifice.

My advice to all of my readers is to be truly honest with yourself and find the thing that makes you happy. When you daydream about the good life, what do those dreams look like? What would be your ideal vacation? What if you could make your vacation last the rest of your life, what would you be doing? The fact that you are reading my blog would strongly suggest that you have a deep longing for freedom, simplicity and travel–you long to be a vandweller! Why else would you be here? If that’s true, what are you doing to make it happen? Living this way is actually very, very simple, but it is not easy. It requires a very high price: you MUST be willing to walk away from everything that restricts your freedom. Freedom is not free, it ALWAYS requires sacrifice. Extreme freedom (like Curly in the movie has or like I have) requires extreme sacrifice. You can’t have everything, you can have the good things of modern life or you can have true freedom, but you cannot have both. You must choose one or the other. Here are some things you may have to sacrifice:

  • Security: having a secure future requires money and usually lots of it. You will need health insurance, and some kind of financial plan like a 401k or pension. At the very least having those things mean you need a job that pays for them for a very long time. That’s not freedom and it certainly isn’t extreme freedom. You can have security or freedom, but not both.
  • House: houses require money, money requires job and jobs mean greatly reduced freedom. So if you want true genuine freedom, the very first thing you need to do is give up your house.
  • Excess Possessions: having anything more than the things that are necessary to live requires money to buy it, money to take care of it, and a home to store it. That requires a job and jobs are the death of freedom.

What happens is we fall into the delusion of the American Dream and think we can have it all. So we have our big house full of useless crap we think we just have to have and we buy an RV on credit and take it on a vacation trip every year and we get a loan and fly off on a trip every year and go deeper into debt and have to get a second job or both spouses have to work and the pressure and misery of life grows and so we get divorced and then money becomes even more critical and we are more miserable. The stress and misery of our lives starts to impact our health and we get sick and accumulate medical bills and miss some work and fall further behind into debt. Then the economy goes bad and we lose our job and then our unemployment runs out and we face the choice of moving into a van or living in a cardboard box under the overpass.
We wanted and demanded that we get it all and ended up with literally nothing. First things First: Find the thing in life that will make you happy and single-mindedly pursue it!
As my friend Terry often says: “You can have a rich life, or a life of riches, but not both. Choose wisely!”

KoKopelli_EditSimplicity, clarity, singleness: these are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy. Richard Halloway


  1. CAE

    The things you own end up owning you.- Fight Club.
    When I first heard this, a HUGE light bulb turned on above my head.

    • Bob

      CAE, you are so right that is a light bulb moment!

  2. Jon

    Hi Bob,
    Another great post. I can attest to this. I worked so hard to have and do it all – nice house lots of “stuff” nice cars, perfect family. It all came tumbling down. Today I live in one room, sleep on the floor, and have almost no stuff. I’m very grateful for what I have and can’t say I miss any “stuff”. Also, my back feels better than it has for years.
    Best regards, Jon

    • Bob

      Jon, it sounds like you are taking the proverbial lemons and are making lemonade out of them. It sounds like you are a perfect candidate to be a vandweller. Have you considered moving into that?

    • greenminimalism

      Jon, I used to live like that too. I wouldn’t recommend going too far, I found it to be quite unhealthy for the mind…

  3. Anna

    Yes to everything you write here. Please allow me to add that there are additional roadblocks to true freedom: a partner/spouse; a family (mother, father, siblings, children, etc.), even friends. These, too, are obligations that can be even more restrictive than any stuff one may acquire. But that’s an entire topic of its own!
    I would also like to say “Thank You!” to all those who work and contribute to The System that makes those deposits to the many bank accounts of those who celebrate the freedom from having to work. I worked for forty five years, contributed to that System, and now I am thankful for those who struggle to maintain whatever lifestyle they have chosen while paying the taxes that build the roads on which I drive, the rest areas where I rest, the public lands where I sometimes live, the schools that teach our children, the VA that cares for our beloved veterans, ad infinitum.
    As we, the vandwellers, sometimes smugly look at those in the sticks ‘n bricks, let us not forget to say “Thank You” for the freedoms they are sacrificing for us. because it isn’t just their stuff they are purchasing; they are also the source of every “government” check–disability, SS, food stamps, all of that.
    Free at last (well, almost),

    • Gary Stern

      I find it interesting that no one has touched upon the two hurdles that I find most difficult to overcome, in my quest towards “freedon”. The first hurdle is the loss of my “friends” who bring me comfort and joy. Even now in my vastly reduced lifestyle, I am still close to them and have a modest apartment where we get together. Van dwelling would put me on the road seing what I feel that I have missed, but I fear that the loss of these valuable ties would be troublesome. The second hurdle is finality. Although, I have made unbelievable strides to simplify my life and to allow me to pursue just about whatever I want, at my age, if I walk away from my professional practice, I will never be able to build it again. Dealing with the idea of the loss of what has been my identity for 40 years is harder than I imagined. It’s not that I am enamoured with the work. But, I have become very good at it and it still generated a decent amount of self esteem. Saying “it’s time” and moving on is actually terrifying.

      • Cyrus Palmer

        Gary, any real friends will still be there after you move into a van. And if they aren’t, they weren’t really your friends.

    • Bob

      Anna, those are both very, very good points. Family and friends do drastically complicate our lives as vandwellers. I lived in a van for 6 years when my kids were younger and I lost a lot of freedom. I had to work to support them, live in the city they were in and couldn’t travel. As soon as my youngest was 18 and established on his own I left the state and roamed free every since. Of course I don’t have any regrets about giving up my freedom for them, but I am also glad to be truly free now.
      And you are also very right about us owing a debt to those in the “System”. Oddly enough, their voluntary slavery gives us our freedom!
      But to be fair, many (if not most) of them love their slavery and have no desire to throw it off. It’s kind of like a type of “Stockholm Syndrome” where they become deeply bonded to their captors. If you try to tell them they are in slavery, they will just laugh at you! Very good insights!
      When you get all your business wrapped up, I sure hope you come see us again. There won’t be nearly as many people here then and things will be much calmer!!!

      • Anna

        ROFL! Stockholm Syndrome? Great analogy. I must say, though, that most of my years as a “slave” were very good ones. As a nurse caring for the critically ill, I loved my work and felt I was truly contributing to their lives or helping them ease into their demises. No Stockholm Syndrome there. It did often mean I had to nod and smile when I wanted to yell and pound my fist through a door. But then, there have been times in my van when I wanted to do the same thing. Yin/yang. It’s in everything. This you and I both know.
        I am currently settling into this little cozy house. Van is in the driveway, reduced to doing hauling duty as needed but patiently waiting to be back on the road. I am enjoying spending time working in the gardens in this beautiful weather, something I can’t do in the van. But she knows I love her and waits.
        It is possible to live happily in both worlds. It is possible to be miserable in either world. The problems cross over into both. So does the joy. A spiritual journey can succeed in a corner of one’s living room or on a trip into the wild.
        No one is ever truly and completely free. If your house owns you, so will your vehicle. Many of us leave our S&B’s, not because of the stuff or money, but because we don’t want or are unable to deal with the people in our lives. Living mobile provides an escape from them! As someone once said (I don’t know who), “Just because nobody understands you, doesn’t mean you’re an artist.”
        I only want to make the point that if you’re miserable in your house, you may also be miserable in your van. This lifestyle isn’t the panacea to all of a person’s problems. It’s pretty cool, though. Very cool at the RTR 😉

        • David Thoreau

          “Just because nobody understands you, doesn’t mean you’re an artist.”
          I love it!!!

        • Bob

          Thanks Anna! As usual a very thoughtful, well reasoned comment. Thanks for sharing it! You are quite right some people move into their vans to try to run away from themselves and their unresolved problems. Unfortunately, they quickly discover how true the old saying is:
          Wherever you go, there you are!”
          I was fortunate in that I was in the middle of a mid-life crisis and I was just coming to grips with my inner demons when I was forced into vandwelling. So the two occurred at about the same time. They worked together to finally bring me true happiness and inner peace. Vandwelling alone probably can’t do it.
          And you are right, there are people who can have it all, but the great majority of us can’t, so my goal is to offer an alternative.
          I’m sorry I was so busy at the RTR and we didn’t get to spend any time together, I really regret that. Come by again whenever you can and we can sit around the old campfire!!

        • mf


  4. rick

    I agree that you need to find the one thing you love and go after it. I think the thing that traps most people from doing the ‘one thing’ is having enough money to live while going after that ‘one thing’.

  5. Dave

    Hi, just come across this blog, excellent stuff Bob.
    I have travelled quite a bit, including a 6 month trip across Canada & the US (driving an old Mercury ‘Zephyr’ that me and a mate bought for $800 and never missed a beat), staying at campgrounds or ‘home hostels’. A great experience that I will never forget.
    I would love to do such a trip again, and reading your site inspires me to do so before it’s too late.

  6. Bob

    I remember the analogy and thought it might fit:
    “There is a story that says in Africa , the natives use a technique to catch monkeys. They hollow out one end of a coconut and they put peanuts in there. The monkey puts his hand in the coconut and when he makes a fist to grab the
    peanuts, he’s trapped. The natives will pull a string attached to the other end of the coconut and capture the monkey.
    Motivational speakers use this story all the time to inspire people to “let go” of their old perceptions – since in truth, the monkey was never trapped. All he had to do was let go of the peanuts”
    This only confirms that I’ve been working for peanuts all these years – Bob

  7. Rick

    Hi Bob,
    The thought of living in a van has been with me for a year now, The thougt of leaving behind my two kids, which are 20 and 16 and knowing all to well that I will not be in the picture that much does deter me. But thru my divorce two years ago I have seen much go away, the material things I never really liked anyways, I have been living in a room in a house. My main problem that I see is I am 56 and currently not working till next month maybe. and no pension to look at just SS when my time is ready.
    I will when the time is here to pack up what little clothing I have and my ever faithful companion Penny, a loveable but sometimes a bit over protective of me. My friends I have maybe one good one I can count on, MY biggest issue is working and surviving on my meager savings I have, I am not your typical person, cannot fix much without hurting myself or breaking it at least once. So now it’s time to ponder my existence either here or in the there,
    Have a great day,

    • Bob

      Hi Rick, I’ve been there and done that! I moved into a box van after my divorce and my two young sons would visit me just like i was in an apartment. I think they thought of it as playing “fort.”
      Vandwelling was perfect for me as a single parent and it might work for you as well. Especially if you are on a very tight budget! Not having to pay rent might make a huge difference for you. You don’t have to be handy to make a comfortable home out of a van. Have someone help you build a bed and get a cheap set of drawers and a desk from a thrift store and you would have a pretty comfortable home.
      Nothing could make me happier than being of help to you. Feel free to ask anything you need to know.

  8. Kitty

    The chain may be gold or the chain may be iron, but it is still a chain.

    • Bob

      Okay Kitty, go ahead and make me look bad! I write 1100 words and then you write a comment with 17 words and say it better than I did!! Didn’t anyone tell you it isn’t polite to make the blogger look silly!!!!
      Just kidding! But, thanks for a great comment!!

    • Calvin R


      • Bob

        Calvin, amen!

    • Bob

      Hey Pat, thanks a lot for finding that. It is pretty amazing what you can find on youtube!
      I’ve learned a lot of lessons from short scenes in movies like that, it’s good to know I can go find them when I want to refresh my memory. Thanks again!

  9. Paul

    If only I had seen this post ten years ago. What a difference it would have made in my life. I was once one of those foolish suburban professionals who had completely swallowed the lie that “He who dies with the most toys wins.” I worked tirelessly at a job that I hated so that I could pay for the ostentatious home that I thought I deserved and the toys that I thought would enrich my life. I drank to medicate my misery and blamed all of my disappointments on my wife or on my job rather than look in the mirror to see the real cause of my frustration. When I finally did find the courage to leave my job to try and fix my broken life I found that all of the things I had accumulated only served as anchors around my neck weighing me down when I wanted to be free to finally begin living. It has taken five years for me to climb out of the hole I had dug for myself. In the end I have found that real happiness is found in faith, family, friends, freedom, and frugality. I should also include charity, and selflessness but I can’t think of a word that starts with “f” for these two. Why is it that we can’t learn these things when we are young.

    • Bob

      Paul, what a wonderful and well written comment!! You really said it all!
      Like you, I did everything wrong for most of my life until I finally got tired of digging the hole deeper and deeper. Today I love my life so much I look back with gratitude for all those hard lessons that finally brought me to it because this life is worth it all.
      I hope your life becomes all you want to to be and you feel that way as well!!

  10. Joy

    Great post Bob……seems to have struck a dep cord with us all.

    • Bob

      Thanks Joy, yes it does seem that way. I think deep down we all long for freedom and want to break out of our old lives. Even if it seems impractical to make it happen, we all like to read and dream about it. I will probably never bike around the world, but I love reading and thinking about it. It’s human nature!

  11. Martin Hamilton

    Great article Bob. Everyone when young needs to go out and get the things they think will make them happy. Like me, I grew up poor and needed to go buy a house, a nice car, and lots of fine clothes etc. I accomplished it. The boredom of the high-paying job was misery though. I often wondered why I had locked myself into this prison. I had travel, 5 weeks of vacation, by the way I worked for United Airlines for 16 years as an aircraft mechanic, so I actually had it better than most as far as pay and benefits go. 9/11 and poor company management forced me to make a change. Guess what I chose?…..Real Estate….yes perfect timing to participate in the greatest financial bust in human history.
    The point I want to leave all of us with is the word WANT. I spent some time talking with seniors over 80 and found out they had Freedom From Want. It took a long time to discover what was so special about them and what created the calmness that came over me while I was in their presence. Roosevelt made a famous speech many years ago called the 5 Freedoms Speech. One of those freedoms was Freedom From Want. Some may interpret it differently in that they think it means having plenty and it does mean that too. The bondage of want is when we sit around looking for things in sale papers we don’t need but want anyway. This isn’t freedom from want. It’s bondage. One of the men that helped me understand this just died recently. He was 89 and lived in a valley in the mountains on 77 acres he had purchased many years ago. He was rich in spirit and he was rich in freedom. He and his wife never wanted many things. When I went to his funeral they read his favorite verse which I had no idea which one it was from the Bible. The pastor read the first verse in the 23rd Psalm of which I have heard hundreds of times. This time it took on a completely meaning. The Lord is my shepherd I shall NOT WANT. Wow I almost fell off the pugh. Lets end with what I saw on a sign once, it said “Being Poor Isn’t Having Little, It’s Always Wanting More.”
    Good Day!!

    • Bob

      Martin, this post seems to have brought out the very best in all my readers because this is another outstanding comment. I too have quoted the 23rd Psalm a million times but this does indeed put it into a totally different light, thank you!
      I love the quote, I WILL be using it!

  12. Susan

    Great post. I know I sometimes struggle with getting rid of stuff. Always thinking, that I may need it later, etc… I am at the point now of planning my great getaway soon, hopefully next fall in an rv most likely. Maybe 20 foot or so. So, even tho I live in a small apt. I do have plenty of stuff to get rid off. I know I can do it as I lived in a rv for 2 years in the 90’s and got rid of everything after the first 6 months. Made a trip to my storage locker and dragged it all out to sell at flea market.Gave some to goodwill, etc.. I found it very freeing to live with only what I truly needed and look forward to live this way again.
    Like someone above said, My only concern is I dont have a pension and it looks like when I become of age to collect my social in a couple years it will be very meager… But, I always have been an entrpenuer sort of person and feel confident that I can make some money here and there along the way. Cant wait for the big escape. Maybe even make it next year to the RTR !!
    Love your writing Bob!!!

    • Bob

      Hi Susan so many people find themselves in the same situation you are, they are getting older and the safety net appears to be crumbling around us. We paid into Social Security all our lives and many people are wondering if it will be there for us. I wish I had a good answer of how we can have an income but I don’t, it is a difficult problem.
      The one thing I am sure of is that when money is very tight the best thing you can do is reduce housing costs to the absolute minimum and nothing does that as well as living in a van or an RV. That way no matter what happens you will ALWAYS have a roof over your head and that is a huge plus in these very difficult economic times!
      I wish you the very best and if there is anything I can do to help, please, feel free to ask. See you at the RTR next year!!

  13. gary

    Look for the book from How I found Freedom in An Unfree world by Harry Brown in your library.
    Will make a diference, believe me.

    • Bob

      Gary thanks for that tip. I checked and it is available on the Kindle for a reasonable price. I will have to get it. Thanks again!

  14. Kitty This has some good suggestions and food for thought.
    But I am STILL hanging on to a 5×5 storage unit, half full. If I could get rid of my childhood memories, I would travel lighter. And save 40 dollars a month %-)

    • m.a.

      Kitty – I think some things of the heart and family are worth hanging onto. It’s worth a few dollars a month of storage to me to keep the memories that I guess would be tucked away in an attic, if I had one. 🙂 It’s a sweet spot in my heart, and something my daughter and I love to have and share.

  15. Sayward

    Great post, Bob. My father used to say “Man’s pace is made ponderous by his possessions.” He was correct, in my view 🙂

  16. Calvin R

    Thanks for this, Bob. I have somehow been spared the full force of the “American Dream,” and for that I remain grateful. However, it makes me the odd man out in many situations, especially because I do office work. Probably the central difference between me and many others is that I find myself unable to believe that security is a real conditin. There are probably many factors in my failure to believe in “security,” but one crystallizing moment was when I saw George Carlin on TV and he said, “A house is a place for my stuff” and went into some depth on that. If I don’t need the stuff, I don’t need the house, and the entire consumer culture loses me.
    I have seen people spend their entire lives seeking security. Eventually they die the same as anyone else. The real question is not whether we die, but whether we truly live before we die.

    • Bob

      Calvin, you were beyond your years if you didn’t buy fully into the American dream. You are one of the lucky few, most of us bought it hook, line and sinker (and ended up flopping around on the shore!!).
      Security is a tough question, we all need and want some but many give up way too much to get it. It is a question we all have to work out for ourselves.

  17. McBe

    The first time I realized how worthless my stuff was had to be when I tried to sell it at a yard sale and nobody wanted it or the stuff that sold went for much less than I originally paid. That was such an eye opener, and I’ve been more of a minimalist ever since…

    • Bob

      McBe, what a great insight to share with us! You are so right, our lives are filled with all these little things that we love so much, but when we put them out for everyone else to see they hold almost no value to anyone else. And yet we cling to them like gold and treasure. We humans are very strange creatures!
      Here at the RTR we have a give-away pile where everybody brings out there excess stuff for others to take. And there is always a lot of really good stuff that gets grabbed right away. But there is an awful lot more stuff that really is just junk. At the end of the RTR I gather it all up and take it to the local thrift store for them to sale (I think most of it will just be thrown away). Every year as I gather it up I think to myself how could we be carrying this much clutter around in our tiny rigs. But then I walk into my little trailer and look around at all my clutter and realize I am just as bad as anyone else. It appears to be human nature and there is nothing to do about it but keep cleaning house continually and purge it all periodically.
      Thanks for that insight, it is a real eye-opener!

  18. Tom Loughlin

    Working off the presumption that this is an open-minded group, I must register an opposing opinion to this post and the various comments that have followed. I have absolutely no doubt that everything written here is well-intentioned. I do believe, however, that the thinking displayed is shallow, and in some instances smacks of a certain self-righteousness and an extreme that seems to suggest “The way we have discovered ‘freedom’ is a way superior to all other ways.” Again, that may not be the intent of the author and commentators, but it can come across that way.
    I have no intention of ever living in a van. I am pleased to see so many people have found a good way of living by doing so, but I find it disturbing that in order to really appreciate that freedom, its opposite must be either ridiculed, denigrated, or in some other way made to appear inferior. I personally believe I am as free as anyone who has written here, including the author, and I have what one would probably identify as the accoutrements of a standard middle-class life. But what I believe sets me apart from the extremes described here is that I learned very early to be satisfied with a certain balance between too little and too much. Allow me to explain.
    I learned very early on in my life that most of the job opportunities I saw around me were drudgery. So I decided to embark on finding a career that would maximize and balance salary, benefits, and free time. I found it by becoming a college professor. I was one of those kids who enjoyed school, and always found the educational process fun and interesting. So the career was a match for my natural instincts. I find being a professor to be freeing in the following ways: I love what I do; I only have to do it 28 weeks out of the year, leaving the other 24 free to do as I please; I have traded making a lot of money for making a livable salary (I make in the high 5 figures after 30 years in the business) and having free time; I have job security like no other profession can offer; I am 90% my own boss. I am the farthest thing from a “wage slave;” my job holds me back not one bit.
    What do I teach? Theatre, specifically acting. I have loved the theatre since I was 8 years old. I get to teach young, enthusiastic people the art and craft of acting. And what do I do with my “free” time? I act! I am hired by summer theatre companies, get to do what I love, and get to meet a whole new group of people almost every time. Very freeing! And for me, teaching acting is Curly’s “one thing.” That’s what I’ve done.
    I have a modest house with modest possessions. My house has hardly been a drag on me. I live in a less than posh neighborhood, a lower-middle-class neighborhood of blue-collar working people. I have maintained the house well but have not gone overboard with re-modeling or furniture. In fact, much of my house looks exactly the same as it did when I bought it for $57,000 25 years ago. In that time I have spent maybe $5,000 on furniture. I have the same furnace that was here when I moved in, and I have no central air. I do not spend on clothes, since I have no need to (a lot of my teaching in fact occurs in sweat clothes). I raised three kids on only my salary alone while my wife stayed home and home-schooled them (secular) until the youngest was 11. Then she went back to work, and we took most of her salary to eventually pay for my children’s college educations so they would not start life in debt. I am grateful for the job I have and the house I own to allow all this to happen. I have never in my life felt economically burdened or tied down or chained. I drive used cars. I bought what I needed and do not have excess material things. If I have a lot of clutter (and I do) it’s because I fail to throw things out. And PS – I’ve been married for 38 years to a woman whom I knew from the start loved kids and was low-maintenance. A large plus towards being free. She has allowed me great latitude in being able to express my own artistic freedom as well.
    Last April we bought a 1989 Class C RV for $6,000 cash with 42,000 miles on it, and that’s where your blog came in for me. I do not intend to live in it full-time, but it will be fun to take it out to my 20 acres of land (no mortgage) with a great view about 20 minutes away and spend summer weeks when I am not working up there. That makes me feel more free without having to give up anything I already have. Your blog has given me ideas on how to make this choice easier and more productive and less expensive – thanks for that!
    Freedom can be found in many different ways, and in my opinion can even be found right within the mainstream if you know where to look and how to make smart informed choices. So while I appreciate and very much applaud the fact that the many people who have written here have found a sense of freedom by “giving up” things and moving into vans and the like, I think it’s equally important to recognize that a life carefully examined and lived with modesty, sincerity and a thoughtful balance can be quite free and utterly enjoyable. I never asked for too much out of mainstream life, but have been blessed to receive quite a lot from it, including my personal sense of freedom in every aspect of my life. Freedom is a state of mind and heart, not a state or style of existence.
    Bob, no one ever gets security, so there is no point in talking about giving away something you never can get no matter how hard you try. And it’s not about giving up the job or the house; it’s about finding the right job and the right house for you. And it’s not about excess possessions, only you yourself can define “excess;” no one can do that for you. I am quite sure we have more in common that what separates us philosophically, but I do hope that perhaps you might find a way to discuss your enthusiasm for your lifestyle without overly bashing the mainstream and making it the enemy. There is as much possibility for freedom and a “rich life” right within the mainstream as there is in any other choice we as humans make. What our society lacks most is wisdom, modesty and humility. If we had more of those three qualities as a whole, perhaps we might be able to coax you back out of your van! 🙂

    • Anna

      Well said. Thank you.

    • Bob

      Very, very good comment Tom, I appreciate it very much. There is only one thing I have to totally disagree with you about, nothing is going to coax me out of my van!!!
      Just kidding! But I really do appreciate your comment. It is very good to hear a balancing point of view. And I know you are right, there are many, many Americans who love their traditional lives and are genuinely happy with them and wouldn’t change a thing. In fact my mom is one of them. She is really glad I have found a way of life that makes me happy, but she can’t really understand it because she loves her life just the way it is. She has a great life!!
      I don’t question that there are many people happily living the American Dream, I have know a few and was totally baffled by how they could have such a happy “normal” life. But I very firmly believe there are many more–probably the great majority–who are living the American Dream and hate it. That describes me and 99% of the people I have known personally. We really are living lives of quiet desperation longing and aching for a way out.
      My father is a good example. He worked long hours all his life at a job he didn’t like. He made good money and had some fun on his few vacations weeks every year, but there was only one time that I ever thought of him as happy. He was injured on the job and took two months off to recuperate. By the end of that time he had become a different person, he was relaxed, happy and smiling. Then he went back to work and the next time I saw him he was back to being his normal dour, withdrawn self. He retired at 60 set financially for life. He was dead at 62 from cancer. He had 60 hard, unpleasant years and 1 really good one. I took his life as a tragic tale of what I would not do with mine.
      For every one great story like yours Tom, I think there are hundreds or thousands like my dads. So all my writing is dedicated to the thousands and won’t make sense to the very few like yourself. In an effort to inspire and motivate I do tend to fall into hyperbole and take extreme positions, but I think that is what it takes to break through the walls of the traditional American Dream.
      But you are quite right, I must be more careful to not get carried away and fall into the trap of simply attacking the old life instead of attracting to a new one. I think it’s important that I lay out the problem as I see it, but I will try to be more balanced in how I do that.
      Thanks for the constructive criticism, it is much appreciated and I will take it to heart!

      • Phyllis

        Well said Bob.
        I am part of the 99% you speak of, and I’ve had two great high paying careers, a Elect tech, and an RN. But I’ve always been happiest living life simply with few belongings to house, and traveling around in whatever van I had at the time. I can say, I’ve never wanted to own a home, as I knew already that it was a ball and chain for me.
        I find in your blogs,that you speak primarily to the RVer or vandwellers because, gee, cheaprvliving and how to do it, etc , and therefore there will always be a natural yet comfortable bias toward that great lifestyle and it’s inherent freedoms and natural happinesses. All of your blog topics are uplifting and positive (and I’ve read many of yours, still many to go) for those of us who choose the full time vandwelling lifestyle. You’re helpful and creative and giving of your time and energies. That is not a small endeavor. It’s one thing to teach and get paid, but it is something else when you teach, without expecting to be paid. Yet you remain happy and willing to continue to give of yourself, your knowledge, and your time.
        Finally, constructive criticism is one thing, choice of lifestyle and reasons for that choice is another and truly personal for each person. It just ends up being “whatever floats your boat”. Live and let live…and help those who need help if you can. And you do.
        Keep blogging Bob, you had 103,000 viewers in the past 30 days (just noticed that) so you must be saying something right.
        Happily planning my van home on wheels,
        Phyllis Anne

        • Bob

          Thanks so much for your generous comments. It really is my pleasure. I wish you the very best as you follow your dreams!

    • Paul

      Many years ago when I was working the job I so hated I had a boss who possessed an ego that was larger than any I had ever encountered. Every day he insisted on telling me something about himself that I could have cared less about. “I’m an alpha male,” he would say or “I’m the best…this company has.” I always wondered why he needed to tell me such things because I found him to be the most thoroughly unimpressive person I had ever met. I developed a theory about men through my interaction with him. I concluded that if a man must tell you what he thinks he is then it is something he really isn’t or that he doesn’t truly believe it himself. Tom, I would be willing to wager that your need to state your worth and defend your life means that on some level you truly don’t believe it, or there is still an empty hole that all of your perceived wise living hasn’t filled yet. I would also believe that you haven’t had the kind of experiences that some of us have had. Are you ready for the education bubble to burst? That free government money gravy train that you have been riding is going to end, and the arts will be the first departments closed when the budgets get tight. Are you ready for that? If so, great. I applaud your foresightedness. If not then you might find out why some of us have shunned the materialistic American Dream for simpler living. Perhaps what some of us have found are precisely the things that you point out in your post without completely rejecting society. We don’t all live in vans, but we do see things differently from the mainstream. Just one man’s thoughts.

      • Bob

        Paul, you bring up some good points but this blog is dedicated to service and doing everything we can to improve others lives as much as possible. The world spends so much time beating us up (and must of us jump in and spend even more time beating ourselves up) that I like everything here to be as uplifting and helpful as possible. My goal is that everyone who reads and comments here go away better because of it. To that end I try to find the positive wherever possible and I’m careful in my choice of words to avoid any possible offense.
        Thanks for sharing your thoughts though.

        • Paul

          Uplifting, absolutely! I apologize for getting carried away. I think I’ve spent too much time trolling in the survivalist blogs.

          • Bob

            Paul, no need to apologize, an alternative point of view is always welcome as long as it is with a helpful attitude.

  19. Fred

    Hi Bob,
    This is a good post and brings up many interesting and valid points. But I would like to present the other side of the coin, my Ying to your Yang, your Juan Williams to my Bill O’Reilly, if I may be permitted to use an opposing analogy as it were. While you have what you feel is YOUR freedom, many others have theirs and it has nothing to do with the ownership of “things” they have accumulated over the many years of their lives, although that is most certainly some of it. True freedom comes from within the heart and soul, whether you have a million dollars or twenty. While true that most of us have accumulated many items over our lives, including myself, the mere relinquishing of them does NOT make us in and of itself “free.” I have lived in nature by backpacking, hiking, lived in an RV, etc. much of and most of my adult life. I do not hate living in a house as much as I prefer living in a trailer. The mere shedding of worldly goods is not the panacea that makes us free.
    If you wrote a detailed list of the pros and cons and were truthful about it, and lined up 100 people, I doubt that 70 would really “choose” this lifestyle after reading about it. Undoubtedly some would, but how many would remain after 2 yrs? 5 yrs? I doubt very many even after telling them how “free” they would be. I have chosen this because I truly have enjoyed it over many, many, years because I have lived, and indeed thrived in nature, but not because I am forced into it as many here have been. Be it divorce, getting fired from a long time job, not saving enough for retirement, mad at the world syndrome, or any countless and myriad reasons, most were thrust into this lifestyle in some manner and have adapted to it and learned to live within it.
    I have many friends who live in RV’s and a couple who live in a van and enjoy it. They live in RV parks and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Are you saying they don’t know what they are missing or that they don’t know true freedom? I would certainly hope not. Because they have worked most of their life and “earned” the right to enjoy their “freedom.” They wouldn’t think of living out in the boonies, sticks, or BLM land without the utilities. But I assure you they are just as free as you or I with all their trappings. They are bound not by their trappings, but their appreciation of what they have earned and not just wanted to see what the government will “give” them. Different perhaps than my or your definition of truly free, but none the less equal in every way.
    The fact is, many who live this life did not voluntarily choose it, but it chose them in one form or another. Many are disillusioned with their job, partner, are misfits, are lazy, and try to cheat life in general. No, I am not accusing anyone of anything, it’s just the way I see it. My point is vandwelling will not make you “free” any more than taking a hike will make you a nature guide. Many do not, for whatever the reason, have any place to go, any family who will accept them for who they are, or the way they live. Many have meager pensions, have always lived on the outskirts of society, and/or have made the conscience or unconscious choice to not to fit in with the general populace. Merely throwing off the “trappings” of things in and of itself does not free you. The fact is many of us would not choose to have to constantly watch our usage of water, propane, electricity, use of every inch of space, etc. We should, but most do not nor would not want to. Many do not want to HAVE to make a conscious choice to pee in a bottle, poop in a bucket or a 6″ hole and cover it, be very cold when the temp hits in the 20’s or even teens as it did here in Quartzsite, have to hope they have enough money for the bare necessities, or choose whether the propane they have has to be to used for warmth or cooking, or both.
    Obviously, some voluntarily live this lifestyle, while some are forced by life circumstances to accept this. But often as not, it has a lot to do with funds or lack thereof. Many would NEVER accept this lifestyle except if forced to. Many will leave it as soon as possible as their circumstances warrant. Merely telling everyone to rid themselves of things Dalai Lama style in order to experience “true freedom” isn’t it either. Your painting of an idyllic picture of this lifestyle, while berating those who do not or will not partake of it, only cheapens what you say, however unintentional.
    Here is one of the few poems I had put on a plaque about 25 years ago. That is how much I believe it and it was long before I lived in an RV. You may cherry pick the ideas mentioned of ridding yourself of “things” to bolster your position, but I believe it says that happiness is from within, and only there, and not the mere casting off of your outer accoutrements.
    “Happiness is the greatest paradox in nature. It can grow in any soil and live in any conditions. It defies environment. It comes from within; it is the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat proclaim the sun from which they radiate. Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not possessing, but of enjoying. A martyr at the stake may have a happiness that a king might envy. Man is the creator o his own happiness; it is the aroma of a life lived in harmony with high ideals. For what a man has, he may be dependent on others, what he is, rests with him alone. Happiness is the souls joy in the possession of the intangible. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself.” William George Jordan

    • Bob

      Another great comment Fred, I very much appreciate the obvious time and care you put into writing it. You make many good and wise points!
      Obviously vandwelling is not the only way to happiness, there are as many others as there are people. It’s not even the best way to happiness. For many (if not most) people, it is a certain path to misery.
      However, it is the only path that has worked for me and it is the only path that I have a burning passion about, so it is the only one I feel qualified to write about. Sometimes my devotion to it may make me sound like I am putting down other paths–for that I sincerely apologize. From now on I will try to remember to put a disclaimer at the beginning of all posts like this one stating that I don’t intend to denigrate the way other people choose to live, I only want to promote the one I love.
      Thanks again for a great comment!


    people, who say that money can not buy happness,never had any money!!!.money make’s me really happy.i can do what a want any old time, and that my follow traveler’s is true happness.gary green

    • Bob

      I’m really glad it is working for you Gary!! Hope to see you again soon!

    • Cyrus Palmer

      Lol! Ok dude….

  21. guy

    Of the few blogs I read, this is the only one I read the comments on and todays post is a good example of why. Thanks to everyone for your thought provoking comments. They’ll keep my mind busy for a few days in contemlation.

    • Bob

      Guy, you are so right! I don’t know what I did to deserve such great readers/commenters, but I am glad I did it because they really are great comments. Several times I have thought the comments on this post, and my responses were better than the post itself.
      Thank you all so much!!!!!!!!

      • Linda

        You put your heart on your sleeve and listened. That’s what you did.

        • Bob

          Thanks Linda, I try to be a good listener.

  22. Pete

    Fred, you are right, but not correct. Bob, you are correct, but not right. Both of you make oneness perfect balance of the world.

    • Bob

      Very wise Pete! After a not very happy life I finally learned I can be right, or I can be happy, but rarely both. Since I was sick of being unhappy, I chose to give up my insistence on being right.
      Fred is a good friend of mine and that makes me happy! That is worth a whole lot more to me than proving him wrong (which he isn’t)!!!
      Besides, one of the other things I learned is I am wrong more often than I am right and the more 100% certain I am that I am right, the more likely it is that I am 100% wrong.

  23. MichaelinOK

    To honor the different viewpoints shared above, I quote a Spanish proverb:
    “God says, ‘Take what you want, and pay for it.'”

    • Bob

      Thanks for that Michael!

  24. MichaelinOK

    Follow-up: Even though that proverb can be taken to be cynical or negative, in other words that no matter what you do you’ll be sorry, it can also be taken in a neutral, realistic sense–in other words, that every engagement we enter into has its price (as well as its potential reward), and every disengagement has its price (as well as its potential reward).
    I concede, though, in light of the above, to make the proverb more neutral it should be modified to state: “God says: Take what you want, enjoy it, and pay for it.”

    • Bob

      Thanks Michael.

  25. Cyrus Palmer

    It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.
    Fight club
    Your blog and fight club have been my two biggest inspirations in my vandwelling experience. Great post Bob, very insightful.

    • Bob

      Thnaks Cyrus, that is very high praise! I appreciate it!

  26. Calvin R

    I’m glad I came back and read the rest of the comments. Bob, you’re an excellent writer, and I know what an effort that takes. All the same, I’m surprised by the comments from people who have little or no interest in your subject. Those comments strike me as parallel to what I might post on a “how to succeed in business” blog. There are good reasons I don’t read those. That’s not what I have done or want to do. Even a great writer would not hold my attention if the subject doesn’t interest me. Your having apparently attracted people not drawn to your subject is a great compliment to your writing ability.
    I have not noticed you attacking anyone but merely addressing those who have either lost or suffered from the “American Dream” of material accomplishment. Thanks.

    • Bob

      Calvin, thanks for your kind words, they are much appreciated!
      I try to not to attack people, but by attacking the institutions they cherish, it is easy for them to feel attacked. And that isn’t acceptable to me so I will make a sincere effort to present my arguments in ways that won’t offend. People are more important than ideas and resorting to hyperbole is just laziness on my part.

  27. Rodney Davis

    Great post Bob,we love you!…uh,…in a purely platonic way of course!

    • Bob

      Rodney, that’s the story of my life, trapped in the “friend” zone! Let me know if you change your mind! LOL

      • Rodney Davis

        I dont care who you are,……that was funny!!!

  28. Griz

    I just found this web site today and I love it. Particularly, Bob, your open minded attitude, although I can’t say I disagree with anything I’ve seen here.
    About eight years ago we moved my mother in to our town so we could take care of her in her later years. She went into a small senior condo, and then a couple years later, even smaller assisted living apartment.
    When we packed her up to move out of the house she’d lived in for 30 years I suddenly realized that she’d been accumulating stuff for her entire life only to now have to get rid of it all. It made most of my stuff seem pointless thinking about how, in the not too distant future (I’m in my 50s) me, or someone else, would have to get rid of all my stuff, and like many people who have lived in the same house for years, I had accumulated tons of stuff, most of which I never even looked at much less used.
    The best part was that my wife had the same revelation and we’ve been weaning ourselves off of stuff for a long time. In the last few years, though, we’ve both come to realize how little we really need. Last year we sold the house, and although we thought we’d disposed of the majority of our stuff, when the time came to actually leave the house it was quite a shock how much was left over.
    To me, what we once called the American Dream seems to be misnamed. It was once the idea of owning a house, having kids, two cars, steady work, and leisure time, with a retirement to look forward to. But I think the real American Dream is simply freedom. Here that means freedom to do what you want to do. That’s not available much of anywhere else. If you want the house and cars, go for it. For me, my American Dream is to cut loose anything that ties me down. We’ve had the dream of living full time in an RV (with apologies to the van dwellers here, I don’t think that will cut it with the two of us and a dog) and have been working steadily towards that, paying off bills, selling the house, getting rid of stuff, and saving up so we can own the RV free and clear when the time comes.
    Then we’ll have the freedom we want, to travel, see the country, and not be tied to any place we don’t want to be.
    Thanks for having a great web site. There’s still a lot here I haven’t seen yet, but I’ve already seen a lot that’s been helpful and inspiring.

    • Bob

      Hi Griz, I’m glad you found the blog! I’ve never owned and lived in a RV so I don’t talk about them much, but that doesn’t mean I intend to exclude them. Rvers are totally welcome here!
      I have often said that vandwelling isn’t about your choice of vehicle, it is an attitude. I think you perfectly summarized that attitude when you said:

      “For me, my American Dream is to cut loose anything that ties me down.”

      I’m glad you are here!!

  29. Darwin

    Bob, I just read your blog for the first time tonight and was impressed with your style and class. As my wife and I have both reached ‘retirement’ age, we have been downsizing, as well. Our hope is to travel and see what this great country has to offer. We bought a small RV, and fixed it up, but since it was older and the engine was manufactured in France, I had second thoughts about heading off into the boonies with it. I sold it earlier this year and we will again be looking for another small RV in the next year or two.
    One of the the things we did this past year to generate some income was to buy a ‘bank-owned’ property (using funds from my 401K). Not for the faint of heart, but I have done enough construction over the years to know my limits and hired a lot of the repair work. We found the perfect renters and started putting a bit of money in the bank.
    Then I sold my ’68 Torino which I had hoped to rebuild into the car I had in college, but I just never had the money to do it correctly. The guy who bought it already has big plans for it. Then we took the extra space in the garage and built a small, 550 square foot apartment, painted and re-carpeted our 2000 SF home, had a huge estate sale, moved into the apartment and rented out the house. The house rent is double the house payment and taxes. A bit more money into the bank every month. I had also signed up at 62 for SS. My wife is getting a bit of disability since she can’t work due to health issues. A bit more money in the bank and now we have a few dollars left over each month. The freedom is INCREDIBLE! I worked like a dog for 40 years and never had money left over – just like the gov’t we always spent more than we made, but now realize that security does have a bit to do with money – It’s not how much you have but what you keep.
    Our plan is to keep both houses rented and live in the apartment in the summer (it’s ‘up North’) use a small van or RV to travel and maybe stay in it or find a small place to live ‘down south’ in the winter and just travel about to see the sights.
    But I think the real goal for both of us is to eventually sell both properties and live full-time in an RV. I have a small scooter we will take with us to use to pick up supplies.
    Sorry, Didn’t mean to write an epistle, but just wanted to say, I’ll be lurking and looking at the blogs and the van conversion pics to see how our RV will eventually be configured. I like seeing the ideas all your resourceful readers come up with and hope to someday join you at the RTR.
    Regards, Darwin

    • Bob

      Darwin, it sounds like everything is turning out very well for you at retirement. Your best years lie ahead of you!! My one thought is to not wait too long to truly enjoy it. One never knows what tomorrow will bring.
      Full-timing is a wonderful way of life. Most people find it so amazing they find they can’t stop! I wish you the very best! Feel free to ask any questions you may have, you are always welcome here!

      • Darwin

        Thanks, Bob
        We have been preparing for several years but had made a commitment to my Mother-in-Law that she could live with us as long as she wanted. She went to be with her Lord and Saviour around Thanksgiving last year – thus the delay in starting the downsizing. A lot of the ‘stuff’ we needed to divest was hers (and from her sister, who also lived with us until her death several years ago). Our plan is to make a trip to Hawaii this spring where Mom wanted to be. Then we will press forward with the rest of the plan as quickly as we can, our advanced age being fully taken into consideration! We have also begun investigating going a LOT further south – Panama, Equador & Columbia are a few of the places we have studied.

        • Bob

          Darwin, that is pretty far south! You can drive that far south, but it is an adventure! On the other hand there are lots of RV resorts in Mexico that cater to Americans. The monthly rent is pretty low–around $250. But if you are willing to live like a local, the rest of your costs can be extremely low. A retirement that would have you scrimping in the USA can let you live quite well in some parts of Mexico.

  30. Darwin

    One correction – meant to say “It’s not how much you MAKE, but what you keep”. Proofreading is obviously not one of my strengths.

  31. Margrreet

    I bought your kindle book, and read most of it yesterday when our wonky router went on strike. Otherwise, I’d have been frittering away my time on the internet. So I looked at your websites and came here. Thank you.
    You manage this forum like a true gentleman. In general, the atmosphere on the web has become so mean-spirited and snarky, I find it really disheartening. I see none of that here. Surely that’s because your regulars are well above average human beings, but a large part of it is because of you.
    I may never live in a van, but I like hanging around!
    More sincerely than you can imagine,

    • Bob

      Margareet, I take that as a very high compliment that you just like being around the blog. It means a lot to me! I don’t do anything special, I just try to treat other people the way I want to be treated.
      Thanks again for your very nice comments!

  32. Joseph Hyde

    Bob and Friend
    I’ve watched a few of your videos and I pretty much agree with just about everything I’ve heard you discuss and the rest we could share our experience about and probably see the truth in/of both positions.
    Just listening to your video ‘on the brain’, I find the same thing about being ‘awake’ as you put it. Very good Tks.
    Since you mentioned martial arts I’m off tonight for a while over to an acquaintances house to ask him to ‘please kick my ass’!
    Actually not exactly but I had ended up talking to him after a monthly early morning men’s breakfast and found out that his journey in life was almost far wilder then I would ever want and almost beyond my imagination who finally ends up in church after being a New England Blue Blood, Father dying at 2, Mother spending all the money by 8, going into the Navy, turning a hobby with his brother into a fish aquarium store and a multimillion dollar multilevel insurance company from who A. L. Williams learned the trade and how to do it from them! to a crack head/pimp/drug dealer etc. to getting cleaned up and a top local and worldwide ‘guru’, at the time, in the New Age Movement, finding a personally relationship with Jesus Christ through his 4 year old son going to ‘VBS’ (Vacation Bible School) then his wife getting ‘saved’ because of their son and lastly when he finally surrendered his life, all the time, or most of it, at least, being a martial artist in Kung Fu San Soo, who is now a 5th Degree Black Belt who also owns a Pool and Spa Maintenance Company that I’ve been acquainted with for over five years and never knew any of it, except for the last two parts! That is owning a pool and spa business.
    Anyway I don’t really want too, even now, and that’s go over and get pinched and hit, the first time I was sore for the whole next day! But he said he would slow it down, and I told him that I’ll be the dumbest student that he has ever had!!!
    What was interesting to me when he said it was that the most dangerous things about learning a martial art, at least this one, was the student! That is if a student lacks self control he can seriously hurt the instructor or another student. In all my years of just reading about Judo, Karate, Jujitsu, Aikido(my personal favorite up to now) I had never imagined that! Apparently, probably, not always though, it seems that ‘San Soo’ is only taught to the ‘nice guys’ so if you’re a trouble maker don’t even apply!
    I have not really believed that any 75 lbs weakling could take down Charles Atlas or Samson because you needed the strength to do that but at the very least you needed speed, you had to be fast. But apparently that is not 100% true, or you will acquire speed as you learn. But apparently from what I’ve learned I guess that there is a lot of truth to that, that you don’t necessarily have to be in top physical shape to defend yourself if need be if it comes down to that.
    An interesting story that he told me is that when his son was four years old, who is 19 now and a green belt, that he dislocated his shoulder trying to show him a ‘submission’ move…! His wife was way happy with that one(!) and made him tell the doctor at the hospital how it came about! He was sorry that he hurt his son but I think the kicker was when his wife, as wives can!, made him tell the doctor that and he felt about 1 inch high ‘beating his own son up’!
    Well he has not said or hinted at it, and they will not at least ‘officially’ teach kids under 16, is that I bet his 13 year old daughter could kick my ass with one hand tied behind her back as she does her homework with the other! I really don’t have much doubt of that at all!
    He’s told me that the very very VERY last thing that you want to do is to confront or get in a fight with anybody unless it it is absolutely necessary. He gave me some scenarios about that but more to the point he told me some stories out of his life and married with a wife and young kid(s) where he had to confront 4 to 6 gang members at a time on a few different occasions, and surly neighbors, in less than desirable neighborhoods, and walked away from it without a scratch on his body and all of them (the gang members) left standing and unhurt too! He says that after you’ve been at it for a little while, even just a few months of training and after it dawns on you and you ‘get it’ that you gain a sense of self confidence that just radiates and that you know that you can handle most situations if need be, and he’s been able too. almost every one, without any kind of violence or at least none that no one could not walk away from, and to boot he only charges 5, 10, or 20 dollars a lesson, whatever you can afford, and then he takes his coffee can to his ‘master’ or teacher and learns some new stuff and then brings it back to teach his students.
    Which brings me to the point in your video where you mentioned that it’s just the small things that you see or notice in your sparring partner or opponent that allows you to defeat him, either his mistakes or inexperience or not having mastered something sufficiently that leaves him open to compromise…
    Thanks for the blog and thanks for the help that you can give me on coming up with a cheap RV of the how’s and wherefores’ of acquiring one in my first email, Thanks!
    Joe Hyde

    • Bob

      Hi Joe, I am afraid there has been some confusion, I don’t have any videos on martial arts and have never even taken a class in it. I only have one video and it is the introductory video on this blog. Hope you figure out who really made the video.

  33. RV AJ

    I printed off your quote from the email. Fantasic

  34. Randy

    Very profound statement …. Simplicity, clarity, singleness …..

    • Bob

      Thanks Randy, Of course I agree! Getting back to basics is the best way for me, and apparently for many others!

  35. Jay

    As I’m in the process of converting my van and getting ready to hit the road and be a fulltime vandweller this summer, reading this came at a very good time. I’ve moved several times in the last few years, and each time I purged more and more stuff. In the last year, I got really serious and got rid of a lot. I mean A LOT of stuff! Like many, many van loads of stuff to the Sally Ann, giving away and selling stuff on Craigslist, and even a trip to the the garbage dump. Looking around, when everything was put in cupboards, on shelves and in closetes, it didn’t look like I had that much. But when I had to pack it, man there was a lot! Some people called me a pack rat. I don’t think I was that bad, and certainly not a hoarder. But I just kept accumulating and saving stuff that I thought was still useful (and it was, but now it’s useful for other people)!
    I have to say that it gets easier to get rid of stuff the more you do it. It may seem hard to go “cold turkey” and get rid of 95% of your things in one shot, unless you have no choice and are forced to. But when you have the luxury of time, you tend to “save” things. But, when you do it in stages, like every few weeks or months even, it gets easier. Sure, I’ve had to repurchase a few things I should have kept, but I was surprised that I did not miss the other 99% of the stuff I got rid of. Kinds a feeling of empowerment really. I liked it. Some people think I’m crazy, and maybe I am a little bit, but I think very few people have the guts to do what we’re doing.
    This is the last “purge” I will be doing, as my next step is moving into my van. So I’m being a bit more ruthless this time. But I have to say that it takes a little while to mentally prepare yourself for this.

    • Bob

      Jay, that is a very good description of the process we all go through to move into a van. I’m sure you are right that having time makes it easier. But don’t get complacent, you aren’t free and clear yet. Not until you are actually in the van and see how much room you have can you be certain you got rid of enough.
      Keep us informed as you get moved in!

  36. Kate

    I just found your site, and so far I am loving it. We are a family of four, my husband is military so we are almost transient by nature anyhow. We are due to move to our next duty station in 11 months and are going from a 3 bedroom home with all the ‘toys’ to a 35ish foot RV. We aren’t putting stuff in storage either, we are getting rid of it. We will keep what we need, a few gadgets for the kids, and of course we will have a storage unit for things we can’t replace such as the few things we kept after our son passed. We won’t be able to move as often as typical vandwellers due to the fact my husband does have a job, but we love the idea of this life style. We came about this idea after I realized we have 9 computers, and this doesn’t include the 4 tablets, 5 iPods, 4 televisions, etc. etc.. Our daughters have all the gadgets that we thought they needed to be happy, yet they hate each other and only want more. So, its time to get back to what is important; each other. I am a writer and I would like to know if you would care to have updates on our transition from typical lifestyle to vandweller lifestyle. We have just started looking for an RV so we are at the very beginning of our journey, which we have decided will last at least 3 years (excluding the next 11 months). My husband is currently deployed and we will be buying the RV when he gets home and live in it the last 6 months of our stay in Colorado Springs. Anyway, you have my email if you are interested in what I have to say about our adventure.

    • Bob

      Kate, yes please!!!! I would love to post regular updates on your transition and new life. But I would encourage you to start your own blog. this is going to be a very fascinating adventure that would interest a lot of different groups of people. I’ll email you directly.
      I wish you the very best on your grand adventure.

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