How Can We Help?

Live While you are Young, Or Plan for Tomorrow?

You are here:
< All Topics

One of the most important questions each of us must deal with is how to prepare for old age. In America, the standard answer is to work hard all your life so you have a pension (or savings such as a stock portfolio, 401k or IRA) and Social Security waiting for you. The idea is that you have the best possible life you can now, but you make any required sacrifices of the best part of your life while you are young and healthy so that you will have a comfortable and secure old-age.


Basically, there are two radically different ways to look at the future and which you choose will profoundly determine your quality of life now and in the future.
1) Live for Tomorrow and Sacrifice Today:
I bought into that idea and that is exactly what I did. I got a job with Safeway grocery stores the day I turned 16 (as a bagger) and kept working for them until I worked my up to a Journeyman Clerk. I worked for them for a long time but came and went as I pursued other dreams. When I got married I went back to them because I needed a good-paying job with good benefits and a secure future. I worked for them for the next 24 years (every minute of which I hated). Because it was a Union job, all my time with them counted toward my retirement plan, which was very good! In 2006 I took early retirement at 51 and had a pension of $1100 a month. Not bad for such a young guy! That isn’t typical of course, most pension plans require you to work until you are much older to be able to draw; sixty is pretty common.
Having children does make you do more planning for the future, but it doesn’t have to mean you can’t live for today at all. I totally believe that the best thing you can do for your chIldren is to set an example of a happy person living a life of freedom and joy. It won’t be easy, but you can do it.
2) Live for Today and Sacrifice Tomorrow
Now compare that to my friend Venture, who just gave us the reports on thru-hiking the Colorado Trail He is 34 and has made the deliberate decision that he will not plan for his old-age, instead he is going to live his life to the fullest right now when he is young and healthy, his old-age be dammed!! He is “front-loading” his life with freedom, adventure and fun while he is young instead of waiting until his body is old and broke-down. He plans to work jobs just until he is able to save the money he needs for his next adventure, then quit. After that adventure is over he will get another job, work and save just long enough to have enough money for the next adventure, and then he is off!!
In this post I want to explore those two models and share my thoughts on which I prefer. As I do, it’s important you understand that I am not passing judgment: neither is right or wrong, just different. All I want to do is explain the issues and explore the options. Your conclusions may be totally different from mine, and that is fine with me.


Both sides will cite the most dire possibilities about the other to prove why their decision was right, so let’s explore them:
1) First we will look at the worst case for Living For the Future:

  • The typical American life of living for the future is full of physical, mental and emotional stress. Many studies have shown that the accumulated stress causes a great deal of the diseases that are plaguing our modern lives like: depression, drug and alcohol addiction, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Living for the future is slowly killing you today!
  • You can live for tomorrow by working at a job you don’t like for 40 years and then die or suffer very bad health at 60. That is exact what happened to my father. He worked as a Safeway Store Manager all his life and retired at 60 financially secure for the rest of his life. His personality changed overnight going from a unhappy, stressed person to a relaxed and pleasant guy. At 61 he was diagnosed with cancer and was dead at 62. His example made it very clear that I would not follow in his footsteps.
  • In an era of minimum wage jobs and no unions and few pensions, is it even practical to prepare for a totally unknown and uncertain future? You can take all the right steps to prepare for your future and still not get any benefits from it. In the past, nearly all of us chose the path of living for the future and sacrificing today. But the economy has changed so much it is no longer the safe bet it once was. Let’s look at three ways retirement planning has changed:
    1. Pensions are becoming pretty rare and even if you have one, there is no certainty you will get it when you are ready to retire. They started to disappear with the decline of the unions and manufacturing moving off-shore to foreign countries, but then the global economic recession starting in 2008 has been a nail in their coffin. I personally know several vandweller/RVers whose jobs and pensions just suddenly disappeared in their 50s leaving them living off their savings in a van. Both of them were following the “normal” American path and suddenly the rug was pulled out from under them.
    2. In the past the assumption was that a college education almost guaranteed a safe and secure future. But today the cost of college is skyrocketing and the rewards from having it are not at all certain. I have another friend who lives in a van and is a PHD student at Arizona State University. He expects to graduate with at least $250,000 in debt. In today’s economy, will he ever be able to repay that much money and get ahead? And what is to keep the same thing from happening to him as my other friends: in his 50s his job could be sent overseas, the pension could simply be dissolved, or they could just fire him and hire a 30 year old to replace him who knows more and costs less?
    3. Social Security is no longer a sure thing.  At its core Social Security is a Ponzi  Scheme  ( where the first people who pay in get a lot of money and the last people to put in money will get none of it back. With the Baby-Boomers all getting ready to retire, paying for their Social Security could easily overwhelm and collapse the system. The government spent all the money the Baby-Boomers paid in (it’s all gone) so it all has to come from the few workers still working. But there aren’t enough of them and too many of them are working at minimum wage jobs. The new ObamaCare will also mean more of them will be working part-time so their employers can avoid paying them health-care. The day I am eligible I will start drawing on mine because I think there is no chance it will last much longer.
Is it even possible to be sure of a secure old age? I think not! If not, why not live today to it's fullest?!!

Is it even possible to be sure of a secure old age? I think not! If not, why not live today to it’s fullest?!!

2) Now we will look at the worst case for Living for the Moment:

  • You probably won’t have any health insurance. By working the minimum amount and living just for now you probably won’t have the money to buy health insurance. That means that you will not live as long or as well as Americans who do have it. Eventually, unless you die in an accident, we’re all going to get a final disease that kills us. With health insurance the odds are fair you will find it early enough so that it it’s curable or at least with proper medical care gives you as many years as possible.  Without health insurance, that isn’t going to happen. Yes, Hospital Emergency Rooms can’t refuse you care, but all they must do is get you stabilized, they will not fight the underlying disease for you.  Once stabilized, you must leave. Without money or health insurance, you won’t be able to have continued care until your next emergency and then you can go to the Emergency Room again. By then your problem will have grown much worse without adequate care. But, offsetting the lack of health insurance is the dramatically lower amount of stress you will have by dropping out of the Rat Race. Plus, you can have a much closer connection with nature which is one of the best things you can do for your health. Together they greatly reduce your likelihood of health problems in your old age.
  • As your health declines in older age you may not be able to work and support yourself. Without Social Security, a pension, or savings, you may end up as a destitute, homeless bum or bag lady eating out of garbage cans.



When I look at the most dire possibilities of each and the likelihood of them, I choose to live for the moment and not worry about the future. I think the odds of me dying young or a continued slow economic collapse are much more likely than any other possibility so I am betting my life on living fully now. And that isn’t just speculation; every vandweller I know is healthier and happier than they ever were in their old life. Many have lost quite a bit of weight. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this life contributes to better health in old age.

“Death twitches my ear.  ‘Live,’ he says, ‘I am coming.’”  ~Virgil

To me, ultimately, the decision about which way to live comes down to simple math: which way of life give me the most good years? Most of us have 60 years of adult life lasting from age 20 to 80. During that time we will be reasonably healthy and have the energy to enjoy life from 20 to 60, but after that they decrease with every passing year. While we may live past 80, by then most of us will no longer be in good health or have the energy and vitality to fully live life so I am not including those years in my calculations.
This table makes it simple and clear: sacrificing 2/3 of my life for the slim possibility of a better 1/3 is simply preposterous to me. I won’t do it!

To me, the math is simple and conclusive.

To me, the math is simple and conclusive.

I believe that vandwelling has radically changed the big picture and offers us a third option, a middle path.
3) Living in a Van and Working Part-Time or for only Part of the Year:
There are three different ways to do this, depending on your comfort with risk taking . When you live in a van, you can live so cheap that the amount of time you have to work to support yourself is very little. That offers many new options:

  1. You can work year around, but at jobs you enjoy. Because you are working, you are paying into Social Security and preparing for your future (assuming you believe it will be here when you are old enough to draw). Because you live so cheaply you can save and build up and savings account and be able to afford to pay for health insurance. For example, if you love to ski you could work at a ski-resort in the winter and be a campground host in the summer. If you love history and politics you could work at Washington DC in the summer tourist season, then go to Florida for the winter tourist season. Whatever you choose, just make it something you enjoy and you will be working full-time and building up your Social Security and yet still fully living your life for the moment.  I spent a summer giving tours in the tiny Eskimo Village of Kotzebue, Alaska and made (and saved) a lot of money on tips and had one of the best summers of my life.
  2. You can work less than 6 months a year and take the other 6 months off. For example, you can be a campground host for 3 month in the summer and work for Amazon for 3 months in the winter and that’s all you need to work. You can draw unemployment in the off-season and live very, very comfortably. As a bonus, the whole time you are working you will be paying into Social Security and doing something to prepare for your old age. I think it is very likely that if you live frugal enough, you could do that for a year and then take a whole year off and not work at all.
  3. You can do what I did and stayed at a job with a pension, health care and good wages and work part time. I hated the job but going from 40 hours a week to 32 hours a week made it bearable. I retired as soon as I could but I never would have made it that long had I kept working full-time. It was a great compromise between living for the moment and living for the future.

The bottom line is, only you can determine your willingness to take risk and follow adventure. I hope this gives you a better view of the big picture and some ideas of how to change your life.

“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live.

And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, … you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross



  1. McBeef

    It’s interesting how so many people put stock in the future, when the future is so uncertain. But, I can’t blame people for being sheep, when the people at the top have become so good at using fear to control people. I can’t relate to being a sheep, especially these days. Something tells me that I’ll continue being a loner, even as a vandweller. I wouldn’t mind meeting you one day, Bob, or that Becky girl who runs that Interstellar Orchard blog. You both seem like astute people. Not sheep, but wolves.

    • Bob

      Thanks so much McBeef, I’m looking forward to meeting that Becky girl myself one of these days! I’m not as good-looking as she is, but I guess I will have to do!

    • Ken

      Hey Bob: How old were you when you embarked on living on the road?

      • Bob

        Ken, there are two parts to that question. I was 40 when I first moved into a an and I lived in it in Anchorage, AK for the next 6 year. I worked at my job that whole time. In 2008, when I was 53 I retired and hit the open road and have been living on public land every since.

  2. Diane

    Great post Bob,
    I enjoy reading your fearless and helpful words.

    • Bob

      Thanks Diane!

  3. Rob

    It was not too many years ago the the ‘norm’ was to work until you died or when you could no longer work the family watched out for you & you helped at home until the end.
    I suspect we are not that far from those days…

    • Bob

      I think you’r right Rob. The economy has changed and I think we will never see the “good ole days” of good pensions and health care again. I’m afraid for our kids future.

  4. Rob

    Until I started this workcamper job I was not aware of the nomads in our society, a lot of people are leaving this workcamping job and heading to Amazon for that season.

    • Bob

      Rob, most campground hosting jobs are in the summer and so being able to pick up some winter work is great for many people. Most National Forest campgrounds close in September and a few are open until October. That leaves most people just enough time to get to Amazon.

  5. vtchris

    Hi Bob, My path took me a third way and I just want to mention it as another possibility. I graduated college and gave “normal” life a quick try for about 3 years then dropped out and tuned in as they said back then and was a backpacking, commune living hippie for about 13 years. At age 38 I re-joined proper society for 20 years at a job I liked and saved saved saved …… then retired with a small pension and a small SS check (combined quite adequate) to become an RVer at age 58, still quite healthy, I went full time 5 years ago at 63. I imagine there are many other ways to break up a life. I look at mine as different life incarnations. Who knows….there may be another one yet to come??

    • Bob

      vtchris, that sounds like a good compromise that worked really well for you! Now you are living the dream!

  6. Jool in North Texas

    Another outstanding post, Bob. You’re right there are no guarantees for the future. My son died a few months ago at age 39. I can say that he lived his life to the fullest, worked at things he loved, and had more adventures than most people experience in a lifetime. For that I can be at peace.
    I would like to add that for me, what brings a feeling of absolute freedom is being 100% debt free. I am working on ‘hitting the road’ soon (many thanks to the wonderful van conversions you have shown in your blog!!). Being free of debt should be a main goal for our young people – and everyone. Not always easy, I know. Getting an early start on that goal would be essential.
    Jool in North Texas

    • Bob

      Jool, that is a really good point. Debt is a slavery that is self-perpetuating. Once you are into it it becomes extremely hard to get out.
      Thanks for the great reminder.
      I’m so sorry about losing your son. Having lost one as well I know how devastating it is. It was many, many months before my life returned to anything like normal but it does get better, the pain does fade and the tears do dry up. And then all of a sudden it will hit you again and it will be like it just happened. Fortunately those times get fewer and fewer with time.

  7. Curtis Carper

    Bob, It was that exact realization that cause me to quit my career, sell everything we owned, and hit the road into the unknown back in 1995. For the remainder of my working life I did whatever struck me. If it wasn’t enjoyable I moved on.
    Now retired completely at 62, I go and do what I choose completely.
    During the past 19 years I never came close to what I made in years prior. The best I hoped for was 1/2 my old income. Didn’t matter once I realized that without debt you have freedom.

    • Bob

      You were wise beyond your years Curtis and you are so right that debt is slavery and debt-free is freedom!

  8. Troy Wiedeman

    Excellent post, Bob. I always look forward to Sunday mornings, waking up with a cup of coffee and reading your latest. Thanks.
    I’m 44 and at a decision point. Continue with the rat race until retirement, or do something different. Well, last year, I made a change. I sold my business and all my stuff. I now own a laptop, a netbook, a small set of summer and winter clothes and I now live in a cheap furnished garage apartment.
    I have a computer consulting background from the past 15 years, so I recently started an online business to provide web-based services to clients. Similar to how Cherie and Chris run their business over at This is how I expect to make money to support my adventures over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years.
    My plan is to buy an RV in the near future, either a Class B or a Van and covert it to a camper, then live and work in the van for the next 5 years. My goal is to be full-time by my 45th birthday in the summer of 2014. I have the money to get the RV now, but I’m working on stabilizing my income with my new business and I’m also still debating on which RV/Van to choose.
    I say I will only be in the RV/Van for the next 5 years (45-50) because I may want to do some world travel from 50+ and then back to the RV/Van later. LIVE while your YOUNG.

    • Bob

      Troy, you are a brave man to make those changes while you are young!! I’m sure you will not regret that decision! You will probably love the mobile life, but even if you don’t just the act of bravery and chasing adventure is wonderful in itself. No matter what happens, one day I think you will look back and think these were the best days of your life.

  9. Troy Wiedeman

    Whoops! I wish I could edit. Last sentence should be LIVE while “you’re” YOUNG or LIVE while you are YOUNG.
    I need to hire an editor. 🙂

  10. Liberatd

    Millions of Americans are on antidepressants many more self medicating
    with alcohol & drugs. The road most traveled should have a “Dead End” sign posted. Thanks Bob for giving me a detour.

  11. Liberatd

    The drugs & alcohol are getting to me…I spelled my name wrong on my comment it’s Libertad…freedom in spanish.

    • Bob

      Libertad, that stood out to me but I try to just use whatever name people choose.

  12. Marshall

    Thank you for that common sense truth Bob.
    This whole topic just begs the question “Where did it all go wrong?”
    Years ago people just went to work and lived their lives. They saved and handled life as it came up.
    Now people get up go to work and still have nothing concrete in their lives.
    You can blame it all on union busting and bashing. Fear. Blame it all on politicians who give millionaires tax breaks and take another program from the middle class or poor to pay for it.
    Truly you can and you would not only be justified, but you would be right.
    Now-a-days people will sell their birthright for the word job.
    What the people are beginning to realize is that those tax breaks for the rich in America did work. They worked just fine for the citizens of Mexico and China. Just look at how powerful and rich those countries have gotten since Clinton passed NAFTA and deregulated the stock market.
    When I see an an American CEO get a wage of 70 million dollars I say there goes 20,000 American jobs and hello to 50,000 Chinese jobs plus a stronger Chinese army. Get it?
    But, hey, just keep voting for the same ole guy. His words may be different, but his mission is not.
    Do not let them scare you with stories of $10 burgers and high priced cheap clothes at Walmart. They will make good wages work once again or go under. How did America make it with all the unions before they were busted and gone? We made it just fine and were strong in ALL ways!
    Do not be scared. Unions saved America once in the early 1900’s and they can do it again! In fact, there is really no other way.

    • Bob

      Thanks Marshall.

  13. Patrick

    People are brainwashed to believe that debt is good, by the time they realize it ‘s too late they are laying on their death bed. I never buy into these bullshits, I ‘m always debt free. Debt is like a prison without bars. If you want truly free, no debt, otherwise you are not free, just bullshit free.

    • Bob

      Right you are Patrick. Debt is slavery!

  14. OpenSpaceman

    Sell yur sh*t…then 6 months on 6 months off. That’s the ticket. I guess they call that “Lifestyle Design”.
    *Sure wish I found your blog 10 yrs. ago, but no regrets…been hittin’ the health club, down 20 lbs. and celebrating one month mobile…without a knock.
    _Thanks to you and your readers for making me feel a little less crazy.

    • Bob

      Openspaceman, good for you for making such radical changes in your life. You won’t regret it!
      I’ve got bad news, you are crazy: Crazy Like a Fox!

  15. Red Meador

    Excellent, I can’t take the credit for planning to live the 3rd life style, It is just the way it turned out. I didn’t live in a van at all, but I guess that is where lack of planning/knowledge came in. I lived in a RV and many houses over the years and worked a little and played a lot. It was good to me and I would do it the same way again.
    I already had a good life and I thought Becoming disable at 49 was a disaster. Wrong wrong wrong. I must admit it was not much fun for the first 3-4 years because I didn’t know what to expect and was grounded for medical treatment. I couldn’t do the kinds of work I had done before and was not sure about my tomorrows. Then disability kicked in and I was off and running again until SS kicked in . I had worked enough over the years that I had a decent income. If I die tomorrow I have lived my entire life and have nothing to regret. Bob, thank you for spreading the word and helping people to understand that there is a better way to live.

    • Bob

      Red, thanks for that inspiring comment! Disability is turning the lemons of an injury into the lemonade of a better life. I’m glad it’s working out so well for you after the years of discomfort.

    • krys weaver

      I have to say I’m glad to find this sight and this post why you ask well about 12 years ago i was disable from a school district job I was a Gardner at a high school a new son and starting on the latter to the top well God intervened (and I’m glad from day 1 after I woke up) I had a divorce and no work I can do from my past and a 11 year court battle to get my son I did get him just before he went into high school and living on ssd/i in the bay area (lot’s of $$$$) and being poor don’t cut it all that time I was thinking of getting a RV/van ect and hitting the road well I now live by stockton (and it flat broke as well as california) we both have RV’s my son (A 1970’s travco 20′) and me (A 1978 pioneer 23 1/2′) and working on getting solar and down sizing and looking to kissing california GOODBYE as we see it in OUR REAR VIEW MIRROR’S now to find a place to go to well a year we are planing doing just that…kw

      • Bob

        krys weaver, it sounds like you have been through some really hard times and have come out stronger and better. That is something to be very proud of and grateful for. I wish you the very best as you and your son get your RVs ready and hit the road. If there is anything I can help you with, feel free to ask!
        And if you find yourself in Arizona, be sure to look me up!!

  16. Joni

    I`m sensing a trend *smile*. Along about the week-end you hit us with food for thought, and such sustenance!
    I made the live for today choices early and as I look around at my generation, most of whom lived for what they hoped would be now. They certainly have better pensions, better stuff, newer vehicles, etc. But guess who gets the phone calls from the side of the road when the shiny vehicle has broken down and they can`t speak southern and where on the map in Georgia is `Mikin`! *laugh*
    Bob, you are a wise one…can I steal this blog because my kid wouldn`t read it here but he would if I send it to him…he should hear this!
    All the best,

    • Bob

      Sure Joni, you can send him a link or cut and paste.

  17. CAE

    Good words. I was deposed from my profession mostly because I become too old to compete with the kids. I had enough money, so I went with it. Then I get really sick and was looking at the end of the road. I got lucky and got my life back. Now I would not trade a minute of the working like for my freedom. No body knows how much time they really have and as you get older, things become harder to do anyway.

    • Bob

      CAE, you are so right, no one knows how many years they have left. I try to live so that I will have no regrets.

  18. Linda Sand

    We sort of chose version one with a twist. We were lucky that after a few rough years my Dave fell into a job he thought was fun for 35 years that paid him enough to enable us to enjoy those years yet still retire comfortably at age 60. I am so grateful that he can have his apartment year around and I can snowbird in my fancy-dancy Class B. I wish everyone could be so lucky. Yet I’m not sorry we had those rough years first since they helped us appreciate the rest.

    • Bob

      Linda, we all take different paths and none are right or wrong. With the right attitude, it’s all GOOD!!

  19. Silvianne

    Great post, Bob, and I’m enjoying all the comments.
    I would like to question an assumption you made, however–just as a little food for thought. You said “By working the minimum amount and living just for now you probably won’t have the money to buy health insurance. That means that you will not live as long or as well as Americans who do have it…”
    I think there is some argument to be made (and statistics to back it up) that the paradigms of the current health care system are actually killing us as often as curing us. (Not to mention the role played by our stressful, unhappy lives in creating the disease in the first place!). As someone who has not been able to afford healthcare for the last ten years (after switching from full time admin asst in the world of hospitals and higher education in California, to retail/cater waiter/Tarot reader in New Mexico) I can honestly say that I am healthier at 58 than I was at 48. Partly it is a more active lifestyle and largely it is being forced by circumstance to actually practice alternative medicine (instead of just “believing” in it theoretically) and finding that it not only works, but in many cases actually works BETTER. It does take more involvement from the patient and a willingness to explore the psycho-spiritual as well as physical dimensions of any dis-ease. But I am finding that the belief shared by many indigenous peoples, that Mother Earth provides a natural cure for every ailment, may indeed be quite literally true.
    So, I vote for moving the possible lack of old style healthcare in the living for the moment paradigm from the minus to the plus category–or at least considering it to be a two-edged sword! Just my experience.
    Thanks for your thought-provoking blogs and for all you do to encourage us neophytes to take up a simpler, more authentic life. I will be on the road full-time in one short week after 3 years of dreaming and scheming (yikes!). You have been a big part of making that possible and I am immeasurably grateful.

    • Bob

      Silvianne, there is something to be said for good living and alternative medicine. I am a believer in much of it and saw my ex-wife perform a near miracle with herbs and accupuncture.
      Also, I do believe that living this way will drastically reduce stress which has to improve your health.
      The problem is that even with the best living genetics are hard to overcome so you never know what is coming. My broken arm was probably $250,000 and if it hadn’t been workmans comp, I probably would have lost all use of it.

    • Linda

      Firstly, congratulations, Silvianne on going full-time. I’ve yet to sit down with you for more than 10 seconds at an RTR, usually due to not arriving on time, but I’d like to.
      I’m very interested to see what the ACA has in store for us. It looks like I will be getting health insurance for the first time in six years, starting January. I’m actually quite excited about its potential, though I know it’s a bumpy road ahead; but then–what else is new? 😉

  20. apoorplayer

    I enjoy reading Bob’s columns for the practical information I receive from him. Almost all of it us useful instructive to someone like me who is not particularly adept at working with his hands. But alas, I find his advice on how to live life most distressing. Bob has an evangelist’s mentality, and he seems to believe his mission is to save us all from our dark, dreary lives. He is not content simply with living his own life and offering us through his writings tips and tricks about how to live on the road. Rather, because he so strongly believes in the idea that vandwelling has “saved” him, he clearly feels the need to preach about it. His “come to Jesus” tone in these Sunday sermons is indicative of his evangelical approach to vandwelling. It’s more than just a practical lifestyle to him; he preaches the true word about living life fully through vandwelling.
    I have always been suspicious of this kind of thinking. It is precisely this kind of simplistic thought that is causing so many of the problems our society and civilization currently has. This culture disrespects its deepest and best thinkers; more than that, it is downright hostile and suspicious of them, because they refuse to present simple solutions to complex problems. Evangelists are appealing precisely because they provide simple answers: come to Jesus and all will be cured; take this pill and you will be fine; hop into a van and you will be free. This particular post is heavy with this kind of simplistic rhetoric.
    Bob paints this larger picture of millions of people living discontented middle class lives. He would have you pay no attention to the fact that millions of people are living quite content middle class lives. He would have you pay no attention to the reality that many, many people, like me, like their jobs, are grateful to have them, and find a great deal of satisfaction in them. Bob is simply projecting his own discontent with his attempt to lead a middle class life onto everyone else, assuming because he was miserable as a middle-class person, then everyone must also be so. Thus we are all shackled with chains, toiling unhappily in shitty jobs; but if only we’d bust loose and become vandwellers, happiness would be ours. Much too simplistic. Van life may be a great choice for many, and more power to them, but there is no need to constantly demonize middle class living. The greatest threat to this country at this time is, in fact, the demise of the middle class lifestyle, something that has been responsible for raising up humanity since the 14th century.
    I want to particularly caution readers about Bob’s comments on Social Security. Bob is not an expert on this subject. He’s probably read one or two articles on the internet and has made a conclusion based on fear and bad facts. If you are someone who is planning to retire soon and take SSI, I beg you to get better educated, do a great deal of research to get at the truth, or find someone who is an expert on the subject and can help you understand the current situation better. To equate Social Security to a Ponzi scheme is about the worst thing anyone can tell you, because it plays on your fears directly. Social Security does need reforming, but it is nowhere near in the dire straits that Bob paints here. It’s one of the best and most rock-solid programs out there. The reason people are trying to scare you about Social Security is because there is a lot of money at stake that Wall Street types would love to get their hands on. As the Great Depression showed, bankers and investment firms want very much to sell you risky financial instruments that make a lot of money for them and leave you holding the bag. These people want SSI to disappear so they can get you to invest your SSI contributions, not with the govt., but with them.
    My apologies to Bob and to his choir. Being the skeptic and naysayer is never a fun task. Bob is great when it comes to solar power, batteries, coolers and the like, but I would caution readers against following an evangelist instead of using your own reason and thought to fact-check and investigate for yourselves. Life has never been at any time in human history a simple thing. Don’t be fooled by people who make it seem so.

    • Tom

      I doubt anyone is going to live in their van just because they read a blog. If preachers had that much power everyone would be believers.

    • m.a.

      I think you make some valid points, and opposing points are always good to think about.
      I am a vandweller, and the life suits me. But I’m not out here entirely by choice. And I believe that’s true of many others.
      Life often doesn’t work out like we envision – and you make other plans. 🙂
      There is much to love about this life, and so much to love about the others of our mobile ‘tribe’ that we share it with. I have met and befriended and camped with the best people I could hope to meet, from every economic and cultural background, laughed and listened to life stories around campfires, shared wine at sunset, & traveled and camped in the most beautiful of places. It is a life for me that is rich with movement and change. But it is also a life that can be difficult in many ways: physically, with practical and financial hardships, and sometimes emotionally. There is loneliness as well as community. Sadness as well as joy. Illness, and fears for the future. Just as there is in life everywhere.
      I agree with you that it is not for everyone. Nor need it be.
      When I was capable of working at my profession I absolutely loved it – I was good at what I did and had no reason to want anything else. I loved as well my home and garden and the friends and community I was part of. Things change. ‘ I’m really grateful I’ve found another way to replace it.
      Bob is a really cool person, who has so much knowledge and helps so many many people. He’s found a way of life that he loves & maybe sounds a little carried away sometimes. He believes what he says.
      Hopefully people will listen to his words and advice like they would the advice of any person who is wise in any field, then look carefully at their own situation and make their own decisions.
      There are always more than two choices, and no two lifestles are the same.

    • Bob

      apoorplayer, I am well aware that there are many people who are quite content with their lives of planning for the future. It is one of my goals to not offend people who have different points of view so I put in this disclaimer:

      In this post I want to explore those two models and share my thoughts on which I prefer. As I do, it’s important you understand that I am not passing judgment: neither is right or wrong, just different. All I want to do is explain the issues and explore the options. Your conclusions may be totally different from mine, and that is fine with me.

      You must have missed that because I say right in the post that mine is not the only way and if your way is not the same as mine it isn’t wrong, just different. Is that what you think is: “Bob is simply projecting his own discontent with his attempt to lead a middle class life onto everyone else, assuming because he was miserable as a middle-class person, then everyone must also be so.”
      I KNOW for a fact that there are many people who feel just like I do because they write to me desperately looking for help. Is it a mistake to offer offer them the technical knowledge to change and also try to inspire them to change? If you think that is wrong, then you probably shouldn’t read this blog because that’s what I do and what I will continue to do.
      When I was living in my van in Anchorage, AK I woke up in a parking lot one morning and noticed that there was a car parked next to my van. Then I spotted a woman and two small kids sleeping in the cold. My heart went out to her and the thousands of others like her.
      Everything I have done in my websites since then has been to write to her. Apparently it has spoken to a lot of other people because lots of people read my sites and have bought my book.
      That woman is my intended audience and she always will be, you are not. I’m sorry you are offended, I tried to prevent it but if you keep reading the blog it will happen again.

      • Sue

        Bob,This is my first post here, but please keep doing what you are doing. It is beyond me why some people (Apoorplayer) need to attempt to tear down people who desire no more than to give hope, faith, love,and wisdom and to the hopeless,lost,or just plain truth seekers. It is clear your mind and heart is in the right place and your input is right on. As an RN(now retired) for 29 years,I saw A LOT.Though I may not agree with some spiritual matters…I do agree with you on Matthew 25:),it is very clear you have made a positive difference in so many lives,and no doubt saved a few.I sorta pity those who never really struggled greatly, especially at an early age….it’s a gift in itself that only those who have can understand. You have inspired and helped me greatly. I bought a used RV 2 months ago,and you,Caroline from Caroline’s RV Life,and a few other online are giving me the courage to soon live my RV dream, maybe to the point of quite possibly giving up the sticks and bricks. Thank you for your work. Keep spreading the word…

        • Jerry

          Sue, you are soooo right on the mark! I couldn’t agree more, I’m a 82 yr old single male, with 4 divorces behind me, I’ve taken my life to all the highs I could, chances taken I’ve taken my motorcycle on a 13 month ride, after my life changes,(divorces), and am ready for a van-dwellers life, am thinking of converting a cargo trailer and going part time, for now. I would like to meet Bob someday and thank him for all his great intentions, and gifts to all who listen to him.

    • Curtis Carper

      To Apoorplayer, Bob is a writer…I am a writer as well. His mantra is that of a cleric, while mine is more of a conversation in style. Does that weaken his content? Is my style all wrong? No, we just approach some of the same issues from different directions.
      I lived the rat race, at one point having 5 loans, leaving me hardly the ability to put food on the table. Toys ruled my life. All it took was being laid off during bad economic times to figure out I hadn’t been very wise.
      Now I live a much simpler life. No I’m not a full-time van dweller, I still own a very modest sticks & bricks residence. I drive a new van and make payments on it. The difference is I refuse to carry any credit card debt, and I pay cash for everything else.
      When home mortgages were at a record low and auto loans were practically free money, it just made good sense to take advantage and put yourself in a better position. Sometimes debt can be a good thing.
      Knowing where that line in the sand should be is the key.
      If Bob chooses to preach his sermon and you are unable, or unwilling to read between the lines, so be it. I for one having recently met him and am enjoying his material. I agree with some of what he says, and take the rest with a grain of salt.
      That’s his right as a human being to have an opinion and express it as he wishes.

      • Bob

        Curtis, a grain of salt, are you kidding??!!
        It’s all GOLD!!!

        • Curtis Carper

          Chuckle…You’re more self-confident than I. Nothing I write is gold, I only hope I can make it interesting.

    • Claudio

      Well, I don’t have a blog, I’m a quite reserved person, but if I did, my motivation wouldn’t be to preach or to teach. Evangelist? Sermon? No way. I wouldn’t even dare to try to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do or think. My motivation would be to share discoveries that I made for myself, which have worked for me, helped me to become the happy and fulfilled person I am today. And to share observations about things/developments on our planet I become aware of.
      I would do that mainly out of sheer enthusiasm and joy (or the lack of it, depending on what it is) for what I found out and out of love for others who haven’t discovered such things for themselves yet.
      I couldn’t be perfect or share exhaustive knowledge/info about anything, just ideas and information as far as I know it and am able to find out. Of course everyone interested, as the responsible person everybody should be, should check for himself and not take anything for complete or fully correct. In certain areas it would be almost perfect, in others a little bit less so.
      There are so many incredibly precious and useful ideas and infos on Bob’s website that it has been, is and will be VERY inspiring and useful for many, many people, things that perhaps a lot of them wouldn’t have discovered without Bob’s dedication. But everyone has, of course, to do his homework and check for himself how to procede for his own life…
      I found Bob’s website at a time as I already had made radical changes in my life as a consequence of reflections and discoveries identical or very similar to what Bob describes, one of the main reasons being a deep and direct connection with nature I hadn’t experienced before, so I can perfectly understand the feelings, the enthusiasm and the motivation of Bob in sharing his ideas. Without experiencing these things for yourself it will be more difficult to understand…
      (him=her, of course)

  21. Tom

    Here’s an example of another adventurer who’s still doing what he loves and is now in his 70’s. Ray Jardine is the first person to climb El Capitan in the 70’s.

    • Bob

      Tom, Ray Jardine is a giant in the backpacking field. He single-handedly changed the way we all think about backpacking by introducing the concept of Ultra-light backpacking. His whole life has been an inspiration!

  22. OpenSpaceman

    I think the reason this subject…pay now or pay later (time/money/your health) is so touchie…is because the future is very uncertain and the media/insurance marketers/big pharm are playing on fear. It’s an easy sell.
    My Dad was a career military man, Mom didn’t work outside the home, nice house, hot meals w/4 kids. Try that today…not gonna happen for most.
    Your just a guy with an alternative w/ alot of experience on this subject tryin’ to help and I appreciate it.

  23. ILDan

    I have read your telling of that family in Alaska. I guess I had missed that they were your mental “audience/inspiration.” Isn’t it amazing how meaningful, possibly life-altering, a chance encounter with another human can be, even if they have no idea of their importance? It pays to keep your eyes, ears and heart open.
    More on topic: My mantra focuses my lifestyle.
    “It’s not what you build; it’s what you can maintain.”
    I have found this applicable to finance, relationships, my upstanding reputation…so many areas.

    • James

      Any chance your Alaska car dwelling woman’s children’s father(s)are live for the moment thru-hikers?
      Bob, you are absolutley right if a majority of the next generation choose the live for the moment life style the SS system will collapse along with the other programs in place to help someone like the Alaska woman and her children.

      • Bob

        James, I’m afraid you are mocking me!! NO MOCKING THE BLOGGER ALLOWED!!!!!!!!!
        I’m just kidding, mock away! I often deserve it, especially the more serious I take myself.
        Again, my ultimate hope is that the entire system collapses and that I can play a small part it causing it. I consider civilization an evil to be eradicated as soon as possible. The collapse will be horrible for nearly everyone, including me. But it is a cleansing that must take place. Humans have became a mailgnant cancer that are killing the planet so all the malignant cells have to be eradicated, including me, my children and everyone I know.
        And yes I am a hypocrite, I do intend to take full advantage of the system until it collapses. When I turn 62 I will start collecting SS–because I paid into it for 40 years and it’s my money, it is not a gift!

    • Bob

      ILDan, it really does pay to try to maintain an openness to life’s little lessons. I operate under the idea that the Universe is constantly talking to me but it is such a still small voice that I MUST live a quiet life if I am to hear. Every so often I do hear, and I’m grateful for even that.

  24. Al

    After 2 surgeries in one week and near death, several years ago, I came to agree with you Bob, that I wanted to live NOW and enjoy what time I have left. I would LOVE to buy a van and hit the road but the irony and reality is that even though I have no debt, I ALSO have no pension or Social Security and so I am still enslaved in that I have to work at my job because through bad planning and irresponsible spending on my part in the past, I have no source of income OTHER THAN working. I am saying that I VALUE the idea of traveling, seeing the country, living mobile but see no way of doing such a great thing because I can’t see how to do that when my source of income is here in Atlanta. I have 6 more years before I can qualify even for early Social Security, assuming it is even around then. Bob, I ENVY your lifestyle. While I have had a good career for 32 years and have enjoyed my work, I would hop in a van TOMORROW but see no way of doing that because I do NOT have a pension. When it came time to put my next tank of gas in my van, I’d be in a world of hurt because my only source of income is tied to working. I’m too young (what a joke) to get SS just yet. But I agree that the ideal is to be able to afford to live for the now rather than the future. Without a secure source of income coming in each month SEPARATE from that of my employer, I see no way of doing that. How ironic

    • Bob

      Al, you can take the first step right now.
      1) Sell all your stuff and buy a van.
      2) Move into it,
      3) Start paying yourself the rent or mortgage.
      4) Save like a mad man!
      5) Line up a summer job for next year as a campground host and Amazon next winter.
      6) Keep working, keep saving where you are at till next spring
      7) Quit your job (try to get laid off!) and go to work as a campground host.
      8) When it is over go to work for Amazon.
      9) Start drawing unemployment
      10) Spend the rest of the winter relaxing in the Arizona desert and then go back to work as a campground host and then Amazon.
      Rinse and repeat!

  25. DougB

    An interesting post, Bob, and relatively more balanced in presentation than many of your previous Sunday posts. Of course, your continuing pronouncement that living in a van is a viable workaround to many of society’s ills is completely wrong, when everyone knows that it needs to be a small to mid-size travel trailer… like it just so happens mine is. I plan to borrow your technique and post some charts on this superiority on my own blog, just as soon as I finish replacing the water pump that just burned out…

    • m.a.

      Being a ‘vandwelling minimalist’ I may not have running water – but I never have to replace a water pump! 🙂 – although I did love my Casita.

      • DougB

        Glad you got the humorous irony I intended! And happy vanning!

        • Bob

          Humorous irony? What’s that!
          Doug i’m in Goosnecks SP Utah, if you are headed this way, let me know.

    • Bob

      Doug, now there you go again, thinking you know better than me. IMPOSSIBLE!!
      Okay, maybe a little. There is no right and wrong way, just what works for you!

  26. Gary

    You are way off base with this diatribe. This is far from being a black or white subject. For some of us the road to being able to fulfill ourselves required almost a decade of education and another decade to polish the skills necessary to be useful. Nevertheless, if one has the understanding that life is a journey that could end at any moment – there is always a way to live it to its fullest, even if your budget in dollars and time is limited.
    The problem is your mindset and particularly if it fixed on a goal to the exclusion of understanding that every day needs to be lived to its last second. Now, I can’t say that I got this right in my own journey, but if I was talking to my son I’d be telling him never to forget that the present needs to be sipped with utter delight. Some delayed gratification is necessary but it needs to be measured and considered.

    • Bob

      Gary, there is no right or wrong way for everybody, life is not black or white. But I am writing to an audience that basically looks at life much like I do. You look at it through a different pair of glasses. It’s not good or bad, right or wrong, just different.
      I’m delighted you found a way that has worked so well for you that you want your children to follow you!! I didn’t, so now I have found a different way that does delight me. And I’m trying to tell like-minded people how and why they should follow me.
      You and I are not like-minded so I don’t understand why you are even following me? I don’t follow blogs by people who promote traditional living, because I reject that life. I certainly don’t write them and tell them they are wrong, because they aren’t wrong for them. But they are ONLY wrong for me.
      So why would you follow a blog by someone who promotes an alternative lifestyle that you reject? And then why would you write him and tell him he is wrong? Isn’t it at least possible I am right for me and for some other people, even if it is wrong for you?
      We just need to agree to disagree and go our separate ways.
      Unless of course there is some tiny part of you that secretly thinks I am right. Then keep reading and writing, I don’t mind being told I am wrong, because I often am.

  27. Martin Hamilton

    Since United Airlines took my retirement that was promised in the contract when I started with them I saw what a scam our corporations are imposing on us workers and how they make the stockholder number one vs the customer or employee and started a different life. I got into real estate and to only fine it to go bankrupt like our airline. The airline forced bankruptcy however. This was a tactic to get our retirement pension. Since spending my prime years with the airline and planning for retirement I am very bitter at our system in America. Wall Street is draining precious spending power from working families only to be paid to a stockholder that does nothing regarding productivity. I thought Capitalism was to reward those who produced. The Economics we teach at our Universities isn’t the one being use in our corporate system. Nice post and living for today.

  28. Curtis

    Wow Bob this is one of the best articles I have ever read on the internet or any where for that matter, thank you very much!
    Folks if there ever was an article you share with family and friends it would be this one, as this shows the choices everyone has and many don’t know they even have a choice.
    Gary I would suggest you see Martin Hamilton’s comment before you consider this article diatribe. To believe it takes decades of education and polish to live a rewarding life is just not so.
    Our education system is a joke and giving your life to a company that cares for their stockholders before their employees is more common than you might want to accept.

  29. Myddy

    So, having read this (and this post is excellent in description about the paths), and knowing about the government shutdown going on, I’m curious: Do you think this is the start of an “impending doom” in government structure? I’ve read that you do believe eventually in some form of collapse. I’m curious on your opinion in the matter, or are you going to be blogging about it at some point? Would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks Bob!

  30. JAK

    It is now 3:45 pm . I started reading this site early this morning with my first cup of coffee. I have read every word and believe that God brought your information to me at the right time. I was on the fence about retiring next month at 62 but feel the decision now has been made. I will continue to work until I make the amount allowed by SS. I will use this time to relieve myself of the glut of possessions that “possesses” me and look for a van/camper/truck that fits my fancy . Maybe I will find land that I can afford to plant an orchand and a garden. Maybe I will be ostracized by family,friends and society. Maybe my level of stress will be so diminished that the only thing that will matter will be that I wake each day with a blessing and a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips and in my heart. Thank-you Bob…

    • Bob

      JAK, what a wonderful comment! Thank you so much. Hearing stories like yours is why I’ve done everything on the web in the last 9 years and makes every minute worthwhile!
      A green thumb and itchy feet can work very well together! If you find that piece of land you can spend your summers tending it and being nurtured by the earth and your winters wandering as your heart whispers.
      My money is on your stress level dropping down to zero!! Oddly enough, you will probably miss it for awhile, maybe even make you uncomfortable. But soon that will pass and peace and joy will flood your heart.
      The best times of your life are yet to come!

  31. Now?Later?Never?

    I am of the normal group, you know, tortured by the Plan: “exist today worrying about tomorrow”. I am nearly 40, a former whatever will be will be’er turned usual suspect. First and foremost I have the grande pleasure of being mommy to the funniest, cutest, most charismatic 7 year old. I make a pleasing salary. I have worked for the same company for 12 years. I over-pay for the standard over-insured never-utilized benefits package. I kind of enjoy my job when I’m there, once I get caught up in the chaos. Upon an exhaustive over-scheduled work day I retreat home with the rest of the career jockeys only to find home life as incredibly chaotic. Dinner, dishes, bath, laundry, girlscouts, friendwork, homework, housework, yardwork, and on and on and on, all in 3 hours. Fall to bed, fall to sleep, fall-in and do it all over again. Living for the weekend, of which one day is spent recovering and the other day is spent preparing. For what crazy reason do I do this!? I, like many others, wanted so much; the house, the job, the car, the clothes, the vacations…….why? Who told me I wanted these things? HGTV, Robin Leach, Real Housewives of Orange County, my fifth grade math teacher. ? WHOOO??!! I have realized more about myself while raising our child. The “should be simple but is actually foolishly complex” rule of want vs need has been revealing, revitalizing, refreshing. All of this leads me here. HERE: I want to live our life now, when I am young and healthy and most importantly while my child still sees her dad and me as the center of her universe. I’ve weathered storms of starts and stops, ups and downs, just as many do…yet fear sits on my chest. Fear injected by media, government, the wealthy, the middle class, the poor, family, friends, everyone. All have a tale that ends with the same elixir; conformity. No more! Before it is time for my daughter to blaze her own trail I WILL pass along work ethic, responsibility and stickwithitness, but I will also teach her the strength in seizing life and harnessing its energy for the good of family and of oneself. The time has arrived to shed the Groundhog Day existence, the time has arrived to take our lives back and live it for us, not “THEM”. We have pledged to embrace a new lifestyle, a simpler lifestyle. Wish us a fearless adventure! And to those who have embraced their own new lifestyle, congratulations. Together a new politically correct term for such a bohemian existence will surface that is more palatable for the overindulged. Good luck to you in your adventure.

    • Bob

      NowNeverLater? I do wish you the very best as you start your new adventure! Society only wants good little worker drones and couldn’t care less if you are happy. Insist on being happy!

  32. Nigel

    Again, my ultimate hope is that the entire system collapses and that I can play a small part it causing it. I consider civilization an evil to be eradicated as soon as possible. The collapse will be horrible for nearly everyone, including me. But it is a cleansing that must take place. Humans have became a mailgnant cancer that are killing the planet so all the malignant cells have to be eradicated, including me, my children and everyone I know.
    And yes I am a hypocrite, I do intend to take full advantage of the system until it collapses. When I turn 62 I will start collecting SS–because I paid into it for 40 years and it’s my money, it is not a gift!
    I agree sadley, but what you said is a part of the reson of me getting back on the road.
    There,s a big storm comming.

    • Bob

      Nigel, I follow a blog that tracks the underlying facts about the economy and it is all very grim. There is a perfect storm coming when all the unintended consequences of our actions come home and we have to deal with them.

  33. Richard Philbrick

    Here are two quotes that LITERALLY changed my life…
    The first one applies to you and your supermarket job…
    “‘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”
    This one is applicable to your friend Venture…
    “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

    • Bob

      Thanks Richard, those are wonderful quotes!

  34. jeff johnston

    Recently divorced,turning 60 , quit my job , drawing a pension of 1730 a month, living with mom who is 87, no rent payments and no debt. Do’nt own a car but renting one at $427 for the month. I bought a bunch of tent camping gear from Walmart. com and am taking to the road. I Live near Chicago and I’m venturing down to Carlsbad Caverns then westward to Grand Canyon , southern California, then thru Utah and Colorado for the month. Going to do cheap camping and cheap (motel 6) hoteling. I am excited about my new life since I used to be a slave to my former lifestyle.My Godsend is my health insurance thru Obahmacare. I used to pay 865 a month for retiree health insurance, now I only pay 65 a month. Used to own alot of stuff (big house 3 nice cars and all the stuff inside the house) now I own a cheap laptop , a printer, cellphone a few clothes and some modess camping gear. My ex wife got the house and all the other stuff. I like my new freedom because I no longer have to maintain my former stuff and no longer work at the job I hated and was killing me. I love the outdoors and nature and am looking forward to my adventure. Would like to become nearly a full timer doing tent camping and living the minimalist lifestyle.I luv your philosophy and insight.

    • Bob

      Jeff, what a wonderful new adventure you’re headed into! Living in your car and a tent you can live like a nomadic king on $1730 a month. If you are ever in my area, my camp is always open to you.

  35. Pat

    Yes this country has changed completely since I have was a youngster. I can not believe how many people I know are living pay check to pay check. The system takes everything you have to just survive.
    I went into the Air Force back in 1976, They sent me to the UK where I worked 12 hr shifts six days a week in freezing WWII hangers working on jet engines, After the two years in the UK I was assigned to Williams AFB in AZ south of Phoenix, (It’s closed now)where my four year hitch was going to end, I called my dad and told him I was getting out, He told me if I got out I was making the biggest mistake of my life and that if I hung it out to retirement I would have something to live on no matter what, back then I was 24 and didn’t care about getting old as it was far far into the future,and didn’t care about some pension, even though he didn’t know as much as me about life and didn’t know what he was talking about I thought he deserved at least a little consideration about about what he was telling me so I thought about it for a week or so then made up my mind and walked into the base CBPO and went to the enlistments office and reenlisted, I called my dad and told him what I did and he was very happy and told me I made the right decision.
    Now that I am going to hit 60 in a couple of months I look back and shiver to think if I got out, what would my life be like now? I have my military and VA pension and in two years I am taking my SS early. If I cant live on all that there is something wrong with me.
    I am so glad I listened to my dad back in 1980, he was smarter then I thought he was…

    • Bob

      I’m glad it worked out so well for you Pat.

    • Space A Bum

      Bob outstanding site and blog!! I am really thinking hard about jumping into this thing and I get stoked every time time visit your site and learn more. It’s all very inspiring! I’d like to respond to Pat for a moment if I may. Pat, I too am retired from the USAF. One thing to consider is all the bases facilities you have access to. Between Army, AF, Navy & Marine facilities all over the country, free base Gyms for cleaning up just to name one. I don’t need to tick off the litany of other base bennies as I’m sure you are aware already. One important and relevant thing to point out are that the military family camps, found on many of our installations are often found in spectacular locations including many beach fronts and are always cheaper than their civilian counterparts–at least that is what a couple of seasoned RV buddies have told me. But I imagine it would be fairly easy to stealthily dry camp on these installations given the right type of vehicle, so long as one adhered to base regs as well as the excellent recommendations that Bob has pointed here on this site.

      • Bob

        Thanks very much for that great information Space A Bum!

  36. Jake

    You think exactly as I do.
    It amazes me everytime I hear someone claim how great college is….getting a typical stressful job, paying for a house that you are only at 1/3 of the time, and wasting away.
    Whats the freaking point?!
    If one does all of that…WHAT IS THE POINT?
    This life is supposed to mean something, and be something for us.
    Like the old saying goes
    “Get busy on your dreams, or get to working on someone elses”

    • Bob

      Great quote, thanks Jake!

  37. Trumer

    Hi Bob,
    I am currently an employee of the Dept. of Health and Human Services in CA. With regard to health coverage; when the ACA (Affordable Care Act) came into play, it really changed the way hospitals deal with patients that have no insurance. These facilities will most likely have certified enrollment counselors who will automatically apply their patients to whatever coverage is available for their particular state. (Covered CA in CA). I see most people without insurance fit into the eligibility requirements to be covered under medicaid. Very few are un-insurable.
    Anyway, with that said, I have found your site extremely informative. I am looking forward to building my own rig and retiring early (hopefully in 6 yrs with my pension) and setting off on my own adventures. Perhaps I will have the chance to meet you all in person one day soon.
    Thank you for being an inspiration.

    • Bob

      Trumer, thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate it. There is often much more of a safety net than most of us realize, but for the average person, negotiating it is very difficult. I’m not old enough to get Medicare, but i’m not looking forward to figuring it all out.
      Having a person in the hospital to lead patients through the maze is a very good thing. There is much I don’t like about CA, but they really do seem to actually care about their citizens and they work hard to do all they can for them.
      Thanks again!

  38. Gary King

    Really inspiring line bob “why not live today to it’s fullest?!!”

    • Bob

      Gary, that sure seems like a self-evident truth, but when you say it you will be mocked and ridiculed, “No, you have to live for your old age or you will end up eating dog food“. I’d rather eat dog food when I’m old than live a half-assed, pathetic life in wage-slavery to someone else!

  39. Kristyn

    I tried to convince my husband to quit his job and we live this kind of life. He gets angry with me and thinks I’m losing it. He’s so brainwashed to the system of working/come home/pay bills/eat/sleep and do it all over again the next day.

  40. Brent

    That says it all Bob. Excellent article with sound advice.
    I got the taste of road freedom at a young age. My Dad sold his business in 1971, bought a used 24 FOOT Winnebago and 5 of us hit the road for nine months. In 1977 I followed that up with a multi month road trip in my 1956 Jeep wagon Ibuilt into a camper with driver seat only. Tried living the “American Dream” and kept traveling around as much as I could always dreaming of being a gypsy. Finally put it together in 2009 and been working part time pipeline inspections and traveling the USA when jobs are completed.My life plan is to continue this vagabond life style until I can’t move!

  41. Brent

    That says it all Bob. Excellent article with sound advice.
    I got the taste of road freedom at a young age. My Dad sold his business in 1971, bought a used 24 FOOT Winnebago and 5 of us hit the road for nine months. In 1977 I followed that up with a multi month road trip in my 1956 Jeep wagon Ibuilt into a camper with driver seat only. Tried living the “American Dream” and kept traveling around as much as I could always dreaming of being a gypsy. Finally put it together in 2009 and been working part time pipeline inspections and traveling the USA when jobs are completed.My plan is to continue this vagabond life style until I can’t move!

  42. Katy

    I have been following your blog and YouTube channel off and on for a few years… on :-). I am so grateful for you being there for people interested in this lifestyle. I am 55 and unfortunately, I am still 3-7 years away from being able to begin. I have some debt that I need to pay off and build up savings after divorce!! I am going to use the time wisely so that when the day comes I will be ready. Just want to say thanks for this article and for all that you do! Very appreciated!!

  43. CampingRow

    I only found your website yesterday and have been reading all of your sage advice. In our 50s now, we have been “prepping” for the future in terms of food, medical supplies, water, tools, camping equipment, etc for years; but not really living. We have buried our fathers and are now looking after our mothers (one in an assisted living and one at her home)and even though our mothers’ each have pensions/s.s., all they do is sit around watching t.v. and complaining about being in pain. I don’t want that to be our future. Both my doctor and my husband’s doctor told us that unless we change our lifestyle, we won’t even live as long as our parents. I have a job where I sit over 9 hours a day and he is in maintenance where he has a lot of heavy lifting. Last month we finally took a vacation (first one in 7yrs) and went camping (tent). It was wonderful! Camping woke us up to the possibilities of really living! Now it’s all we can talk about. We are talking about setting up a base camp at his mother’s house (to store all of our prepper things) and then taking off traveling, exploring our country while it is still ours to enjoy. Debt and obligations to our mothers are our biggest worry. I hope to one day have a level of freedom that will promote a healthier life for both of us. Thank you for sharing your experience and bless you!

  44. patrick fisher

    Hi Bob,
    I’ve been following your blog and YouTube channel for a couple of years. It looks like at 53 I’ve received an involuntary layoff. However, not worried about a thing and will likely retire. Your site, and this post in particular, are very inspiring – live for now if you can do it and not worry. I’m not sure if and when I will vandwell, but happy to know others value their time over money at some point. I will have a small pension in a couple of years and have savings and a house so all is good.
    Cheers, and thank you for inspiring people to choose freedom!

  45. William Long

    Thank you Bob. I definitely agree with with what you are saying here. My first career was in computer programming but that just became too mind numbing after a decade. I went back to school so I get jobs teaching at colleges. Having summer off, spring breaks, 10 days off at Christmas. That is what made it bearable. Plus, I only stayed at any college for 4-5 years. That allowed me to see a lot of the country. Everywhere I went was an adventure. It made for a good life. I’m retired now and would be living on the road in a van if only my wife’s health was better.

  46. Fredrick Morgan

    WOW… I laugh a lot to see the picture, these pictures are different.
    Thanks for sharing the creative post!

Table of Contents