Van Life: Book Answers “Why?” and “How To?”

I congratulate Bob Wells for his practical, approachable book, How to Live in a Car, Van or RV.

At a time when van life is sweeping America as well as other parts of the world, the author presents how-to advice for those who want to live on the road. From where to park to how to install electrical power, Bob Wells’ narrative is straightforward. He covers philosophical and financial issues and van lovers will especially be drawn to the book for its practical information. He discusses life in cars and RVs, but the focus is on van life.

I prefer the comforts of my small travel trailer, but I enjoyed Wells’ story and could relate to many of the issues he covers, except, thankfully, weathering two divorces. He has gained fame through his popular YouTube channel, CheapRVLiving. Wells admits making many mistakes and taking risks he doesn’t recommend during his years living in vans.

In the past year or so, I have read three other books with the living-in-a-vehicle theme. Here are links to two of my reviews:

Walden on Wheels, by Ken Ilgunas; and Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder. I did not review Living in an RV, by Alyssa Padgett, but I recommend all three books as well as Bob Wells’ offering, which was published in 2012.

Nomadland: Read the Book, See the Movie

If you haven’t read Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century, I urge you to read it before seeing the film.

Director ChloĆ© Zhao’s acclaimed adaptation of the non-fiction book is due for theatrical release in February. No word yet on where it will be streaming. It has swept awards at several film festivals and is creating Oscars buzz. Frances McDormand plays a woman in her 60s who loses everything in the Great Recession, then travels the West in her van, working various jobs.

Click here to see my review. One of my favorite books of the year.

Nomadland: Moving Tales of Survival

In an era of expensive tiny homes, giant motor homes, and slide-outs that extend from every side of RVs, an American subculture on wheels follows good weather and seasonal work, out of necessity. The itinerants live in rustic, converted vans and RVs of all sizes, moving from campground to campground. Luxurious RVs may surround their modest homes, but they represent a life that couldn’t be farther away.

As camp hosts, they clean bathrooms and quiet rowdy campers. They work in Amazon warehouses and fill orders from an America unaware how much effort (and injury) go into millions of deliveries. Some move their rigs from street to street, hoping to avoid attention and eviction.

New York Times journalist Jessica Bruder drives Halen, her camper van, for part of a three-year journey as she follows a lifestyle that is invisible to many. In Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century, she tells the story of Linda, who supplements her small Social Security check and dreams of one day owning land and a modest home. Like others chronicled in Nomadland, Linda’s story will tug at your heart and keep you turning the pages of this compelling book.