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.

A Pipe Dream Becomes This Walker’s Reality

Author/adventurer Ken Ilgunas writes about testing his limits and then living within his means in his compelling first book, Walden on Wheels, in which he documents a most unusual path through graduate school.

A little older (29), but equally determined to step outside the ordinary, Ilgunas takes on what he calls an “epic, never-done-before, and sort-of-illegal hike across the heartland.”

As I read Trespassing Across America, I was drawn into his world as he sets out to walk 1,700 miles on or near the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. He confronts harrowing storms, stampeding cattle, gun-toting ranchers, suspicious law enforcement officers, and a host of physical challenges.

In the end, he was left with (no spoilers here) experiences and impressions that touch him deeply. I was left encouraged about the potential of the human spirit.

(Click on the cover to see the book on Amazon.)

This Road to Freedom Will Captivate You

Freedom. Henry David Thoreau wrote about it in Walden. Cheryl Strayed experienced it as she walked the Pacific Crest Trail. Jon Krakauer wrote how a young man encountered it in Into the Wild.

When Ken Ilgunas graduated the University of Buffalo with $32,000 in debt, he feared a life without the freedom he valued more than anything. Defying his mother and conventional wisdom, he endured hardships and life-threatening adventures in Alaska as he worked jobs few would consider. He knew that difficult times, mixed with astounding experiences, would build memories he would treasure forever. Through it all, he penny-pinched himself debt-free.

Now what? he thought. His answer may seem out of character for readers of Walden on Wheels. I will reserve it for your discovery when you read Ilgunas’ superb book, which often made me recall the words of Thoreau, Strayed, and Krakauer.

Ken Ilgunas is as extraordinary a writer as he is an impressive person. His book is an adventure, but so much more. It will tug at your heart, tickle your funny bone, and spark thoughts like “I wish I could do that!”