Sunday, November 27, 2016

You are the most important component

This post is aimed at those for whom living in a vehicle is one of several options rather than the only option. It's for those with time and resources to make considered decisions, and the freedom to modify them.

Vandweller and nomad forums are filled with questions about vehicles, how to fix them up, how to have electricity, what to do about heating, cooling, cooking, cleaning, beds, toilets and on and on. Those things are important, but I think they get in the way of the most fundamental question:
Am I the type of person who could be happy and successful doing this?
Given the best equipment and a sufficient source of money, some nomads will still be miserable. Some will fail. Because a vehicle can only transport and house you. It can't repair you. Living in a vehicle can change you, but it's you who's the agent of change, not the van, not the solar panel, not the composting toilet...

So, what type of person has a better chance of finding nomadic nirvana? I've assembled a list of attributes that, from my experience, are shared by happy, successful nomads. I think a lot of the attributes also apply to the building-dwelling life. (No doubt there are more things that could be on my list. Feel free to add your own.) Rate yourself on a no–somewhat–yes scale. Obviously, more yeses are better.
I have an independent nature 
I'm self-sufficient 
I'm self-directed and self-motivated 
I always have a back-up plan 
I'm not tied to a location 
I'm not tied to a culture 
I'm not tied to the past 
I look forward to new experiences 
I can entertain myself 
I'm curious 
I'm alert 
I like solving problems and have a good track record at it 
I'm good at finding answers 
I have a good bullshit detector 
I adapt easily to changing situations 
I'm usually calm 
I can distinguish between the essential and inconsequential 
I'm comfortable with tools 
I'm not afraid of getting dirty 
I know generally how vehicles and gizmos work 
I can change a flat tire 
I know what to do in emergencies 
I enjoy camping 
I have an adequate sense of direction 
I like myself
If you didn't score many yeses or somewhats, you might want to think more deeply about this whole nomad thing. You might do some work on yourself. Is your temperament changeable? Your personality? Some psychology professionals say yes. Some of the skills on the list can be learned. Knowledge can be gained.

My intent isn't to talk a lot of people out of their nomad plans. It's to prepare them. I try not to say, "Hey gang! Come be a full time nomad! It's perfect for everyone!" Because it isn't. I don't want to see frustrated, anxious, stumbling, unhappy campers. I don't want anyone to regret their decision. I don't want anyone to crash and burn. I want them to have the life that works great for them. For you.


  1. Love it! Was this a response to Simon of's post on my page, ?

  2. Health is another important component. As we age some of us simply can no longer do what needs to be done to be out on the road.

    Tied to a person is another one. I've always been pretty independent so I didn't realize just how much I would miss my husband when I took off for the winter without him.

  3. Most excellent analysis and presentation. Bob Wells is such a great advocate for the lifestyle but I think he should consider using this post as a guest blog. So many people ask on the CRVL forums how to know if it is right for them. You've really got a great checklist here.

  4. Even when you are the center of your thought, there are ways to add variety to responses. Using I at the beginning of a sentence is most tiring back-to-back, so instead of

    I used to play in a band but then I got a real job

    instead you can just swap the clauses around to keep your writing from going stale. This example could become

    Once I got a real job, playing in a band was too much of a hassle.

    Not only do you eliminate an I, but the sentence doesn't start with I and instead of using the basic verb play stuck to the in a band phrase, the second example has playing in a band as all one phrase. Variety tends to keep readers' interest longer than assembly-line thoughts.

  5. I used to live in a van, but then I got a real job.

    Once I got a real job, living in a van was too much of a hassle.

    1. Doesn't your employer get on your case for trolling on company time?

    2. "I" have a SSD award and the SSA only cares if "I" have a paid job so non-paid malicious hobbies are OK.

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