Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Know thyself

A homesteading friend was outfitting a one-room cabin. She imagined her small abode being heated by a wood stove and even found a previously owned one. Three hundred pounds of cast iron and steel. But the cabin’s interior walls needed to be finished before the stove could be installed.

Meanwhile, she observed her wood-stove-using neighbor and started rethinking her heating plans. “A wood stove is a lot of work. She’s out there every day splitting wood! I realized I’m not that type of person. You really need to be honest about yourself when you’re making decisions like that.”

So, if you’re on the cusp of diving into the nomadic life, you might pause and reflect. Has the glamorous allure of #vanlife obscured some of the realities? Are you really that type of person?

What type of person is that? (If you have to ask, then maybe you’re not.) Here’s an excerpt from a November 2016 post:

...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. I answered yes to most of those including the one about what to do in emergencies--call for help! I always had a roadside assistance plan when RVing for those potential vehicle problems I could not solve on my own. I only had to call them once in six years but I was sure glad to have them that one time.

  2. Very well done blog entry. You are the person who I went to for van life answers a couple of years ago. The answer for me was to keep on what I have been doing for the last 13 years in my trailer.

  3. Heating with wood is very satisfying. I’ve done it for over ten years. It isn’t necessary to process wood every day, but it is necessary to process enough seasoned, split wood for each winter. I stay three years ahead, but as Al often says, there’s more than one way to do it.

  4. You have provided a great service!

  5. You're not going to have a "How to Vanlife" best seller with that attitude! LOL

  6. Someone told me that you chop wood to heat yourself now and your home later.

  7. I don't think transitioning into living in a van will be real tough for me...I've been living on an anchored 22-foot sailboat off of Anna Maria Island, FL (a bit south of Tampa Bay) for the last 3 years...

    1. There are a lot of similarities between the lifestyles and those who live them.