I just read a unique and very interesting ebook called Vanabode: Happily Camp, Travel, And Live Forever On $20 A Day.
Vanabode is a term coined by the author, Jason Odom, which he defines as “to happily abide in a four wheeled box shaped vehicle providing transportation and housing.”
This is “van camping” taken to a whole new level. The idea is that with the right strategies you can live well in a van, eliminating your housing expenses entirely and allowing you to travel indefinitely while spending very little.
Now, you may not want to sell your house, quit your job and live in a van full time. But you’ll still find lots of practical information to help you take longer trips, see more, and do it more cheaply and in greater comfort than ever before.
As he puts it, “Vanaboding is about traveling further, easier and cheaper for longer periods of time than any other method of travel.”
This appealed to me right away because I’ve often dreamed of being able to take an extended, months-long vacation to travel around the United States and visit many of the National Parks and other amazing wilderness areas in this country.
The information in Vanabode makes that dream much more “do-able”. In fact, my wife and I are already making plans to live that dream using the author’s strategies.
What’s In The Book
Vanabode begins with an explanation of what Vanaboding is and why it is superior to any other form of living or traveling.
Here’s how the author describes the lifestyle:
“When Vanaboding you will sleep in your own bed just like you do at your house. You can have a hot shower or bath every day. You will be able to afford to eat out at new and exciting restaurants every day because you won’t be blowing money on much else.
You can cook hot meals on the road made from the freshest ingredients, organic fruits, vegetable, and from produce stands around the country.”
Vanaboding is contrasted with the typical American lifestyle which is called “work to buy then die.”
“To Vanabode is to be on an adventure without much sacrifice. You can have all the essentials that make a life enjoyable: excellent food, laughter, fun, big romantic adventures, healthy sex, protection from the weather, and a good night’s sleep at very little cost.”
Vanaboding is contrasted with other forms of travel and living: air, car, and hotel travel; motor homes and RVs; backpacking; owning a home; boats; car camping; and even being homeless.
The author articulates a philosophy of minimalist travel and living which minimizes expenses and responsibilities, while maximizing freedom, fun and adventure.
He emphasizes simplicity — carefully thinking through what is truly necessary and eliminating what is not in order to stay free, unencumbered and happy.
He recommends a plain white cargo van as the best choice of vehicle for travel and living. It is large enough to sleep comfortably and store the essential equipment, while small enough to maneuver through crowded city streets and even take off-road.
Using a plain white van assures that you will not attract attention to yourself when staying overnight in parking lots or on city streets. You can find many places to sleep for free without any trouble this way.
Careful attention is given to the “essentials of a great life”:
- Excellent food
- Good sleep
- Good personal hygiene
- Healthy sex
Each of these elements depends on the others and all are important to enjoy life on the road to the fullest.
The following chapters address many other practical concerns:
- Camping in National Parks
- Safety, weapons and security
- Getting out of debt
- Making money while traveling
- Inventory of equipment
There’s also information on playing poker and links to related information such as free camping locations and income opportunities.
What I Liked
I really enjoyed this book. Jason has taken a dream of mine — extended travel to U.S. wilderness areas — and turned it into a reality, sharing the results of his experience with us.
I appreciate the fact that Vanabode is not a book of theory; this is practical, real-world information. Jason and his wife have lived this way, refining their techniques over many years. They’ve made their share of mistakes, learning from them and sharing the results for your benefit.
The information in Vanabode is very detailed and thorough, with lots of little tips that you might not normally think of. Multiple options are presented to give you flexibility in adapting the strategies to your situation and preferences.
This is THE manual for anyone who wants to live a lifestyle of comfortable, unhindered travel and adventure.
For those who aren’t willing to go all the way but just want more from their vacations, the information in this book is very relevant and helpful. Implementing just some of the time and money-saving strategies will more than pay for the cost of the book.
What I Didn’t Like
The book does get a little wordy and repetitive at times. Some of it could have been condensed without losing any essential information.
I wonder, too, whether the book romanticizes the Vanabode lifestyle a little too much. I don’t doubt that it is very fun and exciting, and I’m eager to try it myself; but Jason sometimes speaks as if this is the highest, most fulfilling way to live and every other lifestyle is inferior and oppressive.
Also, it seems to me that something is missing from his “essentials of a great life”: meaningful work and service to others.
It’s not that the Vanabode lifestyle necessarily excludes these things; just that they are not specifically mentioned as an important part of a fulfilling life, which I believe they are.
The information given is mostly geared toward a party of two; families with children will face additional challenges in adopting this lifestyle. There are a few helpful suggestions, but no real detailed plan.
I guess I’ll have to write that chapter. 🙂 (We have a 1 year old.)
The Bottom Line
All in all, I think Vanabode is a great book with lots of unique and very practical information for anyone who wants to travel more, with greater comfort, and do it more cheaply.