August 2, 2017


Stick your finger in the map - it smells of the open road. 

Do you yearn for a life on the road? Or a simple life, anywhere? Does thinking about the 9 to 5 make you nauseous? Need more than a mainstream life of conformist mediocrity?

NBA reader Hagan is feeling the disappointment of mainstream life. Like many of us, he is not feeling spiritually enlightened by materialism and the work-shop-work cycle. He left a comment on our post called Rubber Tramping.

Hagan said,

I am feeling so conflicted. I have been spending the last almost 2 years, waiting, pacing back and forth. Figuratively speaking; I've been banging my head against a wall because I don't want to live a 9 to 5 lifestyle. 
I feel stuck. I feel decompressed and restricted. I am a decently talented artist/ musician who has lived the same place in Colorado my entire almost 23 years of life. And I don't think I will be able to just.. be. 
Ever. Not like this. 
I'm asking you all for advice. How do you make a living on the road.? I've talked with good friends about this topic and a lot say spanging, wire wraps, jewellery, all the way to selling dollar beers, and grilled cheeses at music festivals. 
Please give me insight if you could as I am in need of all the advice I can find.

I responded,

I have been thinking about your comment since you left it here. I, and many people that visit this blog, know how you feel. Your need for freedom is palpable, and it is serious. 
You must act. 
I don't know about making a living on the road, having never had to do it before. But I do know a bit about living with as little as possible so I can be as free as possible, both on the road, and off. 
Cut your expenses, and make the life you envision happen. It will be hard, and at times scary. But it absolutely can be done. And should be done. A life of conformist mediocrity is a hard row to hoe as well, so you might as well be free. 
Be free. Do whatever it takes. That is my only advise. And let us know how it goes.

That doesn't seem like much help to this young, suffering soul, but it is a complicated situation. Pretty much everything in our way of life is meant to stifle freedom, not augment it. You will work for us. You will give us your hard earned cash in exchange for trinkets and distractions.

Obey. Conform. Wanting a simpler life and more freedom seems like a natural reaction to an un-natural exploitive system. I think Hagan is on the right path.

My own quest for simplicity has been a decades long adventure. But I do remember feeling similar feelings when I was 23. There has never been a time in my life that I envisioned doing the same things as everyone else around me. I wanted to find, and take, the road less traveled.

Regular life is not for everyone. Maybe a life such as what we have for the masses today is not for anyone. Now seems like a great time to explore alternatives, on the road, or off the road. Anywhere.

Rubber tramping. Leather tramping. Tramping. Being free. Being.

Do you have any advice for Hagan, or others (young or old) looking to live more simply and with greater freedom? How does one get off the 9 to 5? How do we break free of the chains of mainstream culture and the consumer capitalist system?


  1. Hello Hagan,

    I really feel for you and wish I had a guaranteed plan for you. I met a man who was a builder by trade and he was able to live in his camper van and travel to places he liked and pick up work. So if there's a trade you like, perhaps you could do your training with a view to then working on the road, when, where and how much you like. This man said that because his living expenses were so low living in the van he could work a more reasonable amount of hours. He had plans to live in some lovely, tropical beach-side towns.

    Another possibility is Woofers - willing workers on organic farms. If you google it you will find plenty of information. A third possibility is to become a house and pet sitter (assuming you enjoy animals). I met some Canadian women at my local dog park here in Australia who told me they spent 6 months of every year living in various parts of Australia house-minding.

    As Gregg often says, minimising your consumption is a good first step to freedom. Good luck :-)


  2. Hi Hagan,

    Check out YouTube for help on this.

    CheapRVLiving is a channel that would be very helpful to you. The fellow who makes the videos has been living in his van for 15 years. He has lots of tips of living rent free and having a job as a nomad. Most apply to USA only, but are good tips. Search "Jobs for Nomads"

    A Canadian couple who lives in their van runs the YouTube channel Exploring Alternatives. Well worth checking out.

    I do not have any connection or relationship with the people running the above channels, I just like them.

    Good luck,

  3. Hi Hagan- Two books come to mind that you might want to read. Radical Simplicity by Dan Price and Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas. Dan really lived life down to the bare essentials, but at least it was on his own terms. I'm not sure if he is still living that way, but it was interesting. Ken lived in his van while in college, but there's loads of good ideas there to be gleaned. Anything by Ken might interest you, I think you'll find he is a kindred spirit.

    My advice to you and everyone who will listen is: You always think there will be time in the future to do the things you long to do. Sometimes that's not the case and time seems to pass all to quickly. Start living toward that dream now!

    All the Best, Marla

    1. Both fantastic books. Reading is so inspirational.

  4. Hi Hagan, First, welcome. Welcome to Not Buying Anything. I hope you find what I have found here, a warm supportive community of folks who are with you on the journey to a more simple life no matter where you are in the process. You are in a good place, though I hear your conflict and despair. It resonates deeply in me too.

    Parts of my transition have been easy, parts have been difficult. I have a lot of conflict too. Saying NO to consumerism as much as possible, NO to mainstream and the work-shop-work cycle takes a lot of grit and gumption. (Words that were added to my vocabulary after reading, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance")

    I love everyone's suggestions. A couple blogs to check out are Rob Greenfield and Mrs. Frugalwoods. I loved their stories as to how they decided to make radical changes in their lives and how they went about achieving a more simple life. So read their "about me" sections to hear their stories.

    There are thousands of blogs, FB pages, You Tubes, etc where people share how they made the transition to a more simple life. My rule for who I follow, if they are using their blogs, etc to make money, sell me stuff to teach me how to live simply and less consumeristically (if that is a word) then I usually do not follow them. And absolutely stay connected here on NBA.

    There are many different takes on what simple living means and how to live on the road and every variation you can imagine. Maybe a place to start is to learn some of the options. From that find out what you want. Find the people you resonate with (thousands are here on the internet) and start doing some of what they do as you can. It takes time to make a monumental change like this.

    Marla, I've had "Walden on Wheels" on my mind for a while now. Nice to see you refer it.

    I'm realizing more and more, sometimes our problem is we think too much. We get an idea, we hesitate and think our way out of it. When really, with many things it is in our best interest to leap on it when we hear our inner voice that says, I don't want to live this way anymore. I want to live this way (fill in the blank). The moment to act on it is NOW. Stand up immediately when you hear your inner voice and take a step. Any step in the direction you want to go. Write it on a list. Anything. Just ACT. Start planning how you are going move in the direction you want to go. It can be tiny steps like simply stop buying something you don't need. (I'm getting this from Mel Robbins You Tube videos. It's called the 5 Second Rule. It's been powerful at getting me to act on what I want to do instead of just thinking about it. M. Robbins is not a simple living person, she is all about making a ton of money which I don't value at all. But she has a very simple way of making us ACT and reach goals we want. Don't buy her book. You can get all you need by watching a few You Tubes.)

    I wish you the very best. There are a great deal of people who've gone before you and can be with you as you make your way doing what you want to do. I'd love to keep hearing from you on NBA. Gregg and Linda are amazing human beings who have told their story openly on this blog for years. Lots of neat people check in here. They have followers from all over the world. It's my favorite blog and has been for years. Dare to live your dream.

  5. Hi Hagan,

    You can certainly feel very pressured to conform to a standard, low-risk 9 to 5 life. The problem comes when its not just 'society' in general pressuring you to continue that life, but also when its your friends and family members pushing you individually. I think you have to try and remember that most people are so indoctrinated with the consumer, capitalist thinking, through no real fault of their own, that you have to take their advice about how to live your life with a hefty grain of salt.
    I would suggest if you honestly feel so stuck and restricted, you probably know that you need to break free and you probably already know what you need to do. You may however need some support from a community that thinks more like you, and I for one am happy to give it! Play music! Make art! Work as little as you need to pay the basic bills but no more. Our society needs artists like you far more than it needs so called 'productive' members of society in banks, big business, call centres etc etc etc
    Good luck!

  6. Now that I have the benefit of hindsight I have to say that you're better off spending your younger years working hard and being stuck. It's part of growth. Think how lucky you are that you're realizing at 23 what you don't want and you're ready to do something about it instead of hitting your 40's and realizing you wasted all those years. Where you don't want to be is an old guy without a paid for house or passive income, subsisting on welfare/food stamps. I can tell you that working hard, learning to invest, being frugal and saving when I was young has landed me in the comfortable position of older age without debt and enough money to live comfortably. I couldn't do that now if I'd decided to drop out and live a fringe existence (and you can be old for decades and will need comforts - when you're young you don't need them so much).

    Even though you're stuck you can still do some cheap traveling on weekends and vacations, produce your art on the weekends and see if you can actually sell any of it for a dollar amount that would enable you to live off of it (and hope that there continue to be enough consumers out there willing to spend money on art), get outside into fresh air and walk and if you're not already living like a frugal monk and squirreling away every penny you can then hop to it.

    I'm still conflicted and I often feel stuck (unless you're living a solitary life without any responsibility or other humans to take into consideration you'll always feel a bit stuck, a little overwhelmed and conflicted. It's part of life). Also remember when you're watching Youtube about people who live in their campers that the majority did not start that lifestyle by choice until they were older or didn't have a choice because of divorce, bankruptcy etc.

    There are no short cuts. You have to pay your dues in order to be free and that means work hard, save money and then drop out. If you don't you may be homeless at which point you'll be sitting on your cardboard box wishing for the days when you thought just being was so awful and that a 9-5 life was like prison. Good luck. Tough it out.

  7. Hello again, Hagan,

    I had a few further thoughts about your situation. Everybody's idea of freedom is different. Mine is to have my own home and land mortgage-free (and I am getting closer everyday to realising this dream) and to be as self-sufficient as possible. To me this is freedom - it means I can work as little as possible for money, and work basically full-time for myself and my family, producing food, harvesting rainwater and solar energy, making and repairing anything I need. It means I am no longer a wage slave.

    Whilst the idea of RV-ing from a young age might look attractive, I think most people who do it have worked and saved first. I completely agree with Deva's sentiments that you don't want to end of with nothing behind you and on welfare - that is not freedom, it's another form of slavery because it reduces your choices about where and how you live your life.

    I would also recommend the Frugalwoods blog - they became debt-free home owners at a very young age, and you might find it inspiring. You are lucky to have some talents to share with the world and should do that - the trick is to try and find a balance between working and living. No one gets a free ride! In my own country, the cost of housing is rising exponentially, as is the cost of energy. My biggest regret is not paying off my first home sooner. As well, I expect there will be no pension by the time I am at retirement age as there are just too many of us staying alive!

    Are you working at the moment Hagan? I am wondering if you are already making money with your music?


  8. I would like to add that it is often easy, especially when you are young, to think that only way to move forward is by making big changes. There are times when small changes can be very effective. While my wife and I have rarely made big changes, our life today is so much different than what I would predicted 35 years ago. I know that sounds like a long time, but many wonderful things happened along the way to the life we know live.

    A second thought is that what you do to make money does not have define who you are. I have done a number of different things for a living, but they have not played a big part in defining who I am. That is more defined by what I am passionate about and do for myself and others, no payment necessary.

  9. It is good to realize this at 23. It is important to stay out of debt and not collect things. I hope you can be patient and have a plan. You live in a very beautiful state. Try to enjoy the places near you. Remember you take yourself wherever you go. If you are happy with yourself, it doesn't matter where you are. The other thing I would stress is relationships with other people. These build over time and are more difficult to develop on the road. Build your skill set. Build a network of people. Look for viable options. Good luck.

  10. Thank you to everyone that has responded to this post. Such awesome answers, filled with wisdom, compassion, and understanding. You all give me hope in a time that often appears hope-less. It is my wish that Hagan see all of this, and be changed by it, as I have been.

    I am reminded that one of my "wish list" projects for this blog is a page of simple living resources. Many good ones have been mentioned in this comment thread, and would be included in such a page. Watch for this addition to our project here at Not Buying Anything, and thanks again for your contributions.

  11. I just finished reading this book. It was very enlightening and interesting. Vanabode: travel and live forever on $20 a day: Jason Odom ...


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