Walden on Wheels (sort of review)

Three themes:

1. Relationships are important

2. Education is expensive

3. Live cheaply



Ken Ilgunas, author of Walden on Wheels, lived out of a van during the two years he went to graduate school for a Masters in Liberal Arts at Duke University. He did this to foregoe expensive living costs. But the thing he missed the most was not having any friends. He didn’t want to risk his chances of getting caught living out of his van by telling a friend. Furthermore, Ilgunas said he wished he had accepted help from his family. He wanted to do things on his own, but at the end of it all, he regretted it.


Ilgunas described Thoreau as his “man-crush” and guide. He describes how after Thoreau graduated from Harvard University and went to live in his cabin near Walden Pond, Thoreau also regretted a few things about his college experience.

“‘The student who wishes for a shelter,’ he said in retrospect, ‘can obtain one for a lifetime at an expense not greater than the rent which he now pays annually.’ It made perfect sense. I started to wonder why students-like myself-had put up with expensive food and housing when we could have devised more affordable, though rustic, living situations of our own.”



Ilgunas roamed through Alaska for several years before enrolling at Duke University. On his adventure, he wrote, “I knew I’d leave Coldfoot with having learned one thing of inestimable value: When we eliminate the high cost of living, we can amaze ourselves with how much we’re capable of saving.”

Living out of his van, Ilgunas certainly lived cheaply. He wanted to be free of debt. He wanted it so bad that he would sacrifice personal relationships.

Ilgunas highlighted these points for me. It seems like everything is coming full circle after AmeriCorps and Guatemala. God speaks… Relationships are important. Don’t be materialistic, yet it’s okay to spend money on things that matter. If you are going to go to graduate school one day, look for a graduate program with financial assistance.


One thought on “Walden on Wheels (sort of review)

  1. Pingback: These are a few of my favorite things: #39(Walden on Wheels : On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas) | Ritu's Weblog

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