Jason Odom exemplifies the spirit and initiative of an American entrepreneur. Mr. Odom agreed to be interviewed by Grant Hall for the benefit of our website visitors and customers. Enjoy the interview.
James Clark King, LLC
Publisher, Privacy Crisis books
Grant Hall: Hello Jason. Thank you for this interview. I read your book, Vanabode and I love it! For those who may not be familiar with your book and the concept you write about, I’ll quote what you wrote on page one of the book. “Vanabode allows you to travel further, easier, cheaper, and for longer periods of time, than any other method of travel. I guarantee you will see more for less, day after day, week after week, and year after year, than you ever thought possible.” The subtitle says it all: “Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day.” It seems that anyone can enjoy the experience of traveling who is on a budget. How did you come up with the idea of seeing the country while living in a van as opposed to traveling the traditional way?
Jason Odom: I cover this topic very early in the book. To summarize I came up with this method by trying virtually every other method and finding them lacking in ways that prevented us from doing much of what we wanted to do while on the road. In the “Vanabode verses other living strategies” chapter I compare Vanaboding in a simple plain white van to travel in large RV’s, campers, travel trailers, backpacking, car camping, homelessness, boating, even living in a house. Each method has good and bad elements, but the Vanabode and accompanying strategies allow you to travel off grid (and secretly if you want to), for about $20 per person per day for food, gas and lodging. If you have more money and want to spend more money of course you can upgrade your experience by driving more miles, staying at more paid campgrounds, or eating more expensive meals.
Grant Hall: You wrote how you and your wife traveled and lived in a van-a very specific type of van as explained in Vanabode, and over the course of 17 years, your travel miles exceeded 700,000 miles. That’s a lot of driving! Do you feel that your living on the road so to speak and being a perpetual traveler enhanced your views of the world and the country and benefited your entrepreneurial skills? Explain how you changed your business views due to these experiences. What other business experiences besides writing are you involved in now or have experience in as a founder or manager?
Jason Odom: Hating the concept of working 12 months to get permission from my employer to have a one-week vacation every year drove me to find a better way. I like to travel a LOT and how can you afford to WITHOUT a job? Even worse, how can you travel a lot WITH a job? Vanabode was the only way I could figure out how to do it. To clarify on the miles: my wife and I have road traveled over 700,000 miles in 21+ years of marriage in everything from a Volkswagen fox station wagon to an 18 wheeled tractor trailer (we drove together for two years straight through nearly every state delivering flowers out of Florida). We road tripped and camped from cars, trucks, vans, class C RV’s, class A RV’s, and of course the big rig.
Grant Hall: While the consensus view might be that living in a van sacrifices comfort, your book, Vanabode explains how to maximum the potential of living accommodations in a van, and offers the idea of a romantic adventure while providing the freedom of owning one’s time-not selling their time for money earned from wages or a salary. At the same time, you explain how to work while on the road to meet expenses and make a living. Tell us about some of your job experiences during your travels.
Jason Odom: I saved enough money to travel on for many years and we did not work at all, except to build web pages and write the book. The legendary Henry David Thoreau talked about this subject. To paraphrase, instead of figuring out how to sell baskets (or anything else) to the lawyer (or anyone with their hand out) I INSTEAD figured out how to NOT NEED TO SELL BASKETS AT ALL. Vanabode makes for the least possible safe long-term travel experience so we did not have to work much. Some years we would rent a house or “buy” one and work jobs for a year or two or three. Once, in between our travels I worked for NASA for nearly five years. You should have seen the faces of my coworkers living in mansions along the Indian River when they heard we lived in a motorhome. When they asked why on earth would I do that with the money I was making, I answered, “Because I can. Plus when I leave here in a few years I won’t be back for a very long time.” Since then we have lived from the income from my websites (all of them since folded into the main Vanabode website). The money I saved while camping when others were paying mortgages allowed me to pay cash for a house (which we rent out when we’re on the road). There are dozens of other methods of earning money for frugal travel outlined in the Make Money page at http://www.vanabode.com/camp/quit-your-job-make-money.htm
Grant Hall: Please discuss the importance of having one’s spouse or partner on board with the idea of the vanabode experience in order to succeed at this lifestyle.
Jason Odom: Regardless of your pursuits if your spouse is not enjoying themselves while on your adventure or plan the relationship will suffer and fade. ALL parties in any venture must benefit in order to have a long-term solution. My wife identified the things she wanted in order to be happy which included a hot shower, healthy food, safe sleep, fun hiking, photography and TIME to herself. I figured out how she could have that on a micro budget and she said YES let’s go. I cannot possibly imagine a better traveling and living partner than my wife Kelly.
Grant Hall: It would seem that those who desire a lifestyle of privacy would like the idea of the vanabode experience. You are without a doubt an expert on how to live privately. Please elaborate on how your traveling lifestyle benefited your personal and business privacy or presented obstacles. For instance, did you “bank” on the road via ATM machines and was it beneficial or inconvenient to keep in contact with friends, associates, and loved ones?
Jason Odom: My privacy strategies have come exclusively from reading your books Grant. Those books helped me understand that you can travel the country without ever divulging your identity to anyone except a police officer using a Vanabode. I do not bank secretly, choosing instead to keep all my saved wealth within the confines of a single residential unit protected under Florida’s “castle law”. This provides very strong protection against seizure, though it is not private. Still I firmly believe if someone wants to be completely invisible today, they can, by combing the strategies you outline in your books with a Vanabode.
Grant Hall: You write about freedom in your book. In fact, the thesis and philosophy seems to be living as one wants to live rather than being a wage slave locked into a mortgage that eats up one’s time and money, not to mention the stresses of working for someone else while hoping to keep a job. Please comment on these points.
Jason Odom: For me one of the greatest points I make in the book is covered in the “We Never Own Anything” chapter. Spending your early years going to school to get a degree so you can spend the next thirty years working for people you don’t like in a job you don’t like so you can pay off school loans and buy an oversized drywall box to sleep in seems stupid to me. I encourage everyone to stop lazy thinking and knuckle down and ask the hard question. What do I want to do with my few years on this planet? Then figure out the shortest path to that activity. Vanaboding has given so many people their TIME back (their life). Not all of them travel like we do. Maybe you just want to sit on the river and fish all day, well you don’t need a big career or house in order to do that. Go FISH! Hundreds of people have written me about this subject and I published their stories and comments on Vanabode here – http://www.vanabode.com/vanabode-reviews.htm
Grant Hall: Are you continuing to live on the road as described in the book, Vanabode or do you do it part time?
Jason Odom: We were on the road about seven months in 2014, and six months in 2015. Now in 2017 we are hanging out in Florida in our house taking a small boat out weekly to explore the millions of acres of lakes, inlets, marinas, rivers, and springs around the state. Once I get this boating and fishing itch out of my system, we will head back out for an extensive 3 to 5 year dig in deep trip.
Grant Hall: The name, “Vanabode” is unique. Tell us about how you came up with that name or concept. Did you take a lot of time pondering it prior to settling on that name or term?
Jason Odom: I wanted a name that I could trademark and have protected somewhat on the Internet against copycats. VAN = the vehicle of course, and ABODE = a place of residence and thus the technical definition of a Vanabode = “To happily abide in a four wheeled box shaped vehicle providing transportation and housing.” By the way, as soon as I published Vanabode a dozen other authors copied my work and ideas and published books on the same platform at cheaper prices, which cost me money. Still Vanabode works, so I have no troubles despite the unfair competition from unscrupulous people.
Grant Hall: As a full time traveler, how did you handle receiving necessary mail and providing a permanent address when it was necessary to provide one?
Jason Odom: I cover that in the book in detail in the “Mail and State Residency” chapter but briefly: You can have a friend (or you can pay any number of companies) to receive your mail for you, then forward it to you using the General Delivery option at the post office closest to where you are traveling.
Grant Hall: Describe some of the stresses one incurs while traveling and living in a well equipped van as described in your book, Vanabode.
Jason Odom: Our biggest issue, and it’s not much of a problem really, is finding a comfortable place to sleep at night (park the van) that would not cause anyone else a problem. We rarely spend money on campgrounds. The reasons are listed in the book. In the country there is rarely a problem and usually requires nothing more than a five minute look. So that’s stress free. Up the East Coast, exploring big cities like Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, New York City, etc, and doing it on $20 a day, required a bit more planning. We employed the more advanced strategies outlined in Vanabode for staying for free. Details on that five-month trip can be found here with hundreds of photographs and an accompanying book – http://www.vanabode.com/travel/east-coast-road-trip.htm Bottom line, there’s almost no stress to this lifestyle, but you will spend a few minutes per day arranging free parking if you choose to explore the art galleries, museums, architecture, sporting venues, shopping districts, restaurants, tourist attractions, and the popular waterfront and downtown areas of big cities.
Grant Hall: On average how long would you live in one location?
Jason Odom: Sometimes as long as four years, if staying somewhere extraordinary like a National Park as long as a month, otherwise all trips and stay times are based on our interests and weather and we may play in one city all day, then drive 40 miles to spend the night, then play in a state park the next three days, then drive 30 miles to…”
Grant Hall: Please provide some ideas of how one can handle inquiries from anyone associated with law enforcement who might inquire about seeing a van parked overnight? Did this issue come up?
Jason Odom: In 21 years of travel we have had an officer knock on the door of the van only three times. Every time they ask for our drivers license, ask us what we are doing, and if we have weapons of drugs in the vehicle. My answer is always the same. No I do not have any weapons or drugs. We are tired, so we are sleeping here while we travel the United States Vanabode style. I show them my card or a copy of the book, they smile and sometimes they let us stay there and sometimes they ask us to move to a different parking place. I don’t consider three times out of thousands of nights out a problem. In fact I’m glad to know they are looking out for us.
Grant Hall: You have an affiliate program through Click Bank and their website is www.ClickBank.com, and anyone can sell the e-book through a website or blog by signing up, and this affiliate information is on your site at www.Vanabode.com. In fact, you offer a generous commission for selling it. Discuss your views on affiliate marketing and tell us about your experiences with this type of business both as one who offers products to affiliates and as one who is an affiliate for other producers of products.
Jason Odom: I feel creating an original authentic product that solves a problem and then rewarding others to sell it is the single best way to earn money without a job and allow for permanent travel. Everyone wins, the book buyer gets access to 20+ years of travel information, thousands of pictures, updates for life, and email access to me the author, while the affiliate selling my book gets a 55% commission and I keep the other 45% minus my transaction fees.
Grant Hall: Discuss your idea of “We Never Own Anything” as you write about on page 16 of Vanabode.
Jason Odom: That is one of my most important topics and provides a lot of value from within the book. In fact many people that have written me providing feedback on the book have said that this information provided the impetus for the biggest paradigm shift in their life. If you think you own your house or your car or your career or anything else, you don’t (I prove this in the book), and since you don’t own anything, why are you devoting so much of your most precious resource (your time) to it? If you are working at a job you hate so you can own something grab your own copy of Vanabode, and you’ll see why “You Never Own Anything”.
Grant Hall: Kindly, discuss anything you want readers, potential book customers, affiliates, or soon to be affiliates to know about your book or books.
Jason Odom: For those that cannot find a way to reclaim time for themselves, Vanabode provides the fastest easiest most enjoyable way to own your own life. This page provides information for those wishing to earn a 55% commission promoting Vanabode – http://www.vanabode.com/travel-affiliate.htm
Grant Hall: Please provide any information and links to your website you believe we should know about. Include any new products you want us to know about.
Jason Odom: This main page has links to thousands of pictures of our travels and location information – http://www.vanabode.com/travel/destinations.htm
This page covers my life prior to Vanabode using an RV and how that travel style works – http://www.vanabode.com/rv/index.htm
I’ll probably release a fourth edition of the book soon (all buyers get free updates for life), which will contain additional information about using alternative vehicles to travel affordably.
Grant Hall: You may add anything you choose that you believe would benefit readers of this interview.
Jason Odom: Vanabode is designed to eliminate obstacles to travel, but if you don’t want to travel you can use the principles and a Vanabode to instead lower your living expenses for any purpose. Vanabode is the original Tiny House. Vanabode will allow you to do WHATEVER it is you want to do, locally, internationally, in one spot or on the road for as long as you wish.
Grant Hall: THANKS, Jason. I appreciate you taking the time for the interview.
Jason Odom: I appreciate the opportunity to help. I have enjoyed your beneficial books as well and reread them every couple years.