Find your next favorite audiobook

Become a member today and listen free for 30 days
Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Written by Ken Ilgunas

Narrated by Nick Podehl


Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Written by Ken Ilgunas

Narrated by Nick Podehl

ratings:
4.5/5 (26 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Released:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9781469283678
Format:
Audiobook

Description

The story of a student who went to extraordinary lengths - including living in a van on a campus parking lot - to complete his education without sacrificing his financial future. In a frank and self-deprecating voice, memoirist Ken Ilgunas writes about the existential terror of graduating from college with $32,000 in student debt. Inspired by Thoreau, Ilgunas set himself a mission: get out of debt as soon as humanly possible. To that end, he undertook an extraordinary 3-year transcontinental journey, driving to Alaska and taking a series of low-paying jobs.

Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled himself in a master's program at Duke University, using the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline, his new "dorm." The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be an adventure, a challenge, a test of his limits. It would be, in short, his "Walden on Wheels."

Ilgunas went public in a widely read Salon article that spoke to the urgent student debt situation in America today. He offers a funny and pointed perspective on the dilemma faced by those who seek an education but who also want to, as Thoreau wrote, "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."
Released:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9781469283678
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Ken Ilgunas (1983-) was born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in Niagara Falls, NY. He's worked as an elementary school tutor, an Alaskan tour guide, and a backcountry ranger at the Gates of the Arctic National Park. He's hitchhiked 10,000 miles across North America, canoed across Ontario, Canada in a birch bark canoe, and hiked the length of the controversial 1,700-mile Keystone XL Pipeline. For two years, he lived in his van at Duke University so he could receive his graduate degree in liberal studies debt-free. Ilgunas currently lives on a farm in Stokes County, North Carolina.


Related to Walden on Wheels

Related Audiobooks

Reviews

What people think about Walden on Wheels

4.5
26 ratings / 6 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    I was drawn to Walden on Wheels by its premise that a young man could gain from living a solitary life in his van while pauing back all of his student loans as quickly as possible in order to both minimize interest accruals and get on with the rest of his life. And for the most part, the book delivers on the promise of its cover. However, I was disappointed by the condescending manner and overall tone of the last twenty percent or so of the book as the author pontificated about the gloriousness of living the simple life compared to the vulgarness of a life in the suburbs. And don't even think about going to work on Wall Street or for an oil or gas company because the author holds that very thought in contempt - along with you for even considering it. I grew weary of all the little jabs at Republicans, the oil and gas industry, and Fox News and soon found myself questioning the wisdom of anyone as close-minded as Ken Ilgunas appears to be...close-minded, and as this quote from the book rightfully criticizing Henry David Thoreau indicates, he doesn't have a whole lot of self-awareness either:"While I understand Thoreau, in his writings I began to notice an unflinching unreasonableness, a rigid ideology, a foolish dogma."Talk about the pot calling the kettle black...
  • (5/5)
    Enjoyable listen. Generally well laid out with some life lessons he learnt along the way.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A book about real freedom from within and not just the trend of van life.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Why did I read it?I have a significant amount of unsecured debt which I have been paying off for years, and I am contemplating returning to university to change my life, so this book definitely caught my eye, having read the synopsis.What’s it about? Ken Ilgunas recounts his adventures as he seeks to pay off his undergraduate debts in the first part of the book, and, then how he secured his post-graduate degree at Duke University without going into further debt.What did I think?Though this book was what I thought it might be from the synopsis - it provided food for thought as I contemplated my own future, and how I might manage financially - somehow it missed it's mark with me. I certainly know I could not undertake the route the author chose to become, and remain debt free.Ken Ilgunas worked in some awful places to pay off his original debt, before living in a van, parked up on campus, while undertaking post-graduate study Duke university. The path he chose to travel is definitely different from the norm including working in a remote outpost in Alaska, working as part of an environmental group both of which included room and board, so any earnings could be utilised to pay off his debt quicker. Ken then undertook a journey with a group seeking to replicate the experience of the Canadian voyageurs of the 18th and 19th centuries before undertaking his post-graduate degree without going back into debt.Although there are some interesting anecdotes about his adventures while reducing his debt, and he provides details of his budgets, overall, something is lacking in the telling of Ken Ilgunas's tale; I’m not sure I know what though. In some sections of the book I felt I was being preached at about how bad it is to join corporate America, or the rat race; in other places, the narration became somewhat wordy in describing feelings about places and/or people. As much as the author seemed to go into detail, I’m not sure I really know just how he did cope on a day-to-day level under the strict, self-imposed budgetary, and living conditions. Throughout this recollection, I always had the feeling something was missing.Ken Ilgunas eschews the normal path people take through life, consisting of (in his opinion) getting and education, working in a job they may dislike to paying off the debts they accrue getting that education, getting a mortgage, continuing to work in a job they dislike to pay off the mortgage and other consumer debts, then retiring without having really lived. It’s a point-of-view held by many who seek the simpler life, but others may disagree believing it is more about “dropping out” of humanity, something which Ken’s mother hints at in the book.The narration by Nick Podehl was quite well done, though I did query the pronunciation of some words, but this might have been accounted for by the difference between American and UK English. The audio edition I downloaded from Audible was crisp, clear and without any faults.Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom is an interesting read about one young man’s journey to find his place in the world, and getting out from the under burden of being in debt, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.Would I recommend it? Yes, I would recommend it to any person contemplating university and taking on student loans. Read this first.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Finally I have finished. I have always wanted to read this book since I read the article on his Van- Dwelling. I was one of those he speaks of at the end who sent a facebook friend request and have since kept up, somewhat, with his recent travels. I even purchased his book for the kindle and let him know when goodreads placed his book on a must read for graduates list. I love his book, I love the way he has lived his life. While I would love to live a life like his, for medical and other reasons I cannot. I love my Career as a Librarian and I love raising my 2 kids in our small home in Clayton,NC. But I also enjoy traveling. I don't think I will ever attempt to climb a physical mountain on a whim. But I enjoy traveling none-the-less. Ken is an amazing person who has ideals I agree with and can relate to. He also has the knack of explaining things in simple terms for those who do not have the educational background and home upbringing many of our government officials and legal professionals have. These are among many of the reason I adore Ken and his traveling ways. I strongly suggest this and all his books to anyone willing to listen/read.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    While I didn't necessarily appreciate some of the intimate details Ilgunas felt inspired to share - especially when it came to his genitalia and other regions which are generally covered. What I really liked about this book was the journey of the author as he "came of age". Of course the perspective of the memoir is from his vantage point at the end, so maybe I shouldn't be so lenient on him, but it did seem - particularly after he got into grad school - that his narrative style at least got a bit less judgmental and egotistical. He isn't perfect, but who is?

    Over all 4 stars. Down with the system! I don't know. I am certainly biased in Ilgunas' favor.

    1 person found this helpful