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


In this memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a 3-year transcontinental journey, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York.

Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled in a master’s program at Duke University, determined not to borrow against his future again. He used the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline van and outfitted it as his new dorm. The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be more than an adventure—it would be his very own Walden on Wheels.

Freezing winters, near-discovery by campus police, and the constant challenge of living in a confined space would test Ilgunas’s limits and resolve in the two years that followed. What had begun as a simple mission would become an enlightening and life-changing social experiment.

Title:Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:297 pages

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

  • Carmen
    Mar 02, 2014

    My goal was simple and straightforward: get the fuck out of debt as fast as humanly possible.This book was excellent. Ilgunas is funny and also asks some very important questions about life and civili...

  • Michael
    May 22, 2013

    Dylan asked, "How Does it Feel?" This guy tried to find the answer. I came looking for a story about a guy in the van down by the river (thanks NYT and LAT), but am enjoying getting there the long way...

  • Meghan Gaynor
    Jun 04, 2013

    I wanted to like this book because I admire minimalist and naturalist lifestyles, and Ken has an interesting story to tell. That said, I grew frustrated with his condescension toward consumer culture,...

  • Joseph
    Jun 07, 2013

    I can agree with many of the ideas that drive this book: college has become far too expensive; life has become far too materialistic; education is still worth whatever we pay for it, as long as it is ...

  • Carrie Ann Lahain
    Sep 11, 2013

    I was really looking forward to reading this book. I have been a proponent of the Voluntary Simplicity movement since the early 1990s when I happened upon a book called YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Vick...

  • Happyreader
    Jul 21, 2014

    This is a book about panic. Kid mindlessly plays video games through his teens, mindless about school and other interests. Mindlessly follows his friend to a second-rate, overpriced private college ju...

  • Steve Lane
    Nov 08, 2013

    After Chapter 11 all I could see of this guy was his bad habit of putting down the lives of those that he reached out to for help along the way. He's against going into debt, or having a "boring life ...

  • Mary Holland
    May 20, 2013

    Speaking as someone who abhors being in debt, I'm always interested in other people's solutions to the problem. This is a desperate and often funny tale of how one recent graduate employed some drasti...

  • Jody
    Feb 10, 2016

    It's not often that a book changes your whole outlook on life. Reading Walden on Wheels was a transformative experience for me. I no longer have any desire for material things or for career success. I...

  • Mandy
    Jul 31, 2013

    I debated about giving it one or two stars but decided on two because he did have one good thought in the book that I can remember. I really disliked this guy. He is a hard-core liberal pushing his so...