While I have do not currently have the ability or plan to become nomadic with my family, Normal To Nomad: The Handbook for Modern Freedom Seekers by Barron Link, was everything I hoped it would be – a deeper look into the philosophy, thought processes, and stories on how some of my favorite YouTubers of all time jumped into the mobile lifestyle that they lived for 5 years. If somehow you have stumbled across this review and have not watched Elsa and Barron on YouTube, I highly recommend their channel, but even if you haven’t seen a single video of theirs, there is a lot of information to glean from this book.
Purchase this book if you are thinking about, wishing to, working towards, or are new to living on the road. Purchase this book if you’re looking for a different perspective on the “daily grind” of western culture. Purchase this book if you’re trying to be healthier in mind/body/spirit.
Let me give you some context on why I am choosing to review this book. I have been watching Elsa and Barron on YouTube for years now because I am fascinated with their journey. Their YouTube is about their story as a couple, so in a sense it’s a “lifestyle” type channel. The channel has evolved over time – it started as a body painting channel, switched to full-time living in a Scamp trailer (I started watching then), and now the channel is about developing their own off-grid property. I think they provide entertaining but informative content that’s wholesome enough I can watch it with my kids. I love their vibes and aesthetics. I was talking about them with a friend and described them as “crunchy hippies that like to hunt and eat bacon”. Best of both worlds, am I right? Elsa and Barron lived in their Scamp trailer together as a couple for 5 years before transitioning to purchasing their own land and are currently building an off-grid home. I’ve always had a thing for #vanlife and off-grid homes but I don’t really jive with fancy vans and RVs. One summer, before I got married and had kids, I lived in my Jeep Cherokee. Some of my philosophy behind it had to do with principles that are discussed in this book – freedom, frugality, minimalism, etc. although for me I was quite young and I hadn’t fleshed out my “why” exactly, I just felt compelled to do it and I needed to pay off student loans, so I did. (Until someone ran into my Jeep and totaled it in an intersection. That was a bummer.) ANYWAY, lets jump into this review.
Normal to Nomad is 186 pages of concise, “to the point” writing with many useful lists and beautiful photos about life on the road. The writing is so distinctly “Barron” that not only does it really feel like what he says is genuine, but it’s just darn useful. Barron values efficiency and you can see that in the writing. If you don’t “know” Barron from YouTube, be prepared for copious use of the word “gnarly” and hilarious quotes about something serious like considering food as fuel like – “The body has been programmed over time to throw a brain party when sugar is consumed” (page 45). My brain had a party just reading that! So funny.
Obviously, the main audience for this book would be people who want to hit the road and live for long periods of time, particularly in the U.S. If you’re at all into van life, RV life, truck life, trailer life, whatever vehicle life it is, this is a book for you. If you are mobile or headed in that direction, pick up the e-book for efficiencies sake. (Barron would tell you to do that anyway.) However, the book is a lot more than a list of gear and pro-tips about nomadic life. The book is full of philosophy and thoughts on the bigger picture on why someone might crave this lifestyle, and how to approach actually going for it. The book is framed in both the beginning and end with deeper stories about spiritual experiences that Barron had that really defines why the book is more about freedom than anything else. Freedom doesn’t need to come in the form of nomadic living, although it facilitates it. So even if you aren’t going nomad, there is so much food for thought about life in general that if you’re seeking to break free from traditional views on success, health, lifestyle, etc., this book is a great starting point.
The beauty of this book is it does provide what many people are going to want – lists of stuff you need or stuff you need to think about before jetting off in your nomadic home of choice. Barron balances giving you enough information and brand recommendations to get you started on your own personal research but doesn’t turn the book into a giant advertisement or so non-specific that the lists don’t actually feel useful. He lets you know up front he believes in continually learning and urges people to use the internet to learn stuff, so this book is a great kick-off point for doing so about this lifestyle. There are gear lists such as clothing, tools, and solar gadgets, but also lists such as nomadic principles and finding your flow in life. It’s the whole package.
This book is a quick and easy read – but its jam packed with so many nuggets of wisdom. At the top of every chapter there is an insightful quote from many different famous and influential people. You could just spend a lot time pondering each quote. This book is very transparent and honest about Elsa and Barron’s specific experience and contains a lot of stories and descriptions of their own journey. Experience is the best teacher, but the second best is learning from stories of others.
I can’t do a review of this book without acknowledging all of the wonderful photos in it. I know a lot of them were taken by Elsa and that they both worked together to get this book out the door. The book is printed in color, which is very impressive for a paperback book. When you’re spending money on a physical book, the details and feel of the book do matter. The cover is a tad lightweight, but the printing for the photos is vibrant and the text itself is clear and readable. The font is a good size and everything is formatted and spaced so it’s not too crammed but not just a bunch of wasted space. The book is printed all of the way to the back cover which sort of points to the efficiency/minimalist vibe of Barron’s writing. No space is wasted!
So, the long story short is that I highly recommend this book. If you read the title and you’re like “hmmmm…. I want to be nomadic, or I want more freedom in my life” then just do it! This book currently is not available on Amazon, but you can get it right from Barron Link’s website which honestly is probably better for everyone anyway.
Get the paperback: normal2nomad.com/shop/book
Get the e-book: normal2nomad.com/shop/ebook
Subscribe to their YouTube: youtube.com/@ElsaRhae
Comment below and let me know what you think!! Have you seen this book yet?
Until next time, PEACE!