A few years back, on a self-build forum, someone posted the old Build-It-Or-Buy-It question . I wrote:

If it is about camping and traveling and end uses, it is probably more efficient to buy a camper rather than build it. 

But for some of us it is about something else. The traveling and camping is just the excuse. A lot of elements come together in our imagination. We lie awake and think about it, and find it is a pretty good thing to think about. Building our dream home in the perfect location seems like a long shot, but just maybe we can build our dream wagon and take it anywhere.

The scale of the project seems plausible, a finite number of challenges confined to a space the size of a modern bathroom. How hard can it be? Besides, we have thought about it for a while and we want what we want. Spending a ton of money and not quite getting it would be like waking up each morning next to the wrong person. You can get over it in your mind, but that is easier to do if the deficiencies are your own. 

I suspect that many of us who start with an empty van discover, at some point, that working on our adventure wagon serves as a substitute for the adventure itself. Sometimes the weather is bad or the weekend too short for traveling, but the project itself has the romance of the open road. It feels like the next best thing. (OK, there is some danger here.)

Odysseus, trapped on Calypso’s island, spent seven years building a raft, before he could complete his wanderings. I reflected on that more than once during my own conversion.