Dear #vanlife: I don’t want to be a dirtbag


Photo from Pexels.

Dear #vanlife,

I know this isn’t the cool thing. Every day, I see the photos and read the articles where you keep telling me I should quit my soul-sucking office job and move into a tricked-out van/ bus/truck so my spirit can be as free as the eagles flying over Moab’s desert. Especially if I want to be a real Climber.

And if I commit fully to #vanlife, then I can use very authentic hashtags when I post photos of my amazing #vanlife, and humblebrag things like, “Wow, I can’t believe this is REALLY my life! #blessed!” which might worry some followers (‘does she really forget everything at night while she sleeps?’).

But I have to tell you something, #vanlife: I don’t want to be a dirtbag.

I don’t want to worry about where I’m going to sleep at night, be disappointed when it’s another Walmart parking lot (rather than this mad scenic lakeshore), bootleg wifi from my friends, or have a whole pile of friend notifications on Facebook from people I don’t even remember meeting, because all the parking areas are starting to look the same.

I admit it, #vanlife—I’m weak. I like putting down roots, a bed that’s mine, standing up in my living space and—what’s worst—I actually like my office job.

#Vanlife, I’m not saying you’re totally out there, or wrong. You have a lot of amazing things going for you. You foster a community of travelers with incredible, unique experiences, and you cut out the things that don’t bring you joy. The sense of independence you give people is real and noteworthy.

I think the difference between you and me, #vanlife, is that I don’t have a whole industry hyping my “live in a house!” lifestyle—so maybe I feel left out. (Seriously, the media’s loving you right now—search the Internet for “vanlife” and you’ll find more articles and products than you thought possible in places from blogs to The Atlantic to all the outdoor and climbing magazines. Search “live in a house” and you just get a bunch of tiny house articles and legal advice). And I just can’t handle the pressure of having to feed that sepia or #notfiltered media machine.

Maybe I’ll never be a Climber with a capital C, but I’m pretty sure that’s up to me anyway—not where I rest my head at night. You’re pretty swell, #vanlife, you’re just not for me.

Yours truly,


4 thoughts on “Dear #vanlife: I don’t want to be a dirtbag

  1. thisisyouth says:

    Lifestyle porn is an interesting thing. FOr a lot of these people, they sell their lifestyle because it’s the only marketable thing going. I’ve spent the last year working and traveling as a #digitalnomad, and the scene is somewhat similar. a lot of people hyping up the lifestyle because it’s novel; when in fact it’s difficult and a lot of people can only do it by selling the dream to others. There’s nothing wrong with liking stability and friends and home. In fact, I think most nomadic people long for these things. Our lifestyles may provide us the ability to see great new sights, but the comfort of regular routines and a stable group of friends cannot be overstated.


    • mgherber33 says:

      That’s a good point – when the lifestyle itself is the story, different elements are highlighted to make sure it keeps the audience’s interest. Thank you for the thoughtful response!


  2. venturewild says:

    Holy relatable Batman!!!!! Im so, so glad we stumbled on this post! This is something I have been struggling with in my own mind for so long, and just couldn’t figure out how to put it into words. This is perfect! Mind if we share this sometime soon… It says it all so perfectly.

    Katie & DJ


    • mgherber33 says:

      Thanks for the comment! It became more apparent as I spent more time on outdoor lifestyle websites – and it truly is the hype that I find problematic, more than the lifestyle. Yes, please share the link if you like!


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