Almost two years ago now, I purposefully started on a path to a nomadic lifestyle. I uprooted from my location-based job in Denver, said goodbye to all of my friends and moved into a small car with my partner of four years. We started off with no real plans other than to travel until we figured it out. A couple months later, I’d somehow convinced us to look for remote positions in our fields and, after a lot of research and winter nights in a cramped Honda Fit, we began a path toward #VanLife.
I grew up as a Black woman in South Georgia–something I could probably write a whole book about. Living year after year in my tiny town where the only things to do were climb trees and build frog mud houses, I would have never seen myself living on the road as an adult. But then, does anyone really know what they’re gonna be doing when they grow up? Since starting a life on the road, we’ve updated the small car to a large Ram Promaster and the pee bottle we used in our Honda Fit to a urine-diverting compost toilet. And with a pandemic raging around us, we’ve traded the popular beach views for less popular alpine forests.
I’m not a full time adventurer, as most people see vanlifers. Rather, I like to think of my life as similar to most other people’s—my home just isn’t stationary. I sit on the couch most of the day with my partner Ben, both working 9 to 5 jobs, with snuggles throughout the day from our cat Gracie Bell. In the afternoons and on weekends, we rock climb, bushwhack to remote cliffs or hike to hidden waterfalls. And typically every few weeks, we pack up and find a new place to live.
Over the years, I’ve found that maintaining balance across my life’s pursuits is one of the constant yet sometimes elusive necessities: whether career, recreation, advocacy or a mix of the three. I’m constantly balancing educating people and sharing the experiences of folks with marginalized identities; figuring out how to make #vanlife painless and sustainable; and pausing to seek joy in whatever place I’m in. When you tune in to this column, you can expect a bit of my experiences in all of those things, and a whole lot more. And if that’s not enough for you, follow me on my ridiculously named personal Instagram: @nibblekit or the more appropriately named VanLife Instagram: @threevancats.
Until next time.
Photos by Ben Pingilley, @ben.pingilley