10 Normal Things Dirtbags Do (That Aren't Normal for Most People)

Let's face it, dirtbags are the best people to be around. They're a rad, down to earth species. But it's not until you recount epic tales to others that you realize you aren't that normal. Do most people think they're weird? Yes. Constantly being on the road or in the outdoors ingrains habits that become normal for you, but not so normal to others.

1. Being OCD About Using Water

  • Being a dirtbag and constantly living out of a recreational vehicle ingrains a deep subconscious reaction to the wasting of water (like nails on a chalkboard).  When your entire supply of water for who-knows-how-many days is only 50 gallons, you really start to monitor how much water everyone is using.  I’ve even caught my family glaring across the RV at the person washing dishes clearly thinking to themselves, you’re using way too much water.  This then leads to the few moments where we’re noticeably different than most families.  We’ll arrive in people’s houses and anytime we notice someone taking a shower, washing dishes, cleaning with an unnecessary amount of water, or pouring leftover glasses of water down the sink, everything inside of us is screaming, “Ahhhhhhhh! You’re going to run out of water!”  And when it’s our turn to do the dishes, you shouldn’t be surprised to see us running the water at a drizzle.

2. Washing Dishes With Microscopic Amounts of Water

  • On a similar note, as we live in a small simple vehicle, we do not use a dishwasher nor own a dishwasher.  We actually don’t mind.  Hand washing dishes is just how it is.  We’ve learned a system that works regardless of whether we are doing them in a campground, on the side of the road, or even while driving (although we don’t recommend this).  It’s actually pretty easy.  Somehow, this shocks a lot of people though, “What do you mean you wash dishes for seven people?”  Anytime we receive similar comments we all think, Oh, they have no idea.  Because, yeah, it’s no biggie if you’re hand washing dishes for the meals of two or three people.  But personally, I travel with six other people who seem to constantly be hungry— constantly doing dishes (with incredibly small quantities of water, by the way).  Lots.  Of.  Dishes.

3. We Share Everything

  • Continuing on the previous habit, we have also conformed to a conservative habit that would disgust many.  We only own three bowls to eat out of, which means we have to, wait for it . . . share bowls.  And when we’re really desperate, we share utensils too *gasp*.  Our logic is this: when living in such a confined space, we’re bound to share everyone's germs anyway so might as well save time, water, and space.  For some people, this is actually pretty standard and if you are that person, you rock!  Others might be condescending us a hundred different ways, but you’re still going to finish reading this because you still want know how many more “weird normal” things the species of dirtbag does.

4. You Rarely Shower And Can't Get Used To Showering Daily

  • Through our road trip travels, we alternate between staying at campgrounds and free camping.  All our days are spent on the trail, crag, mountains, and sea.  By the end of these fantastically fun adventures, we’re all pretty sweaty and literally covered in dirt.  Not a problem when we’re at campgrounds, as it’s an incredible luxury to be able to take a three-minute shower after a long, fun day in the outdoors.  In order for us to save money, we “vagabond” (AKA boondocking, free camping, or sleeping-on-the-side-of-the-road) often.  Most RV’s do have showers and if we’re really desperate, we can all take military showers, but 99% of the time, vagabonding means no shower.  We wear our dirt as a symbol of pride and gratitude for the experiences it brings.  Even, when we go stay with family and friends for a few days, we can’t bring ourselves to shower every day.  What a waste of water!  Who needs to be that clean? we think.  Sure, we might smell a little more, but, come on, “a little dirt never hurt”.

5. Electricity (oooooh)

  • How do you charge?  We get this a lot.  It's easy to charge your phone while driving and we plan ahead when we do stop at coffee shops.  Honestly- we just aren't that dependent on electricity.  Running down the battery by turning on lights at night or running out of propane--that's a whole different story.  We completely forget about the “other” way appliances are run and cringe when we see electronic devices plugged in all day long-- or worse chargers plugged into a wall without a device attached to them.

6. Wearing Like Three Different Outfits

  • Stepping on a plane with a one-way ticket really makes you question your most prized possessions.  When we headed to Europe for six months, each of the seven people in my family carried a backpacking backpack and that's it . . . and we hauled along surfboards and climbing gear but the point remains the same.  Take only what you need.  Since our trip revolved around hiking, climbing, surfing, exploring, and the occasional city visit, our belonging were reduced to two pairs of pants, shorts, a few shirts, a warm jacket, a rain jacket, undergarments, and a swimsuit.  Well, you can’t hike mountains in skinny jeans.  So every day for six months we saw each other wearing the same three outfits.  We got back from Europe, unpacked our bags and discovered all the clothes we left behind and thought, Why did I even keep this? I was perfectly fine without for 6 months . . . That, and truth be told, those few clothing articles would always remind us of the mountains we climbed. 

7. Spending The ENTIRE Day At A Wifi Hotspot

  • Any blogger can probably relate to this one.  You need wifi to work on your website so you scour the internet, Google Maps, Trip Advisor, and Facebook looking for the best cafe with internet.  After all, it wouldn’t be the same without good coffee to enjoy with your work.  But when we’ve been traveling for a week or two, there is a lot for us to catch up on.  As the day goes on, the waiters/baristas start looking at you like, “You’re still here?”  Yup. 

8. Laundromats

  • As we try to avoid campgrounds, we are also unintentionally avoiding the washing machines that come with them.  Laundry day becomes an adventure as we reluctantly head out of the wilderness and back into civilization   Sometimes this is convenient because it allowed us to explore nice cities while we did the laundry, at others, we ended up in sketchy parts of town, those in which, we rushed our laundry, pulling it out of the dryer still damp.  Either way, it leaves an ultimate cultural experience of the world.

9. The Indoors Gives You Anxiety

  • Since the day we moved into our RV, we have become one with the outdoors.  When you’re living in an RV, the area outside becomes and extension of your home.  It’s the patio, the living room, the kitchen, and the backyard.  Even when the weather forces us indoors, we still have to go out often to get any of our stuff from the "living room".  Even while inside, the windows are always open, the temperature mirrors that of the outside, no rain goes unnoticed, and you wake and sleep with the sun rise and set.  We breathe a constant stream of fresh air, move and exercise where there’s warm weather, and flow with what’s happening around us.  Suddenly, when we experience house life again, everything feels weirdly wrong.  A day without the sun shining on my skin?!  A day without exercise?!  People probably find us as overreacting when we’re staying with them, but it’s just not what we’re used to.  Our normal is just different.

10. Obsessive Searching Of Ways To Escape Reality

  • Checking Expedia, Kayak, and Skyscanner for cheap flights is part of our daily ritual.  We scour mountain project the way normal people do the Black Friday sales, looking for any opportunities to climb new areas that may be on our path.  We regularly check Surfline and Magic Seaweed throughout the day, hoping a swell is coming to us or scheming where we want to be “this time next year” so we have focus for Skyscanner searches.  And we are always scrolling though The Outbound to make sure there isn’t an epic adventure that we may miss on one of our trips.  What can we say, our movement defines us.

Cover photo: Josiah Roe

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Gabi Robledo

Full-time traveler, surfer, climber, and adventurer! Co-creator of NomadsWithAPurpose.com, inspiring you to #BraveForAdventure