It’s not uncommon for my mind to wander a bit during the workday. After all, what better than an office cubicle to encourage thoughts of grandeur or help me plan my next adventure? I was actually at work when a title of an online article from Women’s Adventure Magazine caught my eye.
How to Dirtbag was the aptly named article. No, the article isn’t providing advice to men who want to make any “worst boyfriend lists.” Instead, the article provides a somewhat satirical look at what it takes to step away from a traditional lifestyle to live a dream as an outdoor adventurer junkie.
Urban Dictionary defines a dirtbag as “A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communally and generally non-hygienically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.”
In 2007, my cousin and her husband in Juneau, Alaska quit their comfortable jobs, sold their home, and decided it was time for the unexpected. As experienced sailors, they knew what they wanted to do and made it happen. They took their two young children (ages 7 and 11) on an adventure of a lifetime—they sailed from Alaska to New Zealand and christened their trip the Burns Family Voyage of Discovery. You can read about their adventures on their blog and book. Their sense of adventure and bravery have always inspired me. While their experiences were certainly unique, their overall story isn’t—there are hundreds of families, couples, and solo adventurers who have left the familiar behind in search of the extraordinary. It’s encouraging to know that there’s people out there pursuing an unconventional lifestyle and living their dream.
While I may not be ready to abandon showering and creature comforts quite yet (or hand in my resignation letter), I’m pretty sure that I can commit to being a part-time dirtbag; a full-time dirtbag will take a little time, planning, and money. However, to keep me focused and prepare for full-time dirtbag-ness status, I’m committing to the following:
- Be mindful of the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, work will always be there (though see below bullet)
- Work hard while I’m at work (after all, I do need to support my burgeoning dirtbag lifestyle)
- Focus on short adventure trips and excursions to whet my appetite
- Read as much as possible—get lost in adventure magazines and travel books/blogs
- Get ideas and inspiration from others who have done it or who are living the dirtbag lifestyle
- Do one thing a day that scares me, as courage is important for this kind of lifestyle (ok, maybe one thing a week)
- Don’t sweat the little things, let go of what I can’t control
- Save money…I’ll need it
Ever since a three-week adventure to New Zealand in 2004, I’ve always dreamed of returning to live amongst the Kiwis (or dirtbag it as they say) for at least a year. I’d like to hang out, travel, run, volunteer, thrive, and maybe even work a little. You get the idea.
In closing, I will leave you with a quote that continues to inspire me: “The most dangerous risk of all—the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later” (author unknown).
Thanks to Women’s Adventure Magazine for the inspiration for today’s blog post. Are you living the dirtbag lifestyle? Or have you experienced it in the past? What’s your dirtbag destination? Please share your ideas and experiences with me.