It’s 5:30 on a Thursday and I’m chomping at the bit to get out of town. Only one more hour until I’m off work. I’ve got an 18-hour drive ahead of me to get to Colorado. It’s a little too long to drive in one day, so I’m leaving as soon as I’m off work. Maybe I’ll duck out of work a little early. Shhh, don’t tell my boss.
I could have bought a plane ticket and flown out on Friday. But I’m just not willing to dish out that kind of cash. All I have to pay for is my transportation to get there, and a plane ticket is three times more than driving. I’m cutting costs on the hotel for the two-day drive too. Don’t worry, I’m not staying at a fleabag motel or anything – I’m sleeping in my car. Even $30 for a campsite is too steep for me.
Read about my trip to Colorado on Hike Like A Woman here.
You see I’m almost a dirtbag, not quite ready to give up society for my love of travel and hiking. I do still work a full-time job and have close relationships. But I also have major wanderlust and a deep desire to be in the wilderness.
According to Urban Dictionary, a dirtbag is “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.”
And although I’m not ready to give up employment and societal norms (yet), I do subscribe to a few of the dirtbag-lifestyle aspects.
Millennials in general are giving up on the American Dream. We are not buying the home with the white picket fence, having 2.5 children, and working our whole life toward promotions in one career.
When I was in my 20s, I wanted to buy a home so badly. I simply couldn’t afford it on my own. But now in my 30s, I embrace the fact that I live with my parents.
Not buying a home or paying rent allows me to be able to spend my money on travel. And doing things like driving instead of flying and choosing to sleep in my car over getting a hotel room allow me have more money to travel even more.
I am fortunate in that my kind of travel is cheap. Camping and hiking can be done for very little cost. You can even camp for free in many places, as long as you give up certain conveniences like showers, flush toilets, or even toilets at all.
When you are almost a dirtbag, it is easy to give up these conveniences to pursue your love of the wilderness.
And although Instagram can make outdoor adventure travel seem glamorous, it really isn’t. I have peed on the side of the road more than I want to admit too. I have eaten freeze-dried meals for more than a week at a time. And I have gone more than a week without a shower. These are sacrifices I make in order to pursue my passion of adventure travel.
I could probably make more sacrifices, but I’m only almost a dirtbag. These sacrifices allow me to travel more and travel farther. I took a week-long road trip from Arkansas to New Mexico and Colorado and only spent $250. But that’s how I roll, I’m willing to give up comforts in order to see and explore more.
And even though I’m honest with my lifestyle, people still overlook the negative aspects and sacrifices I make in order to pursue my passion.
For example, I’m 35 and live with my parents. That is not a cool or glamorous thing to do. But I consider it something for someone who is almost a dirtbag to do. I can save money. And I also do not have to worry about who can take car of my dog when I can’t take her with me.
Click here for budget travel tips.
I often hear comments about how I travel so much and how lucky I am to have so much disposable time.
But I work nearly every holiday weekend. Working holidays allows me to take days off at other times, blocking them with vacation days in order to take more trips or longer trips.
While most people are out enjoying festivals or boating on the lake on Memorial Day weekend, I am working said festivals and activity on the lake.
So I embrace my lifestyle of being almost a dirtbag, because that lifestyle makes me happy. I love traveling and exploring, especially in wild places. But my love of travel does come with sacrifices. They are just sacrifices I’m will to make.