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10 Normal Things Dirtbags Do That Aren’t Normal For Most People

Our family of 7 has been living out of our RV for the past 3 years.  For the most part, we try to free camp on forest service roads and travel quickly from crag to trail.  For a few months of the year we sit still in an RV park and enjoy the comforts of running water and electricity, but even then, we’ve learned to be as minimalistic as possible and are always looking for ways to save resources and protect the planet.  Here are 10 things we do that are totally weird and out of the norm.  But hey, if you too love the dirbag lifestyle, share with us in the comments the weird things you do!

Never Ever Leave the Faucet Running

Being a dirtbag and constantly living out of a recreational vehicle ingrains a deep subconscious reaction to the wasting of water (It’s 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 take a shower, wash dishes, clean with unnecessary amounts of water, and pour leftovers 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.

Dishwashers- One of Modern Society’s Many Evils

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 based on if we’re 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 hand wash dishes for seven people?”  Anytime we receive similar comments we all think, Oh, they have no idea.  We love to cook and we make huge meals so for seven of us, who seem to constantly be needing food— it means constantly doing dishes (with incredibly small quantities of water, by the way).  Lots.  Of.  Dishes.  

Are You Done With Your Bowl?

Continuing on the previous habit, we have also conformed to a conservative habit that would disgust many.  To save time, water, and space, 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 spare 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 blog because you still want to know how many more “weird normal” things the species of dirtbag does.

How Dare You Shower EVERY Day 😉

Through our road trip adventures, we alternate between campgrounds and free camping. Days are filled with trails, crags, mountains, and sea. After exhilarating outdoor activities, we appreciate campground luxuries like three-minute showers. However, during road journeys, we often “vagabond” (boondock or sleep on the roadside). While RVs have showers, vagabonding often means no shower, like our record-breaking stint crossing Switzerland to Croatia. Affordability sometimes dictates our choices, and we’ve grown to need fewer showers than most, turning it into a symbol of pride. Even when with family or friends, we resist daily showers, finding it unnecessary and a waste of water. While we might carry a bit more scent, we embrace the philosophy that “a little dirt never hurt.”

Propane Ovens Are Our Necessity

We have always been avid cooks and bakers so we definitely took appliances into account when we moved into an RV.  How will we bake?  Cook pies?  Make cookies?  A roast?   Luckily, we bought an RV with a good propane stove and oven allowing us to make baked goods and meats.  Now, we‘ve lived in our RV for more than three years and propane appliances like the oven and heater are second-nature.  In fact, until staying in family and friends’ houses, we completely forgot about the “other” way appliances are run.  We felt spoiled to be able to cook and bake all day long without running out of propane.  

Choosing the Bare Necessities

When my family embarked on a one-way trip to Europe, it wasn’t just a journey—it was a lesson in minimalism. Each of us carried only a backpack, essentials for hiking, climbing, surfing, and city explorations. Our wardrobe? Simplified to a few versatile outfits. For six months, we rotated the same three sets of clothes daily. Returning home, unpacking felt liberating. Those abandoned clothes seemed unnecessary; we thrived without them. Our minimalist approach wasn’t just about practicality; it became a reminder of the mountains we conquered. It made us question the value of possessions and taught us to cherish experiences over belongings.

Sitting in a Cafe for 8 Hours

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. 

Nothing tells you more about a place than the Laundromat

As we tried to avoid campgrounds while in expensive countries in Europe, we were also unintentionally avoiding the washing machines that came with them.  At these times we were forced to pass through cities in order to find a laundromat.  I don’t think we were being that sensitive to be asking to wash our three outfits after wearing them for two weeks straight.  Sometimes it was 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.

Our Favorite Apps Are Adventure Based

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 know what to search for on Skyscanner.  And we are always scrolling through 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.  

Walls Make us Claustrophobic

Living in an RV has melded us with nature; even “indoors” means being outside constantly. Our RV area is our patio, living room, kitchen, and backyard. Windows open, temperatures match outside, we embrace rain, and sync with the sun. Fresh air streams, exercise in warmth, and adapt to surroundings. Returning to house life feels oddly wrong—no sun on skin, no exercise. Staying elsewhere, our habits seem extreme, but it’s our norm.

Our normal is just different.

What’s normal to you that isn’t so normal to most?

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Tuesday 13th of February 2024

Thank you for the showering comments lol. I also see it as a point of pride, it's like a punk rock attitude. Thru-hikers, rock'n'rollers, and other dirtbags get it. But I'm more entrenched in the "travel community" on most social media and in real life and the normies over there can really make you feel like a gross homeless alien. There must have been a culture shift because I remember there was once a time when being COOL was more appreciated lol.

Robyn Robledo

Wednesday 14th of February 2024

"gross homeless alien" LOVE IT! yeah, there does seem to be a weird culture shift happening

Living in an RV and Traveling (with 5 kids) is Freaking Awesome • Nomads With A Purpose

Saturday 27th of May 2017

[…] but there are a lot of great lessons it does teach you.  I know living like this is a bit weird, but I love that my kids are learning the difference between wants and needs, value nature over […]

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