Prior to beginning this adventure I tried to do my homework and dig through the interwebs in search of tips found in blogs and forum posts describing other dirtbag journies. A couple stood out to me and I’ll list them here as well as some quick lessons I learned on Day 1.
From around the web:
- Be Ruthless
If you can’t fit it in your car, you don’t need it. Storage units may be tempting but they’re just added overhead expense and something to tie you to a specific location. For clothes, I read a recommendation that served me well. Pick five outfits (tops and bottoms), one sport-specific specialty outfit (climbing, cycling, wet-suit, etc…), a “nice” outfit or two depending on your job or if you need to dress up for something, and some weather specific stuff (shorts if you’re in a hot region, insulating layers if you’re in a cold region). You may think you’ll “need something later” when you go “back to normal life”, you probably won’t. Even the most modest studio apartment will seem cush after surviving on a Jetboil, mess kit, and no refrigerator.
- Get a gym membership
This is my favorite. No, not a climbing gym membership, but a commercial health club membership, preferably one of those pop-up 24-7 places. This isn’t to get your swole on, but simply to have access to a shower 24-7. Even better, if you wisely choose a chain gym you’ll have many cities to choose from while you’re migrating around. For a relatively modest $30 or so per month (even if it were $60) you get far more showers for your dollar than paid camping at RV parks and such. Besides, gym memberships are commercially cleaned on the regular and if you’ve ever pooped and / or showered at an RV park, then you probably prefer the woods and a dip in the river anyway.
What I learned the first day
- Don’t be fooled, you’re never at home
My firt day seemed like any other day in a lot of ways as I was running errands most of the time, then hanging out at Barnes & Noble (read mooching AC and wifi) and then at the public library (same here). However, there were a few little things that reminded me that this day was different in every way. 1) I woke up in a Walmart parking lot where I cooked breakfast on a backpacking stove. 2) You start to get strange looks around the three hour mark when you set up shop with a laptop and a McD’s coffee cup at Barnes & Noble and never look at a book or order coffee. you may elect to move to the public library, but alas both of those places will eventually close for the night and you must abandon your comfy post and keep moving.
- Spending money
I learned pretty quick that boredom is your enemy. As a dirtbag you’ll have mucho free time and that can lead to a couple detrimental things. Spending excess money is something you’ll have to resist and keep an eye on. It’d be very easy to drift from coffee shop to restaurant to burger joint just to “have something to do” or “pass the time.” But this will cost money, money you probably don’t have if you’re a dirtbag and money you could otherwise spend going awesome places.
- Wasting Gas
Just like the above you have to watch out for making unneeded trips (to the grocery store for example) or putting around town for a Sunday (or everyday) drive. Gas will probably be your number one expense (maybe even more than food) as a dirtbag and as such you’ll want to save it for the crag rather than hanging out at Starbucks or B&N just because you’re bored.
- Baby wipes
Not much needs to be said here. It speaks volumes for itself. Baby wipes will quickly become a much beloved friend to the padawan dirtbag.