Diversify Vanlife

a photo of a VW camper van with bikes on the back and a clamshell on the roof driving down the middle of the road towards the mountains at sunset.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from our friends at Diversify Vanlife who are creating a safe space for BIPOC and underrepresented individuals in the nomadic community. We first connected with Noami while being interviewed on Condé Nast’s Women Who Travel Podcast and are delighted to share her and her team’s work on our platform.

When you think of “outdoorists”, vanlifers and/or campers in the “U.S.A.”, who comes to mind? For far too long, the dominant narratives and representations in various media have led people to falsely believe and accept that these are really only white, heteronormative, able-bodied people.

Enter Diversify Vanlife. We’re a small but growing majority-BIPOC team of nomads and outdoorists aiming to uplift all historically marginalized and underrepresented folx in the vanlife, travel and outdoor space, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and those with disabilities. We’ve been actively working to awaken folx to the reality that this skewed picture simply is not, and has never been, the true reality.

Diversify Vanlife was founded in 2019 by Noami Grevember @irietoaurora, largely in response to the lack of representation of BIPOC and other historically marginalized peoples in the vanlife and outdoor spaces – and especially on social media. In fact, many folx within and outside of the vanlife and outdoors communities have, for quite a long time, seemed to accept a false sense that the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion that are omnipresent throughout society, don’t present themselves in the vanlife and outdoor spaces – at least not as much. Many have assumed that, in general, these spaces must inherently be more “progressive” and “open minded” — especially given the, already-quite-alternative lifestyle, compared to typical modern ones.

There can absolutely be a lot of talk, but not as much action and follow-through. Thus, Diversify Vanlife was born, aiming to not only bring the road travel and outdoor communities’ attention to these issues and the importance of intentional diverse representation and safe spaces within these communities – but also the attention of folx outside of these communities. Diversify Vanlife is a platform dedicated to specifically amplifying those historically underrepresented voices within vanlife and the outdoors, striving to remove the idea that underrepresented people must cater to other platforms that do not allow them to be their fully authentic selves, and that too often tokenize them.

By sharing these voices and their stories far and wide and celebrating them, we are actively shifting the narrative of what being a “vanlifer”, traveler, and/or outdoor enthusiast looks like. We strive to demonstrate that anyone can hit the road or the trail, regardless of physical or mental ability, race, class, sexual orientation or any other identity. We amplify these voices through several channels, including our website’s blog, as well as via our Instagram @diversify.vanlife. 

We’re also flipping the mainstream narratives and representations on their heads by actively distributing vanlife and outdoor-oriented resources, specifically catered towards underrepresented people. Not only that, the vast majority of those resources are created by people from the communities to whom they cater. One example of a thorough resource that Diversify Vanlife has created for the community, for free, is “A BIPOC Guide To Vanlife & The Outdoors”. In fact, we recently contributed a guest post in their Area Guide section on Asheville!

This BIPOC Guide, released during the fall of 2021, is written by more than 20 experienced BIPOC vanlifers and outdoor enthusiasts in the Diversify Vanlife community, and includes over 12 different sections. From diving into vanlife, to traveling with kids, to visiting a specific area or national park in a van or other rig, this guide’s got in-depth tips and knowledge for folx at all stages of their road travel and outdoor journeys. What’s more, it’s a living resource, set to evolve and grow with even more BIPOC voices and perspectives being added over time — while staying readily available to all, for free!

Our team here at Diversify Vanlife has been working to build extensive vanlife and outdoor-oriented resources, such as our BIPOC Guide, with the strong support and help from our community. And there’s still so much work to be done. 

We’re thrilled to be in alignment with Authentic Asheville when it comes to providing accessible, free resources for current and aspiring vanlifers and all those interested in vanlife, travel, and the outdoors, including DIY ideas, tips, and tricks, trip recommendations, gear reviews, best places to eat and drink, and more.

We kindly invite you to support both of our platforms, and highly encourage you to check out Diversify Vanlife’s BIPOC Guide to Vanlife & The Outdoors, available now. Please follow us at @diversify.vanlife on Instagram so you can stay up to date on new additions to our Guide and website, too! See you down the road, friends.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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