in association with Diversify Vanlife
On the 8th March we celebrated “International Women’s Day” by sharing the Instagram accounts of awesome adventurers, each helping to break down stereotypes in their own unique way. They’ve been inspiring us for some time and we wanted to support them all by sharing their platforms and writing this blog post. 🙂
We also got in touch with the fabulous people over at Diversify Vanlife who have created a platform for BIPOC and underrepresented individuals in the vanlife community.
Make sure to follow @DiversifyVanlife for gorgeous content, brimming with diverse nomadic voices from all around the world.
Naomi, Founder of the Diversify Van life movement on Instagram says herself:
“The movement is dedicated to bringing awareness to the lack of representation of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) in vanlife and to create a space for the suppressed voices to be heard.”
In line with this year’s IWD theme we couldn’t agree more that it’s time to #ChooseToChallenge in a bid to make van life more inclusive.
12 Adventurers to be inspired by…
So on that note, here’s our list* of wonderful explorers smashing the status quo and breaking down barriers, in order to encourage others to access the natural world.
( * With so many amazing people to choose from we realise there are so many that we’ve probably missed off this current list. We’ll be adding more as we keep discovering people, and will be sure to feature more posts on this topic in the future!)
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram where we’ll be adding diverse and exciting voices from the world of travel to our ‘Follow’ highlight reel.
Writer, podcaster and Founder of the Diversify Van Life movement, to kick off our list make sure you’re following Naomi Grevemberg and her partner Dustin as they hit the road and share their authentic nomadic lifestyle.
30 year old Zahrah Mahmood, from Glasgow UK is an ambassador for Berghaus, and hopes to encourage more outdoor brands to embrace diversity. She encourages brands to place meaningful action behind their representation.
Always carefully choosing the brands she works with, Zahrah says:
“Posting a picture of a person of colour on your website or Instagram is performative if it’s not backed up by sustainable action. And, actually, it does more damage than good.”
Lilith and Abi
Lilith and Abi, a queer couple from Fife in the UK, wrote their book Gears For Queers, as an account and celebration of their first ever cycle tour, from Amsterdam to Montpellier.
Speaking about their book, they said:
“If books about being queer and non-binary, cycling long distances as a complete beginner, disability, mental health, ethical travel and toilet etiquette are your cup of tea, then please share this book far and wide!”
Visit the Gears for Queers blog
Inspirational hiker Emily Ford shared her 1200 mile trek across the Ice Age national scenic trail with thousands of her Instagram followers, all in a bid to make the outdoors feel more accessible for her followers.
Meet Martha Hudson, a school bus dwelling fashion designer who makes custom bathing suits. A solo-travelling entrepreneur and business owner, Martha describes some of her most important values as empowerment, self-sufficiency, feminism and body positivity.
Sylvia Longmire, 45, is a disability rights advocate and accessible travel writer. She has visited more than 50 countries as a wheelchair user and has published two accessible travel photography books. Sylvia has become an expert at visually representing wheelchair users in the media. And on top of all this she’s a single mother and former Ms. Wheelchair USA.
Jini Reddy is an author, journalist and avid traveler. Her most recent book ‘Wanderland – A search for magic in the landscape’, was recently shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Award for Travel Book of the Year ‘21, and was shortlisted last year for the Wainwright Prize. A blend of eco-spiritual nature writing, travel and memoir, it also touches on themes of identity and belonging.
Katy O’Neill of Blaze Trails
UK based Katy O’Neill is the Founder of Blaze Trails, a community of parents who empower each other to get outdoors and go walking with their babies and toddlers. Blaze Trails organises free walks for parents, carers, and their babies or toddlers so they can come together and experience the great outdoors, with amazing benefits for their wellbeing and mental health.
A single mum to her 11 year old son, inspirational Biona Smith lives and travels through the US in her campervan, sharing tales about their travels along the way, including lots of posts about homeschooling on the road. Bionca Smith describes herself as “a high energy globetrotting life coach, public speaker and soon to be author.”
Anoushé Hussain is a paraclimber in the UK and an ambassador for both Ehlers-Danlos Support UK and Limbpower, the leading charity for amputees and those with limb difference. She is from an ethnic minority background and has survived cancer. Anoushé is an inspirational speaker, campaigner and activist sharing her life experiences to pave the way for change within the outdoor industry.
21 year old Jasmine Harrison, from Thirsk in North Yorkshire has just become the youngest solo female to row the Atlantic Ocean. The feat also made her the youngest female to row solo across any of the world’s oceans.
On her website Jasmine says:
“…so many people have a perception that just because you are young and female that you can’t do something, so here I am doing exactly that!“
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this post. We love blogging about all the amazing adventurers who are helping to break the mold. We’ll be back soon with more posts like this, so get in touch if there’s someone you think we should feature. We’d love to hear from you!
Making the Outdoors Inclusive
And of course, we understand that inclusivity isn’t only vital for the van life movement – it’s something that’s needed in regards to the ‘great outdoors’ in general. A 2017 study by Natural England found that just 26.2% of black people spent time in the countryside, compared with 44.2% of white people.
“…when you think about the outdoors, it’s a culture that doesn’t represent everybody; it doesn’t include everybody”
[Stories about the outdoors have tended to center on] “the traditional narrative of the privileged white man”.
Such important words! When it comes to ‘vanlife’ and the great outdoors, we agree that it’s vitally important to break down stereotypes and represent everyone of all races and all genders, including women, trans and minority genders.