Vanlife Diaries First Gathering

Gathering with like minded folk is one of my most favorite pastimes, doing so with Vanlife enthusiasts is even better!

Vanlife Diaries is a part of an eclectic community and movement known simply as Vanlife. They are an online space connecting vanlifers worldwide, and promoting Off the Gird living.  Vanlife Diaries also offer van fit-outs made from recycled materials with solar power options, and recently began Vanlife Gatherings as a way to connect with their growing online community. The aim of these Gatherings is to unite travelers from different paths with intimate celebrations.  For their inaugural Gathering, Vanlife Diaries chose Byron Bay, one of Australia's leading alternative- lifestyle epicenters, and I was lucky enough to participate.

For those of you new to the word vanlife I thought it important to share what I know about it before going any futher. Vanlife is essentially a term used for modern day nomads living or traveling around in their van's.  This movement has tribal roots and is an extension of our innate human desire to wander, and be in changing natural environments. The act of carrying your home with you wherever you go, has its-self been going on since our human experience began.

Vanlife has hence been happening since there were vans, however the term VanLife was popularized by soul searcher Foster Huntington. In 2011 Huntington left his job in NYC, hit the road, and started using the hashtag #vanlife on his social media accounts. The hashtag from what I gather began to connect people to his exploration of this unique van living community, which he expressed though his exceptional photography.  His blog A Restless Transplant, other social media accounts and the #vanlife hashtag really helped to unite people who were already living vanlife and increase the momentum of a growing movement. 

This movement is happening all over the world, and it was whilst wandering that I had the good fortune of meeting Vanlife Diaries, co-founders Jess and Jonny Dustow of Rebel on a Rainbow. We connected instantly and their passion for the roads less traveled, making time for people they meet, and their commitment to a simple vanlife continually inspire me.  It is though these creative souls that I came to join in the first ever Vanlife Diaries gathering.

Fellow Byron shire vanlifer's, artist Sarah her mother Christine, macrobiotic chef Hiromi, and I all traveled to the site together. Sharing the van and tents for sleeping we set up at the fabulous location in the Byron Bay hinterland. It was a beautiful event and the intimate gathering of Vanlife enthusiasts was truly a celebratory experience.

During the gathering Sarah led us though a playful interactive art workshop, Gail gave us a tasting tour of her amazing fruit orchard, kids ran around discovering natural treasures like leaves, sticks and trees, new friends were made, Hiromi's raw vegan food demonstration nourished us, the sweet rhythms of Jonny aka Dusty Boots saxophone soothed our souls, and the enormous bonfire left no one sitting as we gathered around it, howling at the moon completely mesmerized by the skyward flames and our good fortune.

Ultimately the first Vanlife Diaries gathering was a great success, and the beginning of new things for this growing collective.  Social media and the web have there place, however the human experience will never in my mind be transcended.  I encourage you to Get out doors and hit the open road, leave your phones off and let the only roaming you do be that with your own two feet, or behind the wheel of a home you can park anywhere ;)

**To see more of the photos I took of this inaugural event, and an epic video by Jonny Dustow please click here to visit Vanlife Diaries.

Jess & Jonny Dustow

Jess & Jonny Dustow

Sarah & Christine

Sarah & Christine