Everyone has a voice and here at Quirky Campers, we are truly honoured to provide them with a platform to be heard. In celebration of Pride, we’ve sat down with two of our favourite van lifers, Blix and Bess to discuss travelling nomadically and how being part of the LGBTQ+ community impacts on their experience of vanlife.
Why did you choose vanlife? What do you love about it and what do you feel are the most challenging aspects?
Our leap into van life began when the pandemic hit. It had always been Bess’s dream to live nomadically and the pandemic forced us to truly evaluate what we were doing with our lives. We were renting a 2 bedroom house in Berkeley, California whilst paying a ridiculous amount of money for rent. Because the cost of living was so high, traveling was financially challenging to experience. As difficult and challenging as the pandemic has been, it opened up a lot of opportunities for remote work and re-imagining our daily lives and how we approach life.
the pandemic forced us to truly evaluate what we were doing with our lives.
Absolutely! And what do you love about it?
We love vanlife because we truly have the freedom to go wherever we want to go. We get to see firsthand how other people live their lives and we also get to be more immersed in nature when we want to be. Also, now that things are opening up, Bess’s career as a burlesque performer has revamped and she is starting to perform all around the U.S. She can truly be a “traveling showgirl!”
Ha yes, love that. What do you feel are the most challenging aspects?
The most challenging thing about van life as a queer couple is constantly having to evaluate safety. When we are in new places we have to assess if we can just be ourselves or modify who we are for safety reasons. One consistent challenge is that because we don’t have an indoor shower in our van, we go to a gym to shower. This can be particularly challenging for Blix because they are non-binary and their gender is often misread and they have been asked by staff to leave bathrooms before because of this. We have a protocol that we follow each time entering a bathroom and this can be very stressful.
they are non-binary and their gender is often misread.
Oh that does sound really challenging! What’s one thing people might not know about you? What don’t people see on your Instagram feed?
We strive to be pretty transparent about who we are (especially on our youtube channel), but some things that people might not know just from looking at our Instagram are:
– We are both sober.
– Bess is a burlesque performer.
– Blix is a triplet.
– Blix has a doctorate in Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
– Bess is half Japanese, speaks the language fluently, and hopes to do van life in Japan one day!
Wow, we didn’t even know some of those things – that’s amazing. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, how do you feel you have been received in the van life community?
We are still fairly new in the vanlife community, but so far we feel like we have been really embraced by the queer vanlife community. VanLife Pride welcomed us really early on and has been supportive of our journey. Because of the pandemic, we have not done any in-person meetups, which has inhibited us from connecting with the community beyond the screen, but we are excited to start doing that in the near future. We’re also very aware of our privilege in having the type of camper that we do have and being able to experience vanlife in a certain way that perhaps some of our LGBTQ peers may not have access to. Vanlife can be done in so many different ways, but we are not remiss to the fact that we contribute to a certain narrative of vanlife because of the type of camper we have, but we hope that because of who we are, we also challenge that narrative.
we contribute to a certain narrative of vanlife because of the type of camper we have.
What changes would you like to see in the van life community to be more welcoming to LGBTQ+?
We would like to see our straight allies who have bigger platforms to promote LGBTQ+ accounts/channels more because the algorithm can be very bias against folk that are not cis, white, and hetero. We’d love to see the vanlife community as a whole be committed to diversifying and re-imagining what van life is/can look like.
You can follow Blix and Bess and their journey over on Instagram.