Van Life

Meet The Magazine Editor Who Gave It All Up For A Life On The Road

Johnie Gall quit a dream job at a surf magazine to follow her dreams of travel and adventure....

Photo: Dirtbag Darling

Johnie Gall decided to give up an enviable job as a top surf magazine editor for a simpler life on the road.

Determined to follow her own dream rather than help someone else’s with their’s, she packed up her life and hopped into her Sprinter van, destination: adventure.

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From there came Dirtbag Darling, an action-packed blog dedicated to travel, adventure and telling stories.

Photo: Dirtbag Darling

“I started writing before I can even remember. I always think it’s a little freaky that I could talk in full sentences before I was good at walking – I just devoured books as a kid.

Like, one a day – everything from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to Goosebumps. I think from there it was a really natural progression into writing, creating my own stories.

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I loved being a Senior Editor at a surf and lifestyle mag, it was a total dream. I loved going to the competitions and award shows, interviewing interesting people, writing…but it still felt like I was working hard at someone else’s dream, not my own.

So when some family health issues led me back home again, I knew it was the universe saying, “Ok, this is the perfect time to quit and go build yourself a new career.”

Photo: Dirtbag Darling

When I moved to California, every weekend my now-fiancé and I would load up his minivan and just hit the road to explore.

I’d come back to work and my colleagues would say, “You have such a crazy life, I could never do that!” It made me realize that it’s all about your perspective.

Maybe if I started a blog that made these adventures feel more attainable, more women would feel comfortable giving these “crazy” things a try.

I wanted to build a place that would be inspiring to women, since there were so many blogs out there for guys already

Growing up all I knew was that I loved to write, and somehow that would play a part in shaping my career. But, like most people, I assumed travel and adventure was just not in the cards for me.

Both just seemed like a really unattainable goals, something only pro athletes, models, and trust fund kids got to do. I actually wanted to write movie scripts when I was younger—maybe that’s still in the cards!

Photo: Dirtbag Darling

Freelancing from the front seat of a van is really tough, I’m not going to lie! There are days when I’m on deadline or I need to call someone for an interview and I spend an entire morning just driving around trying to find reliable Internet.

It’s also tough to focus on work when I’m parked in front of a beautiful lake or a mountain…for obvious reasons.

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There’s now such a growing community of outdoor women on social media, but when I started Dirtbag Darling that community was just starting to bud –  I definitely felt pretty alone.

I wanted to build a place that would be relatable and inspiring to women specifically, since there were so many blogs out there for the guys already.

Photo: Dirtbag Darling

 I hope that it inspires more people to just go have their own adventures

 Dirtbag Darling is more about other peoples’ stories than my own. I interview professional athletes, yes, but I try to balance the scales by highlighting the incredible stories of “real” women.

I hope that more people will feel like they can be welcomed into the outdoor community and that they shouldn’t be scared to try something new.

I hope that it inspires more people to just go have their own adventures, whatever they look like.”


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