Irie to Aurora | Eco-Vanlife Guides & Digital Nomad Tips

About Us

Hi. We’re Dustin, Noami & Amara - Digital Nomads & Eco-Vanlifers + Dog

Travel has empowered us to create the life we want to live, and we want to show you how you can do it too. Because life’s too damn short to spend it living by someone else’s design.

Irie: [‘īrē] adj. Powerful and pleasing; a state of feeling great.

Our Story

We’re Dustin & Noami. We started Irie to Aurora because we experienced soul crushing jobs and the monotony of a life we were conditioned to believe was the only path to success and happiness. This caused us to question our life’s trajectory. So we dug up an old dream of traveling the country in a van, which led us to pursue entrepreneurship and ultimately to find financial independence as digital nomads.

We set out from New Orleans in 2016 in our 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon (Irie). Since then, we’ve found ourselves drawn to less, with a realization that we don’t need much to be happy, and the things we value now are not things at all. In 2019 we took on a new ridin’ partner, Amara the German Shepherd. Our little family of three are full-time nomads – exploring new places, building intentional community, challenging the narrative of what it means to be successful, and creating our own paths as digital nomads and eco-vanlifers.

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Noami Grevemberg

Writer + Podcaster + Activist
The compass to the essence of Irie and eco-conscious travel guide.

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Dustin Grevemberg

Writer + Builder + Co-pilot
The thoughtful heart-centered teacher and community resource.

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AMARA

Best friend + Co-pilot
The forever leader of the pack and your favorite running partner.

“What was life before Amara?” Noami reflects. “I can’t remember because I can’t imagine life without my bestie. I learn so much from her every day. She reminds me to slow down, to make time for play, and to infuse joy into my life. And she keeps me fit AF.

I’m also reminding myself that she’s her own being, living her own life and serving her own purpose. This journey is hers as much as it is mine.”

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Noami Grevemberg

Writer + Podcaster + Activist

The compass to the essence of Irie and eco-conscious travel guide.

“WELCOME TO MY HOME, MY OFFICE, AND MY BACKYARD!

We traded water coolers for waterfalls, desks for hammocks, lunch meetings for afternoon naps, and 2pm espresso for ice cold beer and long walks on the trail.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be a digital nomad, outdoorist, entrepreneur with an ever-changing view, I would’ve called you a liar. But here we are, in our office in nature. That’s why protecting the outdoors is important to us. Because if someone told me this couldn’t be my office anymore, I think I’d cry.”

Protecting the Land We Occupy

“My grandmother was the first zero-waste, eco-conscious minimalist I ever met. Though, we didn’t use those terms; for us, it was survival.

Everything was upcycled: butter tubs turned into Tupperware, aluminum cans turned into garden planters and broken items went straight to her work bench to be repaired. She collected rainwater, grew, harvested and foraged food, made her own products, and sewed and patched old clothes. Nothing went to waste, especially food, and she bartered and traded with neighbors.

These were my lessons in sustainability, drawn from generations of BIPOC ancestors. And this is why I’ve never identified with the ‘Zero-Waste Movement.’ It leaves out the voices and values of BIPOC while failing to address the causes of environmental racism. Colonialism created the problems of over-production and overconsumption. We cannot fix our waste problems using the same colonialist mindset that created them.”

Unlearning Takes Courage

“It’s real important for us to not be afraid to check ourselves and our opinions, even if we think we know something. We should not be afraid to acknowledge our ignorance and look for evidence. It’s not an easy task to fight our biases and structural oppression, it takes courage — GOSH does it take courage. But it requires much more courage to admit our ignorance and venture out into the unknown. We each play an important role in changing the world. You. Me. And the next person.

One of my most transformative realizations was accepting and undoing the programming that other Black women are my competition.

Black sisters, most of us can vouch for the fact that we’ve been dealt a shitty hand. For too long the dirty mouth of white supremacy has defined us. They toss us crumbs and watch us fight amongst ourselves.

But all that is, is a distraction.

Our power is unity and sisterhood— Black sisterhood. It’s important for us to take time to define who we are. Because if we don’t others will, and it will not be to our benefit. We must stay focused. We must rest. Our liberation depends on this.

Black Rest is Radical

Rest is truly a form of radical self-care. Though I know there are people out here who would rather silence me than listen to me, taking time to process and heal has given me new life.

The pursuit of rest is its own act of resistance.

I’ve been able to make peace with the fact that not everyone will be okay with my message nor the way I convey that message. And I will not be able to convince everyone that Black Lives Matter, that we must fight for Indigenous sovereignty, and that plastic pollution is a pressing matter for BIPOC communities. Ultimately, I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone will want to see that our lives are interwoven; that our actions matter.”

On the Other Side of Uncertainty

“I’m truly blessed to have such a supportive, open-minded partner who nurtures all my wild ideas — and trust me, I have many. Dustin proposed to me during a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. He carried the ring in his pack for 3 days; I even slept on it in my makeshift pillow and didn’t know. His plan was to propose when we summited the mountain, but on the last day of our trip he damaged his knee on a steep incline and I practically had to carry him out. When we stopped to rest, he pulled out the ring and got down on his one good knee.

Sometimes I wonder where this wild journey will take us, where we’ll end up… But the truth is, I don’t need to know. I’ve learned that two of the biggest obstacles in pursuing your dreams are fear of uncertainty and self-doubt. But what happens when you push past the doubt and embrace the uncertainty? You begin to stand in your power and see how extraordinary life can be.”

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Dustin Grevemberg

Writer + Builder + Co-pilot

The thoughtful heart-centered teacher and community resource.

Driving Away from Distractions

“Before vanlife, we were attached to some toxic friendships, bad habits, and our lifestyle left little room for working on ourselves or on our relationship. We were also both unfulfilled and unhappy in our careers; not to mention, the individual psychological and emotional traumas that we didn’t even know were there at that point.

So when we first left New Orleans in the van, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt optimistic, like anything was actually possible for once. For the first time it was just the two of us, with no distractions. We quickly learned each other’s boundaries, we stepped on each other’s toes and tempers flared often. We also learned how to give each other space and how to just be in each other’s presence with no expectations.

That first year would determine if we would spend the rest of our lives together or go our separate ways. Had we not taken radical steps to break the cycle we were in, I don’t think our relationship would have survived much longer. It was only supposed to be a year at first; now, it’s been over five.”

Becoming Anti-Racist

“My role is two-fold. First, my job is to hold space for Noami, whatever that looks like, whatever she needs. I can never know what it’s like to exist in Black or Brown skin, and I cannot imagine the trauma that she has experienced, that she was born with, and that she is healing from. My role is to support her and hold space for her.

Second, to educate myself. As a straight, cis-genderd, U.S. American-born white male, I have inherited more unearned privilege than any other group in the world. And white-supremacy played a big role in my upbringing. So it’s my responsibility to continue educating myself and unlearning my own biases and racist conditioning. And in this way, to learn how to better use my privilege to support Noami and to do my part in the fight to dismantle white supremacy.”

This Land is Not Mine

“My relationship to the land has evolved tremendously in the last year alone. I have to admit that I was not educated on the issues facing Indigenous peoples. Of course, I knew that this land was stolen from them through genocide, but I still carried a privileged mindset; one of entitlement. As I learn more about the true history of the land and the fight for Indegenous sovereignty, I’m learning to approach the land that we occupy with a greater sense of respect and reverence. I’m thankful for being here, while acknowledging that this land is not mine. I’m still learning how I can use my privilege to help in the fight for Indigenous sovereignty. Tthis journey and this evolution continues.”

The Catalysts of Constant Evolution

“Noami has been the catalyst to my personal growth. From the day we met, I began working to better myself. And since vanlife, that growth has been exponential. Just seeing the way she approaches life and interacts with people and pushes herself, it inspires me every single day. She’s my compass.

And Amara. She has been more of a blessing than I ever imagined. She’s a picture of unconditional love. And I now have this other being who depends on me, not only for survival but for love and nurturing. Because of her I’m more intentional with how I live my life.

Intentional community is forging bonds with individuals who share my values. It means intentionally connecting with people who encourage me to stay just outside of my comfort zone and inspire me to be the best possible version of myself.

In the past, community meant the people who live near you, the people you work with or go to church with. As vanlifers, we’re redefining community, and that gives us the opportunity to create it in the way we choose. So for me, intentional community means surrounding myself – physically, digitally, spiritually – with people who see me. It means being there for one another and feeling at home no matter where we go.”

“I’m grateful for this man,” Noami compliments. “It has been a whirlwind and through it all, he stood in my corner, holding space for me and encouraging me to grow as I needed, with him and on my own.”

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