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The 23rd June 2022 marked a significant milestone for me: Seven years living a nomadic life.
Traveling through over 25 countries, not paying rent anywhere, and never in one place for more than a couple of months at most – being nomadic is an exciting life of true freedom. Although it isn’t always easy, it makes me feel alive every day.
I know a lot of you may be reading this and thinking why the hell would you willingly choose to be homeless? Don’t you miss being surrounded by mountains of your own stuff? Having your own bed/routines/a constant friend group etc?
Well, not really. Not enough to stop anyway.
I understand that living a nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Hell, it’s not for most people. But this life is for me, for now at least. I don’t want to stop living this nomadic life any time soon, at least not completely. Being a Digital Nomad really suits me.
But in saying that, there are aspects of everyday life that I do miss, and I relish when I get to dip into that life again for a week, two weeks, a couple of months at a time. Normalcy is a novelty to me now, and in that context I really quite enjoy it.
But I know that if I re-enter that world for too long then it will become my norm again, and those feelings of anxiety, depression and being trapped will most probably raise their ugly heads: That is what has happened in the past.
One day we do want our own place. A tiny home in the mountains of Colorado and a piece of land or a small apartment in my home country of New Zealand is the dream. And I do believe it is an attainable one. It is a dream we have already started working towards.
But even in this more ‘stable’ dream of a future life, we would only plan to live in our tiny dream home for around half the year, traveling or living overseas for the other half.
I don’t want what’s normal in society to become my normal, it’s better for me if it stays a novelty. That way I won’t come to hate it.
Maybe you have toyed around with giving this life a try too? For those of you out there that are thinking that the carefree life of a nomad sounds right up your alley, read on to find out what this life is really like: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Truth About Living a Nomadic Lifestyle
The Good of Living a Nomadic Life
I don’t want to scare you off so I am going to start with the good things that come with this lifestyle.
The most obvious positive point of living a nomadic lifestyle is the sheer freedom you have. The countless possibilities of where you can go and what you can do can be overwhelming – but I think in a good way. The world truly is your oyster.
Knowing that I am not chained down to one place by a mortgage, car payments, a career, or even kids, is the best feeling for me. It excites me. I feel excited to wake up every day.
I get a deep sense of connection with the world as a whole from travel and a big part of that is the freedom it gives me.
Disclaimer: I do understand that some people live nomadic or semi-nomadic lives with a career, a mortgage, and kids, but it is certainly easier when you have nothing holding you back, and a lot less stressful.
You may be surprised to hear that living a nomadic lifestyle can actually be much more affordable than living a regular life in one place.
What I was paying just for rent for my half of a two-bedroom apartment in Sydney, is the same as my total living costs on most months these days. And that was just my rent! No bills, transport costs, food shopping, money for entertainment….
There are a number of ways we choose to travel cheaply some small and some large – like house sitting, staying in affordable vacation rentals, motels, and hostels, sleeping in our van (when we are in the US), staying with generous family and friends, traveling through cheaper countries, living within our means in regards to food and drink, traveling with a re-usable water bottle with a built-in filter so we don’t have to buy bottled water in countries where you can’t drink from the tap, not spending like crazy on gadgets, clothing, shoes etc.
We are minimalists and don’t have or want a lot of stuff. And we also try to travel as eco-consciously as possible.
Honestly, I don’t need a lot of money or things to be happy – just having my freedom and the ability to go out and enjoy life is priceless.
Experiencing the World
I have learned so much about people and different cultures through my 18 years of traveling and living abroad – and these experiences have been even more ramped up since I started living a nomadic way of life.
Being exposed to different countries and their cultures has made me a more empathetic and open person, it has made me see that most people are good and that we are all essentially the same.
So much of the hate that is put out into the world is from ignorant people who are scared of anyone and anything that is different – if they went out into the world and really experienced it, I believe that a lot of hateful views would be changed.
Getting to travel the world, experiencing its natural beauty and its affronting poverty, the good and the bad, it changes you. I am a different person than I was before I started traveling and I like myself so much better now.
It Builds Character
You face a lot of challenges living a nomadic lifestyle – challenges you wouldn’t necessarily face if you are living in a bubble of work/home/sleep repeat.
There are times when I am constantly out of my comfort zone, like traveling through countries where I don’t speak the language, dealing with cultural differences, and navigating an unfamiliar city in an unfamiliar country to name but a few.
You learn how to think on your feet, to stay calm in difficult situations, and to problem-solve as you have never problem solved before.
Sometimes it is tough, but it makes the sweet taste even sweeter. Living a nomadic lifestyle builds both character and confidence – both of which are so very important to any kind of lifestyle.
You Learn so Much
Being immersed in a place is an amazing way to learn about its history, but it’s also an amazing way to see how other people live: what’s important to them, what they hold true.
It is easier to learn a different language if you are surrounded by it every day, if you are interested in Parisian cuisine – then take cooking classes in Paris, if you want to know more about the wildlife of Africa – then do a safari in Tanzania or Kenya, if you want to learn how to salsa – then take lessons in Cali, Colombia, the salsa capital of the world.
The best place to learn about something is at its source, and if you are nomadic – you can go to a lot more places and learn a lot more than if you only have two weeks to travel a year.
Happiness. Some say this is the meaning of life and the purpose for our being here, at least the Dalai Lama and Aristotle think so. Who am I to disagree?
Living this life has made me happier than I ever could have imagined. I am not saying that my life is perfect – it certainly isn’t – but the fact that I am living a life that is true to myself means more to me than I can say.
I used to push against a nomadic lifestyle, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t really what I wanted, that just traveling for a few weeks a year would be enough, but for me, it isn’t.
I never thought a nomadic lifestyle would be possible for me as my ex wasn’t interested in living like this and that was the man I was going to marry.
Even though it hurt like hell, I freed us both and now we are both living the lives that we always dreamt of.
The Bad of Living a Nomadic Life
But the good always comes with the bad…
Bad internet connections so you can’t get your work done (a digital nomad horror story if there ever was one), horrible hotel rooms that looked lovely in the pictures, a client dropping you at the last minute, being robbed in a faraway country, civil unrest in the country you are planning to visit next – there is so much uncertainty in a nomadic lifestyle, some things small and some not so much.
There will be anxiety and disappointment – maybe more so than in an everyday existence – and it can get you down sometimes.
I do think that the good does outweigh the bad in the end though, and you really need to learn quickly to just go with the flow and take things as they come.
Missing Friends and Family
One of the worst things about the nomadic lifestyle is the lack of community. If you are used to being surrounded by family and friends, then suddenly not having them right there will feel like a shock, and you will feel lonely at times.
While meeting people on the road is a lot of fun, sometimes you just want to see a person that knows you well and has been in your life for a long time. Luckily you can get around this by living a nomadic life only part of the time, or by making regular trips back home.
The fact that I have been prioritizing my time by spending a least a month of the year in New Zealand and another three months or so a year popping in and out of Colorado where Toby’s family lives for the past few years has made this a nonissue for me, most of the time.
You Can’t Have Pets
One of the things I miss the most from having a more traditional life is having a cat. I am a cat-less crazy cat lady and it just ain’t right.
Luckily with all the housesitting we do, I do get a good dose of kitty (and doggy/bunny/gerbil/bearded lizard/chicken etc) love, but I am dreaming of the day when I can have my own kitty again.
Your Health Can Suffer
Exhaustion, weight gain, anxiety, depression, allergies – all kinds of health issues can crop up if you are moving too fast or for too long. I actually have a lot more issues with anxiety and depression when I am not on the road, but weight gain has been a very real problem for me.
A couple of years ago I was the heaviest I have been since I lived in London nearly ten years ago (damn Heathrow injection), and even though I know I wasn’t ‘fat’, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
There are good fitness apps and websites these days that help with keeping your health on track when you are traveling, and I am definitely keen to try them in the future.
I have since lost some of the weight I had been stockpiling but my weight is very up and down. It is difficult to maintain a healthy weight when you are traveling all the time – wanting to try new dishes and not finding the time to exercise.
And I love food – including lots of delicious things that are definitely not good for me – so it is a struggle to be good when you can’t click your brain off I’m on holiday! I can eat whatever I want! mode. The struggle is real.
Exhaustion is definitely another health issue that has reared its ugly head at times when I have been moving too fast, and I have had a couple of mini-breakdowns because of it.
I’m starting to learn that I can only do fast trips for short amounts of time otherwise it will not be fun for anyone (poor Toby has been known to take the brunt of my frustrations in the past – luckily he is the most chilled guy ever).
The biggest worry in my life since becoming a nomad has been money – although it seems like that is a lot of people’s biggest worry, nomadic or not.
Over the past seven years, I have made my money from working as a Virtual Assistant, Pinterest Manager, doing short-term contracts when I was back home in New Zealand or in the U.S., working event and hospitality jobs, as well as a small and sporadic income from this blog.
There are actually so many ways you can make money while traveling or living abroad, one of the most popular is teaching English abroad, and I have only tried a few of them so far – it definitely helps the worrying to know there are other options.
I never know how much I am going to receive each month so it does worry me that I will run out of money and have to sleep in my van down by the river – oh wait, I’m already living that lifestyle. Nevermind.
It Can Feel Like you are Always Taking
I hate feeling like I am not giving back as much as I am taking, and that’s how it feels sometimes when we stay with friends and family a lot.
Both Toby and I are very lucky to have such incredible families that are so supportive of our lifestyles, and I love that we get to spend a lot of quality time with these special people by staying with them, but I am also looking forward to when we can give back.
Once we build it, the door to our tiny home will always be open to visitors, especially to the people who have done so much for us.
The Ugly of a Nomadic Life
You May Never Want to go Back to an Ordinary Life
OK, so I couldn’t think of anything really ugly about this lifestyle so I copped out. It’s true though, if you really take to this lifestyle, it will be hard to slot back into regular life. Once you know what is out there, how can you turn your back on the whole world and just live in one small part of it?
I know a lot of travelers will disagree with me here and that’s fine – to each their own. One day I may want to settle down but I sincerely doubt that will be in a full-time capacity – although part-time would be just fine.
I plan to travel for the rest of my life. It is one of my reasons for living, my one true passion, my calling, and my everything. There is more in my life than just travel, but it is a massive part of who I am and I won’t apologize for that.
Some people feel the need and the want to have babies, or work hard climbing the corporate ladder, or own ten cars and a gigantic house – my need and want is to continue traveling, learning, and experiencing the world itself. I don’t care if I am broke forever, this lifestyle is worth so much more than money.
And living like this – nothing makes me happier.
So do you think a nomadic lifestyle would be a good fit for you?
My Digital Nomad Packing List
I highly recommend the Osprey Fairview or Farpoint 40L packs – they are the perfect carry-on size, are comfortable and durable, and have lots of pockets to organize your stuff. Use packing cubes for further organization. If you are more of a suitcase person, this Pro Carry-On With Laptop Pocket 20” is a fantastic option.
I love my Birkenstocks, which are great for walking long distances as they have great foot support, and they look stylish.
Another must-have for me when I am traveling through countries where I can’t drink the tap water, is this GRAYL Re-usable Water Bottle with Built-in Filter. It will end up saving you so much money and it is better for the planet.
I now also have a LARQ self-cleaning and purifying water bottle to drink tap water in foreign countries – it’s a more attractive and light-weight option to the GRAYL but doesn’t eradicate metal or other particles in water.
I also swear by these silicone earplugs which are a million times better than any other earplugs I have ever tried, and if you have small ear canals like me, you can pull them apart easily to make them the perfect size for you.
For more ideas for what I pack for this lifestyle, check out my Sri Lanka Packing Post and these tips for carry-on stylish travel.
The Best Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads
If you are a Digital Nomad, it is so important to get travel and health insurance that will suit your needs. If you plan on driving an automobile during your travels, you’ll also need car insurance.
Safety Wing is my go-to for travel insurance and they are cheap, easy to claim with, cover COVID, and it auto-renews every month so you don’t have to think about it. I love that I didn’t have to pay a giant lump sum at the start of my travels for a policy, and that I didn’t have to try and figure out how long I would need it for – the auto-renewal is so great!
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you are planning to live in other countries for more than a couple of months and want more comprehensive medical insurance, then Safety Wing just launched a Remote Health plan that is perfect for nomads and remote workers.
There is also full coverage in your home country (at an extra cost for the US and a couple of other countries), and no exclusions for pandemics.
If you liked this post, check out my yearly recap posts to find out what my nomadic life looks like, and what it costs:
- My Life in Travel: 18 Years Since I Left New Zealand
- Digital Nomad Life: 2017 in Review
- Digital Nomad Life: 2018 in Review
- Digital Nomad Life: 2019 in Review
- Digital Nomad Life: 2020 in Review
- Digital Nomad Life: 2021 in Review
- Digital Nomad Life: 2022 in Review
i backpacked through the mid east- far asia from 1970-1976 have bok coming out by 2025 i,m 78 now.bottom line most you are under50. for back then i was in my 20s. super fit rugged road hardened spent only 5000$ in 6 years got it back in 2 months. some guys back them traveld up to 10-15 years. but a florence hostel cost but 1.50$ a night not 45-50$ a night and now 3rd word country are too modwern like the usa to bother but the big differnece now is our ages a seniors. one finds our umbilcal cord to our doctor, our need for percription refills shortens. “on a short leash ” as the saying goes. the small aches pains of your 20s now magnified many times over. the one out of three nights sleepless now to wearing . ultimitly its a younger persons dream however if all we are is our memory then in pretrospect i,m very wealthy in soul and spirit half of my highschool class of 1964 are dead now 3040 years at boeing. only to die shorlty after retirement outsmarted by their acuarists.wise up reverse it travel now when young for your health is your passport.nomadic world travel while young the wisest decision i ever made.
I love that Sterling and completely agree about traveling while you are young enough to really enjoy it. It sounds like you had an incredible adventure
I have done a lot of solo travelling when over the age of 60 – mostly for scuba in the South Pacific but also No. Europe – and have loved it.
Now, however, I’m 76 and after a recent surgery that had complications I no longer want to go zooming around. I’d love to find info about living in nice weather places for 2-3 months at a time. An older residential hotel with services and a restaurant to live in sounds better than 2-4 weeks isolated in an Airbnb.
Do such hotels exist?
Hi Lin, I’m not sure about residential hotels but they probably exist. I definitely understand wanting to slow down, I am getting to the point now when I would like to do that more.
Wonderful website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!
Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is actually annoying. A good blog with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this web site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.
I am looking at moving toward this lifestyle when I hit my 70s! Am I crazy to think I can do this while I am still in very good health and physically active? Are there any good resources for renting furnished places for 4-6 months at a time – less expensive than Airbnb etc. I’m not sure where to begin looking for resources so any suggestions would be super helpful! Does it make more sense to have a van? I don’t really want to have to deal with something bigger than a car to move around, but am open to suggestions and would definitely love to hear about older folks doing this kind of thing! Thanks!
Hi Cyndi, you aren’t crazy to do it in your 70s and there are so many ways you can live a nomadic lifestyle. I highly recommend housesitting, you are usually looking after people’s pets too but you have a home to stay in for free – I love it and I got my 70-year-old mother into it now too. I know a lot of people show up in a place they want to live for a few months and ask around for furnished rentals once they get there. I usually housesit, stay in my RV or van, and stay in hostels and hotels when I travel internationally. You should look into a small RV or van, maybe rent one for a week and see if you can see yourself living in one. Then break up time in the van/RV with housesits. Hope this helps!
Taking the flying leap of faith! Just sold the house, but we are moving most of our ‘stuff’ into storage for 6 months while we test this out. We’re fully retired and, as remote workers the last 20 years, have spent extended ( up to 6 weeks ) in other countries. Now we are stretching that out to 6 to 12 months. We’ll be taking our 5 year old husky mix with us, so lots of patience is needed to deal with paperwork, paperwork paperwork!! I appreciate your tips, particularly the refillable water bottle with filter. Thanks! I would add just one item and that would be a reusable grocery bag. They are super light and with (thank heavens) the global trend to reduce or eliminate single use plastics, some countries no longer provide grocery bags.
That’s so exciting Kim! Good tip on the reusable shopping bag – I carry one with me and it always comes in handy.
Interested in more on living situations.My dreams of becoming location independent often get halted in housing. I welcome having a conversation about what is possible.
My concerns are (astronomical) costs.
An RV style is the same as a home mortgage. I daydream of the tesla camper van-also may be an excuse anymore to why I have yet to begin.
Other styles are hostels, air bnb, hotels. Is there anything between a hostel and a condo? I would like ability to cook and travel with only luggage (no car).
This is for a lifestyle change to be nomadic full-time. So spending $100s a night seems too much.
maneuvering the void and upleveling my nervous system to make the leap.
If you are planning to stay a month or more in a place, you can book a hotel or Airbnb for a couple of nights then look for a short term apartment once you arrive – you can get great deals depending on where you are going. Another option is housesitting which is something I do a lot. You get free accommodation in exchange for looking after someone’s home and pets while they are away. I also have an RV but we bought it second hand for only $3000 and put about another $3000 work into it – it is a lot cheaper to do this than buy brand new.
here’s my technique that’s been working for 12 years of Nomadic lifestyle.
If you’re in places such as India, Nepal, Thailand , Sri lanka, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Korea etc
You can easily find a great airbnb (4.7 stars or more), for $300 – $800 U.S in the big cities.
If you want the Islands or the remote places, you can also find a room or a bungalow
You won’t be able to cook, but the food you’ll eat outside will hardly affect your budget.
Japan is NOT expensive as they make it seem.
(ate out EVERY day never cooked once) Yoshinoya, Coco ichibanya, these fast food places best value for money . $5 for a super healthy meal, the kitchen is polished, everything is done to perfection, tea or water are included in the price too! )
You can get by like a king in Osaka on $1800 a month.
Then you can just jump to Thailand and cut the budget down to $1500 (while still never cooking once)
or to India and cut it down to $900 – $1000
Then you got western europe, where it’s easier to find some caravan to rent rather than
buy one, that will give you a LOT of freedom, but forget about 4.7 star Airbnbs under $1500.
Eastern europe is quite similar to Asia in prices, and you can pretty much get by on $1000 – $1500 (depends on location, ofcourse)
Eating out in western europe is a different game for some, me included,
the final bills in restaurants in Italy or Germany are harder to afford 3 times a day every day.
So thats when cooking becomes very practical and fun too, as a single person,
You have to adapt to situations and make the most of them, you develop a connection
You pick your veggies wisely, your plan the sauce strategy, you clean the dishes when you’re done… There’s something incredibly meditative about it.
Eastern europe is pretty much heaven in terms of budgets.
You can find great airbnbs for $350 – $1200 (Czech and Hungary are similar to the Taiwan and Japan of Asia, a bit higher on the numbers,
still very doable without slaving at the corporate plantations)
In Saranda Albania, off season, you can get a beach front condo, with 5 star reviews for $350 USD,
the same place will be about $2000 in the high season which is Mid june to mid September
Bulgaria Serbia and Romania are also dirt cheap, however,you can play
with a small budget,
cook whenever you’re in the mood
(the veggies are incredible in those countries!! they know how to grow !)
All of these ways are personal tactics,
but over the years things a lot more younger people
live this life style differently,
by using workaway.
Workaway basically gives them a little job (5 hours 5 days a week)
in exchange for food , shelter or sometimes.
So some of those young ones will do some extra laptop work in their free time,
end up getting richer experiences and bank accounts.
(Popular hostels save up on staff by paying with food and shelter,
Young ones don’t have to slave their life away, it’s a win win)
Then there’s a lot of people that travel around US / Australia / Europe / Eastern europe with Caravans.
However, they’re not so common around Asia or South America.
Thanks for your tips James. I managed to travel through Canada for 5 months on $30 a day by using Work Away, ridesharing, hitchhiking, and subletting an apartment for cheap in Vancouver off a student for a month. Even in expensive countries there are always ways to save money and live cheaply. We have a van and an RV and have been spending months every year roadtripping around the US in them – cooking is something I do a lot of when I am in more expensive countries too.
Hello! I’ve been following your web site for some time
now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas!
Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!
From a metaphysical perspective:
A plant cannot move at all, it is at the whim of fate and where it happens to germinate. If conditions are not ideal it can wither and die.
When humans are living and working somewhere with less than ideal conditions, in a similar way a part of them can wither and death may get closer. Many folk do not understand geopathic stress,.
Daoists call something similar fung shui.
Being mobile allows humans and animals to move to more favourable conditions.
ie: a gypsy is not sucked into the gossip and stresses a community may endure, the gypsy simply moves to the next ideal county
Unfortunately most modern urban environments are harmful.
Wi-Fi can kill a houseplant
Rather than thinking over there is a paradise while over there is a hell hole, quite often micro climates of ideal living conditions exist just next door to less than ideal spots.
Modern campervans can be toxic, best to create your own with natural interiors.
I’m so proud of you! We are considering this life style. What would be your first guide or reading to get started? I love to travel and I am so done with ice and snow.
I’d really appreciate any advice you can provide.
Take care, and God Bless.
Hi Joe, there’s lots of blogs out there have more info about how to get started. Where in the World is Nina? has lots of great content if you are looking to work online or abroad https://whereintheworldisnina.com/work-to-wander/ and if you are looking to retire and travel then, Travel Past 50 https://travelpast50.com/ and https://alisonanddon.com/ are great for inspiration and practical tips.
Also important to try avoid plastic, if you can.
It’s almost impossible to cross borders today without a smart phone,
Since they wanna see some “papers” on your “plastics”
Opt to buy GLASS bottled drinks rather than PLASTIC bottled ones,
Opt to eat in with ceramic plates rather than take aways or deliveries (they generate so much crap)
Opt to wipe your butt with water instead of toilet papers.
Bum guns and Water buckets can be your best friend in terms of your God-Karma accounting department
( Also, mentally Very very liberating move for westerns like myself, Dhanyabad India!!! )
Surround yourself with as much WOOD as you can,
if you have to be in a plastic environment for circumstances beyond your control,
Try to integrate nature, as OP said.
Great post by the way,
Thank you crazy cat lady, I love your work,
However, women are way more social beings than men,
So your whole notion of “not having community” because you travel
You know how many men have turned out to have certain families around? Me neither,
However, it’s a common story that a wife finds out her husband had another family he took care of on the side. (Arnold Schwarzenegger etc)
It doesn’t work vice versa.
You as a woman (it’s nature, before you call me a misogynist , don’t shoot the messenger)
You can only get pregnant one child every 9-10 months.
A man can get about 270 children in those 9-10 months, if he
has a %100 success rate every day with a different one.
Us men can venture out and have many communities and families around.
Biologically, and because of it emotionally and physically too.
It’s much easier to be a male nomad and very impressive you’ve managed to pull through
GOOD JOB! GOOD POST! THANK YOU!
Agree that we should avoid plastic as much as possible. Not really sure what you are saying about women and babies etc – I don’t think communities have to involve blood family members.
If biology is what determines your life you might want to do some serious soul searching. Anyway, your comment is non sequiteur: she did not even mention babies and breeding.
It’s been more than three years now that I am experiencing this feeling of rush within me of traveling and living a life of freedom.
Thank you for sharing your own experience.
Glad you are loving the lifestyle too Allen!
Hi and thank you for sharing your experiences.
I am currently part way through a sticky divorce and at the end, although rather sadly, I will be in many ways ‘free’ and with somewhere between £50-100k in my pocket.
I haven’t a job, nor anything Epping me where I am anymore. I have had an horrific life but more so in the last 2-3 years and come next year I will be essentially free and without restraint and a few coins in my pocket.
I toy with settling AGAIN, but this just doesn’t seem to be right, that life doesn’t want me and frankly my freedom that I’ll sadly have been given by losing my wife, kids and home just makes me think “I’m 43 years old and I’m still able” so I think stuff it, wing it and see where it all takes me.
1 year, 10 years or rest of my life, do I just go for it and say sod it?!
I’ve tried it the conventional way, twice now and neither worked at all and to be honest it’s kinda defecated on me from a great height and I’ve tried so damn hard to make it work and worked all my life, been a good man and good dad and now I have nothing. Maybe bows the time to be totally selfish?!
Do I buy somewhere abroad?
Do I just hop on a train?
I hold a driving licence and motorcycle licence; do I buy a van or a decent bike and see where it takes me?
Do I lose my eyes, point at the map and get a flight (I don’t like flying)?
Do I do all this but here in the UK, or further afield? I don’t much like this country or a lot about it anymore and I just think time away, however long that be, might either finally make my mind up and lead me the right way.
Iv partially accepted the new found freedom I sort of have just now, and come next year that freedom will be no greater than it will be on completion of the sale of my home. So if tried and tried the usual ‘normal’ route, now I just want to keep being free. I’ve always struggled being alone and feeling lonely, but 2 years ago she left and took my babies, I’ve been alone mostly in that time and I’ve learnt to be at one with myself and sort of accept and kinda love being n my own a fair bit. So I’m not in fear of that anymore and it’s liberating.
So I guess for a while I can self fund and won’t have to work as such, if I did then great, but what would you do in my situation?
Hi, thanks for your comment. I would say test the waters first – do a trip for a couple of months in Europe either in a van or staying in Airbnbs – whatever makes you comfortable. See if you like it before delving in fully. Housesitting is also a good option for free accommodation with some minor responsibilities.
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One of my questions to you is doing this alone just to dangerous? In certain countries I assume it would be. do you know which ones to avoid? I have sometimes thought of this kind of life mainly because I’ve always enjoyed traveling and felt I just never fit in anywhere anyway. I pretty much have the means to do this easily for about 3 years at which time I could retire and continue. I also do a kind of work that could be done remotely to generate some income. I’ve never married, no kids and some family that is kind of breaking up due to differences in political beliefs. My biggest problem is leaving my mother. Her health is starting to fail and I’m afraid if I were to tell her I’m going away it would devastate her and I don’t want to hurt her. I already live about 5 hrs away but do see her 1-2 times every 2 months. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters though that are near her so its not her care I’m worried about. I’m torn that my decision to do this is a selfish one and I’ll regret leaving family/friends behind and become more distant from them therefore figure I’ll just hold off another 3 years then retire at 60 and make a decision then.
That is definitely a hard decision JD. Perhaps until you retire you could do a few long trips to places – maybe rent your place out for six months or do a home exchange. This way you can make sure that you like the lifestyle before commiting.
very interesting !!!
Im here in bed reading this article and wanting to leave my 65000 a year job that gave me anxiety, panic attacks, a lot of visits to doctors, taking xanax, irrational fears, depression and more. Im 38, male, inmigrant and never feared anything before. Now im leaving in a expensive rent with a amazing view to my city skyline, the best view I have ever had, with the best spouse ever, with the best cat, now we got a dog, beautiful Australian Shepherd…but im not happy! Is the sad truth. We are planning on buying a house but i now question if that lifestyle is for me after this dark chapter with anxiety. I feel depressed working from home. I wake up everyday and is the same thing over and over! I wish to be traveling always, never in the same place for too long. My main concern is uncertainty, i need to find a way to make an income to live during traveling and save something to stop for a few months and recharge. I love nature, i have camera equipment to blog and more, love camping and stargaze, i love adventure, the solitude, the mountains, the wilderness, the peace. I need that peace back in my life. Thanks and wish you all well in life.
Hi, sorry to hear that you aren’t happy. Is there a possibility that you could take a sabbatical from your job? That way you could try out living a nomadic life and see if it is for you.
Thank you for the very well penned comment to theworldonmynecklace blog. I am at a crossroad right now, wondering what I should do with my life now that I’m retired. Sure, being retired was what I had originally planned on being, but after a while of just plain staying at home and occasionally jumping in my car to drive around or do some shopping and all that stuff, I realized that I was really born to travel. Have always had this urge to travel, and I’m thinking now of just taking off and being somewhere for two months at a time, because I am convinced that I will enjoy this lifestyle. And I think I will just go ahead and see what happens.
Hi Flo, you should definitely give it a try and see if you like it. You could always get a housesitter if you have pets/need plants watered and then hit the road.
Lovely article and insights. I’ve lived the nomadic life in the us for many years. At 46 and now a remote work option, I’m planning Costa Rica for my first international adventure. I can absolutely relate to everything you mentioned with living the “norm” life. I begin to feel very unsettled after a bit. I do love how you spoke about part time nomad living as it may be more suiting for me at this point in my life.
Any experience in Costa Rica?
Hi Antoinette, thanks for your comment. I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica but I know it’s popular with digital nomads and I would love to go in the future. I hope it works out for you there.
This was a fantastic read and it gave me many things to about before I start my nomadic lifestyle. I really appreciate you writing this and especially reading the insightful feedback you gave to each commenter. Safe travels!
Thanks so much Lisa, I’m glad it helped you.
Excellent post! I’m Victor and I’m literally trying to start this like within the next year. Just trying to figure out the best way to start. I have a few grand saved and just need a sure fire way to make money online immediately and I’m going. I think I’ll start with Thailand or Latin America. Only thing stopping me it’s consistent money once I leave to start my journey. I have no home. And I can liquidate EVERYTHING I own. Any suggestions??
Congrats Victor! Thailand is a fantastic place to start. Have you considered teaching English? That is how a lot of people start living abroad – you can do it in person in Thailand or online. My friend Nina has lots of resources on her website about working online, teaching English, and living abroad – I highly recommend you check her site out https://whereintheworldisnina.com/work-to-wander/
I deal with major stress that I believe has caused me extensive anxiety and major depressive disorder. I am a single 44-year old man. I have no debt and do not own a home. I do, however, have too much clutter in life–things I can sell to make plenty of cash. I have come to realize, at my age, I really do not foresee myself getting married; therefore, I see no reason to amass so much “stuff”, as when all is said and done, it might all get thrown away when I am dead and long gone. I love travelling, but have only been to a few countries. Seeing the world has been a life-long dream, but I have spent my last 23 years at a job that is just too stressful and emotionally draining. The money is good, but I recently have been pondering whether it is really worth it.
Questions: How did you get rid of your “stuff”? It sounds like you are pretty happy, but do you ever look back and wonder what could have been? Once you began your journey, where was your first stop? How did you find a place to live? So many more questions, but I will stop. Thanks.
Hi Richard, I honestly don’t wonder what could have been in regards to living a “regular” life – I have done that but just in different countries as an expat. My first stop in my nomadic life was actually the US and Canada for three months, then I went to Southeast Asia and I think that is an excellent first stop to keep costs down. I would recommend either booking an apartment through Airbnb or VRBO and maybe even negotiate a monthly rate, or book a hotel for a couple of nights then look for a place once you arrive – facebook groups are good for this. Good luck!
I hope one day this kind of life style will work out for me. I cant imagine myself ever being tied down to one place my whole life, while I’m still young at least. I’m only 15 right now so I still have a long way to go. I’m planning on going to college, and maybe doing a study abroad program for a semester or two, then pursuing a nomadic lifestyle right out of college. Do you think that’s a good idea?
Hi Sarah, I think that things are changing rapidly, even more so due to COVID, in regards to the availability of jobs that are remote so I think that by the time you are finished with college, that will be a very viable option for you. Good luck!
Thanks for sharing your view on living a nomadic life. Personally I feel that I’m at a crossroad in my life. The point where decisions need to be taken, setting out out my future path. However I’m starting to realize more and more that I don’t want to life the ‘regular’ life. It feels as a drag and it feels ‘trapped’ to me, as you mention as well. At the the same time I’m afraid to end up living a life with no true ‘purpose’.
How do you experience this as living a nomadic life, do you consider your ‘purpose’ or is it not something that occupies your mind?
Hi Fry, I guess my purpose is to help people live a life full of travel and to realize that it is OK to want to live a different life. Having this website is my purpose but I understand that may change and evolve. If you are someone that feels like your career is your purpose, then are you able to continue doing this remotely? That way you can have your career and also live nomadically and experience the world.
Thanks for the incredible insight it was a pleasure to hear of your travels. It’s great to see a different perspective in life and wish you well in your journeys. Thank you again for sharing your unique experience with us.
Thanks Joe, I am glad to hear you enjoyed it and I wish you well too.
I’ve been wanting to be able to live and work in other countries but I don’t know how to get past the red tape to get the documentation that a person needs. Apparently after 30yrs old you can’t get a work visa, so I don’t know how people move freely within these other places…
I have done working holiday visas in a couple of countries but these days I work online so I can work anywhere, but my main base is the US where I have a green card.
Love your comments about the Nomadic Lifestyle. So many of the pros and cons echo my experiences of two years on the road living in a VW microbus in the early 1970s. . . . though we never worried about poor internet connections. My memoir, Wherever the Road Leads, a a Memoir of Love, Travel, and a Van, is perfect for travel adicts and armchair travelers.
WHEREVER THE ROAD LEADS
A wedding, a VW microbus, and two years on the road.
Newlyweds (an artist and an engineer) meet the rigors of travel and the ups and downs of married life in a Volkswagen microbus that continually needs repair. Surrounded by exotic backdrops from Panama to India and beset by mechanical problems, Tom and Katie drive 40,000 miles across four continents in a world before the internet or cell phones. Everything from engine trouble to personal sanitation, from running out of funds to primitive roads, affects their journey. Will their beloved green van make it to the end of the trip? Will their relationship thrive or will it crumble under the pressure of living together 24/7 in a van?
For more information about the author and her memoir you can go to http://www.klangslattery.com.
Contact K. Lang-Slattery at:
Beautiful article, I am a semi-retired divorcee, who now has lived the nomadic lifestyle for 2 1/2 years. Just me, my part pittbull/part bullmastiff and part rottwieller Named Ras, and our home on wheels, a 1980 Glendale motorhome. A motorhome which I have converted to being able to live full time off the grid, with a generator and solar pannels. I love the fact that all together I can live quite comfortably on less than $1000.00/mnth Canadian.Currently planning a trip across country this winter, once I finnish installing the insulation in my rig.
I spent half my life tied down to “the Normnal Lifestyle”, and now I have NO DESIRE to ever return to a stick and brick lifestyle.
That sounds fantastic! We have a small campervan but it doesn’t have a bathroom or kitchen – I would love to have a larger van or trailer one day where we can be fully self-sufficient. I hope you have an amazing winter traveling across country 🙂
Hi I’m Jake and I’m a 14 year old boy from New Zealand, and for the past few months I have been looking into this lifestyle and I think that it is the one for me (once I have finished school). I have been trying to figure out the different parts of it such as how to make money while I am out in the world traveling (I am thinking that I might vlog it and put it up on youtube). I am thinking that I want to get a university degree before I head out and travel so that I have something to fall back onto if things don’t work out well. Do you think that sounds good? Also, what is the best way for me to prepare for this while i am still young?
Hi Jake, getting a University Degree or Polytech Diploma first would be a good idea, studying something that you can take on the road with you perhaps? If you do go to University you could look into doing a semester abroad, that would be a great way to get a feel for living in another country.
That sounds like a good idea. And thanks for replying so fast lol, I’m writing a speech on it at the moment.
No problem Jake, good luck with your speech
I have been pinned down for my entire adult life with kids. On my second marriage and with teenagers still i wont see freedom till 60. I manage to travel plenty by joing the navy. But i am ready with my retirement money to just keep moving until my strength gives out. Which comes to the one questions that acares me. Is it too late to do this at 60 i have kept my self strong and health for the most part.
Julio, if you have your health, I honestly think it is never too late! There is a couple that I follow that started their nomadic journey over the age of 60, their blog is https://alisonanddon.com/ – check them out and hopefully they can inspire you even more to take the leap!
Great article. I saved for ten years to be able to live the life you’re living then started dating a woman whose career and daughter make this life impossible. It’s also just not something she wants. I am terribly torn by this situation. I feel like I’m conforming and not honoring my values. At the same time the thought of ending my relationship devastates me. Nonetheless, your comments about your own relationship were helpful. Thanks again for a great article.
Thanks for your comment Carter. I know how hard it is to be torn between love and lifestyle – that was me when I was with my ex and it is a very hard decision to make. I hope everything works out for you.
Oh boy. Exactly the same happened to me. I’ve lived in multiple countries, I’ve backpacked for months on end, and I’ve always found this lifestyle to be fantastic.
I even figured out a way to make money on the go, and could have probably gone on forever, but then…
I met a wonderful girl, and she want’s nothing of this lifestyle. She wants babies, a house, job security, close proximity to her family and all of that…
But it’s tearing me apart. My values are out the window, but she makes me “happy” in many different ways. I guess I’ve got untill babies are happening – to figure shit out. Anyway, long story short, very relateable article with FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Thanks.
Thanks Jay, that is a hard situation – I know because I was in it too. A lot of people make it work but ultimately it didn’t work out for me. I went on a one year solo trip with my then fiance meeting up with me along the way, but we ended up breaking up during that trip because we both realised we couldn’t compromise anymore. I really hope it works out for you, whichever way it goes.
I love reading posts on full-time nomadic lifestyles. It’s so inspiring! I do have a job, mortgage and kids — things you mention that make nomadic lifestyles a little harder, ha! — but still think about going semi-nomadic when my littles are a bit older. Congrats on your anniversary!
Thanks Catherine, there is definitely different levels of nomadism so you can find the lifestyle that suits you and your family best.
As someone who was just about to go and travel full time and do the whole digital nomad thing, this is a very interesting and honest read. There’s pros and cons, highs and lows but you’ve summarised your personal experience brilliantly. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Tammy, I hope you can proceed with the Digital Nomad lifestyle once things start getting back to normal.
Whoop, whoop – congrats on your 3 year anniversary Katie!! Very admirable, but nice to hear both the pros an cons.
Hey Liz – it’s actually four years now, this was a post I wrote for my three years. Pretty crazy that it has been so long!
beautiful experience you’have shared. I never thought about being nomadic but it seems full of joy and enticement. you can do whatever you want in your life. missing family and friends for a long time.
I just want to say good luck for your life and wish you more happiness.
Thanks Monica, it is definitely not for everyone and like any lifestyle there are bad points too but it is the right lifestyle for me – at the moment at least!
It was so interesting to read this – I have what I consider a “flexible” lifestyle, in that I can work remotely when I want to which allows a lot more time for travel. However, I definitely love coming home to somewhere cozy, and I enjoy having friends and family around – plus my boyfriend’s job doesn’t allow for a truly nomadic experience! I guess I think I’ve got a nice happy medium, but I do love living vicariously through other people’s experience. Cheers, this was fun to think about!
Thanks for your comment Allyson. That sounds like a great medium, in the future I imagine my life will look more like yours – living nomadically part of the time and having a base for part of the time. I am glad you have found a lifestyle that fits you
This hits home. I’ve been living abroad for four years and these are all so true! Well written and nice read 🙂
Thanks Alexandra. I’m glad that you can relate – I know that it isn’t for everyone but for some of us, we couldn’t imagine anything else
All of this. Always eating like you’re on holiday. Worrying about money (should I be, like, paying off student loans or saving for retirement when I really just want to stockpile all the extra cash I make?). And not knowing if I can ever go back to a “normal” life. But yeah, the freedom, the happiness, and the travel – it’s WORTH IT. Can you imagine going back to the “Can I please take some time off?” life? No way.
Extra cash always equalled travel for me when I was working in a regular job so it’s so hard for me to save for anything else now haha. A life with only two weeks of vacation would be so rough after having so much freedome
Thank you for sharing! Especially the ugly. I am slowly on my way out of my 9 to 5 as I am craving to travel even more and have a less routine life. Any tips on how I should just get over the hump and just do it without all the fears?
Hi Mao, my tip would be to not overthink it. Save enough money to be able to travel cheaply for a year and give it a shot. Do you have a plan for how you are going to make money while you are traveling?
Such a wonderful post!
After being a nomad for one year soon, I share most of the thoughts that you have put on paper here. Couldn’t imagine returning to “normal” life anymore, leaving it all behind to travel the world has been probably the best decision I’ve made in my life.
All the best for you and happy travels!
Thanks Anne! I definitely think that it’s worth suffering the bad because the good is so good, congrats on nearly making it to one year!