Tips for Aspiring Nomads
This week, I wanted to take a step back from my usual blogs, that deal with just one topic, and answer some of the questions that you have. You, who’ve been listing to this podcast and reading this blog over the years. You, who may be considering becoming nomads yourselves, and have some concerns. You’re not sure if the lifestyle is right for you, you’re not sure where to begin, how to make money on the road or how to deal with your families. These are just a few of the comments that I picked out from the blog, and gave my answers and tips to. But feel free to continue commenting, and I’ll catch your question in the next round!
Letting go of the “American dream”
Chris: I want to dive into the nomadic lifestyle because I notice my loved ones become happy or disappointed at the things they have, or don’t have. Nomadic lifestyle seems to be the answer so I don’t suffer the same fate. Not to mention that I have a divine connection with my maker. My Zen is away from this “American dream” that leads to unhappiness in everyone I know.
I agree that not all of us have to follow a regular lifestyle. We do have a limited time on this planet and an alternative way of living may be a better fit for some people. However, I can see that a lot of times people attack the “normal lifestyle”, as a way of justifying the nomadic one. And I disagree. We are not at war against the regular lifestyle, it’s not the enemy. I respect it and understand that it’s the optimal way of living for most people – a nine to five job, a family and a home. You should choose a lifestyle because you want to improve your existence, not run away from anything. And you should also respect everyone’s choice of living the best way they know.
I also want to clarify that a nomadic lifestyle is not free of disappointments and moments of unhappiness. It may not result from material possessions, but just from the experiences you have along the way. Disappointments are just a part of life.
Finally, I wanted to say that nomadic life may seem to be the answer for happiness, but you will only know if it’s right for you once you’ve tried. There’s a good possibility that you’ll find it unbearable. Be open to the chance that it may not work for you, and don’t force it – you can always go back, or try something else.
Getting in touch with nature
James: I had a few questions, the first of which is, do you travel by foot or vehicle or bike? Do you gather your own food from nature? Do you travel with tent? Is it hard to find ways to make money on the road?
This question describes very well my vision of being a nomad, before I started. I imagined myself against the world, experiencing life to the fullest, with crazy uncertainties, sleeping in a tent and cooking on the road – basically being a hipster. None of that has happened.
In fact, I’m like most people. I work in an office, eight or nine hours a day, I go swimming, and I have weekend trips. But unlike other people, I change location every three months. I enjoy no other freedom than the freedom to change my home. This is not the only way to be a nomad – it’s just the way that works for me. You can travel with a tent, camping and working with people on the road and build whatever the life you find most enjoyable.
As for traveling, I travel a little by air and mostly by public transport. I camp when I can, which is at least a week every three months, and I try to sleep on the balcony if I have one. I go to restaurants or cook, I travel light (so I don’t have a tent) and I use Airbnb or Booking.com for accommodation. Sleeping in nature and picking my food from nature sound thrilling, but it’s just not where I am in life right now.
Finally, as for making money online – it’s not hard, but it does take a lot of time and patience. You need to really hone your skills, and market yourself. Once you do all of that, you’ll get paid. Again, the image I had of this life is quite different to what it turned out for me, and it can turn out completely different for you.
Traveling before a major life change
Ferms: I’m 18, live on the border and I’m currently in med school in Mexico across the border. I’m aspiring to become a doctor but would like to take a year off to add some excitement to my life, before settling down. I’d like to travel across the country, while working anywhere and after a month or less take the first bus out of there to another state, city and continue like that. I want to really have a grasp on what it means to enjoy life and meet different people with different perspectives. Any comments on my thoughts would truly help.
Yes, do it. Just because it’s called a “nomadic lifestyle” doesn’t mean it has to be your entire life. You can experiment with it for a year, even for a few months and leave it when you feel that you’ve had enough.
In the Tibetan religion, there’s a concept called Bardo. A moment of change and disconnection, usually between a periods of life. The Tibetans look at it as the most important part of life, and so do I. It happens usually when you finish school, the army, university, you quit your job or ended a relationship. Every “disaster” or ending like that clears the board for you to be freer. Most people panic at that situation, and try to restore what they had before. Instead you should take advantage of those periods to break away and explore something new.
Intolerance towards nomads
Philip: What about religion in different cultures? In some cultures you have to be a part of that religion or you lose your life. How do you cope with this and survive to move on?
I’ve discovered in my years of travel that people are good, non-violent and welcoming in most cases. This is particularly true when it comes to foreigners and tourists. There is something about a tourist that invokes empathy in locals – they will try to assist, give directions, and just be nice in general.
There are a few crazy places in the world that you should a void in all costs (Iraq, Syria and Libya come to mind). The world is so big that you can pick and choose the safe places to go to. Don’t look for trouble and it won’t find you.
You can never go home again (or can you?)
Hector: A nomadic person never feels complete in their home. Me… I still looking for it, and it’s really hard.
I’ll start with a short story. I’m Jewish, and in Judaism there used to be a narrative of the nomadic Jew, before Israel was established. The story tells that during the inquisition, when the Jews had to leave Spain, the sultan of Turkey offered them to settle down in Thessaloniki, Istanbul or Jerusalem. All of them chose Thessaloniki and not Jerusalem. One English scholar said that the Jew are a peculiar people – they only feel at home when they’re not at home. So I agree with that statement, as I also feel at home away from home.
Having said that, a nomadic lifestyle will always be more challenging than a regular way of living – with the uncertainties, loneliness and other difficulties. But if you find that challenge and difficulties make you unhappy, maybe you need to consider a change.
Alone does not equal lonely
Ness: I went traveling on my own a couple of years ago and had to walk into places to socialize on my own. It got me out of my comfort zone and out of my shell really fast. It also gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like I found a new me, traveling changes you. I met a lot of foreigners and found a new respect for all cultures, whereas if I was still sitting at home I would be still judging from my couch. It felt amazing, like I was alive and seeing the light for the first time. I felt at home. I remember feeling more sociable traveling on my own than I was traveling with a partner, because when your with someone you tend to stick to yourselves more.
Traveling make you grow and get to know yourself better, because it puts you outside of your comfort zone. You grow as a person, when you’re put in new situations. That’s why I like to say that the road is my psychologist. When you travel with a partner, and I learned that from personal experience, you’re not as opening towards outsider. As a solo traveler, you may spend more time alone, what you’ll also attract a lot more people.
If you have any more questions about nomadic lifestyle, about traveling in general, about the blog or the podcast, feel free to continue commenting on this page.