Digital Nomadism and the Nomadic Spirit, an Interview with Steven Baguley
In our latest interview, I spoke with Steven Baguley, a “digital nomad” and a contributing writer for BecomeNomad. Steven listens to the podcasts I record and transforms them into blog posts to save me from the duty of writing (not one I am fond of). In the interview, Steven talks about his own time as a nomad (almost 5 years!) and how he has harnessed the nomadic spirit to build a rich, fulfilling life, even while living at home in the UK. Check out some highlights from the interview below, and to hear more from Steven listen to the full interview.
[Click on play to listen to the full interview: …]
Highlights from Steven Baguley:
Entering the Nomadic Mindset
Steven couldn’t quite pinpoint the moment when he became a nomad — by the time he realized it, the shift had already happened. With the feeling he had put off his plans to travel abroad for too long, Steven had set his sights on Thailand and spontaneously bought a one-way ticket (a favorite among nomads). After teaching English there for a full year, Steven realized that he was no longer on holiday. He decided that instead of heading home, it was time to begin pursuing his dreams of traveling the world.
Steven reckons that the difference between a long holiday and a nomadic life is mainly about your mindset. Nomads know that our stay in a given place will be temporary, but we are not just passing through, either. Our sense of living without a single location includes a sense of living in any location, of living exactly where we are. The mindset is all about seeing opportunities in potentially challenging situations. Steven says, “There are a lot of risks associated with [the nomadic lifestyle], but at the same time, there is a lot of reward when you can face those challenges.”
Novelty is a big part of the nomadic experience, but nomads develop routines of their own, too. Every life has some kind of structure, whether it is based around work, study habits, or relationships. Structure, however, does not necessarily equal monotony. Steven explains that nomads should think about routines in a more positive light as something we consciously create to live a certain way. Changing locations every three months, for example, is a kind of routine. There is a beautiful structure to the way that nomads build, break down, and rebuild a life every time we move. You have to create strategies that work anywhere.
The Nomadic Eye
According to Steven, the most important part of nomadic life is learning how to constantly expose yourself to novelty and, as he puts it, “open the nomadic eye.” Novelty can be beautiful: the constant discovery of new wonders, new possibilities; it can also be terrifying. Nomads may struggle to form lasting relationships and maintain consistency in their work lives. Seeing the world through a nomadic eye means finding the optimism and opportunity in every situation. It also means choosing to make your life wherever you are, whether traveling or not. Novelty, it turns out, is everywhere if you know how to look for it.
Knowing How to Leave
Leaving a place, right when you begin to feel at home, can be one of the biggest challenges of the nomadic lifestyle. It is also one of the most important. Steven says that, “knowing that you have a date that you’re definitely going to exit by, I think spurs you on to really get more out of a particular place.” It also encourages you to dive in as soon as you arrive. Knowing that your stay in each place is limited means that you need to have a sense of urgency about meeting the locals, finding a workspace, and learning your way around town. Once things begin to be comfortable, it is time to move and begin the cycle again. In a way, the art of leaving is really just the art of looking forward to what lies ahead.
Traveling Without Moving
Although Steven has returned home to the UK for a spell, he is not worried about stagnating there. Steven still defines himself as a nomad because his nomadic past has drastically changed the way he views his life and goals. Perhaps nomadism is not (or need not be) so different from the “normal life” after all? Nomads are experts at taking advantage of opportunities as they arise, and some opportunities require a more stationary lifestyle. Steven says his worldly view helps him remember what is sweetest about staying in one place, because he knows that his current situation is just one option among many. The roots of nomadism are about actively choosing how and where to build your life every day. Knowing you have the ability to do that anywhere means never getting “stuck,” even when you settle down.