Different Types of Nomads
The nomadic lifestyle is unique: unlike most people in today’s world, nomads are constantly changing locations. However, the nomadic lifestyle allows you to choose from wide subsets of modes and methods of travel. Listed below are some of the more common types of nomads that I have come across while on the road. If you are making the decision to become a nomad, hopefully this will help clarify some of the advantages and disadvantages of each lifestyle and help you decide which one might be the best fit for you. You can read more about my nomadic lifestyle here.
A person who is constantly moving and exploring new destinations, but is dependent on technology to make a living while traveling. Digital nomads travel while working for their clients or building their startups. Working online while traveling usually requires digital nomads to work on weekdays and spend the weekends traveling. This lifestyle can be very rewarding since your revenue source is disconnected from where you are living, but at the same time it can also be a bit limiting since you may spend most of your days with a laptop, searching for a good internet connection.
This is a nomad with a deeper purpose to their travels who change locations while searching for a meaning or enlightenment or teaching it to others. I often consider long term backpackers as rather spiritual nomads, since they embark on the most interesting task of them all: Learning more about yourself while interacting with everything new in the world.
A spiritual nomad finds inspiration and insights from being on the road and usually teaches those insights to the people they meet. In that sense, this type of nomad can be considered the highest goal, as a spiritual nomad seeks to reach a greater understanding of how the world works. Some great examples of spiritual nomads are Buddha, Zen Monks, and Indian Sadhus. The downside is that usually these nomads are quite poor and at one point or another, the constant focus on spirituality in our material world can become overwhelming.
“Quick Time Out” Nomad
This type of nomad is one who is able to make an arrangement with their employer to have many extended breakout vacations throughout the year to go traveling. My friend Lisa was able to do this by taking a week off of work every two months just to travel. The advantage here is that you see a lot of the world in intense and focused time periods. However, the disadvantages include high costs of travel/transportation per travel-day due to the short time spent in each place and pressure to get the most of your destination before you have to get back to work.
Corporate Nomad (Remote Work Nomad)
This type of nomad is able to be constantly on the move, while at the same time working for a big corporation. A friend of mine has an agreement with her company that she doesn’t need to physically be in an office, and can work from home (remotely). Needless to say, those nomads can move between different bases while keeping their secure jobs. In a nutshell, this lifestyle is much more interesting than your daily office routine, but can also be exhausting since you are not really free while roaming the earth.
This type of nomadism allows people to create cycles between work and travel. Generally, a person might work for six months in a seasonal job, as ski instructor or something like that, and then they might travel for six months when the season is over. This allows you to focus on work in-season and then have a pure travel period that digital and corporate nomads will envy. Many people are able to sustain this type of travel for years and it can be an incredibly interesting way to live (not to mention that it will reduce your tax bill which is calculated annually).
Offline or “Classic” Nomad
This is the most classic type of nomadism, where a person travels from place to place, working a job that sustains their lifestyle in that place. A common example of this would be an artisan that produces their art to sell in the street, or an English teacher/cook/diving instructor who keep on changing locations. The downside to this lifestyle is that this type of nomad is generally working for low wages as their salaries are linked to the purchasing power of the local population. Richer countries usually have strict regulations against tourist work permits, therefore this lifestyle can be tricky to maintain legally. Classic nomads can be at risk for deportation or getting ripped off by their employers, who exploit their inability to get a visa. The biggest advantage here is the total immersion found by not only being in a place, but working in it, making you a part of the local community.
This is relatively new concept born from Internet based platforms such as TrustedHomeSitters and HelpX. The idea is that, unlike with classic nomadism, with volunteer nomadism there is no exchange of money. These nomads get accommodation and food (on sites like HelpX) in return for volunteering or taking care of someone’s house while they are on vacation. The advantage here is saving money and not requiring a special work visa. The disadvantage is losing a lot of your flexibility and freedom due to the obligation you have undertaken. You are also unable to bring in cashflow for your services.
Generally, this is the type of nomadism everyone aspires to, but only a few ever achieve. A rich nomad is someone who has a lot of money – usually from the lottery, inheritance or from a very successful career. The Rich Nomad enjoys a lot of freedom and flexibility while traveling. The downside is that sometimes having it “too easy,” without work, can be rather depressing. For many of us, work is not only a revenue source, but also a way to build nice things and make ourselves useful in the world.
Starting late is much better than never starting at all. Some people start living as nomads when they are older. This can happen due to few main reasons. Either the retired nomad heard about the nomadic lifestyle at a later stage of their lives and decided to go for it. Or, they might have always had the intention to live as nomads, and were waiting to save enough money, and get free from their family obligations as their kids grew older, so they could start living as nomads when the time is right. The retired nomad usually relies on pension so they don’t have to work while traveling and can dedicate all their time to exploring their new found freedom. I have interestingly noted that many retired nomads are using RVs to travel, usually with their partner, or a group of those RVs (this is especially common in the USA)
Thanks Sarah from the comments for letting me know I am missing a category.
This nomadic lifestyle is all about perception. People who succeed at this lifestyle are able to establish a meaningful and self-conscious life without traveling. They are basically able to harvest the advantages of increased awareness and feeling alive that nomads receive from changing locations, without the need to move. For them, every day in their home country feels like an adventure that awakens and stimulates them. It is not yet clear if anyone has really managed to achieve this while remaining in one place but it is something to aspire to for sure!
Do you know of any any other types of nomads ? Please let us know in the comments! (We will add in the future sections about nomadic people/tribes and nomadic salespeople/sailors)