6 minutes reading time Global
You’ve probably dreamed of traveling the world at some point in your life. A lot of people do, during their twenties or once they retire. But not so many people decide to make traveling their lifestyle. In this article, we will discuss all the important elements of modern nomadic life. They say there is an art to living on the road, and it is as much about why to choose this lifestyle as it is about how to properly do it.
A nomad is a person with no settled home, even though most modern nomads do have a place they call home, usually a family or childhood house. The biggest obstacle to being a full-time nomad is the stability that all of us crave, and a nomadic lifestyle interferes with all aspects of our lives, be it professional or personal. Most nomads tend to avoid any kind of commitment.
Due to technological advancement, it is now possible to work remotely as a digital nomad, especially in post-COVID-19 reality; people can pursue a nomadic lifestyle, travel around the world and still have a regular income. Living as a digital nomad allows them to visit incredible places (from Nicaragua to South Africa!), absorb knowledge and experience from various cultures, and work whenever and wherever they want to. Digital nomads work from libraries, hotels, or coffee shops, and all they need is a WIFI connection and a laptop. Types of jobs available for digital nomads range from blogging, vlogging, and software development, to web design.
When it comes to nomadic accommodation, there are various choices differing in price and size.
House-sitting involves looking after homes and sometimes pets and plants when owners are away or on a holiday. Most owners prefer their pets to stay at home rather than go to a pet hotel, and it’s a win-win solution for both nomads and pets. Money is usually not involved and house-sitters do it free of charge, in exchange for accommodation. Various house-sitting options are available on websites like Nomador.
Hostels are still one of the most beloved options for accommodation when it comes to a nomadic lifestyle, as they usually offer a range of facilities such as swimming pools, equipped kitchens, small cinemas, and, most importantly, for digital nomads – high-speed stable wifi connection. Depending on the budget, there might be some privacy issues, but hostels are a great choice for nomads who crave a sense of community, social activities and networking with creatives from all walks of life.
Squatting is a bit more popular in Europe than it is in other continents, and it is common for buildings in Europe to be squatted and turned into social centers for gatherings, parties, concerts, or simply accommodation. Squats can be a great choice for free-spirited, artistic, or hippie nomads to visit or stay, but they are more of a short-term solution, and they can occasionally be tied to legal issues and have not as high standards when it comes to hygiene.
Some nomads live on sailboats while others use guesthouses, book Airbnb apartments, sleep in their van, or use websites like Couchsurfing to find accommodation.
When it comes to choosing a vehicle, cost, schedule (in case of public transportation), speed, and independence are important factors to consider, according to a “Free as a Global Nomad: An Old Tradition with a Modern Twist” travel book by Paivi and Santeri Kannisto. The majority of nomads use public transportation such as buses, airplanes, ferries, or trains, but can, depending on the location, also turn to less common (and more exotic!) transportation methods like canoes or camels. Some nomads rent a car or a motorcycle for a period of time.
Nomads who value privacy and independence usually have their own vehicle, which can also be used as an accommodation.
Cycling is one of the most popular ways of traveling for nomads and it is cheap, easy, and good for health. For many full-time cyclists, their bike is a part of their identity and it can even be considered a lifestyle. For an average nomad this choice, however, comes with limitations in terms of distance range, and it is partially dependent on weather.
Some nomads use hitchhiking for short distances, but due to uncertainty and sometimes safety issues, it is not as common to use hitchhiking as the main mode of transportation. It is a preferred option for nomads looking to save money or being on a “shoestring budget” like 20-year-old Shubham Yadav, and more importantly, for an adventure, as hitchhiking is very unpredictable, and unexpected change of routes is a rule rather than an exception. It’s a great choice for all those who value the journey more than the destination, as well as for those looking to improve their knowledge of the local language and get more acquainted with local people and narratives. Not all countries are equally safe to hitchhike, and there are numerous hitchhiking guides online offering valuable advice on dos and don’ts, the Journal of nomads being one.
When choosing whether to try a nomadic lifestyle or not, benefits as well as downsides ought to be considered. So, what are the main reasons people choose or avoid a life on the road?
For a large number of nomads, it is necessary escapism from the busy and often unhealthy office life and routine. The nomadic lifestyle offers valuable first-hand experience with foreign cultures and customs, and, just as importantly, it builds personality, as there are many challenges nomads will face on the road. It might sound corny but, nomads (sometimes) lose themselves on the road in order to find themselves. Not leading a traditional lifestyle, always moving someplace else, and observing everything they encounter as only temporary allows people to broaden their horizons and reach inner peace, and the journey can have a healing effect on people’s minds and hearts. As another “side effect”, nomads often develop a minimalist mindset – accumulating material possessions while moving from place to place becomes almost impossible.
On the flipside, the lack of community and contact with friends, family, and pets (or in other words, a loner life), lack of stability and often privacy, obstacles such as financial, health, or safety problems while in a foreign country can be demotivating and stressful for some people on the long run.
As much as the nomadic lifestyle, ingrained in the history of mankind, can be adventurous and liberating, it is also not for the faint-hearted. If you do go for it, prepare yourself well and expect the unexpected!