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What is a Nomadic Lifestyle?

“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving” – Lao Tzu

Traditionally a nomad is someone who lives by travelling from place to place, without a fixed address.

Historically being a nomad was part of the cultural identity of certain groups, and in some parts of the world it is still common. However the traditional method of being a nomad is dying out as the world becomes more globalised and connected. Food, grazing and work are more and more centered around cities rather than being spread out across the countryside.

In today’s society, a nomad is someone who more than likely owns their own online business (online store, blog, consultancy, skill) that allows them to literally work from anywhere.

It means being able to work from anywhere, at any time. In theory this sounds easy, but in reality it is much harder than the traditional 9 to 5.

a person working on their laptop while sitting on a mountainside

Can Anyone be a Nomad?

The answer to that is yes – if you want it enough. Unlike traditional jobs, where you sit at the same desk, next to the same people with a reliable steady income, fixed wage and fixed expenses – being a nomad means being significantly more aware and accountable for every dollar and moment you have.

But as more and more tasks can be completed remotely, and more people are connected online, this is becoming easier. You can find someone in any part of the world to help with whatever needs to be completed. The world no longer switches off when the lights go out. It keeps going.

This is not to discourage you from considering a nomadic lifestyle, the benefits are many:

  • Being a nomad teaches you to think outside the box for solutions
  • Being a nomad teaches you how to communicate with anyone around the world
  • Being a nomad teaches you how to appreciate the little things most of us take for granted
a hand holding up a small work globe in front of mountains

Every single person is different, every dream is different. It is part of what makes the world such an incredible place. I’ve got friends who love their corporate life and house in the suburbs, they want reliability and know that every year they can go on a holiday to whatever destination they fancy for 4 weeks.

I’ve got one friend who is an international air hostess. She takes full advantage of the travel benefits her job offers, and has learnt how to live out of a suitcase. The downside? She is often alone because timing holidays with others (even her own colleagues) is really difficult as her time off is dictated by her work schedule.

Others I’ve met see their nomadic lifestyle as more of a hunt for something they haven’t found. They described it as looking for their home, believing it to be a location they haven’t found yet. For one, home turned out to a person not a place.

How do you become a Nomad?

To become a nomad means changing the fundamental way you see the world, your spending habits and your priorities.

Change you mindset, you change your life.

One of the critical skills needed to become a nomad is to be up-to-date with the latest technologies and digital trends.

laptop tablet and camera on a desk

It also means defining what being a nomad means to you.

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary on TV, it was about ‘van life’ in the US, Canada and Australia. It turns out there is an entire lifestyle movement dedicated to living out of converted vans. They shower in rivers or campsites, and earn an income by selling skills online (guitar lessons, blogs, copy writing). It is a truly basic lifestyle, never staying more than a few days at a time in one place (unless their vehicle breaks down). Some were solo, others were couples. Definitely not for everyone! But the people who did live that life were happy with the sacrifices they had made.

Of course you can go to the complete other end of the spectrum to the so-called Instagram influencers. A group who have earned a name for themselves by using social media to promote a specific lifestyle. Though to be fair, there are two types of influencers – the ones who promote a genuine achievable lifestyle, and the others that give the genuine ones a bad reputation.

two women working a laptop while sitting in a street

Becoming a Nomad means being in control - by losing control

I am someone who needs to be in complete control of my environment. I can manage my ADHD and OCD symptoms if I have complete control over one part of my life at minimum (work or home), which made keeping jobs (and a relationship) difficult.

A few years ago, I experienced a nervous breakdown. It felt like my whole world fell apart and running away seemed like the only answer. I quit my job, broke my lease and put everything into storage. I only had a about 3 months worth of savings in my account and 2 credit cards.

It was a strange feeling, not being in control of everything, of not having a plan. Normally I plan everything to the smallest detail. This time, nothing was organised except that I wanted a white Christmas in Paris (it ended up being the one year it didn’t snow in Paris on Christmas).

I learned how to go with the flow, to accept events as they happen. To plan some things, but leave the door open for anything else that might come along. I also met dozens of people of all backgrounds and ages. By talking and listening to them I learned to see the world differently. It was a truly eye opening experience.

If I hadn’t learned how to let go of control, I would never have to learnt how to be truly in control. 

There is absolutely zero point stressing over what you cannot control – be aware of it, and track it. But don’t waste time and energy getting upset or anxious over something that you truly cannot control. It helps no one, least of all yourself.

a person meditating

Full Circle

Keeping an open mind is crucial to being a nomad. By keeping an open mind, you may find the answer to questions you didn’t even know you had. And by sharing positivity, you might be surprised by what you get back.

There is no right or wrong way to be a ‘nomad’, just as there is no right or wrong way to live life. All that matters is that you are respectful, constantly learning and sharing what you learn.

Once upon a (not so long ago) time, there was no internet. You picked up a bunch of brochures, booked a flight and off you went hoping the hotel you booked actually existed, that your wallet wouldn’t get stolen and that you could find a working payphone.

Now, we go online and there is an endless amount of information at our finger tips. Some true, some false. A lot is shameless Photoshop. We seemed to have both gained and lost the art of sharing information.

an old women sitting with a child who is working on a laptop

How do you prepare to become a 'nomad'?

Once you have decided that you are certain that the nomadic lifestyle is for you, you can prepare.

Set a date that is realistic and achievable, decide how you are going to live and what that will entail (country, job, belongings). Do you have family or friends that can keep a couple of boxes of keepsake items?

Start to reduce and declutter.

When you have a date in mind it helps create a plan with actionable items. The items could be:

1. Start the process of learning/refining/setting up the ‘job’ you will be doing on the road (whether it is tutoring, teaching a skill online, set up your website, get your education recognised where you are going etc)

2. Open up a savings account just for the nomad lifestyle

3. Start decluttering the small things. Donate, sell, swap what ever you don’t need or want.

4. If you can, put keepsake items into storage. Keep the boxes small to limit how much hoarding you will most likely try to do!

5. Think about you living arrangements – can you house-sit or move into temporary share houses that are furnished? Get a feel for living in a suitcase and in places that are not ‘home’.

6. If you decide to move into a sharehouse or house sit, sell or donate the big things that are left (appliances and furniture).

The reason I suggest these steps is that they are actionable and practical. Not everyone has the means to drop everything and go, by giving yourself a deadline, you give yourself time to prepare and save. The more the better, as credit cards should only be used as a last resort (the last type of stress you want is making sure you can pay off a credit card while on the road!)

What are your thoughts? What type of lifestyle makes you happy?


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