A nomadic lifestyle may seem like heaven to some of us, but it can also be unrewarding and bitter. Just like everything else in life, being a nomad has some wonderful advantages and a few substantial disadvantages. In this article, we will discuss some of the main characteristics of the nomadic life. But first, we start with a short discussion of the current status and trends of the nomadic lifestyle.
The single major factor which affects nomads is technology which has two related impacts. On the one hand, the rapid pace of technological advance is decreasing the number of ancient nomadic people, since it produces more reasons to settle down. On the other hand, the internet allows people to work remotely and become Digital Nomads, a way of life which allows anyone to work online while enjoying the flexibility to constantly change locations. The book which has created the digital nomad movement is “The 4-Hours workweek.” Released in 2007, this book is still a good source of practical tips for exploring the nomadic lifestyle. Another highly recommended book that focuses on the philosophy behind long term travel is “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts.
Here are some of the major characteristics of a nomadic lifestyle.
- A nomad constantly changes locations, switching from one place to another. Most nomads have some kind of place that they can call home, which is usually where their family or childhood friends are located, but they wouldn’t spend more than a few months a year there. Nor would they settle down in a new home. For nomads “Change is home”. Not many people can stick to this lifestyle on the long term, since most of us need a little stability and a private comfort zone. Nomads have no real home they can feel comfortable in, and spend most of their time in someone’s else accommodation (i.e. a hostel, short rental, a friend’s place, or couchsurfing).
- The nomadic lifestyle is more important than anything else, including career, relationship, or assets. A nomad will avoid any attachment which forces her/him to be tied to a specific location. Once you have decided that your nomadic lifestyle is first priority, you will have to sacrifice to make sure it stays sustainable. Many nomads find the Buddhist religion as a good fit, since it focuses on non-attachment and letting go of everything you have. A nomad lets go and clicks an imaginary “reset button” as they move between locations.
- Avoiding attachments- A nomad breaks away from her/his attachments before taking the nomadic path, and stays away from attachments while living as a nomad. What is an attachment? Anything that keeps you away from realizing a nomadic life. It is anything you have (or actually, think that you have) and can’t give up on. The perfect job that is impossible to get once you quit it, the dog you love so much and can’t be left behind, the amazing girlfriend/boyfriend that will not agree to become a nomad. A quick interesting insight- if you have those, and feel happy, keep them. But if they are not perfect and don’t really make you happy, say goodbye to all your fake attachments and either find better ones, or choose the nomadic path instead.
- Nomads usually become quite smart, easy going and interesting people. The reason for that is clear, they are exposed to many lifestyles, cultures and constantly changing situations. This constant process of change is your teacher. If you are ready for it, it will make you a better person.
- Nomads don’t take life very seriously. Think about it. If you keep losing everything you had (friends, home) every time you change a location, then the basic understanding dawns on you: “everything is temporary and nothing is yours”. After you understand that, you can’t really take life too seriously, there is nothing to defend.
- Nomads travel light and have a minimalist mindset. It means that they consume experiences instead of accumulating Stuff. Life is short, and the only thing we are guaranteed not to lose is great moments experienced. Those of us who keep on over consuming and increasing their possessions will find it very frustrating to carry on their backs while constantly changing locations.
- Nomads usually travel slow. Even for the rare few who can live life without having a home, it is important to create emotional stability by staying longer in each location (usually 1-3 months) in order to establish routines and make meaningful friendships.
- Nomads are respectful, smiley and above all curious. If this is not the case, why would you choose a path of a constant change? Being positive also helps to mitigate one of the greatest disadvantages of the nomadic life, which is loneliness. We are all social animals, which means that without company, we wither and disconnect from ourselves. Since nomads have to keep on rebuilding their social circle wherever they go, being happy and positive is crucial. Regardless, one of my favorite nomadic quotes is “If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company”. Nomads spend a lot of their time alone, and should enjoy it as well.
- Digital Nomads are trying to deal with the issue of lack of social life by choosing global locations that are Digital nomad hubs. This greatly increase the chance of meeting like-minded people.
- Nomad think and adjust fast. As a nomad constantly changing locations, everything is always new. You have to put effort in finding what you need, and probably can’t speak the native language. It means that you must learn to trust your intuition and make quick decisions.
There are many different types of nomadic lifestyles and each of us better customize their own. For example, with time, I have developed a set of nomadic routines and rules which I follow and adjust. Now it’s time for you to decide if the nomadic life is a beneficial experiment to you, and if so, just make it happen.