Nomadism as a way to travel and explore the world
There are different ways to travel as there are different ways to explore the world. The transportation methods are numerous – bus, train, plane, ferry, bike, on foot. Nowadays, with technology, we can travel from the comfort of our own couch. Switch on the TV for a travel documentary, or put on a virtual reality headset and feel you are in the tropics. We can explore the world through our senses, what we see, how we see and the people around us. We can explore through nature, science, experiences, food, music and much more.
I have chosen nomadism because I anyway feel I am a sojourner on this earth. I believe I have been given this one life and it’s a great opportunity to grow, learn as much as I can and also extend love and compassion wherever I am.
What is nomadism exactly and what does it look like?
Nomadism is an ancient practice where people would move from one location to the next, often for survival. They needed to move and look for food, water, and grazing land for their flock. They often moved with few possessions, did not have fixed homes and a lot had animals. The modern day nomad does not exactly move to survive but rather to continue normal life. Nomads today have this lifestyle for different reasons. Some work remotely or are able to work from their laptop, therefore they can be location-independent. Others are expats, or choose to do different jobs in different countries and stay for a while, before moving on again.
I can give you more insight about my own life (because that’s what I know). So in this post, I will do my best to answer some of the questions I get asked frequently.
How do nomads travel?
I do not enjoy long commutes or hectic travel itineraries. Therefore, I pace myself and go slowly. That does not mean I never take fast methods of transportation. I do take planes, cars, trains, metro, bus and use my two feet to get me places.
Do you have more flexibility and freedom?
It is definitely one where we have more freedom. Most of the time, we can choose how long we can stay in one given place. And if for some reason, we would like to stay longer or less, we are able to move the dates around and change plans. There’s more flexibility because I also work for myself and can be location-independent.
How do you choose your destinations?
I would choose a destination or place based on season. I do enjoy cooler weather so I travel around late winter to early Spring/Summer. The things I enjoy doing are also taken into account. For instance, I’m not the rock-climbing or extreme adventuring type of girl, so I generally like peaceful places where I can experience the local cuisine, find bookshops, explore some museums. I do not like shopping so I tend to avoid staying in busy shopping districts as much as I can.
My destinations are also dependent on visa. Being a Mauritian citizen gives me visa-free entry into Schengen and a few other countries for about 90 days. I tend to gravitate towards those first. I also have lived in some countries provided I obtained a job there as well as a valid work or residency permit. I did this for the UAE (3 years+) and South Africa (7 years+).
I would choose my destinations bearing in mind what I like doing and what countries or cities will be most appropriate. What I look for: natural beauty, nature (beach, lake, river, forest, or gardens), friendly people, lovely food (I’m highly allergic to shellfish and seafood so tend to avoid places where the cuisine is predominantly seafood based), nice museums, rich in history, relatively safe. And I think the most important of all: wifi! Haha, it’s practically my oxygen because most of my work is done online.
What does your normal day look like?
My day differs depending on whether am travelling or not. So it could involve packing or unpacking, communing or waiting at the airport terminal. But generally, it can be broken down to that:
- my routines (1-2 hours)
- work on my laptop or phone (3-4 hours)
- sleep (7-8 hours)
- eat (3 meals and snacks in between)
- nap (30 mins – 1 hour)
- exploring (can involve eating, some of my routine tasks)
I would wake up and look out of the window, feeling grateful to be alive. Smell the fresh air (if not too cold) with the windows open. Say prayers. Do my morning pages while having breakfast in bed. Then, groom (shower, etc). I would get dressed (ready to either go out, or work). Check my emails and get some work done. Get out for a walk to explore the surroundings a bit, visit a museum or art gallery or go to a market to get some produce. Return home to cook, or have lunch somewhere. Do some chores (laundry, hang the washing, wash dishes). Read some reviews on trip Advisor and check what to see and do nearby.
How do you stick to routines when surroundings and schedule vary?
Routines are important to me in my nomadic life as it helps me stay grounded. Otherwise, it can get a bit overwhelming going from place to place. So, routines or daily rituals that are repetitive no matter the location act as my anchor.
The routines I have are easy to replicate and achieve no matter the location, weather and time. A few examples are reading, enjoying a nice cup of tea, journaling, listening to classical music, short stroll in nature.
Reading can be done on the train or plane, or sitting at the botanical gardens of this foreign city. A cup of tea can be enjoyed at the local teahouse or coffee shop, or even as I check-in to my rented apartment. Journaling is done in bed, or while sitting on a bench, on the plane. A short stroll in nature is included when going out to wander on foot or a fe hours on the beach.
So, is nomadic living comparable to being on a permanent holiday?
Choosing a nomadic lifestyle because of the illusion that we will be on a permanent holiday is a huge mistake.
Nomadism simply refers to living in various homes, various locations and often various timezones. Because we travel for an indefinite period of time, not quite sure when we return to our birth country, or when we move on to the next destination, there are many things to consider. We still need to make money during that time. It’s not like we saved up millions and can now travel for the next seven years. Some nomads do that to begin with (they sell their house, cars and use that money to travel), however sooner or later they too find ways to earn a living on the road. Some choose to barter services in exchange of lodging or teach English in a foreign country, others have online business or blogs that they monetize.
We are still doing life as everyone else does. We get sick, fall in love, get our hearts broken, grieve, celebrate, experience pain, experience joy, experience sadness, experience suffering, just as we would have if we had stayed in one home for long. The only thing that perhaps offers a great benefit is to be able to experience something new, because of the moving. For instance, I could be waking up in a chalet in the Swiss Alps and the month after I could be riding a camel in the desert, followed by a week of suntanning on a tropical island.
Having a nomadic life does not automatically mean that I am seeing more things than other people or that I have ticked off more travel bucket list items than anyone else. Absolutely not. I bet the tourist who spent three days in Seville has seen more than I did even if I stayed there for a month (as a matter of fact, we did meet a young guy who did that).
Nomadic life is life as everyone else knows it, except the locations vary. And as the locations change, so does the food, season and people (and their culture, religion, beliefs, language).
Being nomadic does not mean our lives are better or more enviable than others who stay put. Being nomadic does not mean we are holidaying with no goal or purpose in mind. Being nomadic does not mean we are lost.
Being nomadic means doing life, with its joys and struggles, and adding a bunch of uncertainties in the mix. A foreign language. Different customs. A house that is not our own. A country that is foreign and feels foreign. Admin and logistics (plane trips, how to get from point A to B, where to find food).
Is the nomadic lifestyle worth it?
It certainly is. Most of the nomads I know now have bought houses in a country that charmed them. Others have moved to slow-travelling. It all depends on what we seek, and how we view life. Because even leading a settled life comes with its load of uncertainties and things we often cannot control. So, I would say, let’s make the most of our time here and be the best person we can be because this will open us up to our purpose or ways in which we can contribute to make the world a beautiful place to live in altogether.