12 Realities of Being a Nomad

1. you build a “goodbye muscle”

Having to say goodbye to people you fall in love with (whether platonically or romantically) without knowing if you’ll see them again is a killer, and conveniently, a reoccurring theme in a traveler’s life.
Parting with friends and family back home is pretty bad too, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that home is home and you’ll go back eventually gives you a sense of “permanence” that you’ll see them again. Befriending fellow nomads means that you coincidentally walked across each others’ paths. You walk through in passing, and keep it moving, and will most likely never cross paths again.
After doing this several times, you start realizing that travel-countdown is what makes those unique moments so valuable. They’re never guaranteed again so you have to enjoy the hell out of them.

2. you will never have all of the people you love together in one room

While traveling, you’ll meet people who you connect so well with that you wonder how you grew up across the world from them but are still so similar. Before you know it, your Facebook feed is filled with updates in all different languages and about various parts of the world. You did it; built a circle of international bada$$es you call your best friends. Now, unless you’re a millionaire who can fly everyone out to a beautiful locale for a group trip, it’s pretty doubtful that you’ll put your diverse roster of friends in the same room at the same time.

3. relationships take way more work

When you’re a nomad, you’re naturally attracted to people who love to wander as well; let’s be honest, travelers are just sexier. Here’s where the problem comes in: there’s something very individual and independent that comes with being a nomad. You can take trips with your sigfig (significant other), but you’ll still need enough room to feel free because that’s a part of your DNA. If you’re a fool in the big L word (cough cough *me*), buckle in for a lot of distance, acceptance of non-possession, and a lot of virtual FaceTime. Make sure this sigfig is someone you’re ready to take the ride with; the last thing you want to do is look back and regret wasting your trip to Barcelona because you were trying to find wifi to Skype for 70% of your trip.

4. you feel like your friends from home just don’t get you

Whether you’re aware or not, pretty soon you’ll find yourself naturally considering people that live across seas closer than those who’ve known you your entire life back at home. The real you comes out when you’re out of the comfort bubble, and home-life folk don’t get to see that version of you if they stay at home. Not to mention that babies and weddings become cringers for travelers. It’s around the 20s and 30s that you’ll see a huge split between those who want to breed and those who want to wander. All you can do is accept the difference and keep it movin’.

5. corporate jobs become the enemy

Nothing yells freedom like a cubicle right? Psh, yeah ok. I wrote a blog on this and I wasn’t surprised by the feedback from all the 20somethings who expressed they feel trapped by their corporate job. There are several ways to work and travel, you just have to get a little creative!

6. you learn how to accept not having your own place with your own things

Home who? I haven’t had a permanent living situation in five years. College prepped me for the nomadic life (and back pain) that comes with moving into a new dorm every four months. When I started living abroad, I realized one huge suitcase was already an exaggeration, and wheels are not my friends; it’s all about that backpack life. Little by little, I started letting go of things, aka junk-$hit, that held me back both physically and emotionally. When you’re a nomad, you buy things that are practical, very rarely do you buy things for comfort.
Sure, you secretly dream of having a cute shoebox-studio apartment with all of your classy Ikea furniture one day, but the commitment of signing a one-year lease and owning a bunch of heavy furniture that holds you back from getting up and going gives you anxiety, so suddenly couch surfing and living out of a suitcase doesn’t seem so bad.

7. people can’t keep up with your worldly stories

Talking about your travels to people who’ve never left their hometown could go in three ways: 1. you inspire them to shut up and go, 2. they get jealous that you’re living your life and they’re stuck (aka making excuses as to why they can’t go), or 3. they get self conscious and bitter about their own lack of adventure and quietly reconsider their life plans. Either way, it sucks to start speaking about your awesome adventures, with no malice intended at all, and feeling stank vibes from those you want to share them with. Be prepared for that shade-eraid (just made that one up ;]) and don’t take it personally.

8. you’re a lone wolf despite constantly making new friends

Planes, trains, and buses give you awful lots of quality time with yourself. You learn to give yourself that TLC others used to give you because you need it to survive. Suddenly, being alone isn’t as hard and in fact you prefer it. You’ve mastered the art of being happy in the moment and being happy just being, independent of anyone else.

9. money just becomes a tool to create awesome memories

The biggest paradox of all is that if you’re a nomad you most likely dislike money, and all the political/societal chaos it causes; but you need it, and a lot of it at that. You stop associating money with wealth, comfort, and stability, but rather how many plane tickets you can book and how many adventures you can experience. #hippielife

10. you stop buying souvenirs for family and friends after your first few trips

Sorry family, no souvenirs from this girl. When you’re a nomad you stop worrying about the trinkets that’ll collect dust on mom’s living room bookshelf. Instead, most travelers spread the love with things that are meaningful, cheap and lightweight (a postcard is perfect), and not by buying pointless things like tiny Eiffel Tower keychains that break if you hold them too tightly.

11. you have no idea where you’ll be in ten years, you just know you won’t be staying still

You never have an answer for when someone asks you where you see yourself in ten years. In an ideal world, you’ll have had filled up at least two passports worth of visas and stamps, and have met someone equally as awesome to share the memories with, preferably with a margarita on some tropical island.

12. travel makes you live with a sense of impermanence

As a traveler, there is no such thing as permanent. Your day-to-day becomes filled with spontaneity, surprises both good and bad, and all you can do is adapt and react. You don’t take things for granted because you know you’ll soon move onto the next destination, and so you fill your heart with all the goodness you can soak in from that particular experience (cheesy but so damn true), and embrace that it’ll all soon end.

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