Living the nomadic way of life in any sustainable way requires you to learn a whole new bunch of skills to facilitate your new way of life and make it possible.
You’ll be leaving everything familiar behind and saying goodbye to the world as you’ve known it, entering through a portal into a new world: the world of a person with no fixed address and no ‘ties’ as such.
This is both exhilarating and petrifying. It’s the moment after you’ve taken your first big, bold step into the unknown and the full gravity of the consequences of your decision become clear to you – you are now on the road, all alone, and nobody can understand the problems you’re facing let alone help you with them.
The nomadic way of life is one few people choose to take on. It’s alters everything about your life. It is the change you have so desperately craved, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its challenges.
To help those who are either about to make the decision to live the nomadic lifestyle, and are teetering on the brink of indecision, or to encourage those who have recently made the decision but aren’t sure how to make this lifestyle sustainable yet, we’ve created this nomadic lifestyle FAQ to answer some of the toughest questions about what it means to be a nomad and how to make it work.
Like anything else you do in life, there are levels of initiation to this thing. There are dabblers and rookies who are just dipping their toes and testing the lifestyle out, there are those who have made a more full-time transition , and there are those who are hardcore nomads, having traveled the world as a lifestyle for as long as they can remember.
Naturally, you can always learn most from those who have been doing it longest.
In this article, we draw on the wisdom of nomads who have lived this life for more than a decade and ask them how they overcame certain challenges.
We hope you enjoy this nomadic lifestyle FAQ and find value in it.
Nomadic Lifestyle Questions & Answers
Q. I’m terrified. I really want to do this, but I’m worried about my responsibilities and what might happen if it doesn’t work out.
A. First of all, cut yourself some slack. This is a huge decision and it’s absolutely normal to feel trepidation and fear when approaching something totally unknown. That’s just human nature, and the fear you feel only means you’re functioning correctly.
The truth is, like most things in life, 99% of what you’re imagining will never ever happen. It’s all in your head.
Take, for example, worrying about being able to pay bills back home. It’s not something to actually worry about at all because it’s simple math. You either can afford to or you can’t, and that’s that. Work the numbers, budget how much you’ll need to travel (always overestimate) and budget how much you’ll need to take care of things you need to take care of at home, and compare that to what you can earn while traveling.
That’s it. You either can or you can’t. If you can, there’s no need to worry anymore and if you can’t, there are solutions to that, too, such as selling your property, car or whatever it is that’s holding you back, or canceling subscriptions and services that are eating up your capital.
You’ve got this. Get out the calculator and work it out. If the numbers don’t work but you still want it badly enough, you’ll find a way.
As for other worries like injury, sickness, and death abroad or at home, you’re just going to have to accept those as an inherent risk in this lifestyle and stop worrying. Life’s for the living, not for preserving endlessly. No matter how safe you try to make things, you can’t stop these types of things from happening if they’re written in your stars.
As Mark Twain once said, “I’m an old man and have seen many troubles, most of which never occurred.”
Make that your mantra. Use it to soothe your worried mind. Find the courage to take the step and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Q. OK, I’ve actually decided and I’m ready to start living the nomadic way of life. I’m all set, but I need to find a way to make a living. What can I do?
A. That’s a smart question to ask, and we’re glad you did. There are actually lots of ways to make a living while you travel.
You can stop and find casual work along the way, trying to capitalize by working in countries with stronger currencies and traveling in countries with weaker ones, or you can find a way to actually make money while moving as a digital nomad.
If you select the second option, you’ll be able to extend the nomadic way of life for as long as you wish. Getting a web-based business up to a level where it makes enough to cover your lifestyle is the key to absolute and total freedom.
Bar work, agricultural work, construction, web design, writing and teaching are all ways you can earn while you live the nomadic lifestyle. You won’t be short of work anywhere if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do a day’s work.
Q. I’m in a relationship and my partner isn’t sure about the nomadic lifestyle. I’m worried things won’t work out. What should I do?
A. Embarking on the nomadic way of life is something very personal and should be decided by each individual as and when they feel ready.
In the last ten years, I’ve personally lived in the Canary Islands, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines and Ireland. I’ve traveled to many more countries in between from New Zealand to the USA to Thailand and I have lost several relationships as a result.
The way I see it is this, everything has its time. If the only way you can preserve your relationship is by denying a huge part of who you are or who you want to be, then as hard as it may be to face you’re probably in the wrong relationship, to begin with.
People find they either form a much stronger bond when they go on the road together, growing closer as they navigate life’s obstacles together and form a two person team, or they find they grow apart and go in different directions.
Which way you’re relationship with your partner will go it’s impossible to tell. You’ll either fall deeply in love and find a renewed passion in your love life, or life will take you to your respective destinies. Don’t fear it, embrace it.
‘You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole’ as my great grandmother used to say. Deep down you know who you are. The right relationship will nourish that and help it grow.
Q. How can I stay fit while traveling?
A. People living the nomadic way of life stay fit in numerous ways. I personally favor a blend of running, hiking and body-weight exercises.
Whatever you’re into as a way of staying fit, it should be transportable and you shouldn’t require lots of equipment (obviously).
Yoga, Pilates, running, boxing, aerobics and some sports like football can all be enjoyed basically everywhere in life. Stick to one of those and you’ll have no problems staying fit anywhere in the world.
Q. What’s a reasonable amount of money to expect to be able to make online? Is it enough to live the nomadic lifestyle?
A. There’s literally no limit to how much money you can make online, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Mark Zuckerberg.
While it’s true that 99.9% of us will never reach the levels the Zuck has reached, it’s entirely possible to make enough money online to support a nomadic way of life that’s not a dire struggle.
As you travel, you’ll realize that in some places of the world life is literally a fraction of the cost it is in Europe, America, or Australia. Take for example where I’m currently living in the Philippines. My entire monthly expenses, living with a wife and son to take care of, are less than the rent I paid over the summer in Ireland.
You read that correctly – I can take care of my entire family every month for less than a single month’s rent in Ireland.
Once you realize this, your options open in infinite directions. You can travel all over Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and Africa on lees than $1500 a month. If you’re a halfway decent web designer, writer, SEO expert, web marketer or any combination of the above you should be able to make $2000 a month within your first year of trying.
From there, it really depends on how much time you’re willing to put into it. The more you do, the more you get, and there’s no secret to it other than that.
We are the first generation in history to be able to create businesses in a digital world that leave us free to go anywhere and doing anything we want.
You might have guessed it already, but I’m an avid promoter of the digital nomad way of life. It’s taken me years to get here, through countless trials and errors, and now that I’m actually living it, I try to beam out a message of hope and encouragement to everyone still stuck in the struggle.
When you decide to make money online, the only limits are the ones you set for yourself.
Q. I’m trying to avoid certain regions because of what I’ve seen on the news. What’s the best way to travel safely?
A. There are two parts to this question.
First, let’s be responsible and say that you should always pay attention to travel warnings from your embassy and consulate. It’s the smart thing to do and it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the world around you. A great place to learn about geopolitical issues and dangers in any region or country is the CIA World Factbook.
Second, you will soon learn when you travel that 99.9% of what you see in the media is lies. I learned this early in my life, having grown up in Northern Ireland. It was never anywhere near as bad as the media made it out to be, and while they showed images of battle tanks and soldiers battling it out with balaclava-clad men, we were sitting not far away having a cup of tea and being friendly to one another.
I’m by no means trying to gloss over the dangers, and to say they don’t exist would be foolish.
But I can say they are exaggerated and overly dramatic. Could it be that the people who run these stories do so precisely because those images shock, appall and grab the attention of the everyday good people who would never get involved in such atrocious acts towards their fellow man? Hmmmmmmmm……
Most people are good everywhere you go. At least that’s been my experience in ten years of living the nomadic lifestyle.
Q. I have a kid, should I attempt to do this with him or her?
A. This is a question very dear to my own heart. My little boy just turned 1 recently, and having him has changed my priorities 100%. Everything flipped upside down in a single moment and I saw the world through an entirely different lens. Parents reading will understand exactly what I’m talking about.
On the one hand, children of a certain age arguably need stability, a routine and family and friends around them.
On the other hand, it depends on the situation. If your family and friends could be a negative influence, or if you live somewhere without much opportunity, it could be a good thing for the child and you could end up somewhere much better.
Living the nomadic way of life as a parent will be an entirely different experience than doing so as a single person or a childless couple. You’ll have to think about the individual pros and cons for yourself and what’s in the best interests of your child’s future. This will, of course, depend on your own individual circumstances.
It’s entirely possible to create a base and an independent income stream and travel as and when possible, living a semi-nomadic life. It definitely won’t hurt your kids to see the world and learn about the different ways of life, cultures, traditions, value systems and nations out there.
Q. Finally, how did the nomadic way of life change you?
A. I first set off when I was 17, so I didn’t have a strong sense of identity yet. In fact, you could say the nomadic lifestyle is all I’ve ever known as an adult.
That said, I can tell how the lifestyle has impacted me by analyzing how I approach life as compared to other people I know who have not done so.
First, I believe it has made me much less sure of my opinions. Having traveled and seen many different perspectives, I have gained an inability to be absolutely sure about anything.
This can be both a good and bad thing, but I choose not to judge it and just see it for what it is. I see truth as a perspective rather than an absolute. Nothing I ever do can change that now, and that view will stick with me for life.
Second, I have the ability to let go quickly. I’ve met and said goodbye to hundreds of people over the years. Some of them I adored, and some I was glad to see the back of. Again, this is good or bad depending on your perspective.
Third, I think I’ve learned many different problem-solving skills along the way that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Negotiating, bargaining, clearing up misunderstandings, coming to understand people’s points of view who have totally different value systems from my own, having to navigate around unfamiliar cities, islands, and countries, and many other experiences have built my mind in a certain way.
I assume I also lack some abilities as a result of my lifestyle that other people possess. There’s always a trade-off.
Living the nomadic way of life won’t change you all for the better or all for the worse. It will be a mix of both and you’ll just have to end up the unique individual life has chosen to mold you into.
Nomadic Way of Life Summary
Living the nomadic way of life isn’t for everyone.
Some people fall in love with it and can never quite settle again. Others are repulsed by it and head home for safer shores as soon as they can. There are many more people somewhere in between, who live as a nomad for a while and then ultimately decide to return to settled life.
Who knows what will happen to you if you choose to embark on this path. That’s the whole point in the first place – not knowing.
If you feel the call, then hit the road. That’s my best piece of advice overall.