Are you thinking about going nomad? The resources on this page are designed to help you envision what real day-to-day nomadic life will be like. Whether you’re wondering how hard it will be to stay productive on the road, or how stressful it’s going to be to take your kids along, we’ve collected thoughts and tips from people who are already doing it.
Here are some things you should know about going nomad:
1. It’s not a vacation.
You may spend a few months on a tropical island or among the great antiquities of Europe, but you won’t be traveling long if you don’t create a work schedule and stick to it no matter where you are. A lot of today’s online nomad resource pages are actually sales funnels for a lifestyle design product which portrays an amazing, but unsustainable lifestyle.
Successful long term travelers hone their internal motivation. They know their lifestyle is only as viable as the money they earn to sustain it, so they practice a self-discipline that allows them to treat every day like a work day.
This can be hard when you’re down with a stomach virus or waiting out a flight delay, which are in some cases unavoidable. Being distracted by the sounds of delighted tourists on a nearby beach is a different story and you have to internalize that you are not on vacation, rather you have chosen a lifestyle. Shorter working days are OK and in many cases more productive, but if you find yourself slipping into the vacation mindset and losing your productive hours then it may be time to switch up your work location.
Here are some resources that talk about what it’s like to maintain productivity on the road.
- The Only Three Ways To Be More Productive by Taylor Pearson
- Productivity and the Power of 15 Minutes by Sarah Beaudette
- How to Stay Productive While Traveling the World by Ross Clarke
- Resources for Digital Nomads by Jodi Ettenberg
2. Inconvenience is a price you pay for freedom.
Every new destination requires an investment of emotional energy: figuring out how transportation works, where the grocery stores are, at least a few phrases in the local language, and you will almost certainly make a few embarrassing cultural faux pas. If you’re a picky eater, it might take some adjustment and patience to find food that works for you, and whether you’re a picky eater or not, you’ll miss the conveniences of home. Sometimes you’ll sleep on an uncomfortable bed, or get a lot of mosquito bites, or stay in a neighborhood that’s too loud to sleep even at 1 AM!
In return, you’ll get the freedom that attracted you to the lifestyle in the first place. Whether it’s the freedom to: start the business you’ve always wanted to start, experience new cultures, spend more time with your family, or just work for yourself, you will feel more in control of your own life than you’ve ever felt before.
Here are some resources that may help you to compare the upsides and downsides of nomadic life, so that you know what you’re getting into.
- 11 cities in 3 months: The highs and lows of digital nomad lifestyle by Joel Gascoigne
- The Dark Side of The Digital Nomad by Mark Manson
- Nomad Trade-Offs: One Day, Two Ways by Sarah Beaudette
Family and Relationships
Long term travel with a partner or family has its own set of trade-offs. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about taking your family on the road.
1. One of you might be more gung ho than the other. Forget that.
If you have a partner, are you both committed to the lifestyle, or at least to this experiment? Like the decision to have a baby, things won’t work unless you both make a commitment in good faith. If one partner feels like he or she is sacrificing their own life for this experiment, resentment will build up between you as you navigate the chaos of travel. That doesn’t mean you can’t try it out because one partner wants to and another partner isn’t totally convinced. It just means that once you decide to try it, you both have to own the experiment.
If you find yourselves in an apartment you don’t like, or if you wish you had more clothes to wear, or if you’re just missing home, the blame for these things can’t fall on one person’s head. You can always decide to go back home, but in the meantime, you’ve got to keep your chin up and remember that you agreed to try it together.
2. Don’t get snappy!
Travel, like children, cuts out a lot of the time you used to have for rational communication, for dissecting every little argument to make sure you’re both “okay.” You’ll be in an airport, stressed out at the security checkpoint, or running to make the ferry, or trying to understand what the taxi driver is saying to you, and you won’t have time to talk everything out, so you have to give each other the benefit of the doubt and remember that you’re allies. You’re going to get stressed, and you won’t be able to work through arguments (and there will be arguments!) immediately.
Resist the urge to snap at each other. If you have kids along, they pick up on this immediately, and a stressed out kid is ten times worse than a stressed out adult.
3. Travel with kids is tough, but not as tough as you might think.
If you have a kid, you’re actually better prepared than a lot of childless travelers. You’re used to inconvenience, you’re used to combating boredom, you’re used to being embarrassed in public places. Kids are an asset to travel. They’re adaptable, and most kids are resilient. If you’re happy, they’re happy. Because people all over the world love kids, they’re willing to help you and your family out in situations they might leave childless travelers to fend for themselves.
Kids are also a great opportunity for socialization. If you get lonely on the road, there are tons of opportunities to connect with other parents, whether expats or nomads like yourself, or local families with kids the same age as your own.
The founders of Nomadica elaborate on the benefits of traveling with kids in their post Two Unexpected Perks of Traveling with Kids.
4. Start thinking about how you want your children to be educated
Naysayers will call you irresponsible for taking your kids on the road. While this is a reductionist argument, you do have to think more about education than the average stationary parent. There are a lot of options for education, and your child should be a part of the discussion about which one is best for your family. Some of the options are:
-Worldschooling, Homeschooling, and Unschooling
-Going back home when it’s time for school
Here are some more resources that will help you evaluate each of these options, their costs, and their fit with your family.
- Pros and Cons Of Home School, Private or International Schools And Home Schooling Centres
- Learn Free (an Unschooling Documentary)
- Is Homeschooling Right for You Questionnaire
- WorldSchoolers and Homeschooling Around the World Facebook Groups
- Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds
Here are a few other things to think about as you prepare to take the big leap, and some resources for helping you think about them:
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
There are happy nomads in both camps, but your personality will impact the way you find energy and social connection on the road. Here’s an article that discusses the personality dynamic in a travel context – Introvert vs. Extrovert Travel.
How will you maintain personal connections on the road?
Many nomads talk with their families and friends in video chats more often than they did at home, where the option to see one another in person was taken for granted. Especially if you have children, you should think about how often you’d like to visit loved ones, and how you’ll work home visits into your schedule and finances.
How attached are you to your personal possessions?
Many nomads will tell you that they’ve never regretted giving up the mortgage, house insurance, car insurance, gas money, lawn mowing, and various other bills and duties. In exchange, many of these nomads give up a lot of their personal possessions, and start to live minimally. This can be incredibly rewarding. Here are some resources for thinking about how you’ll adjust to a mobile life, and if you need to sell off a lot of your personal property, how this can be done with a minimum amount of stress.
These are only the lifestyle considerations for going nomad. To learn more about making money from the road, packing, booking travel, and various other travel considerations, click through our resource pages.