We’ve been on the road for almost two years now with no home and no fixed address. Whenever we meet people they are surprised that we are true nomads. The first question we often get is, “How do you live a nomadic life?” Here are some tips for wandering the world.
How to live a nomadic life
1) Give it up — If you have a house, sell it: if you have stuff, get rid of it; if you have an office-based job, leave it. If you’re going to wander the world, you don’t want to be weighed down by things back home.
2) Put yourself in a box — Life sometimes intrudes on the fantasy of chucking it all. You’ll need a place to receive the occasional mail. Set up a P.O. box or use a trusted friend or relative’s address.
3) You can bank on it — The Internet that is. Set up banking and paying all your bills online. The good thing about a nomadic life though, there are many less bills to pay. No cable, WiFi, mortgage/rent, home insurance, real estate taxes, utilities; well you get my drift, it’s a lot cheaper to be a nomad.
4) To store or not to store? — That really is the question. Although we got rid of most of our possessions before leaving, we still had enough junk left over to fill a 10’ by 10’ storage unit. We thought it was stuff we’d still need or want. Guess what? We were wrong. After returning to the U.S. we got rid of the remaining items.
5) The telephone game — I got rid of my cell phone before leaving in August, 2011 and have lived without one ever since. It’s remarkably freeing. Set up a Skype account so you can still keep in touch with those you want to call. Think of all the time you just freed up by not checking voice mail or texting all day.
6) Book it — Libraries are a wonderful resource on the road. Almost every town has one, they offer free Wifi and are quiet, air-conditioned places to hang out. We skim through the used book rack to buy $1 books. If we stay someplace for a month we apply for a library card so we can check out books and DVDs for free.
7) Playing doctor — We weren’t worried about changes in health care in the U.S. since we’ve paid for our own health insurance for years. If you are on an employer plan you’ll need to buy your own health insurance if you leave your job. As we found out, it may be cheaper than you expected.
8) The world is flat — Skip the hotels and rent flats or apartments. They are a cheaper option for long-term travel. Also consider house sitting. In return for watching pets or watering plants, we’ve received free housing in different parts of the country we had never visited. We’ve done this a few times with mixed results but you should see if it’s right for you. See our tips for long-term apartment rentals.
9) Go the extra mile — When we were traveling around the world we rented a car where we needed one. Back in the U.S. that got expensive so we bought a car. You’ll put on many miles as a nomad so skip the gas guzzler and get a car with great gas mileage.
10) Take a break — Constantly moving from place to place can get tiring. We try to stay a minimum of a week anywhere. We’ll also set up firebreaks where we’ll stay at least a month to recharge our batteries. When that happens Larissa even makes the investment of buying a bottle of ketchup. I’m concerned though that it could be a gateway condiment and the next thing I know she’ll be buying mustard and relish.
Bonus tip: Don’t worry, be flexible — Every place you stay may not be as comfortable or as nice as you like. We’ve had relatively good luck in this department, mostly due to Larissa’s thorough vetting of our rentals. But the beauty of living a nomadic life is that if you don’t like an area, you’ll soon be moving on. And if you do like it, then you can stay longer.
Any questions you have or tips you’d like to share?