Home or No Home: Could You be a Nomad?

posted in: Finance, Inspiration, Travel, Travel Journal | 25

Every couple has disagreements and every couple compromises. Some arguments are inconsequential like what to eat for dinner or whose turn it is to take out the trash. And others are significant, like whether or not to buy a house or to start a family.

I constantly find myself out of the “normal” realm of discussions and quite often have the argument of home versus no home.

To most people, this question will seem absolutely preposterous. The majority of the world lives within the general pattern of growing up, getting married, buying a house, having kids and retiring.

To others, the ever-growing community of vagrants, it will seem ridiculous that we’ve waited this long to start our nomadic journey.

We have talked for countless hours, read thousands of blogs and listened to tons of podcasts based on the nomadic lifestyle. Waking up in a different place every month, no alarm clocks, no stress of ownership, and the freedom to live a life full of grit and adventure.

But is this really the case? I always try to be realistic, weighing out the good and the bad. In my mind, there’s no such thing as perfect. Would we simply be replacing annoying home maintenance with vehicle maintenance (uh honey we sprung a leak in the back of the van) or setting alarms not to get to a 9 to 5 job, but to check out of the hotel or campground?

We have a common theme in our relationship and what seems to be in many others. I, the woman, am not so sure it’s the right thing for me and he, the man, wants to jump into this life. I’m not saying every couple is in this scenario. But from what I’ve been exposed to, it seems like the women are usually the more reluctant ones.

I like the poetic idea of selling everything but the clothes in my bag and heading out into the world free and unattached. To be honest, the more we travel, the more I realize leaving behind a home comes with a whole array of problems.

But when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty of giving my wedding dress to goodwill, shredding all my old photos or only owning three pairs of shoes – things start to get real!

The question isn’t whether or not I can live without these things, it is do I WANT to?

This summer we experimented on an 80 day road trip to see what it would be like being away for so long with limited possessions.

With the exception of feeling like I needed to be home when we had a death in the family, I did not miss it at all. BUT I also knew it wasn’t forever and we would be back in three months. And when we did get home, it felt marvelous. I’m not sure how you explain the feeling of “home” to someone that doesn’t seem to get it… thoroughly content, comfortable, peace of mind, being at ease, or maybe just plain happy?

Part of me thinks I deserve a relaxing place to call home. Like I earned it. Then there’s the part of me that wonders if I’m simply conditioned in thinking I need this place. Like a safety net.

At the moment, I’m perplexed with the thought of why I can’t throw caution to the wind and jump in that van my husband so desperately wants to live in.

Could you live a life on the road as a nomad? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments below.

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

25 Responses

  1. Cheis Travels

    Interesting question to be sure. While in our mid 20’s, my husband and I threw caution to the wind, sold our home and possessions, and lived in a 24′ travel trailer for over two years. We felt happily “snug as bugs in a rug”, but as our two young children became ready for school we had to rethink our priorities, so returned to a conventional lifestyle. There was no internet, travel websites or blogs to fan the flames of a nomadic lifestyle like there is today and although surfing the net can be enjoyable, it also can make it difficult to decide which direction(s) to pursue on this amazing planet if you choose to fulfill the desire for wanderlust. I do think in many cases we females love having a real place to call home, no matter how enjoyable travel can be. Possibly you may not find a totally agreeable solution no matter how often you discuss the pros and cons, kind of like the hamster running in the wheel.

    • Dang Travelers

      It sounds like you had a big adventure of your own! I would imagine having children would make it a bit more difficult (although I feel like many families do it). I’m willing to try it and to even commit to a few years, just not sure how long I’d last.

  2. Diana - MVMT Blog

    I think I prefer to have a home base and have the freedom to travel whenever I want. I’ve never been a nomad though so I guess I won’t really know until I try it!

  3. Jing

    This is the big “what if” in my travel life today. The thought of living a nomadic life struck my mind often and the question of whether I can live with it will remain a unanswered unless I take the actual plunge. While your circumstance of traveling as a couple differ from mine as a single woman, the questions you raised are the same questions I need to consider to make the decision. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck on whichever you both will decide. 🙂

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Jing! I wonder how many people there are in the world wandering, free of any ties…sounds like there are many that are thinking about it!

  4. Frank

    Interesting because we’ve been travelling full-time for almost 3 years now and are increasingly thinking of getting a base somewhere. We love travelling and we’ve been fine living the “no home nomad lifestyle” but after a while it gets tiring hauling all your belongings around with you in a suitcase. I think the ideal going forward is to have a base – doesn’t have to be big – and to still travel about half the year.

    My wife, who followed my dream, hasn’t had too hard a time adjusting. It was actually very easy and you’d be surprised how you don’t miss your “stuff”.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Dang Travelers

      Just curious- what type of lodging do you stay in? I think if we were to slow travel and do timeshares or AirBnB places, I would last for awhile. I like the idea of a small home base then travel from there. I’m sure we will at least try it like you guys did and see from there. Worst case is we hate it and have to buy all new stuff right? Good way to declutter our lives!

  5. Sarah Stierch

    I traveled for my career a few years back. I really enjoyed it, but someone else was flipping the bill. Now, I have to limit my travel, and luckily I live in a travel-filled region (Northern California). I would like to relocate and travel more when I get a bit older, but, financially it’s not possible, and I’m not one of those types who can give up luxuries for backpacking on a budget in Thailand 🙂

  6. Tom

    I’ve been on a few 80 days (more or less) trips myself. Interesting that at the start, the contents of your bag are a subset of what you own. By the end, they are everything you own, and when returning home you’re suprised to find that you have so much other stuff now. For me, I could be a nomad (“location-independent” is the current trendy way to say it) for some time, but I probably intersperce it with periods of having a home base.

  7. Clare

    I sold my house and quit my job 4 years ago and started travelling full time. I can’t imagine not doing it and I am not sure when or if I want to settle somewhere. My home town is certainly not a place I want to settle, it’s just where I visit to see family. I love the feeling of only owning what I have in my backpack, though sometimes you do want a bit more choice. I hope I continue loving the life and maybe one day I will fall in love with a place and call it home.

  8. Jess

    At this stage in my life i feel that i could be a nomad, as technically we are. We have no home, living off saves and have been for the last year or so. However i do look forward to having a home eventually.

  9. Kerri

    I can for a period of time but I always need to come back to my home. I’m not engineered to be a constant nomad. Travelling makes me appreciate my home even more.

  10. Lara Dunning

    I think I could for a certain amount of time. Ideally, I think it would be nice to stay in a place for 2 months, then move on to another place for 2 months, etc. That way you are not zipping through a place but getting a real feel for it and experience the destination on a more of a local scene.

  11. Colby

    I always said I wanted to be a nomad. But the more I travel/live abroad I’ve come to realize my ideal situation would be to live at home (in the States) for 6 months and then live/travel abroad for 6 months. The nomadic life doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did. I love the idea of slow travel, spending 2-3 months in a place, but always having a home base to come back to.

  12. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    We spent 1 year selling and donating everything we owned including 3 cars, a boat, 2 kayaks and art and then took off, at the ages of 55 and 62 to start traveling as nomads. (After renting out our house on Padre Island we sold that also, a couple of years later.) We began our travels in Mexico and traveled throughout the southern states for 6 months before working our way through all the countries in Central Amerca and a few in South America, the DR and Curacao. All of these countries were tropical and it was easy to carry all we needed, travel by bus and rent apartments through AirBnB and other online sites. Traveling as nomads with just the things we needed made us realize that the things we treasure most are the intangibles- memories of places visited, friends and family. We set up a base in a comfortable apartment last year in Portugal and obtained a resident visa but have still tried not to accumulate more than we need. Now we’re into two seasons of clothing and have bought some good pots and pans, a printer/scanner and a used car but these are things we can sell easily or donate if necessary. For me it’s been immensely freeing to own what I need rather that being owned and kept in place by all my things. A nomadic or minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it’s a good exercise in figuring out your priorities!

  13. Elena

    Read your post with interest. We’ve been nomads (or digital nomads, or location independent – whatever you call it) for 3+ years now. I call ourselves slow travelers. Usually, we stay in one place for about 3 months: live like locals, work on the road, take short side trips to learn/enjoy local culture, food, attractions. The length of stay in one place (3 months) came from trial and error. We tried to stay in one location longer (lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 6 months) or in Perth, Australia for 4 months). After about 3 months, I became restless and was ready for a new place. We love our lifestyle. So far, no regrets and no plans to find a permanent base anywhere in the world. Cheers!

  14. Kim B

    Hey there travelers,
    I absolutely could & would love ❤️ the opportunity to live a nomadic life, at least for a number of years. However, my hubby is a man of creature comforts, which includes space. He enjoys traveling but not long term. He has stayed in our motor home in Alaska several summers in a row but he wants roots. I am currently trying to convince him to travel with me for 6 months to a year, just to try it out. I’ll let you know if he relents.
    I’ll be commenting on your 80 day trip shortly, I’ve read & enjoyed your blog.
    Happy trails,

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Kim! Thanks for following along. It makes me feel better that other people have the same conversation! I am getting closer and more open to the idea, but I think the hardest part is once we sell my husband says he NEVER wants to settle down again. So it’s sort of a all or nothing situation which makes it harder for me. I do love the compromise of 6 months gone, 6 months home. Keep us posted on how it goes!!

  15. Leigh | Campfires & Concierges

    Hi! I found this post through one of your Pins and it caught my eye! I’m planning an extended road trip in August and am really struggling with whether to put stuff in storage (right now, I’m not location independent, so I am assuming at some point I will have to get a job and a home) or just sell everything. Either way, this is my last winter in Chicago and I have to say, I’m very disappointed in the snow so far this winter 🙂

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Leigh! We are from Chicago too 😊 and I was just saying how I actually miss the snow. I’m not sure how much stuff you have, but maybe storing some at a family members or friends and selling some could be a compromise. That way you don’t have to pay storage fees and also don’t have to get rid of everything.

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