Travel is the only thing you spend your money on that makes you richer. Buy experiences, not possessions. Memories last a lifetime. Never wonder what if – just wonder where to go next. Wanderlust is constantly pushed on us by travel media – this blog included. What travel media fails to touch on though are the downsides of the nomadic lifestyle. This isn’t going to be a piece where I list a number of pros and pass them off as cons; I want to talk about what’s not too often talked about. I want to speak on the bad of living a nomadic lifestyle, and why you might want to consider it carefully before making the jump from firmly rooted to aimless wanderer.
It’s nice to be able to hop on a plane and go where you please; to visit a country and leave when you please; to work from the road and support yourself with jobs you find here and there. This lifestyle though comes with a huge logistical challenge for even the simplest of things. Lets say you go out to a bar and your wallet gets stolen. You want to go to the police – but you likely don’t speak the language and your not in a country where the police are too helpful anyways. It’s up to you to reorder everything you lost, so you start filling in the paperwork as you would do back home. There are some differences though. You can’t simply request a new drivers license online; you’ve got to fill out a special form, write a letter of explanation, and mail the entire thing in with a return address (which as a nomad, you likely don’t have). The nomadic lifestyle brings about logistical headaches in many different other ways too. Be it timezone meeting planning, visa applications, endless tax paperwork, or going to the hospital in a place that you don’t speak the language; you’re going to have a much more difficult time than if you were to just stay in one place.
One thing not too many people talk about is how cripplingly lonely it can be when you’re on the road constantly. Now you may say “but you meet new people every single day who teach you new things about the world” and I agree with you; that’s a fantastic experience. But sometimes you just want to see the same face for more than a week – or have a good friend you can count on when you’re feeling down. The internet of course makes the world more interconnected than ever, and staying in touch with people is as easy as a few clicks of a screen, but there’s still something missing when you can’t physically be with your friends and family. It’s a void that can only be filled so often with temporary relationships. Not even mention the concept of having a serious intimate relationship is near impossible. Hookup culture is only so great for so long. Somewhere along the line you’re going to want to go home, but that’s a concept all too foreign to you now.
Life Slipping You By
Staying connected to friends also has its downsides. Once in a while you log in to Facebook or instagram and see your friends and family posting photos of their good times and milestones. A friend is getting married, another just had a baby. Your brother got a raise, your sister has taken up kickboxing. It’s now more than ever that you realize life goes on with or without you. You might also compare it to being a little like death – people are sad you’re gone, but life moves on quickly. You then start reflecting on yourself. “All of my friends are making something with their lives; careers, families, interesting hobbies, and I’m still existing in the same state I was five years ago”. Trying to communicate these woes falls on deaf ears. You’ll be constantly reminded of how lucky you are to have this opportunity, and how friends are so jealous of all the places you’ve gotten to see. The grass truly is greener on the other side.
Travel, like anything else in life is only good for so long. Eventually, 99.9% of us are going to want to find a place to call home. Whether that takes a few years, or a few decades is up to your personality and individual experiences (and also likely your finances). When you do however settle down, you’ll find yourself longing for the days you spent on the road. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from working abroad or living as a nomad (it’s a fantastic life experience) – but it’s important to realize that for every instagram photo we post of us in a fantastic place, we’ve got real struggles that come along with it. Our lives aren’t perfect vacations all the time, but hey, living abroad, traveling when you want to… it’s not too bad of a lifestyle either.