You’ve probably heard of the term “nomad” at one time or another. The word might conjure up thoughts of gypsies traveling in caravans, or a group of bandits roaming in the desert.
While you may be partly right, people living a nomadic lifestyle are much more common than you think. Nomads also have a much better connotation now compared to before.
For some, a nomadic lifestyle is charming, giving off thoughts of a carefree and laissez-faire attitude, free from the shackles of government oppression and control.
For others, however, a nomadic lifestyle seems like more trouble than anything else. It means exposure to the elements, being unable to form attachments, or staying off the grid to run away and breaking laws just to survive.
Here, we will discuss what nomads are all about, and if this type of lifestyle is something that you can do.
What is a Nomad?
A nomad, simply put, is someone who wanders or travels with no plans for permanent settlement. They may move from location to location without staying too long to proverbially grow roots in one area.
Though not strictly set in stone, those who live a nomadic lifestyle do not own land. They also do not stay in one location for a year or more, nor do they have a pattern or route that they strictly follow.
Nomads can also either be individuals, couples, or small groups of five or fewer. They can also be a community or tribe that moves together and share resources.
Examples of the latter are gypsies, Bedouins, the Samis, and many others.
History of Nomadic Lifestyle
Prehistoric people have been known to be nomads, especially when our ancestors were primarily hunters or gatherers. Aside from weather changes, humans will travel and relocate depending on the availability or scarcity of resources in an area.
This trend followed early man even after they had learned to domesticate animals for food. This is due to the animals’ need to feed, which often requires the owners to lead their flock to greener pastures.
Along with dwindling feed to the livestock, prehistoric man also relocated once daily movement from their domicile to feeding spots and vice-versa no longer seems practical.
The advances in transport technology, especially during the Industrial Revolution, have made the nomadic lifestyle easier and have a much longer range, in some cases even spanning continents.
While previous nomads either walked or used horses and other beasts of burden, now they have access to ships and trains, allowing them to easily cover long distances.
Many nomads nowadays even own cars or trailers which often serve as their shelter. These people often find parking slots or open spaces whenever available and stay there until it is time to move on.
Other types of people that have a nomadic lifestyle follow crowds and go to places with high populations depending on the time of year as this would be their main source of income.
Examples of these are those that work in carnivals and gypsies. There are also grifters and con men who live as nomads to search for potential victims as well as escape the law.
What is a Digital Nomad?
The most modern form of nomad is called a digital nomad. These are usually individuals or couples who move around and can usually afford to stay in temporary dwellings for months at a time.
They also have plenty of disposable income to fully immerse themselves in the culture and other offerings of the current locality that they find themselves in.
The reason for this is that they can work remotely, oftentimes as a freelancer. This means that they can work anywhere for as long as there is an Internet connection.
Some of these digital nomads also have side gigs as content creators. For some, this can also be their main source of income. Their channels will be about tourism, minimalism, sustainability, the nomadic lifestyle, or any combination of these.
Digital nomads mainly use what they earn to support their lifestyle and will move on typically whenever they get bored of a location and not because of a lack of opportunity or resources.
Advantages of a Nomadic Lifestyle
There are several advantages when it comes to living a nomadic lifestyle. These, of course, will vary from case to case and from person to person.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of being a nomad is the freedom that it provides. You have fewer rules to follow. You can go and stay wherever you want. You are not forced to pay bills and you can pretty much have all the time to yourself with no responsibilities and with nobody and nothing to care about.
A nomadic lifestyle is also good if you want to try new and exciting things. Do you want to meet new people? Try out new foods? Experience new and exciting things? If so, then the nomadic lifestyle may be right for you.
Absolute freedom to travel means that you can immerse yourself in any culture. Many nomads are multi-lingual and can even develop themselves into experts in the area.
Nomads also typically have more liquidity. As mentioned, there is no home upkeep to take care of Many nomads sleep in their cars or anywhere with free or cheap lodging. Even showers and other utilities are free.
This type of minimalist living will not require a huge budget. This is why nomads can get away with working little to not at all as their savings or earnings can fund their travels and way of life.
A nomadic lifestyle is also much less stressful. You own less stuff which means fewer things to organize. You worry about fewer things and have fewer responsibilities. All you need to worry about is today, which is a pretty enviable way to live.
Disadvantages of a Nomadic Lifestyle
Of course, there are several disadvantages to living a nomadic lifestyle. Perhaps the biggest challenge to this type of lifestyle is the ability to connect.
It would be very difficult to find long-term friends or a romantic partner if you were moving along after a couple of months. Everything will be short-term unless you can keep the relationships going online.
Finding a home each night can also be a challenge. This is especially true for places that have strict anti-vagrancy laws. This would stretch your budget if you need to stay in a hotel or inn every night.
You might also experience some trouble living with a semblance of normalcy. Cooking meals, taking showers, washing clothes, and other tasks that seem routine in a home may be difficult for you as you can only bring along a limited number of things with you as you travel.
If you are not a remote worker, finding jobs can also be extremely difficult. Finding short-term employment to fund your travels can be a challenge especially if you don’t speak the local language.
If you are living in the open such as in your car, you are also exposed to more danger. This is especially true if you are in a location with a lot of crime, and even more so if you are not behind the locked doors of an actual home.
Many acts of violence can and have occurred among nomads, and the sad thing is that there is no one close to them who can help them out during these times of need.
What Does It Take to Be a Nomad?
It takes a special kind of person to live a nomadic lifestyle. There are certain attributes that you must have in order to not only survive but thrive being a nomad.
First and foremost, you must be adaptable. Different locations will change your routine. There are different cultures and people to adapt to. Even climate and costs of living will change.
You must be able to adapt to these conditions and be as close to a local as possible in the quickest and most efficient way.
You must also be a bit multi-talented, especially if you can’t bring your job along with you. You must be open with everything as jobs available for short-term availability can be difficult to find and, in some cases, pretty menial.
You can also be a bit creative in finding work or generating income. You can do busking or teach music. You can do work in exchange for free lodging or food. You can even clean cars or sell trinkets to earn a little bit extra.
Nomads are also known to be minimalists and to have a simple way of living. You can’t expect to stay in a five-star hotel room. You might not be able to shower for days at a time. A nomadic life is a simple life, so you must be able to live without certain luxuries.
Lastly, a nomad must learn how to be alone. Unless you are traveling with a partner or a group, nomads typically do not form lasting connections. They do not have family or friends to support them in times of financial or emotional need.
While many nomads are happy with this kind of life, admittedly it can get pretty lonely at times. If you want to try a nomadic lifestyle, you should get used to living on and fending for your own.
A nomadic lifestyle may seem charming and exciting, but it is not for everyone. There are a lot of challenges that you must face, most of which can outweigh the benefits and advantages.
Still, it is something that you can definitely try out for a couple of months if a nomadic type of life catches your fancy. Just take precautions as this kind of life poses some dangers as well.
Also, make sure to not sever any connections or do anything drastic like selling your home and all of your possessions. This way, should you want to return to a “normal” way of living, you still have something – and someone – to come back to.