Nomadic lifestyles – full time travellers share their lives as nomads

by Fiona Harper

There was once a time when travel was a luxury available to the well-heeled or the retired. Thankfully things have changed and travel has become something we can all do – some nomadic people are even full time travellers. The Digital Revolution turned travel and travelling lifestyles on its head, making a nomadic lifestyle a real option. Here are  four full time travellers whose home is wherever they happen to be today.

What is it really like to be a full-time traveller? Read on to find out…

Nomad: a member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home (Oxford Dictionary).

Today’s nomad has exchanged the search for ‘fresh pasture for its animals’ to ‘explore foreign cultures’. For these travellers, being nomadic has morphed into a rewarding lifestyle, whether by design or serendipity.

Lara – travel and food writer at GranTourismo 

How long have you lived a nomadic life?

Lara Dunston

Lara Dunston. Photo Terence Carter/GranTourismo

My husband and I moved from Australia to Abu Dhabi in 1998 and explored Europe and the Middle East whenever possible. We hit the road full time in 2006 and were nomadic for over seven years, before settling in Southeast Asia — in Thailand, then Vietnam, and Cambodia. We’ve made a home here now in Siem Reap and prefer shorter trips.

What’s the attraction of being nomadic?

Having the freedom to travel whenever and wherever we wanted at a moment’s notice and the ability to prolong our stay if we found somewhere we were smitten with. I blame that Imperial Leather ad from my childhood – I so wanted to be that little girl flying to Tahiti!

Describe one ‘rock your socks off’ day as a travel nomad

Working in pyjamas at my laptop in a Brussels penthouse with 360 degree views of the city as snow fell around me. But so too impulsive days on the road, being able to hop off a train at a strange station with no hotel booked, no plan, just the thrill of freedom. That’s what being nomadic is all about.

How have expectations met reality?

Travelling light isn’t easy when you’re a writer/photographer team with tools of trade to lug around. It doesn’t help that I like to buy things from artisans to remind me of the places we’ve been. .

Things you love about being nomadic?

The freedom of choice coupled with the privilege of holding Australian passports. Being able to say to Terence, shall we go to Scandinavia and the Baltic States for a couple of months? And off we would go.

Anything you loathe?

I desperately missed family and old friends though we’ve now got friends scattered around the globe. The constant movement, the packing and unpacking. Carting our ‘homes’ around the world got tiring. It’s nice to have shelves of books and a cat that curls up on my lap again.

What’s the best place you’ve visited?

Planet earth and the people who live on it. I love this world that we’ve been so lucky to have travelled.

Kerry – Sailor and Communications Professional

How long have you lived a nomadic life?

Kerry Lorimer

Most of my adult life with the last five years cruising on my own boat

What’s the attraction being nomadic?

I’ve worked on charter and private yachts, crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and had always dreamt of cruising on my own boat

Describe one ‘rock your socks off’ day as a travel nomad

At Chesterfield Reef I had an entire tropical island all to myself. Surrounded by nothing but ocean and, with my friends off snorkelling 400m away, tens of thousands of fearless birds hovered above me as I lay on the sand. Spectacularly beautiful!

How have expectations met reality?

As an experienced sailor I had a good idea of what was involved, but I didn’t anticipate the loss of independence, nor the stress of owning a boat, rather than being crew.

Things you love about being nomadic?

Making lifelong friends, getting to know locals on a personal level and travelling to incredible places.

Anything you loathe?

The worry and expense of maintaining a boat.

What’s the best place you’ve visited?

Chesterfield Reef and South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic.

Ulrike – freelance writer

How long have lived a nomadic life?

35 years ago, after finishing school I left Germany to study in the UK and never returned.

What’s the attraction of being nomadic?

There is so much world out there, I could never be content with living in just one place. Even travel is not enough, as only living somewhere gets you close to a new country and its people and culture.

Describe one ‘rock your socks off’ day as a  travel nomad

In Australia my daughter got into an argument at school after standing up against an ignorant racist. I knew then that by living in foreign cultures our daughter had become a tolerant and accepting person, a true world citizen.

How have expectations met reality?

I laugh when people think that because I live near a beach, or like now, in Paris, that I’m on holidays. Instead I do all the normal things like shopping, working and school runs except I’m doing it in a foreign country.

Things you love about being nomadic?

I love the challenge of starting afresh, being surrounded by people who have different traditions, learning from them and incorporating new friends into my life.

Anything you loathe?

I hated ripping my daughter out of her comfort zones repeatedly. But I also (sometimes) hate not being able to make long-term plans, as I don’t really know for sure where I will be in a few months’ time.

What’s the best place you’ve visited?

Brazil. Iguassu Falls, Sao Paolo, and Rio blew my socks off with their beauty. Also, Yemen was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It was like picture-book time travelling. I am so sad about its current situation.

Nora – Professional Hobo

How long have you lived a nomadic lifestyle?

Noa Dunn Professional Hobo

I travelled the world full-time for 12 years. I now have a home base in Canada, and I continue to travel for about half of each year cumulatively.

What’s the attraction of being nomadic?

A lifelong dream of immersing myself in cultures, to proverbially ‘break bread around dinner tables around the world.

Describe one ‘rock your socks off’ day as a travel nomad

I have an evangelical love of long-distance train travel which led me to some epic rail journey across Canada and Australia, the Trans-Siberian, and 30 days on trains from Lisbon to Saigon. I’ve ridden the most luxurious train in the world (India), the longest train ride (Trans-Siberian), the fastest train (China), the slowest train (too many contenders!), and more.

How have expectations met reality?

I never expected some of the things that came my way, like free accommodation in unbelievable spots around the world or to be apprenticed with a shaman for two years.

Things you love about being nomadic?

I love that I have no idea about where I’ll be or what craziness I’ll be involved in next year.

Anything you loathe?

I despise the logistics of travel such as booking flights and finding accommodation

What’s the best place you have visited?

Travel has much less to do with the destination itself and more to do with what we’re doing, who we’re with, and how we’re feeling. That said, I resonate with Latin American culture in general, so one of my favourite countries is Peru. Also, I love New Zealand and have been trying to get back there for a long time.

How does a typical nomadic day look for full time travellers?

We discovered that there is no such thing as typical, nor perfect day when it comes to nomadic lifestyles. For some it is the thrill of finding something new and exotic. Seagoing nomads said that weather usually determines if it’s a fantastic day or one you’d rather hide from.

House sitter Julie starts her day playing with the pets she’s currently taking care of before riding, hiking or visiting a farmer’s market.

‘At the end of the day when I close my computer I have a different destination to explore on my doorstep’, said Nora. Though she also confessed to occasional contempt for her suitcase too.

Not surprisingly, for sailor Kerry a perfect day involved calm weather and water activities like diving, snorkelling, kayaking or hanging out with new local friends. Another cruising nomad Anne thought that catching her first fish (after 18 months at sea!) would one day make her perfect day. Former crew, now Captain Cherylle, made the tough call to carry on solo after her husband died suddenly.

For Ulrike a perfect nomadic day involves exploring a new neighbourhood, finding a decent supermarket with familiar brands and tracking down other nomadic friends.

Lara said that ‘there is no typical nomadic day and that’s what I love about it.’ Travel blogger Kach loves that everything she owns fits into one suitcase so that she can travel to Antarctica or the Caribbean at the drop of an eticket.

The one thing these nomadic lifestylers have in common is the detachment they have with clutter and ‘stuff’. That and the desire to live by their wits and to enjoy life in the moment.

Do you live (or dream about living) a nomadic lifestyle? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Travel Boating Lifestyle is managed by Fiona Harper

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and waters on which we live, work and travel. As people who seek meaning and knowledge through storytelling, we recognise that the First Peoples of this land have been doing so for over 60,000 years. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.