These past few months I have noticed a boom of travel bloggers who decided to quit their jobs and sold all they had to live a nomadic life. It used to be “crazy” and it seems to become now more “trendy”. For some, it is just for a little while whereas it is a long-term plan for others. With the Internet now globally available, remote work opportunities have increased. So are people who are not location-based to work: the digital nomads.
I often meet people who are dreaming in front of digital nomads’ travel blog posts thinking how perfect their lives are. Don’t misunderstand me: I do dream too when I read them. That’s the reason why I read them. But I don’t feel unhappy about my status and my life because I envy theirs. We often tend to see only the greener part of others’ lives and forget what’s positive in our own situation.
I work in digital marketing. I have skills that could allow me to try this nomad freelance experience as opposed to working 9 to 5 in an office and building my career within a company. To be honest, I thought about it about two years ago. Yes, as most travel addicts, the idea of moving on a permanent basis or making a round-the-world trip makes me dream from time to time. Yet, the envy did not last and did not go a step further. Thinking about it made me realise there are advantages in my current part-time traveller status. Although I never say never, I would not change the status I have today.
This post is not about which lifestyle is the best as I don’t think one is better than the other. Indeed, they both have advantages and disadvantages. Also, a way of life is something too personal to be judged: what is the best for you is not the best for everybody. This is an article to look at things positively from a non-nomad point of view. Because it also has its advantages.
Here are four reasons why I currently like being a part-time traveller more than a travelling digital nomad:
1. What is scarce becomes more valuable
I have a full-time job that does not imply travelling so, obviously, the time I have to travel is limited. I still manage to travel a lot tough (see my post here to find out how). Why do I like this situation more than full-time travelling if travelling is my passion?
I do think that working during the week has a very positive impact on my excitement for the weekend or my holidays. I have time to build envy, to be eager to travel again. These moments away are rare, so they become very precious. I have to make careful decisions on how to use my free time.
Although I am not saying that I would not like to travel all the time, I am sure I appreciate travelling even more now that I have less time to do it.
2. If I don’t live 24/7 my passion for travelling, I do live it at 100%
Unless you are retired, have a sugar daddy or have found success very early in your life, you cannot truly afford to travel only as leisure. Most of the nomads have to work to be able to carry on their lifestyle. They do travel 24/7, but they are not on holidays when they do so. As it is a way of life, travelling must be sustainable to be long-term. It implies budgeting and watching money a lot while travelling is crucial.
There are different types of jobs you can have as a digital nomad, and most of them (or maybe most of the ones I could have?) would be nowhere as reliable and secured as the 9-5 office job I have. This can be fine: you may not need the security; it can be part of the lifestyle. But no one can argue that more money security does create advantages.
I like to be pressure-free when I travel. I am on holidays having a real-time: I unplug from work-related thoughts and worries. I don’t have to worry about my bills or my work; I leave all these behind in the office and at home. I do like my job don’t get me wrong, but I also like to disconnect everything and just enjoy the trip itself. I know this would be a lot harder if I were a full-time traveller. When you can work from anywhere, it can be harder to disconnect.
I know we meet a lot of people when we travel. That’s something I enjoy. As strong as these relations can be, most remain ephemeral when you are a nomad, and I get tired of saying goodbye. As I grow older, I want to focus more on ongoing and profound relationships.
Do I need to have many people who I love physically close to me? Probably not. I am an expat so most of my family and long-life friends are thousands of kilometres away. Technology, video calls, and social media have somehow reduced the distance. This being said I appreciate having people I care about and who care about me “physically” in my life. They add another dimension to life that is not focused on an individual anymore. They also bring some safety and stability. We may not all need these feelings to the same extent; it is still something nice to have.
4. Ability to fulfil other passions
I love playing soccer and being part of a team. Sometimes, I love it as much as travelling. I could make the choice to stay home for the weekend just because I want to play a match. I would terribly miss soccer and my team if I chose to be on the road.
I know there are many ways to do sport and even opportunities to play football while travelling. But it cannot be compared to the significant commitment of being part of a team in a club for a few seasons. As a nomad, I would have to leave behind my second passion. I am so happy I can manage to travel and commit to my soccer team today.
What about you? Are you satisfied with your current traveller status? Is there something you’d like to change?
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For most the idea of quitting the day job to travel equals the freedom to break away from a boring repetitive life. Same same but different work day. However given a long enough timeframe you can have a boring repetitive life when you travel too. Finding a good balance between work and leisure is the key. Well done for finding it 🙂
Thank you for this interesting comment Barry.
You’re correct, balance is indeed what we need to aim for to better enjoy all we are doing. Quite hard as “a good balance” means something different for each individual!
For myself, I guess finding a job where each day is somehow different (the variety of my missions is one of the main reasons why I enjoy my job) with no long stressing hours as well as living in an area with plenty of things to explore nearby were the keys to find the good balance 🙂
I am definitely happy! Sometimes I wish I can do what a Nomad do. But the fact that you will be away from your home like years and being stuck somewhere because you’re running out of funds, well that’s a different story. Travel is a leisure and I believe you that can’t travel and be a nomad for the rest of your life. You need to have a definite place where you could call home and work which you can come back to when you’re done on your trip. 🙂
I’m glad you’re happy Bhebs. In the end, that’s what is important: making the right choices to be happy!
I appreciate it may not be important for all travelers, but it’s nice to find the comfort at home after a trip, isn’t it? Personnally, I really enjoy to have a break between two trips. I like the ritual of putting an end to the trip before starting a new one.
I love this post. I am about 3 months into a long term trip and definitely don’t want to travel forever. I am not used to moving around so much because I usually move somewhere and go on short trips – this is exhausting!!! I am already looking forward to spending 7 months in one place next year before travelling again for a few months then moving to Canada with my partner. I agree with everything you are saying – I am glad that I saved for so many years for this trip and have an end date planned because I don’t need to watch my budget too carefully and I can do everything I want to do without worrying about the long term effects of spending money. Thanks for sharing another perspective on life as a travel blogger! 🙂
Thanks Laura. Great plans ahead for you, I’ll make sure I follow your stories 🙂
Totally agree with this, Eloise! I’m also a part-time traveller (hence the blog name ;-)) and think it makes me appreciate the time I do spend travelling even more. I did a six-month backpacking trip straight after university, and, although it was amazing, I was really ready to come home by the end of it. I missed my home comforts, familiar food and (of course) family and friends. I love to travel, but I don’t think the long-term nomadic lifestyle is for me!
Great post Eloise! 😉 I have to say that my long-term trip is not always enjoyable. I mean, yes, I do appreciate it (don’t get me wrong!), but I do have to work here and there as I can’t afford to be in holidays all the time (I wish!).
Thanks Mel. I’ve known many backpackers in Australia and although the experience is fantastic, it is not as easy as most people think! Many of them had to do jobs that others didn’t want because of the language barrier or lack of qualification… and they were not easy jobs at all!! But the reward of getting time to explore such a great country makes the efforts worth it, doesn’t it? 🙂
I agree with you. Sometimes I struggle with moving from place to place as I really am a homebody. Currently we are 15 months into our two year plan to travel and lots of days it doesn’t even feel like we are really traveling as we are on the computer so much and not exploring as much as I would sometimes like.
Thanks for your comment Shelly. Full-time traveling isn’t as full-time as we sometimes imagine. It’s not a bad thing, but I am just surprised how some of us don’t imagine that and only see the “postcard” side of it 😛
Yeay, another part-time traveller who doesn’t feel the need to join the digital nomad exodus! What a great insightful piece, and it’s so true travel can be just as fulfilling when fitted around ‘normal’ life as it can being permanently on the road. I love my 9-5 life too, and where you have your sport I have my music (I play the double bass…kinda hard to take on my travels!) and wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Thank you for your comment Heather. Indeed traveling with a double bass sounds challenging! It’s easier to carry a soccerball, but not the 10 soccer mates that go with it 😉
What a great post! Thanks for writing it! I’ve been noticing the trend in people ditching it all and becoming nomads, but that isn’t for everyone. I agree completely as part time travel is ‘living my dream’ too. Thanks for sharing. Love it!
Yes, as individuals we all have different needs and different ways of fulfilling our dreams!
We were nomads for 5 years and stopped because of two reasons: relationships (which you mentioned here) and health care (we are in our 60s and 70s!).
Thank you for your addition Carol. I luckily did not have healthcare in mind but now that you point it out, it seems obvious that all health related stuffs can be a lot harder to deal with when you are a nomad!
Hi, Eloise, it was very interesting to read your opinion and choice you made. I appreciate your honesty and
I’ve been traveling for the past 3 years. Sometimes, I call myself a digital nomad, sometimes a slow traveler, or even a slow traveling digital nomad. I spend between 3 to 6 months in one location: working 9-to-5; living the local life 5-to-9; exploring my new “home” on weekends and on vacations. To me, it is a perfect combination of my love for traveling and having a place called “home.” This type of travel, gives a chance to immerse in local life, better understand traditions and customs, brings out humility and different views on some established opinions. Visiting any place on vacation does not provide this opportunity. On the other hand, it solves my issue with getting bored when staying in one place for too long.
I absolutely agree with Barry that finding a balance is the key. For some, it is part-time travel, for others it could be no travel at all :). It’s good that you found what satisfies you most. Happy travels!
Thanks for sharing your experience Elena. Yes, balance is what’s important and we all have different needs at different times!
I like your slow traveling digital nomad experience, it’s a good compromise between being nomad or settled that could work well for some of us! I actually tried something similar a couple of times but it wasn’t 100% what I needed!
Excellent post and something I’ve been thinking of since I started blogging! I believe that a traveller isn’t solely defined by living the nomadic lifestyle that seems to be the envy of the internet these days! That has worked for them, and I congratulate them on being able to live their life dreams! I think it’s time us part-time travellers come out of the weeds and this is a great post to get it started!
Thanks Tamar! I’m following you on congratulating the ones who managed to succeed at living their dream of nomadic lifestyle: it is for sure not easy at all to make it work! And I think if everyone actually knew how hard it can be, they wouldn’t dream that much about it 😉
As much as I love exploring new places I equally love having a home base to come back too.
Thanks for dropping by Brianna. Yes, the “home sweet home” feeling feels good 🙂
Couldn’t agree more with everything you said! I’m sure I enjoy traveling a lot more because I do it part time and I get to disconnect from all my worries and work related stress. 🙂
Hey, loved reading your article. I do feel the same. I have got my job at home which I wouldn’t want to miss. I actually love to combine those two! It sometimes is hard to come back to it after a couple of months traveling but it keeps you grounded and you’re family/friends and social life good too!
Thanks, Jacomijn. With the right job giving you the right balance, combining the two is awesome, isn’t it?
I am very happy indeed. I bought a house last year because I really really needed a safe place to come home to after my travels. I just got back today from a weekend away. And although I loved the sun, the strange foods, the vibe and meeting other travellers, I’m getting ready for bed now and actually look forward slipping between my own sheets, in my own bed, in my own room. All snugg and cosy. Partime travel does have a lot of benefits!
Thank you for sharing, Naomi. I also love the feeling of going back home after a weekend away! Congratulations for buying your house, well done!
I’ve been a nomad for four years. The last 4 months in Latin America, I left Colombia earlier than planned to come back to the US. For the first time throughout living full time on the move, I have been feeling an itch for some of the aspects that come with living somewhere. Not having an environment to nurture long term relationships through time is a big one. Having meaningful partnerships has been one thing that just doesn’t work as often as if you live somewhere. Before, I could care less. Now that I’m getting older I’m craving that sort of aspect to my life. The idea of settling down is terrifying and the questions that come up about what my life will actually look out have no clear answers what so ever. I’m buying a truck this week and building a living situation in it- I’m going to start by driving across the US to think and visit the rest of the beauties in the US before I start a journey, this time, in one place!
Hi Carleigh! Thank you for sharing your experience. I love how you describe staying in one place as a journey 🙂 Indeed, it can also be an adventure and a challenge. The good news is that you can go back to a nomad life if it ends up not being your thing. I’m envious of your trip driving across the US: you’re gonna see amazing places! Have fun and good luck with your new lifestyle 😀