7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel

Note: This started out as a very large piece including the pitfalls of nomadic travel. I ended up splitting it for your reading pleasure. So enjoy part 1. Part 2 can be found here.

 

Perhaps there are some people out there doing a grand old job. Perhaps there are single folks who have no problem with any of these things I’m about to discuss. You may even find couples or families rocking nomadic life.

I guess it also depends on what you mean by nomad. My good friends World Travel Family & Travel Deep and Wide are nomadic. Although the majority of their travel is spent in one spot for a few months, it’s slow travel. Is that still nomadic?

Please don’t get me wrong. I loved my last 5 years of travel. I found my career, I developed insane bonds with my kids and I saw over 67 countries that changed the way I view the world in general.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - Budapest

But on top of all that I really believe it takes something special to just get up and be nomadic. And I’m not just talking about being nomadic. I’m talking about blogging and nomadic travel. I’m talking about what I was doing.

So what was I doing that made nomadic life hard? Here are 7 startling realities of my nomadic travel journey:

Organising travel

I planned our life every day. Where we were going to sleep, how we were going to get there, whether we needed a car or a train or a flight. I use to enjoy travel planning. I was even a travel agent once, but planning travel every day is exhausting. Add to this the blogging aspect of travel and lining up jobs and timing and travel for 4 people, it became something I spent a lot of time on.

Pro: I still love planning vacations and it’s so much easier now that it’s not every day of my life.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - planning

Schooling children

My kids were young when we left Australia. At 2 and 3 I didn’t have this burden. At 5 and 6 it became a concern of mine and so I started organising more structured learning into their lives. I have never wanted to be a teacher, so having to become one for my children was difficult. I enlisted learning books and the internet to help with the job. In Mexico, I enlisted a Spanish tutor.

But every day I thought about my babies and making sure they remained up to date in their schooling. Hoping the lifestyle we had chosen wouldn’t hinder their future. I’m proud of how smart they are and I truly believe homeschooling is an excellent choice for any child, but it takes an extra special Mum to be able to do that too.

Pro: My kids learned so much from travel that school could never have taught them. They have an education that even their teachers are proud of.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - learning

Managing a business

During the first 2 years of my nomadic travel, I had a hobby blog. I have always wanted to be a writer, so I enjoyed it completely. After 2 years the blog started to have a life of its own and a decision was made to make it into our full-time income. That was when the pressure started. Would I be able to provide for my family? Especially as we travelled the world? The blog took many hours of work, which was usually squeezed into an evening when my kids were sleeping. It started to take time away from my travel experiences and my relationships.

Pro: Without my travel experience I would never have found my calling as a blogger. I am so grateful to have found this dream job.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - working

Running a household

Despite not really having a home for the last 5 years, this job became even more important. Making sure my children were eating a balanced diet, finding time to buy new clothes, endeavouring to make sure there was time for showers and hair brushing. Don’t even get me started on laundry! The bane of any traveller’s existence. Sometimes I had no idea when we would find the next washing machine and that is extremely frustrating when you have messy children and limited clothing.

Pro: The kids and I learned to make the best out of all situations. We can literally “live” anywhere.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - cooking

Maintaining relationships

Long distance relationships are hard work. But I knew I was not going to let my relationships fail, just because we had chosen a somewhat isolated existence. And so as often as I could I called my best friend, I organised travel with my sister, I attempted to meet my parents around the world, I made new friends and followed them to exotic places just so my kids and I could socialise and maintain healthy relationships. The reality is we saw these people usually once a year and for a sanguine like me (and my daughter), that wasn’t enough.

Pro: We did get to make friends all over the world and these friends now visit me here in Australia!

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - family

Burn-Out

There comes a time in travel when you can’t possibly see one more castle or visit one more aquarium or go on one more roller coaster. It’s real and it’s a thing. Travel burn out can happen to the best of us. After a month in Ireland, I never wanted to see another castle again. I do now. Now I dream of castles, but at the time I had had enough.

The reality is that with nomadic travel you are so busy taking photos of the next thing, you rarely even look back on the experience you just did. It becomes tiring.

Pro: I am still amazed at everything we saw and did on our travels. And now we have the time to remember it all and dream of places we would love to revisit.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - castle

Coordinating our previous life

On top of running my new life and all those important tasks above, I couldn’t forget about my previous life. I had houses and belongings back in Australia. I continued to manage our home in Perth, Australia by finding new tenants, writing agreements, organising inspections and reports, collecting the rent, attending to maintenance.

I had to ensure everyone’s passports were up to date, that my driver’s license wouldn’t expire, that credit cards remain paid. And calling banks continuously to unfreeze bank cards from travel is a pain in the ass, let me tell you!

Just because we left Australia, didn’t mean we didn’t have responsibilities and obligations back home that I had to coordinate and manage.

Pro: So thankful for my prior job as a Property Manager that made this task pretty simple. And I have to say I had great tenants.

7 Startling Realities of Nomadic Travel - -home

But Don’t Just Take My Word For It

For every one family doing nomadic travel, there are several others who have stopped. And it’s not just families, I’ve asked all my nomad friends solo, couple, and families to tell me why.  What I found was nomadic travel is fabulous. It’s just knowing when to stop. Nomadic travel is filled with experiences, learning, knowledge, but so is being in a home base. So timing is everything.

Caz & family – yTravel blog

Travelled 20+ years

For the current life stage, I am at having a home base makes everything easier. I like the excitement of leaving and returning. When you are nomadic that disappears. Having a home base brings me more comfort and stability. I can own more things and travel with less. And, I like being part of a community and having friends to reconnect with. I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle for 20 years. I now crave a little more certainty. A home base gives me that, yet still offers me the freedom and joy I get from travel.

Meg & Mike – Mapping Megan

Travelled 2+ years

For all the advantages of full-time travel, after multiple years on the road, there are certain comforts of home you begin to crave. Small things like sleeping on the same pillow long enough that there’s a permanent place for your head. Ironically enough, you begin to crave the mundane things you were trying to escape! And there is definitely something to be said about allowing yourself time to take a break. Time to get excited about a trip, and time to reflect and appreciate the experience upon return. Half the fun of travel is the build-up and anticipation, but when you’re experiencing one destination after the next, there’s not a lot of time for that. Nor is there time to sit and reminisce or organize your photos when you’re already taking new shots of the next.

Sharon & family – Simpler & Smarter

Travelled 1+ years

I stopped nomadic travel as it did not suit our family. Trying to travel, parent and work on the road is very hard! With our oldest hitting school age and a new baby on the way, there was no way we had the energy for travel as well so we came home and now are happy to travel in school holidays. It’s much easier for us to balance all our demands at home.

Hannah & Adam – Getting Stamped

Travelled 4+ years

After 4 years of nonstop traveling, we needed a base. A place to call home between trips. A place where we could leave some of our belongings instead of carrying our whole lives to every country. We wanted options and stuff, yes stuff. We were done living out of a suitcase. And we missed our 8lb furball named Tinkerbell. So now we call Milwaukee home again but don’t worry we still break out the passports monthly!

Bethaney & family – Flashpacker Family

Travelled 3+ years

We made the choice to stop nomadic travel for our kids. While we thought we were temporarily stopping at home in New Zealand to sort out our house and some business situations, it has turned into a more permanent stop. Our kids both really grew to love the traditional school environment and we couldn’t take that away from them. Their behaviour and attitude have been a lot better since we have been more settled. We’re also really seeing that we can travel a lot during school holidays and that our travel bug can be satisfied with short-term travel too. I’m not ruling out long-term travel again for us in the future, but for now, it’s working for us to stay put at home.

Sabina & family – A King’s Life

Travelled 8+ years

We paused nomadic travel to give ourselves a different experience. After traveling the world semi-nomadically for 8 years, it became our normal, the 9-5, so to speak. Sitting still and experiencing one place and challenges that come from that was the ‘new’ experience for us. Also, we wanted this experience to have activities that we could not do successfully moving around: such as regular ballet classes or jiu-jitsu classes with a consistent teacher. Consistency has its place, and for this phase, who knows how long it will last, it called to us.

Alisa & family – Living Outside The Box

Travelled 3+ years

Our family enjoyed nomadic travel for as long as it made sense for us. I believe every lifestyle has a tradeoff. While we loved full-time travel as a family, we began to realize that having a home base would offer us opportunities that we couldn’t enjoy while on the road. We couldn’t have everything at once, and eventually, we decided that travel from a home base would offer us a better balance, and would fit better within our family goals and priorities.

Jen & family  – Live World Travel

Travelled 4+ years

We stopped Nomadic Travel because we wanted to have a home and were a little bit tired of living out of our suitcase. I wanted a proper kitchen with good quality accessories and a full fridge/pantry, Scott wanted to make beer in a shed somewhere and our kids were wanting a different type of life, one where they had bikes and permanent friends and family. We also noticed that we weren’t always appreciating each place we went to and increasingly were looking to spend time with friends (like you) and rent proper apartments (rather than hotels) so we could spend time at ‘home’ and relax in comfort. It was lots of fun but having a home feels so good and is definitely the right decision for our family!

Ruth & Son – Exploramum & Explorason

Travelled 5+ years

We stopped nomadic travel to set up a home base which will enable stability and a sense of security to our family. After 5 years we missed familiarity – family, friends, holidays, formal schooling and buddies, special occasions and our possessions. And my son missed school so much that he asked to go back! Whilst nomadic travel is less expensive and offers incredible freedom, sometimes it takes its toll on us personally, which it did for me. I spent little time caring about ‘me’ and with constant change in climates, culture, diet etc this can often have a negative impact on our personal well being. Whilst nomadic travel is a wonderful life, we are now ready to travel using a home base which I believe is the right move for us at this point in our travel lives.

Copyright Exploramum

Talon & Son – 1 Dad 1 Kid

Travelled 5+ years

My teenager announced they were transgender, so we needed to return home for a legal name change, therapy, specialists, etc.

Dan – Dan Flying Solo

Travelled 3+ years

After over three years on the road, I’ve never been more exhausted. Travelling always will be my biggest passion but I realised my priorities had shifted. Family, relationships and growing a business have become more important over the years and setting down some roots seems the best way to get the time back to focus on that and build a community around me again.

Tanya & Andrew – Magic Travel Blog

Travelled 5+ years

As a team of two, we had a wonderful time traveling the world for almost five years. Once the third member of our family became mobile the places we love lost some of their shine. We had the option of a very child-friendly home base in Australia and now we take regular trips instead.

 

With the passing of time, one matures and certain valuable pieces of our life take on more importance. It is only a natural progression to grow out of a life situation and to grow into a new one.

Those very true and very big realities were stressing me out. So I took action. Just because nomadic travel has ended doesn’t mean I gave up my dream life. In fact, I feel like phase two of my dream life has just begun.

Read article 2: 5 Personal Pitfalls of Nomadic Travel

 

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Showing 15 comments
  • Alyson Long
    Reply

    Hey there. First up, thanks for mentioning up top. I saw the post and was like Whaaaat, why hasn’t she asked me? Maybe I missed it. We’re on almost 5 years now and we still LOVE it. But, it takes the 2 of us. Chef is now ” retired” and the plan was for him to help me, but we find he’s actually spending ALL his time on the travel planning, Then there’s the kids and doing stuff with them and his Ironman training. We don’t spend the majority of our time in one place, don’t know where you got that idea. I think we’re the most active travellers of the bunch. I actually HATE slow travel and find it really boring. We’re backpackers through and through but this year we had 2 months stationary in Hoi An, first time we’ve ever rented a house like that while we’ve been on the road. Plus we have ( had, it’s gone) our base in Romania, but we flitted back and fore, we never stayed there very long in single stretches. Jeez, please don’t ever call me a slow traveller or a worldschooler, I don’t like either term. Off from Bangkok tomorrow to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and back to Vietnam. Then….who knows. We don’t like to plan much either 🙂

    • Erin
      Reply

      Alyson, as if I could ever forget you! 😀
      Thanks for clarifying your travel style. I figured since you had your home in Romania you had slowed right down. So good to hear you are still travelling like crazy. You make up one of the families that do it successfully. And that’s a great testament to the wonderful family you have built and the amazing husband who is a life partner helping you out. Merry Christmas wherever you end up! 🙂

  • Michele
    Reply

    I agree it was a lot easier than I thought too, we returned after 3 years on the road living on a motorbike. I am loving having my tribes back around me and having time to actually plan travel these days instead of doing it on the run 🙂

    • Erin
      Reply

      Tribes! Yes. Having community is just amazing. And planning travel is fun again 😀

  • Megan Jerrard
    Reply

    Wonderful post Erin, I think that everything in life requires balance, and that everything in life is but a stage. We went through out stage of nomadic travel, and who knows, perhaps being back in a home base is also a stage before we come around full circle. But I think one of the most important things in life is being able to judge when you need a break, and embrace a change of lifestyle when something has stopped working for you.

    Thanks for keeping it real!

    • Erin
      Reply

      So true. I’m thinking I’d like to go again… When I’m old with no kids! Haha! 😀

  • Leezett Birch
    Reply

    I really found this post insightful. I dream of full time travel, not necessarily lightening speed but not needing to be anywhere anytime is a dream. Just blogging, taking pics and living life.. But its been awesome to read your experiences and know there is another side to dreams. I know this too well. Getting to live in Fiji for our “working months” is not all peaches and cream as most would believe. So thank you for sharing your experiences and being “real”

    • Erin
      Reply

      Balance is the key. I love what Meg said above about just enjoying each season and understanding what season you need. I would like your Fiji season lol.

  • Deanne Hancock
    Reply

    It’s interesting to read this now. We’ve been planning a travel year with our kids for quite a while now and as it draws closer I’m getting excited but I’m also becoming more aware of the things I take for granted at home. Last night we were at our local church watching the kids doing their little Christmas pageant, sharing goodies with our neighbours, chatting with the parents of my kids’ friends, waving at the toddlers running up and down the aisles and laughing together at the kids’ antics and I really found myself wondering if I could ever give up my home and community for good. I think your post really nails down a lot of the challenges; how to keep up with medical appointments, how to keep the excitement up after 100 castles, or even what about when all you need is a hug and a cry with a good friend. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to hit the road and spend a year exploring, but it won’t come without some sacrifice and I think it would be naive to make such a major lifestyle decision without acknowledging the challenges. Thanks for your honesty and great insights.

    • Erin
      Reply

      I love this. I really missed my church and friend group as well. To choose one life is to not choose the other. To not choose birthday parties and girls nights and where to sleep. Your travel will be amazing and it’s an adventure you should look forward to. But everything has a season and when the season finishes be grateful that you do get to come home- the adventure does not finish.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Yes to all of this! The constant planning of every minute detail is completely draining. We were planning on 30 months, but are scaling back to 22 months because of all these reasons and more. Good news is that we have a much better idea of the kind of travel that we would like to do when we retire.

  • Amanda Kendle
    Reply

    Great post. For me it’s definitely true that my son’s the one who keeps me at home with a home base, he’s a keen traveller but he also does fit well with the structure of school and it’s really important to me that he has close relationships with friends and family here that you just can’t get by moving around a lot.

    • Erin
      Reply

      Good on you putting your son first.

  • Toni
    Reply

    What an awesome post. I love to read so many different perspectives. As someone who hopes to travel with our boys in the future research is something that I feel is so important.

    We really love our life and right now we enjoy travelling during our holidays discovering new places and experiencing the world with our boys. One day we hope we can find a way to support us to do this more often. But we’ve never really thought we would be able to leave a home base.

    I think at some point we will do more prolonged trips. I really feel that our boys will grow from this. I love how you listed the pros to each point you made in this post.

    Thank you so much for this post. I can’t wait to discuss this a little more with my husband.

    • Erin
      Reply

      So glad you got something out of it and thanks for leaving a comment. Enjoy that dream talk with the hubby. Make sure you are all on the same page because it takes a family xx

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