Nomads – Challenging the Norm

My neighbour of nearly two years moved away yesterday. Not for him the packing of boxes and hiring of vans though. The joy of owning a boat is that, like a snail, you take your home with you. This morning, the sunshine floods the large empty mud-berth that he called home, which will no doubt soon be filled with a new neighbour for me to become acquainted with.

The world of Nomads grows larger every day, filling the internet with websites and blogs telling the “stay-at-homes” what they are missing and how to join in. Nomads were once pastoral people, travelling slowly with families and herds of animals. Today’s Global Nomads are a very different tribe, usually opting to move singly or in pairs and preferring to be highly mobile, travelling the continents pausing only to broadcast their latest adventure.

This wanderlust flies in the face of everything society has tried to condition us to avoid. “The Norm”, to live and work in one place, save to invest in property, consume cumulatively and favour Nationalism suits the Governments who take our taxes and control our actions.  Yet many, maybe most, people prefer this security zone, with relatively few risks or unknown quantities, safe with the familiarity and the humdrum routine.

So, who are these lunatics that choose to leave this cosy state behind? Mainly privileged Westerners, it has to be said. Those with no ties and the financial wherewithal or the mobile skills are increasingly choosing to sell up and go travelling. Some use pensions, younger wanderers use savings and work their passage. The freedom of the open road, or waters, calls loudly to those tired of conformity, of the nine-to-five and the established habits.

These people may travel for a year or for the rest of their lives, but most will always have those itchy-feet hankerings in common. Life’s forces may fix them to one place from time to time, but it will always be only until they can escape once more. Their time tied down will be full of restless dreams of the next adventure and conversations with others of a like mind will drift into the early hours, discussing tempting destinations and how to get there.

Back-packers are perhaps the freest – living from what they can carry or acquire en route and sleeping in tents, hostels or sofa-surfing with hospitable hosts. These true vagrants live light, leave only footprints behind and often follow time-worn paths of those working their way seasonally. Farms and vineyards offer shelter and company, until the next open road beckons.

Other perpetual travellers use their skills to finance their roaming. Wifi-based businesses, teaching English in foreign climes and using co-working spaces or house-sitting are just some of the tried and tested ways to afford the roaming lifestyle. An ever-wider variety of vans, tiny, mobile homes, and ships and boats lure many to a simpler life. With only room for the essentials and less comfort than others with more space, it is not the lifestyle of choice for everyone!  Blogs and forums detailing conversion projects and DIY dreams abound, but for many, this will remain a conversation topic and a wallpaper on the PC screen.

Like any choice in life, perpetual travelling has its pluses and minuses. Distance from friends and family brings many home. Health and finances are another obvious , major consideration. Adventure brings risk and sometimes things don’t work out. So, it comes down to how much you want something. Do you want to play safe and die wondering “what if?” Or are you going to take a chance and get as much as you can from life? Let me know.

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