The concept of ‘digital nomadism’ sounds appealing, but there’s an alternative that works better for many people.
First, what is digital nomadism?
It’s when someone chooses to live in different places of the world and work from their laptop.
Full-time digital nomadism seems ideal, but I’m advocating for an alternative because there’s another way, which comes with a lot of the nomadic benefits without the drawbacks.
It’s a better option for me and maybe for you, too, if you’ve considered the modern nomadic lifestyle.
Digital nomadism centers around having no home, just your luggage. Whereas what I call ‘short-term nomadism’ isn’t permanent, or long-term (obviously). And you approach nomadism with a temporary intention.
Short-term nomadism is flexible. The basic concept is you’re not bouncing around forever.
For me, this looks like a few months or up to a year nomading, then I return to my home country, my base. Someone can also have multiple bases in different locations of the world , as advocated by authors like Andrew Henderson (Nomad Capitalist).
Here are examples of short-term nomading:
- Staying in another city/country for a few months every year or every other year.
- Testing out the ‘digital nomad’ concept by choosing one location to go to for, say, three months, with the plan to come back home and reassess.
- Taking a sabbatical from your job (for however long they allow).
- Spending summers in your favorite city of the world (with your partner/kids, if you have them and they want to tag along).
- Going on a nomad jaunt for a few months where you’re not working on your laptop, you’re simply living. You’d be surprised this is more feasible for a lot of people than you may think.
- Being a full-time nomad for a year, returning home for a year to reconnect with friends/family, save income again (or whatever you need to do).
- Every year, spending six months bouncing around different locations, then back home for six months, rinse and repeat.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You can design the best approach for you. So, here’s why I love it more than permanent nomadism.
To become a short-term nomad you don’t have to figure out what to do with all your stuff.
There are plenty of people who sell everything and scale down to just one bag. I’m not one of those people. I’ve never done that and don’t plan to do that. I like my things. For example, I have a wicked collection of physical books, arts, crafts, and jewelry-making supplies. I don’t want to get rid of those things. In fact, I tend to want more of them. I’m not a hoarder, but I’m certainly not a minimalist. There’s a convenience to leaving things behind.
Here’s a specific example: my winter clothes. Most times I try to avoid nomading in harsh winter. (Except for that time I spent the winter in the mountains of Bulgaria. Yikes!)
So, because I don’t need winter clothes, I store them in my ‘home’ country. When I return, I have them to use if needed. I don’t have to waste time, energy, or money buying winter clothes again.
As a short-term nomad you have options for what to do with your belongings while you’re away from home.
Over the years, I’ve done a variety of things from leaving a few boxes with friends and family to paying for storage. The key is to find the option that matches your short-term plan and, of course, your wallet.
Buying a one-way ticket out of your home country may not be smart for you. Actually, it’s not smart for most people.
What will you do when you’re on the road to support yourself? Do you have a large amount of savings to cover you (and still leave for your retirement savings, emergencies, etc)? If your answer is no, then you might want to reconsider the whole one-way-ticket-nomad-life idea.
I’ve seen plenty of people on the road who cut all ties to home, went on a whim and succeeded. I’ve also seen plenty who failed miserably. I, myself, have had my ups and downs financially and it’s rough when you’re in a foreign country and you start worrying about finances. I wouldn’t wish those times on anyone. If you’re not comfortable with that level of risk, don’t do it.
Either go for a shorter period (with enough money to cover you) or get permission to work your job remotely or start freelancing/business that’s bringing in enough income. Then, test the waters.
Even your friends and family will feel more at ease if they know you’ve made a smart financial decision.
We’re not living to please family members. We all know this. But…
Some relationships are a little more complicated than we’d like to admit. For example, I have a friend whose father is getting close to the stage of life where he’ll need her time and care. She wants to be there to support him and her family. Going full-time permanent nomad would throw a wrench in that entire situation. And not a good wrench. So, instead, she is short-term nomading now while her father is still able to care for himself. She has a tentative, ‘come home date’ and that sits well with her, her father, and the rest of the family.
Life is complicated. And for some of us, especially those of us older than 25, saying adios to loved ones while we trek the globe indefinitely may not be the best decision and can damage family relationships. If that doesn’t matter to you, kudos. But if family relations do matter, consider short-term nomading.
Comfort and Peace of Mind
I feel better knowing I have people (long-term friends and family), belongings, and ties in one set location.
I’ve heard all the catchphrases about living outside your comfort zone. Some of them resonate with me…to an extent. But to another extent, I embrace comfort at times. I am okay with relaxing and not constantly feeling challenged in every area of my life. This feeds my well-being and helps me feel more at peace in life.
Having a base and a sense of an ‘end date’ to my nomading gives me just a little comfort.
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