Nomads no more…

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Almost a year ago Drew and I found ourselves in one of those lulls, sitting in the InterContinental Istanbul lobby with our roller bags at our feet. We were stuck between a late checkout and a much later flight with time on our hands.

As we often did, we began brainstorming new business ideas, a red flag for restlessness if I’ve ever heard of one.

In that conversation, we accidentally came up with a business idea that derailed our nomadic life. It has obsessed us ever since and as Drew announced last week, we have to go for it and give it our all. So after more than 3 years of nomadic life, we did the unthinkable and got ourselves a home. (Calm down, we’re just renting.)

We are nomads no more.

Nomadic life vs stationary life

Now that both lifestyles are pretty fresh in my mind, I can evaluate and compare them.

 

Nomadic Life: 

Pros:

  1. Spontaneity. There’s almost nothing stopping you from changing your plans on a whim and seeing something new every day.
  2. Always having an excuse to eat out.
  3. Having only the things you need day to day, and only what you can carry with you.

Cons:

  1. Isolation. The people you consider your best friends have other friends they see every weekend, but you do not.
  2. I built a weird tolerance for novelty that meant it required more and more extremes for me to recognize my lifestyle as “travel.” If we weren’t busting tires on a Kenyan dirt road or watching fireworks detonate from the stands at the Ukrainian football finals, it didn’t feel like travel to me.
  3. I couldn’t invest in any of my other hobbies, like song-writing or sketching because no way was I going to carry a banjo and art supplies with me.

 

Stationary Life: 

Pros:

  1. Accessibility. I had no idea how significant it was to simply have a stable and predictable timezone.
  2. I can pay attention to my other hobbies again. I can draw and write music.
  3. I have a non-cyber social life again.

Cons:

  1. Having a lease. I hate that I cannot leave on a whim without repercussion.
  2. Having stuff. I resent my furniture for being impossible to carry off in a backpack. And I am desperately staving off the inevitable magnetism of clutter and junk. I refuse to own items that specialize in needs that my existing items can satisfy.  My house looks empty and I want it to stay that way. (That way if we decide to go back to being nomads ever, there’s far less to pawn off.)
  3. Travel requires actual planning and doesn’t just happen passively.

 

Making lists like this is fun, but the real competition can be summed up much more concisely.

Ultimately what I learned is that either way….I’m restless for something. Essentially, I’m always either restless for travel or I’m restless for community. 

I love travel but I need community. This constant tension is a reality I’m coming to terms with.

 

What is the perfect ratio of travel/home?

But maybe there is a perfect ratio that’s less than “always traveling” and more than “never traveling.” Less than “fully invested in community” and more than “void of community all together.” In the fight between community and travel, does it have to be one or the other?

For myself, I’ve noticed that in traveling and in living somewhere there is somewhat of a predictable pattern. When we were nomads, I would start to long for a visit to the States after about 3 months abroad (though we often stayed overseas more like ~6 months at a time.) And likewise, after about 3 months in the States, I start itching for international travel. So maybe 3 months is my max for either travel or “home.”

Maybe this will be my new goal for miles and points, now that we’re not using them to live out of hotels full time. Maybe now my goal will simply be to make sure I don’t have to choose between travel and community. Maybe I can have them both.

What do you think? Is there a perfect ratio of home and away? And do you find yourself experiencing a tension?

 

5 Comments on “Nomads no more…

  1. Interesting perspective.
    I’m interested in pretty slow travel and am very much looking forward to what you guys come up with next. Especially with that potential 3:3 ratio!

  2. Carrie, you are probably my favorite writer in the miles and points community. Yes, I used the term “writer,” because “blogger” just isn’t a good fit. I think you should consider writing a book and record some of your travel stories. I would read it!
    I’m sure this is quite an adjustment, but I think it will be good for you guys to settle down for a period of time. You are young and don’t have kids (that makes nomad life much more complicated and expensive), so you can always pick up where you left off. All the best to you and thanks for letting us come along for the ride!

    • Thank you for such a kind comment!

      Writing a book is admittedly on the to-do list as a sort of dream project of mine, so it’s touching to hear your encouragement in that direction!

      The stationary life is getting easier and easier, Every now and then I have a pang of anxiety at the thought that travel will take actual planning now. It’s not a passive side effect of my lifestyle anymore. But over all, it’s starting to feel like we’re carving out a groove for our Texas life.

      Thanks again for your encouraging comment!

  3. I can so relate, Carrie. I love the travel, but miss the community. I try to keep in touch via snail mail–more memorable–but still doesn’t make up for those quick get togethers over coffee. We just bought a fixer-upper stateside, and as soon as it is fixed, we are out of here. I realized that I really hate cleaning. Two years of hotels spoiled me for never making beds and cleaning toilets!

    • It’s funny you say that because I realized that I LOVE cleaning! But I hate dishes lol. Eating out every day was such a treat and now I feel obligated to take advantage of the frugality a kitchen allows. Womp womp.

      Good luck with your fixer-upper and thanks so much for sharing!

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