The time finally comes, and you’re on the road! You’ve made it! You’ve planned and purged and navigated all the obstacles and it’s a thrilling emotional high to finally achieve your dream of nomadic life!
Sometime after that, probably sooner than later, chances are good that this extreme high will be followed by an equally extreme low.
You’ll get burned out. You’ll have times of worry and overwhelm. You may find yourself getting lonely, depressed or discouraged. Thoughts of quitting might nag at you, or you may start wondering if you’re really cut out for the nomadic lifestyle. You might get homesick for modern conveniences, or have any number of newfound struggles you couldn’t foresee. You might start questioning your life choices, and wonder why nomadic life isn’t as euphoric as you found it in your imagination.
Welcome To Nomad Boot Camp!
I don’t know why, but almost everyone nomad I’ve swapped stories with has experienced a harrowing adventure right out of the gate.
Recently, a newbie nomad I know got her van stuck in sand. TWICE. In one day. A week before that she’d almost driven her van into a fire pit. It’s a different world out here in nomad land!
For me it was my sliding door refusing to shut shortly after my maiden voyage to Arizona, followed by a major dust storm that had me stuffing towels into the door cracks while wind and dust howled outside my van windows.
Then, the same month, (stress related much?) I found myself in the La Paz emergency care with excruciating lower back pain, something I’d never experienced before in my life.
I couldn’t sleep through the pain, and waited out the hours alone, at night, in my van, absolutely miserable between doses of prescription Ibuprofen.
This Was Going To Be My Nomad Life???
The good news is this: It’s ALL TOTALLY NORMAL!
It’s almost as if the transition to nomadism is SUCH a big shift in energy that it shakes up our lives … like being held upside down while all the stuff that has to go gets shaken out of our psyches … and vehicles … and bank accounts.
We’re not just making a move from one home to another, we’re changing a lifelong way of existence.
It’s a wonder we don’t all quit when we first start out. We pack too much into our vehicles. Things seem harder than we ever imagined. We experience unexpected feelings like loneliness, depression or fear. Things get mysteriously lost in our rigs, even though we’ve spent months, or even years organizing the perfect living space on the road. It’s an entire new way of being in the world.
If we’re persistent enough we get through the shake up … and start to enjoy our new normal of nomadic living!
We Get To Learn We’re Capable Humans!
Becoming a nomad is an ongoing transition, from the time it’s just a glimmer of an idea, to when we become a full-fledged road warrior.The process doesn’t end when we finally launch … the transition continues emotionally, mentally and physically as the months roll on.
The nomadic journey is ALL about change – where we park our living rooms changes on a regular basis! One day we may be waking up to a cool shady primal forest, a few hours later we’re baking in the hot desert sun!
From the physical adjustments of not living in a permanent shelter, to the emotional exploration of how we define ourselves as nomads, our old way of living dissolves. We purge belongings, give up dependency on modern conveniences, and ultimately re-wire our very identities. This mushy dissolving stage is often a time of grief and letting go.
While the life we once knew may be over, the new nomad life ahead of us is often still just a mass of uncertainty. When we first start out as nomads everything seems so much harder than we expected, our great ideas don’t work out, and THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
I do agree that research and preparation are essential, but it’s is an almost universal experience among nomads that no matter how much we prep, we’ll never know exactly what we’re doing until we’re on the road!
It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at any skill, and nomadism is no exception.
Over time we’ll develop emotional resiliency, and physically we’ll develop new “muscle memory” to accomplish the tasks of nomadic dwelling. Like any skill, we need to stick with it to learn it.
Here’s A Few Things That Can Help Us Through The Transitions.
- Take exceptional care of yourself. Don’t neglect self-care routines. Keep brushing your teeth, stay clean, and get plenty of rest.
- Keep in mind this transitional period will pass. You’ll adjust, and things will start to feel more routine.
- Reach out to fellow nomads. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in quality of life for a nomad, and the collective wisdom of the nomadic community can be a life-line.
- Remember your “WHY.” What’s the reason you chose nomadic life? Let that keep driving you. (see what I did there?)
Being a nomad is an opportunity to really live life, to see what’s around the next corner, to have experiences and meet people we’d never encounter sitting in one place. Embedded in those very experiences are the golden opportunities to discover ourselves again and again.
Thankfully nomadism has become my new normal … yes there are adventures on the road that can be stressful … but when it’s all said and done, I FEEL ALIVE!
Whether you’re a newbie or experienced nomad, find more in-depth discussion of nomadic life in my book Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom in The Modern Age.
For a more humorous take on nomadic life, read Top Ten Lists For Nomads: The (Mostly) Lighter Side Of Nomadic Life.