Why a nomad lifestyle doesn’t guarantee you happiness

In my last article I was telling you about the advantages of a nomad lifestyle. It might seem to you like a perfectly happy life. But let‘s put the cards on the table! Being a nomad doesn‘t make you a happier person per se. A nomad lifestyle is not for everyone. You really need to want this and accept the compromises which come along with this lifestyle in order to really enjoy it. Let me tell you about the downsides of being a nomad, so you can evaluate if this is for you or not.

1. Loneliness

If you live a nomad life alone, like I do, you must be fine with being just by yourself sometimes. You might meet nice people on your way. Lots of new people. Maybe even too many new people. But after all, you don‘t have your best friends or family with you. There are plenty of moments where you miss them a lot. Obviously, you can make new friends, other nomads, who share your lifestyle. But it‘s not very likely that they will all follow your route. Nomad friends come and go.

On top of that, it is not easy to build up and maintain a romantic relationship. You need to find a partner who is willing to live the same lifestyle as you do to make it work. Forget about long distance relationships or visiting each other from time to time. It doesn‘t work in the long run, I have tried many times. Of course, if you love freedom, you might also enjoy the possibility of having several romantic adventures wherever you go. But the moment will come when you feel lonely and wish to wake up next to a beloved person. It may take some time to find that person.

In order to be ready for this, you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself. If you are that kind of person who enjoys being by him or herself for a good while, you are good to go. You are in a happy relationship and your partner wants to become a nomad, too? Jackpot!

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka, 2022

2. Productivity

Since you need to settle from scratch every time you change your place, you probably need some time to find your daily routine and to get productive at work. Every place is different. Climate, food, different time zones and your social environment have a remarkable effect on your general wellbeing and your productivity. 

Also, there are so many distractions when living in lovely places. It is not easy to sit down and work when you have the beach just in front of you, knowing that you could just go for a swim or a surf session. That‘s probably one of the reasons why you have chosen to be a nomad. But keep in mind that this will affect your work, so set up your schedule wisely if you need to get things done.

Writing blog articles at MOND Cafe, Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka

3. Your life might be volatile 

Another reason for living a nomad lifestyle is doubtlessly the freedom you get to make your own choices. But it might happen that you don‘t really know how to deal with that level of freedom and all of a sudden this results in insecurity and groundlessness. Some people simply need guidelines to be set by someone else and they are lost when they are free to manage their whole private and work life on their own. 

As a nomad, you can plan a couple of months ahead, but you will probably not know what you will be doing next year. Some people love to have this flexibility, others feel insecure and restless. Are you one of those people who never came up with a good answer to the „where do you see yourself in five years?“ question in job interviews? You are ready to be a nomad!

If your answer is „I can’t even tell you what I will be doing in 5 months and that‘s totally fine“, you would probably enjoy a nomad lifestyle

4. Your ecological footprint

I wanted to list only three downsides of a nomad lifestyle, to have a good balance with my previous article describing the advantages. But I have to mention this one, because it would be ignorant not to do so. 

As a nomad you spend lots of time in airplanes. Either to escape winter or simply because you want to see many different countries. The carbon footprint is definitely not something nomads can be proud of. Of course you can argue that lots of managers, politicians and consultants also fly around more than actually needed. But you can‘t deny that you would fly less if you weren’t a nomad. Obviously, you can always choose to travel on land only, but then your choices are limited. 

The least thing you can do is to compensate for your CO2 consumption by paying fees to organizations like atmosfair for example. Additionally, you could try to live a more sustainable life by reducing your plastic waste, eating less meat, buying less clothes and engaging in environmental projects. But all in all, let‘s be honest – a nomad lifestyle is definitely not the most sustainable one!

Beautiful to the human eye – a nightmare for our planet

All this doesn‘t scare you at all and you are ready to accept the challenges? 

See you on the other side!

3 Reasons why I chose to live a Nomad Life

Since 2019 I am living a nomad life. And I would never change it back to my old life. But before I tell you my reasons for that, let me just quickly explain what a nomad is. 

Formerly, a nomad was defined to be a member of a group of people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home. Well, nowadays modern nomads do not need to find pasture anymore and they do not necessarily travel in a group. What is still applicable though, is that nomads have no permanent home. It refers to a person who does not stay long in the same place, a wanderer so to say. 

As for me, in September 2019 I gave up my permanent home, job and relationship back in Berlin to start living a nomad life. I was seeking adventures. I wanted to explore the world, without the need to wait for my next vacation. Vacations are always too short anyways, aren’t they? So here I am, changing my home every six months, exploring the world in my own rhythm, doing different exciting jobs here and there. And here is why I love it so much.

1. Freedom 

I have the chance to do whatever I like to do. I decide for myself what, where, for how long and for whom I do things. Some people opt for becoming digital nomads. They work remotely with their laptops from everywhere in the world. Entrepreneurs, virtual assistants, web designers, marketing experts and so many others found their happiness as digital nomads. I myself don’t enjoy working in front of a computer too much, so I work offline most of the time. I do many different jobs. Sometimes I work as a hike guide, tour leader or fitness trainer. Other times I am a hostel manager, guest relationship manager or a team leader for a sports travels company.

Occasionally I write travel blog articles or scout new tours that I can offer the next season. 

Of course, all this does not fall from the sky. You have to work for it. You must educate yourself, train hard, be eager to try new things, keep your eyes always open for new opportunities, grow a network and after all, think long-term. The end of your season is the beginning of a new one. What are you up for? What needs to be planned? Or maybe you just want to take a few months off to just travel? That is also possible. Just choose a country where you can easily live with your last season’s earnings and enjoy your extra large vacation. 

So far, I did not take any large vacation, because my jobs bring me so much joy, that I rarely need a time off. And how could I ever say no to my friends in Italy asking me at the end of the season if I can imagine taking over a Surf Hostel in Sri Lanka for a friend of theirs?! This possibility to be able to say „hellya, when shall I be there?“ – that’s the freedom I am thrilled about.

Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka, 2022

2. Discover many different countries

As a nomad, you can stay as long as you want (or in some cases as long as your visa allows you to stay). Some nomads just stay a couple of weeks, but most of us stay several months in one place. That is because you still want to have a home, at least for a certain time, and not backpack your whole life through. I myself mostly stay six months in the same country and take a job for that period of time. That gives me the chance to become good at what I am doing, to get to know a country better, to learn its language, to dig deep into its culture, to connect with locals, to get a real feeling for that country and make myself a home there. 

I always start from 0. Everywhere. Every 6 months. But as a pay back, I have homes and friends everywhere in the world. I have lost a little piece of my soul to each of the countries I have visited and especially to its people. So far, I have lived and worked in Chile, Portugal, Ethiopia, Sardinia, South Italy and Sri Lanka. 

Except Portugal and Chile, none of the named countries was on my bucket list. I threw that list away after a while. Because once you are in, you gotta go with the flow. You just take the next opportunity and accept the challenge to do something that you have never done before. Without this mind set, I would never have visited Sri Lanka or Ethiopia. And I am so grateful for these experiences. The unexpected ones are the best!

Hawassa, Ethiopia, 2019

3. No more winter!

Honestly, who likes winter? The dark season, where you barely see any daylight? Six months of waiting for better times… I am not a fan. And no, I also don’t like snow. There is no snow anyways in my hometown. And why is winter always so long and summer so short?

As a nomad you can choose to follow the sun. It‘s always summer somewhere. 

During the European winter, I go to exotic, warm countries seeking big adventures, like working as a tour guide in Africa or living in the Sri Lankan jungle. I never missed the winter, I‘d rather lose tons of sweat everyday than being trapped in the dark and cold for too long. 

If you are really craving winter, you can decide on your own for how long you wanna be there. I figured, one month of winter is enough for me. Which is why I try to avoid being in Europe during winter.

But, I love the European summer! Italian food, French non-chalance, island hopping in Croatia or hot Spanish summer nights? It’s up to you! 

I mostly stay in European countries in summer, because they are nice and easy going, Europe is my real home after all. 

It‘s also the best time to visit friends and family back home, which you shouldn’t forget if you don’t wanna be a very lonely person one day. Never forget all those lovely people back home, who support you, who think of you, who open their doors for you and offer you a bed when you come for a visit, who come to pick you up at the airport, who are loyal friends to you, even though you are most of the time not physically with them. These are the people you should be carrying around in your heart, wherever you go. Write them a postcard. Call them. Make them be part of your life but avoid telling them too much how wonderful your summer is, when they are going through a rough winter. Because, that’s your little secret 😉

Camerota, Italy, 2021

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