No Nomad Here
I am not a nomad, though I am a traveler. Simple and succinct, but also true. I crave peace in my own place too much to be on the move all of the time.
Although I admire them, I am not interested in becoming an eternal nomad that travels from place to place eternally. I want time to rest and feel at home. If I was even to contemplate that movement lifestyle, it would have to be very slow. As in several months in a place. I need that time to let my mind absorb everything and let the creative juices flow in purposeful directions instead of outward everywhere.
Peace and quiet in the physical realm does not mean for me to stop thinking either. I am constantly in motion mentally. It is one of the reasons that things overwhelm me. The mind overheats and spins too fast. I seek out quiet to let that spinning take in everything. So after a few weeks of high octane experiences like travel, I need some time to just sit and absorb what has stuck. To contemplate that which has been seen.
My mind is always moving and going in usually a dozen different directions. This is true even on routine days. Travel fuels this to an extent. There is something wondrous about walking through a completely overwhelming thing like the spice market in Istanbul. Though it runs the edge of getting to me. That edge gets too keen sometimes. So that always-on mind needs a time of routine to cool off and allow the new ideas to be worked through.
I definitely fall on the introverted side of the line and need my quiet and space. I find that I crave that peace. Not just that I get overwhelmed by going to a new place, but that once I get settled, I kind of regret moving on before I can dive deep and really feel connected to a place. To get to know the people there takes time.
This is not to say that I want to stop traveling. Of course not, that is one of my life’s passions. Ali shares this passion and we enjoy traveling together a lot. So we will still strive to go out and see things, break up the pattern and experience new places. We will however likely always keep a home base somewhere. A place with a comfortable bed and a solid wi-fi signal.
And this leads back to Expat
One of the main things I like about the expat life is that I have a home base and have carved out a refuge to be in. And yet the travel and the new experiences are just outside of my door. I need the fuel for the ideas as well as the time to let them grow and lead in good directions. The balance is the thing as always though.
This post came up in my head after some reading other posts this past week.
- One of my first and favorite guest posts was at Dangerous Business. Stability versus Freedom.
- Justin wrote about the Need to Travel and starts out talking about how routine vs excitement work out in the brain referring to another interesting article.
- I met Juno in Hong Kong last winter and ran across one of her older posts about when did it get so hard to find silence.
Making my Peace with Ikea - Grounded Traveler
September 3, 2012 @ 8:00 am
[…] have no intention of being a nomad, but travel is important enough that a bunch of expensive “grown up” furniture seems […]
Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista
May 11, 2012 @ 11:35 pm
I’m with you Andrew! I’m not sure the nomadic life is one for me although I’d love to travel in Europe for 3 months or so. I really think I’d prefer staying in one area and exploring the nearby environs!
May 12, 2012 @ 9:32 pm
I am all for travel and yet happy to have a home base.
May 9, 2012 @ 12:50 pm
Loved this post. I’ve been living in São Paulo as an expat for over a year now and have similar feelings. I’d always wondered if it’d be better to stay grounded for awhile rather than hopping on and off trains, planes and automobiles every few days and now the wondering is over. Loving having a new hub and experiencing life as a local here in Brazil. Every day is an adventure. Sensory overload.
May 9, 2012 @ 11:02 pm
Congrats on your year. Glad you are enjoying it. That sensory overload is grand sometimes and too much on others. So much of the expat life seems to straddle that line.
Where are you from originally?
May 10, 2012 @ 5:48 am
Born in NYC, lived in Miami for 15 years, Chicago for 2, traveled to 30+ countries after college and finally took the dive March of last year, havent looked back. How long have you been away from home?
May 12, 2012 @ 9:29 pm
I moved out to Germany 4 and a half years ago. Sounds like you have an interesting set of travel stories too.
May 8, 2012 @ 3:25 pm
Great thoughts Andrew.
I totally get what your saying. I feel the same way and I know the “overwelming” feeling your speaking of. My mind is restless as well.
I do think there can sometimes be a general misconception about travel. For me, travel can very much include staying in one place. It’s not about racing around and checking off boxes on your bucket list. I love diving deep into a place. I won’t do it any other way. Slow and steady. If that includes renting an apartment for a year in Vietnam so I can explore the culture – than so be it. To me this is travel, and it’s nomadic. Having the ability to pick up and move when we want – that’s the goal. That’s nomadic(I think).
May 9, 2012 @ 11:01 pm
So the point is the freedom to move, but not necessarily the requirement. Is that what you mean? I am totally behind that. I want the ability to not be chained to an office and take a week train trip across Europe, but still have a place to come back to where people know my name and I don’t have to work so much to understand how to buy my daily food.
Loved your article on the brain thing for travel.
D.J. - The World of Deej
May 8, 2012 @ 2:35 pm
Great post…and I’m with you here. As much as I’d like to think I could be a nomad, I know my need for some sort of home front wouldn’t make it possible. Even on our “long” trips of 2-3 weeks, I start to get restless with being away…my travels seem to be better served in short bursts…
May 9, 2012 @ 10:58 pm
Short bursts are good. Though I notice that the faster i travel in those 2-3 weeks the faster I burn out of it and need home. If I can go slow enough I can stay away from the home longer.
May 8, 2012 @ 10:57 am
I feel exactly the same way, Andrew! I just cannot enjoy travel as much if I haven’t been home in a long time. I love being alone in my house, with little stimulation, because like you, my thought life is very active, and I seem to always be processing something big. Being an expat in Europe is the perfect set-up, since we can be come home from so many places so easily. We did do the nomad thing (unintentionally) last year, but it was a huge discipline to try to enjoy it!
May 9, 2012 @ 10:56 pm
Yup totally. I would love to find more alone time in my life. I love it when I find that line before boredom sets in and yet after the chaos from outside fades where the mind just spins perfectly and all kinds of creativity comes up.
Definitely don’t have the discipline to enjoy nomadics. I want a home base, even one not my actual home, for a month or two to actually explore a place.
May 8, 2012 @ 9:33 am
I agree, I love being an expat, but I also love settling in a place and exploring from there. The longest I’ve traveled for was 6 weeks and that was too long. I love traveling, but in shorter spurts and I always love going home afterwards.
May 9, 2012 @ 10:50 pm
My home as an expat is my home. I don’t really have the need to go back to the US so often. I definitely enjoy coming back to Freiburg after traveling though.
May 8, 2012 @ 8:58 am
I am with you 100% on this one. I am serious when I say that I had this EXACT conversation just 2 hours ago. I was discussing whether I wanted to travel full time. I don’t think I could. I LOVE to travel but like you I am introverted and need a home base – those were my exact reasons for why I wouldn’t. I need a place to call home, security, to feel at peace. You basically wrote exactly what I was discussing.
This isn’t to say I don’t love to travel or wouldn’t take some long periods to do it. I just don’t want to live out of a backpack for a year. As travelers, we all have different styles and preferences. And I believe our decisions with how we want to travel are OK too.
May 9, 2012 @ 10:48 pm
That is so cool that you had the same conversation at the same time. Glad we are on the same wavelength.
I don’t mind living out of a backpack so much as I don’t want to keep having to repack it. I don’t really like being stuck somewhere either, but like the home base concept. Our decisions on how we travel are Definitely all ok.