This post was contributed by Real Estate Unlimited, an agency serving clients in the Los Angeles, California area.
The digital revolution has made our world infinitely more interconnected. Global communication is the norm for many people – business, social-networking, and correspondence can be instantaneously transmitted across the globe. Instead of consulting a travel agent to arrange a set itinerary, aspiring wanderers can plan a multi-destination voyage in a few hours, locating transportation, accommodation, tourist attractions, and dining and entertainment options from their laptops or smartphones. Even logistical resources like banking and travelers’ insurance have moved online.
Some voyagers have taken this transformative ethos further, using this new flexibility to establish mobile lives. These “Modern Nomads” have abandoned the idea of a stable home address in favor of an existence spent on the move. How do you spot citizens of “Nomadtopia?” In this post, we’ll give you a field guide.
Nomadic cultures have existed since the earliest days of humanity – for millennia, they were the natural result of wide-ranging weather and animal migration patterns. Our ancestors followed warm weather and staple food sources across continents, and their lifestyles reflected the role that mobility played in survival. Digital nomads are distinct in that their lifestyles are supported rather than driven by technological mobility. Able to “make a home” anywhere, they have chosen to make the entire world their home. Although some may stay in a single place for years or decades, they are different from expatriates in that they have turned “travel light” into a mission statement, building a life that allows for frequent changes of address.
What’s the advantage of citizenship in Nomadtopia? All the excitement of travel – new places, new sights, new languages, new cuisines, new cultures. Rather than being restricted to a few weeks every few years, modern nomads get to experience these adventures daily, encountering a fresh destination as often as they choose.
Another advantage is flexibility. Unless you’re independently wealthy, your travel time is truncated by the constraints of daily existence. If you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand or Switzerland, you may be able to squeeze in a few days in Luang Prabang or Normandy, but can you simply decide to throw over your life back home for a few extra months abroad? Modern nomads no longer have to worry about any trade-off between “real life” and “time away.”
How do modern nomads make their footloose lifestyle sustainable in the long term? Many digital nomads work as marketers, graphic designers, writers, journalists, and other creative professionals – their work can be completed on a laptop or tablet, so they can put in time anywhere. Many are self-employed, which allows them to work on a more flexible schedule, taking projects that are suited to their needs. Digital communication tools – email, of course, but also communications platforms like Skype, project management programs like Slack and Basecamp, and billing apps like QuickBooks and Invoicera – make communicating with clients a snap.
Some modern nomads support themselves through careers that are mobile rather than strictly digital, working as yoga instructors, massage therapists, and artists. These careers require a certain level of real-life interaction – studio and class space, for example – but demand exists in tourist hot spots and backpacker retreats around the world. Even though you can’t take a yoga class online, you can advertise, search, and book one. These creative professionals have used digital marketing to build client bases and lock down professional opportunities.
Modern nomads must be ready to pick up stakes and give up the idea of a permanent home base – a process that can feel extremely stressful, even for people who cherish the opportunity to travel abroad. Language barriers, culture shock, homesickness, isolation – these can all pose challenges even for experienced nomads. Modern nomad communities – online, naturally – offer tips, tutorials, and forums where members can seek advice from more knowledgeable peers. From the best wi-fi cafes in India to the cheapest vacation rentals in Costa Rica, visitors can use these online hubs to save money and time.
Of course, these collectives have given rise to “real-life” conferences and meetups. Modern nomads are often linked not only by lifestyle but by professional specialization, so these interactions often give rise to creative and professional synergy.
Amy Scott, founder and editor of Nomadtopia, was inspired to create her pioneering lifestyle website after she took a trip across South America. She could find no established resources for modern nomads like herself, so she decided to create the clearinghouse she needed, a site devoted to fostering “mobility and simplicity.” Nearly ten years later, Nomadtopia has expanded into an extensive online resource for modern nomads, incorporating blog entries, podcasts, and interviews. Amy’s site is dedicated to “creating community wherever we are,” and it incorporates advice on topics from securing an income to cultivating a hobby.
Some modern nomads have transitioned into midlife without giving up their freeform geographic independence – instead, they’ve recruited their partners and families into their nomadic lifestyles, moving from solo mobile households to more stable telecommuting and expatriate arrangements. Although these more elaborate, long-term setups require some careful planning, the maneuvering can pay off – modern nomadic parents point to international experience as a unique opportunity for their children to learn about new languages, cultures, and viewpoints.
Modern nomadism is designed for evolution and adaptability, so this community promises to deliver transformative insights over time. Whether you dream of wandering for a lifetime or you just want to find the best iced coffee in Vientiane, we recommend you ask these talented travelers for some expert advice!
About the Author: Real Estate Unlimited is a boutique real estate agency serving clients in the Los Angeles, California area, including the historic neighborhoods of Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Los Feliz, and Silverlake. Our digital marketing expertise and strong local connections combine to form an outstanding level of service for all our clients.