Why the Nomadic Lifestyle Can't Last | The Mochilera Diaries

Why the Nomadic Lifestyle Can’t Last

“I want to travel forever.”

Be honest–you’ve thought this before.

All travelers like to fantasize about living a nomadic lifestyle indefinitely. Perhaps you’ve even gone so far as to verbalize this desire to other nomads, knowing they’d empathize with the sentiment.

It’s a romantic idea, isn’t it?  To travel the world indefinitely, exploring as many corners of this earth as possible in the limited number of years our lifetime affords us; to live a minimalist existence with little more than a backpack, a few changes of clothes, and a laptop.

It’s the ultimate definition of freedom–working on your own terms from wherever you feel at home at that precise moment.

And these days, it seems that many travelers are hell-bent on making this a reality.  With the rise of the digital nomad and online entrepreneurship, making a living completely independent of your geographical coordinates is becoming more accessible than ever.

I’d be lying if I told you the above words hadn’t crossed my own lips in the not-so-distant past.

But lately I’ve begun to question just how feasible–or desirable–a permanently nomadic lifestyle actually is.

Allow me to explain.

Travel is a selfish endeavor.  I’ll be the first to admit that.  I’m not on a mission to save the world, or even a mission to improve the lives of anyone in it.

We all know I’m not traveling for my family and friends–they’d much rather I stay at home where they won’t constantly wonder (and often worry) of my whereabouts and well-being.

How very misguided it would be to think that my travels are benefitting anyone but me.  The only mission I’m on is a mission to better myself by opening my mind to new ideas and ways of living by experiencing them first-hand.

I want to know that I have options in terms of how I live, where I live, and who I will ultimately become as a person. I want to live a life that makes me excited to wake up every morning.  I want to die with memories, not unfulfilled dreams.

The nomadic lifestyle that I have lived for the last four years and will continue to live for the foreseeable future has afforded me all of those things.

But the nomadic lifestyle can’t last.  At least, not for me.

Because there’s one thing a nomadic life can’t afford me.

I want to know true happiness.

As I’ve gone on my merry way from country to country, exchanging Thai baht for Colombian pesos for Albanian lek, I’ve realized there’s a vital piece of the puzzle missing.

There’s something keeping me from achieving the happiness I’ve been seeking all these years, and I understand it now more clearly than ever: My nomadic lifestyle has robbed me of the ability to form a community.

I’ve written before about how traveling has affected my friendships over the years.

The community I once felt a part of in my hometown now feels foreign and unwelcoming, and the bonds I’ve formed on the road have been tenuous at best.  I can’t blame people for keeping a traveler like me at arm’s length–saying goodbye isn’t easy.

Meeting people with whom you truly connect on the road is a rarity, and even if you do meet these kindred souls, perhaps travel together for awhile, these are not the people that will have your back in times of need.  While you’re together, sure.  But after parting ways?  You likely won’t see them or even speak to them regularly, and Skype calls can only provide so much.

I certainly feel a part of many online communities, but as much as I love connecting virtually with fellow travel bloggers, the people I’ve met on the road, and the friends I’m able to keep in touch with from home, those digital communities just don’t hold a candle to face-to-face human connection.

A digital relationship can never compare to having a literal shoulder to cry on, nor can it mimic the rush of oxytocin elicited by a lingering hug, a gentle stroke of the arm, or hell, even a simple high-five.

Physical human contact cannot be replaced by the glare of a computer screen, no matter how tender the messages or how many emojis are attached.

Trust me–I’ve tried.

This is how I know the nomadic lifestyle can’t last forever.  I’ll always be longing for something I can’t find on the road.

Travel will always be a major part of my life.  My curiosity to experience the world will never fade–of this I am sure. But one day, I’ll need a home base.  The place I choose is inconsequential–it’s the staying that matters.

I’ll need to stay somewhere long enough to cultivate real relationships.  I’ll need to create a place where I always feel welcome and that I long for when I’m away.

These things are essential to my happiness, and while I’m content enough postponing them for the time being in order to explore the world on my own terms, I can’t picture my future without them.

And when the day comes to plant myself in a place where I can begin to build the sense of community I’ve lacked for so long, you can bet your ass I’m getting a dog.

Do you think the nomadic lifestyle can last forever?  Can we find true happiness without a sense of community?

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  • Reply Natasha Amar July 8, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Hi Leah,
    This is a very interesting post for me, as someone on the other side of the fence. I’ve never believed that a nomadic lifestyle will always mean happiness and so as much as I love to travel I don’t see myself as a permanent nomad. Like you said, there comes a point in life when everyone needs to feel like they belong somewhere. But, as someone with a solid home base complete with friends and family, I must admit that there are times I don’t feel like I was meant to be in one place. There’s always that restlessness, to get on the road and travel, to be selfish and unapologetic about it, to be responsible for no one but yourself.
    Do you think if you were to find a home base, you’d actually be happy to stay? To trade in your absolute freedom to make as many mistakes as you like without it affecting anyone but yourself , for a life of certainty and routine? Real relationships demand us to invest more than just our time and our love of travel means that we’re habituated to wanting to move on to better, newer and more exciting things.
    Natasha Amar recently posted…At The Top Burj Khalifa: Dubai Through The Eyes of an Old-timerMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Hey Natasha! I’ll admit, I’m nowhere near the point of settling down in the sense I’m talking about in this article. I’m at the same point as you, I imagine–not ready to give up the ultimate freedom of picking up and going whenever I want to. I don’t think being in one place, or using one place as a home base, is throwing away that ultimate freedom though. Getting a dog would change things for sure, as I would no longer be responsible for only myself. And I certainly have no intention of falling into a boring routine…I know I’ll be perfectly happy, though, to one day give up the uncertainty that comes with being a nomad.

    • Reply Federica July 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Hi Leah,

      Though this is an interesting post, I have to say I , as a world traveler as well, don’t really agree with what you say.
      Traveling is worth it, in every sense. It is a discover, not just for places, but to discover yourself, and be able to have new eyes when seeing the world around you.
      Everytime you are back to your hometown, even if just for few days, you’ll feel the difference and that doesn’t mean “affecting” your friendship as you said. It’s not a matter of affecting relationships, but just a matter of change in ourselves: that doesn’t mean we don’t love or hang out with our friends anymore; it’s just that we grew somehow and in a different way of them, let’s say we experienced something that books don’t teach you and therefore, we will never be understood totally when talking to old friends that didn’t have the chance to feel the same. We are just different and dialogues are no more the same. True, so true.
      And that’s where we, travelers, understand what we need from now on. We will still love the people around us, but we only match with few ones, that are meant to be forever in our lives, the ones who you don’t need to explain everything in details, cause they understand you before anyone else could. Those are the kind of friends you meet around the world and, if you really want, they stay with you for life. But that’s up to you to keep the special friendship and see how it can become more and more special. I met few and rare people around my travels, I never chose to let them go, no matter the distance. Those ones are my community and yes, we meet whenever we can, wherever. We all were meant to find each other.

      Settling down is an other matter. We all need to settle down at one point in life, but that doesn’t mean we need to go back hometown to live a life with a family forever. We need to settle once we find where we actually belong mentally. That can set up the beginning of a happy “stable life”. With no regrets to our previous nomadic life. =)

      Enjoy Medellin anyway, I just love that city!

      • Reply Jennifer aubin March 2, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        Federica – brilliant insight! Nothing is ever so black and white.

        Leah – wonderful post!

  • Reply Eirene July 8, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Oh, Leah, you couldn’t have said it better. Wish all those ‘travelers’ out there who preach on their blogs what they don’t practice could read this. Most of them advertise a lifestyle that is all freedom and roses but they rarely talk about any downsides. Everybody is a ‘friend’ even though they only hung out for beers one night and they’re not even sure if their name was Maria or Marianne…
    I also see the budget travelers that write about awesome, unique experiences at every step of the way but they forget to mention all the weeks they spend locked inside glued to their computer because they’re trying to make a little bit of money or get their next free tour/accommodation. Anyway, this is another story (that is also not pictured honestly on most blogs).
    In my opinion this bubble will burst very soon.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:07 am

      Thank you so much, Eirene! I think you’re absolutely right that too many bloggers put a rose-colored filter on the travel lifestyle or the life of a travel blogger. In a way, it’s like they’re selling a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. Travel forever and everything will be perfect and you will always be happy! Uh, no.

  • Reply Laura July 8, 2015 at 6:56 am

    My sentiments exactly, wonderfully written post Leah. I feel the same way when I’m travelling for long periods and while I haven’t done it consistently I know exactly what you mean.

  • Reply Ashlea July 8, 2015 at 8:03 am

    This is a beautifully heartfelt article, Leah! The questions you pose are something I’ve also been thinking about lately. As much as we might dream about spending the rest of our lives as nomads, human connections are essential to our being, and without them, we may not end up as happy as we’d like to be.
    Ashlea recently posted…How I won a free 7-day Inca Trail tour in PeruMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:12 am

      Thanks so much Ashlea! Human connections are SO important. It has taken me a long time to realize just how essential they are, and not just any connections but high-quality ones! People you can truly trust and count on.

  • Reply Silvia July 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

    A year ago I decided not go through with the master’s course I had been accepted to and travel for another year, but now I’m excited to be settling down in Norway for the foreseeable future. It’s crazy how much can change in a year! Maybe the nomadic lifestyle can last for some people, but I don’t think I’m one of them! Though I’m not sure I’ll ever be settled enough to be able to get a dog – even though I want one sooooo badly!
    Silvia recently posted…New Favorite: Kosovo!My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:14 am

      That’s so exciting! Right, I’m sure there are some true champions out there who prefer to be nomadic for the rest of their lives, and good for them! But I know it’s not for me. Not forever.

  • Reply Katie July 8, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I completely agree – a virtual community cannot hold a candle to the real thing. Ideally I would love to travel for a few months of the year then live in a place that I feel like I belong the rest of the year. The best of both worlds
    Katie recently posted…Sydney’s Best WalksMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:18 am

      Yes! This is pretty much the future I’m envisioning for myself. A few months at a time spent at “home” and a month of travel. Time at home, a little bit of time on the road…etc etc for all of time. 🙂

  • Reply Liz of Passport Packed July 8, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Great article. I totally agree. I think this idea of a ‘digital nomad’ has become romanticised by far too many travel bloggers. It’s not as great as they’d let you believe, and it is possible to be happy and still travel – while getting settled down somewhere, and working towards other goals. You’ve inspired me to write up my own experience in this – watch this space 🙂
    Liz of Passport Packed recently posted…The place that’s still on my mind…My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:25 am

      I would love to have some time to just work toward some goals. Yoga being one of them. It’s not easy to pick up a healthy habit like that on the road! I’m glad you liked the article. Looking forward to reading your take on the subject 🙂

  • Reply Polly July 8, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Lovely post. I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said – travel and adventure can only cover up whatever else your missing for so long!
    Polly recently posted…Let’s Eat Some Blini!My Profile

  • Reply Justine July 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    It’s true. I have made that claim many times. And I believe I even said I’d like to travel forever in my last blog post. But you’re right, being nomadic isn’t easy and, for me personally, I don’t think it can really be permanent. Now that I’ve been abroad for two years, I’m starting to miss that sense of community. And I’m really starting to understand just how important having a real community is to me. I think that’s part of the reason I’m excited at the prospect of spending two whole years in Phnom Penh. I can get my travel in when I want but I can still plant some roots. It’s not permanent but it’s something! And I feel you on the whole pet thing. Aaron and I seriously want to adopt a kitty or two (or pretty much any animal that comes our way). Though I know that with our nomadic ways we probably shouldn’t 🙁
    Justine recently posted…This Expat Life: Month 11My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Haha! We’ve all said it one time or another. But I also said I wanted to be a Marine Biologist when I was a kid. Things change 🙂 And I feel you on the pets thing. I want a dog so badly but know deep down that I’ll have to wait YEARS until I can/should actually get one. I’m sure you’ll find your community when you’re ready for it!

  • Reply Liz Duca July 8, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Great post, Leah! I love how your writing is always so honest. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as well.
    I’ve also made the conscious decision to live a nomadic-gypsy lifestyle, and I realize that in doing so I am sacraficing other areas of my life (i.e. personal relationships) while I am on the road.
    I too agree that community is such an important part of life, and so for people in our situations I think the key is to find a balance. Similiar to what Katie said; traveling for part of the year and then returning to your home base/community for the rest of the year.
    It is definitely a struggle though because I also want to eventually settledown, but my heart just hasn’t found the right place or the right reason yet.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 6:01 am

      Liz, I think your last comment really hit the nail on the head! I too need the right place and right reason before I’m going to consider settling anywhere. I haven’t found that yet, so onward I go! 🙂

  • Reply Le and David @ Wise Monkeys Abroad July 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    This is a very candid and raw article and so beautifully written. We agree with you whole-heartedly. As much as we love traveling, we have realised we couldn’t do it full-time. We have done 4-month stints to 2-week breaks and the reality is, we love coming back home. We always wish we could travel more… but we are NEVER miserable to be returning back to our loving families and friends. We wrote a post a few years ago about how we couldn’t travel full-time as much as we love it and it came down to the fact that we love our family, friends and “our home” more. We want somewhere to be able to return to. We don’t want to miss the milestones of our nieces and nephews and friends. We don’t want our parents getting old and we regret not spending the time with them when we could. Travel will always be there… We can learn to have the best of both words.
    Le and David @ Wise Monkeys Abroad recently posted…the chateau series: amboiseMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 6:03 am

      Thank you so much, guys! This comment is perfect. I think you’ve found a great way to do it, and I hope to have something similar to your lifestyle in a few years 🙂

  • Reply Jane Clements July 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    What a thoughtful article Leah.
    I have been travelling for 2 years now and I often voice the dact that I don’t ever ever want to stop.
    But you are right. The one thing that is missing is a sense of community but I get around that by travelling slowly and every so often working as a volunteer on a work exchange.
    I also believe that a part of me is searching for some place that I could settle permanently: so far that would be Colombia or Spain – but who knows what is just around the corner
    Jane Clements recently posted…Exploring the Ebro Delta in CatalunyaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 6:04 am

      Colombia or Spain–a girl after my own heart! Spain is definitely a contender for me. I think you’ve got the right idea by staying and working places as you go. I’ve loved my experiences like that as you do become part of a little community for a short time.

  • Reply Jackie Jessen July 9, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Totally agree… especially the last line… I need to have a dog someday. And it’s nice to realize that even if you are settled somewhere, it doesn’t mean traveling is impossible.
    Jackie Jessen recently posted…Eurotrip 2015 Update #3My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 6:06 am

      Another good point, having a home base is NOT the end of my travels! Having a dog might make traveling a little more difficult (I wouldn’t be gone for months at a time, in that case) but also wouldn’t mean the end of traveling.

  • Reply Rachel G July 9, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I think there’s really a lot of wisdom in this post–deep community, some sense of home, even if it’s in a ‘home’ that you never expected, is something that probably the majority of people, even those who love travel the most, will long for eventually.
    Rachel G recently posted…An Educational Visit to Siem ReapMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 9, 2015 at 6:08 am

      Thank you Rachel! I have to agree with you. A life on the road is lonely. That wears away at you after too long.

  • Reply Justin July 9, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Yeah, I agree. I was living Tokyo last 3 years and travelled a lot during those years. I always thought my home town win Northern Ireland was crappy and boring. And it is. That’s why I moved. But it’s also where my friends and family are. So now I’m thinking I should base myself here, work freelance and just do separate short trips instead of travelling long term. I was in the earthquake in Nepal in April, maybe that’s why my perception has shifted…
    Justin recently posted…CREATIVE COPENHAGENMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:15 am

      Hey Justin! Many people have said something similar, about making a home base somewhere and taking short trips throughout the year rather than leaving for months on end, and I think this is a fantastic plan. I imagine the earthquake made you rethink how you prioritize your time? I know that’s what it would do for me. Spending time with loved ones while we can is so important when things like that can happen at any time. I hope you find the home base you’re after 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Katrina the Two Week Traveler July 9, 2015 at 8:09 am

    This article summed up the main reason I decided to come home after being abroad for nearly 2 years. I was missing out on so much back at home. My cat died, my beloved grandfather died, my sister got a dog and broke up with her boyfriend, my friends were having babies that I’d never met etc. It was so hard to only be a part of their lives for a few moments a week over Skype.

    I can’t say that it’s always been an easy thing, being back home. I long to take long trips again and live the expat life. I want it so bad. But I’m really happy to have a home, to be close with my family and friends again, to be a part of the lives of the people who are important to me. I also met my husband after I came home, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if I was overseas. So while I do miss it, I am much happier overall now.
    Katrina the Two Week Traveler recently posted…Flying Above Victoria FallsMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:17 am

      I feel the same about missing out on things back home. I can’t say that when I do make a home base for myself it will be the place I came from (in fact, I’m certain it won’t be) but I’m going to make a point of visiting more often and actually seeing the people I want to when I’m there. I also hope to stay freelance so that I have the option to travel again whenever I want. Is that something you’ve considered? Do you and your husband still manage to travel?
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Jodi July 9, 2015 at 8:12 am

    I’m not sure I agree, to be honest. The communities I’ve been a part of with shared interests (entrepreneurship, travel) have gifted me friends that I would walk through fire for, and the reverse is true too, I know. I value and miss the friends I have from my childhood and my prior work in NY, and I love seeing them when I visit in summer months. We do stay in touch when I am away during the year, and I know if they need me I will be there, and they will be for me. But for the most part what excites me about what I do is partly the flexibility to explore places merely because I want to see them, and then to build something there of value (new friendships, learning about new foods, joining community activities), I don’t see my choice to be nomadic at the behest of a community. To the contrary, it’s allowed me to make and maintain friendships in far more places than I would have when I was in only one.

    I think what we do sacrifice is stability, and community often leads a a sense of stability too.

  • Reply Jodi July 9, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Aw, my comment posted before I was finished. What I wanted to end with was to say: there’s a difference between being nomadic because you love the flexibility but want to travel slowly and make smaller roots, mini expat lives, where you decide to plant yourself for the time being. I think a lot of people are moving toward this place, where they travel leisurely but get an apartment , find a local coffee shop, enjoy the community-based things that a place has to offer. And seasonally or for other reasons, they move on. It’s more of a balance than constant movement, which I agree provides both a paradox of choice and the inability to connect in the way most humans want to connect.
    Jodi recently posted…Wanaka, New Zealand in 35 PhotosMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Hi Jodi! Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I do see the value in slow travel and forming communities in the places you settle; at the same time, those communities are still transient unless you’re traveling back to these same places over and over again to maintain those connections you’ve made. I guess my point here is, this is not quite the type of community I’m after. And I still have to wonder if this type of lifestyle is something you see yourself doing all your life. I’m perfectly happy to have that now, but I think sooner or later the novelty will wear off. Ideally, in the future I’d love to have multiple communities around the globe, so long as I was able to visit them all frequently, perhaps splitting my time between a few locations and every once in awhile experiencing someplace new. Would I still be considered nomadic at that point? Maybe that’s the real question here 😉
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Alyssa @ UnevenSidewalks July 9, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for such an honest article Leah. I totally understand and could relate to everything you mentioned. We are in a 2 month transition stage right now visiting our families before our next trip. It really makes me realize how “distant” we have become just because we haven’t been around the past 2 years. Leaving again just makes it more confusing for our families and even though we are excited, saying goodbye again still leaves a chunk of our hearts behind. It’s no fun and while we love traveling, I agree. It has to be a balance and traveling for the rest of your life isn’t a balance. This time at home I felt, traveling hasn’t made me find myself, in a way I’ve lost myself because now things matter that didn’t matter before because of new life perspectives I’ve gained from traveling. It’s not a bad thing, I just feel like I have to re-find who I’ve now become. Thanks again for the article!
    Alyssa @ UnevenSidewalks recently posted…Zapatillo Island-Hopping Tour at Bocas del ToroMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:40 am

      Hi Alyssa! I’ve had many of these same experiences myself. Coming home is always nice, but then leaving again is always painful–maybe a little bit more so each time. What you say about rediscovering who you are or who you’ve become through traveling is something I’ve thought about a lot as well. When I’m at home, I struggle to balance people’s expectations of who I am (based on what they knew before I left) and who I’ve become as a result of my experiences abroad. When I move from place to place constantly, I also feel it’s difficult to cultivate a strong sense of self. But that’s a whole other blog post 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Christy July 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    This is exactly why I’m not a permanent nomad. We have an amazing group of friends in San Diego and I wouldn’t dream of giving that up. I’ve created a life where I feel like I have the best of both worlds with as much travel as my heart desires and people I genuinely love hanging out with when I’m home. I hope you find your community!!
    Christy recently posted…7 Things You Should Know Before You Visit SwedenMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:44 am

      Just reading the words “amazing group of friends” gives me intense pangs of jealousy. That is precisely what I’m missing most in my current lifestyle. Do you have any idea how badly I want to be able to throw dinner parties and have people in my life that I can count on seeing more than once a year? SO BADLY. You know, eventually 🙂

  • Reply Jenny Hale July 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Have you thought about joining a community that travels? We are part of a Tantra community, where members divide their time between campuses in Thailand and India, as well as touring all over the world to teach workshops. All the benefits of community, without having to settle down …

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 1:46 am

      Hey Jenny! I’ve actually never heard of this concept before, but it sounds awesome! How does one go about finding and becoming part of one of these communities? I’d be interested in learning more.

  • Reply Austin Beeman July 9, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    It is also interesting to note how nomadic travel is often based on the suffering of others. Specifically economic suffering. Part of what lets people be digital nomads is the extreme wealth differential between what one can earn as a Western Traveler and the comparative poverty of the country the traveler in living within.

    Not everyone, of course, but when I travel long term, it isn’t something I feel I can just brush aside. It is worth thinking about.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 2:43 am

      Hi Austin! I agree that digital nomads often choose a location based on low cost of living. I can’t say I agree with the phrasing “based on the suffering of others.” This, to me, implies that traveling in poor countries is somehow inherently detrimental, which I don’t believe to be true. For one, it gives the traveler an opportunity to understand social issues on a deeper level. Awareness in and of itself is a positive, and even better is if the traveler decides to take an active role in supporting local causes, whether that be through volunteering, monetary donations, clothing donations, or whatever it may be. I know the digital nomads and expats living in Thailand with me were far from apathetic toward the issues plaguing the region, and often were very involved with local organizations, such as those working to educate Burmese refugees or to combat human sex trafficking. I get that not every digital nomad or long-term traveler acts in this way, but even still, just by living in these countries they also help to stimulate the economy by spending their money (probably much more than the average local) there. When done responsibly (i.e. without supporting unethical tourism) I fail to see how this is a bad thing.

  • Reply antonette - we12travel July 10, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Beautiful! This is the main reason why I don’t pursue a nomadic life, I love the stability of home too much. My family and friends mean too much to me to not see them for extended periods of time and I want to see my newphews grow up, and not through a screen. I’m sure that it works for many but I’m also pretty sure it wouldn’t work for us …
    antonette – we12travel recently posted…From Sweden with love – can I stay forever?My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 11, 2015 at 2:47 am

      I’m with you, Antonette. I’m sure it can work for others, but it won’t work for me either.

  • Reply Katie July 10, 2015 at 6:00 am

    I love this post and so relate to your message. I love travel; I love living abroad, getting to really know other countries and meeting new people constantly. You can make amazing friendships on the road — but it’s all so transient. The more I travel, the harder is — because the more I travel, and the more places I live, the more “homes” and people I will always miss. Even when I’m home in the States, I’m always missing somewhere. It gets hard. I’m lucky to have a small community to return home to, a community that gets what I’m doing, but at the same time, sometimes being back home in a community like that just makes me want to stay even more. It gets harder to leave every time.

    And, YES: the first day I decide to settle back home, I’m getting a pup and a cat both. The same day. I swear, I’m almost counting the days.

    Thanks for the hoensty, Leah. This post caught me when I kind of needed someone to share the feeling with.
    Katie recently posted…Week by Week 1: The Mess of Leaving Melbourne, and My Biggest Travel Mistake YetMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 12, 2015 at 7:16 am

      You bring up a good point I didn’t even mention, that when you do form relationships with people in these places and then move on, you just have more people to miss. I suppose we’ll always have new people coming in and out of our lives, but it does get tiring and can really tug on the heartstrings to know you’re going to just be saying goodbye. And I agree that it gets harder to leave each time. Your friends and family are always wondering when you’re going to be back for good.

      I’m so glad you can relate to this post and hopefully find some comfort in knowing how many other people share the sentiment. I would love to have a cat and dog too! Double the snuggles, double the love.
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Ashray July 10, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Leah you’re so right but there’s a caveat to all of this! We’ve actually gone through the whole I miss community and I miss friends, etc. The reason we left Dubai in the first place was because everyone else we cared about left. This happens more in highly transient cities (Dubai, SF, NYC, Tokyo, London, etc.) of course. But the truth is that in the modern world that we live in, people are highly mobile and transient. (just look at all of the people on these comments, haha!) You might “return” to community but community might take off at any moment 😉

    So after a couple of years of traveling we tried to slow down a bit and re-enter “community”. The problem is that long term travel is a one way ticket to TONS OF PERSPECTIVE. This is especially so when you immerse yourselves in different realities, cultures, etc. Now when you return with all of this knowledge, selfish as your endeavor might have been, you’ve changed.

    What I experienced in the various “back-home” situations are (in no particular order):

    – I really value my time with people. Because I’m alone so often! So when I’m with people I care about, I look at them, I listen to them, I notice their faces, their voices, their problems, their hands, etc. etc. I actually feel true gratitude for getting to spend time with them. But..
    – People listen very less (they will often talk a lot about themselves, their problems, their world, etc.) without even asking you about you in many cases, it’s not because they don’t care but because they are so caught up in everything.
    – Folks look at their phones a LOT! Phones take priority over everything else. To me, this says that there is something going on in your phone that is more important than the person in front of you. But I think culture has changed and this is now acceptable for the most part.
    – Most people lack perspective and think their problems are the biggest (this is only normal, I do it too). I have the luxury of relativizing and telling myself that really, my problems aren’t so big because I’ve seen a different reality. What gets to me is that the same problems are repeated day after day, week after week, year after year and nothing is done about them. This unloading that people do because this is part of their “system” gets to me a bit. I can empathize a few times, but after a while it gets repetitive.

    Perhaps I used to be the same way. Perhaps I too was a self absorbed, touch-phone obsessed, perspective-less person who thought he was the center of the universe. I probably still am to some extent but now that I know I am that, I can be aware of it and try to influence it. Travel has made me interested in other people. I talk less and listen more. I was always the loudmouth of the group before. Sometimes I miss my old self. Sometimes I think this is better.

    This is not to say that we don’t miss people and community. It’s just not as trivial to re-integrate as one might imagine. I suppose this is all a grand experiment. As with all others, you don’t see the challenges that lie ahead and you try to deal with them. For the moment, I’m a little lonely at times, but I’m sort of okay with that. Maybe I’ll figure it out and find a balance to make it forever, maybe I’ll suck it up and go back. That’s what makes it so exciting. I used to have just one option. Now I have at least two 🙂

    We’re all pioneers in some way. I’m sure Columbus and Vasco da Gama had problems too 😉
    Ashray recently posted…The HARD things about LONG TERM TRAVELMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 12, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Hey Ashray! I totally get and agree with many of the points you are making. I agree that there is nothing trivial about integrating into a community. It’s difficult no matter where you decide to put down roots. That’s the thing about real relationships–they take tons of time and effort to form. But I don’t see that investment of time as too great an obstacle to keep me from wanting to settle in a city that I can call my own. And you’re right that big cities can be transient places, but nowhere near as transient as being on the road 365 days a year. It’s all relative, really, and everyone needs to weigh the pros and cons for themselves to really determine what’s going to yield the greatest satisfaction. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you’ve definitely given me more to think about 🙂

  • Reply Julie July 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all the follow-up on this post. I, too, have a vision of some version of permanent ‘nomad-ness’ but I also understand the eventual need for some kind of community building. I appreciate the others who have mentioned finding this type of community through multiple shorter-term homes, places that are visited regularly and allow for deep relationships, regular hang-outs, etc. I think the ultimate goal for many is to feel like there is location freedom, even if that looks different for all of us! Cheers!
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 12, 2015 at 7:25 am

      Totally agree, Julie! Everyone will probably have their own definition of the perfect balance between freedom and community building. It will be interesting to see what that looks like for me in the future, because there’s certainly no balance at present 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life) July 12, 2015 at 5:28 am

    I love to travel, but I fully believe in a home base. I have heard of people traveling for 3 months, home for 3, then doing it all over again. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do something so structured, but I love the idea of having a home, with friends to come back to. We recently moved from the U.S. to Amsterdam and it is not easier to make a new circle of friends. Now that I’m here, it feels so comfortable. But, our friends are constantly traveling…though not months at a time. So It’s more of the culture here (with the 25 days vacation a year) to travel and enjoy life. I do wish to take a long term (6 month maybe?) trip in my lifetime.

    I do appreciate your honestly. Travel is so fantasized, but the reality can be very different!
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 12, 2015 at 7:28 am

      That’s so great that you’ve found a place you feel comfortable, Jessica. I think it’s going to be really important for me, when I do find that home base, to also be surrounded by others who enjoy travel and understand my need to do so from time to time. When I’m around people who are not travelers, that’s when I feel guilt for constantly leaving. My community will hopefully be supportive of my lifestyle, and ideally we’d even be able to share the passion to explore the world 🙂

  • Reply Matias July 12, 2015 at 8:02 am

    On the one hand, the people I have met on the road are more like me, understand me better, and become closer friends than people who I see everyday for several years in school and at work. When I drop into their cities, we pick up like old friends and they are the best of friends. But they are not part of my daily social circle and certainly not a community.

    Having a group of people that you can regularly talk to, meet up with, and rely on during life mishaps is necessary for personal happiness.

    Perhaps an implicit but unstated part of that in your article relates to the professional sphere. People look at you differently when they know you’ll be around for a while. You can ask questions when unsure and they’ll rescue you when you screw up. They’ll also pass along random opportunities (which arise after sitting in a place for a while). This is also the way to find career and life mentors. That is why, despite my own proclivities, I’m planning to stay in New York for several years.



    • Reply Leah Davis July 13, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Yes, yes, yes, Matias. I agree with everything you’ve said. I hadn’t thought as much about professional relationships, but you make a very good point. Those relationships are important as well and certainly require that same consistency in order to grow into something lasting and beneficial. I hope the next few years in New York go well. I’ll be sure to give you a ring next time I’m passing through 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

  • Reply Emily July 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    This hit close to home. I’ve been home for 2 years and although I’m dying to travel, it has been the happiest time of my life. When I left Chiang Mai and set up my home base in Richmond, VA I fought off depression by imagining it was all temporary and my next adventure would be right around the corner. But I’m in grad school, and I found a job that makes me happy, and I fell in love with my city, my friends, and my cozy apartment. I spent my Sunday hung over on the couch watching Netflix with a cat sleeping on my chest. I bought big heavy furniure and filled it with my favorite things. I pay bills and use a calendar and worry about deadlines and I know it’s all worth it because people depend on me and I want to keep them around. When my wanderlust starts to itch I read travel blogs and drool over the pictures. Then I go to my neighborhood coffee shop where everyone knows my name, and I beam inside, knowing that I’m finally home.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 13, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Emily, I’m so moved by this comment! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m overjoyed to hear that you’ve been able to find happiness in your new, more stationary/stable life. I think I’d be very happy to have what you have, and hopefully someday I will. xx

  • Reply Turner July 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    It really does come down to people, doesn’t it? I failed to appreciate the impact of being around until I stayed put for a few months.
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 13, 2015 at 9:12 am

      I really believe that it does, Turner! We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Community is something I’ve also failed to appreciate until recently. Cheers for sharing your thoughts!

  • Reply yara coelho July 13, 2015 at 12:40 am

    What a great post and what a funny timing, as I’ve started writing something similar yesterday.

    I’m traveling longer than basically all other travel bloggers. I let home in 1998 and only recently came came back for longer periods of time (because one of my dogs is ill and needs medication).

    I totally agree with you and even I, who thought I’d be out there forever, started to struggle with the lack of long term human relationships.

    The people I meet on the road are usually fun, inspiring and I keep a strong connection with them, even after a few years have passed. But just as you’ve said, online can’t and shouldn’t replace these friendships in person. This have created a huge void and emptiness in my life lately that got accentuated with a couple of brutal events.

    Last month I got a bike accident and couldn’t walk for two days. I had NO ONE to take me to the hospital or check on me. I laid I bed alone, hoping I could walk again soon. It was really Scarry.

    The worse though, is going through brutal events like the separation with my 14 year long boyfriend and have no one to give me a hug, support me or help me cope.

    So yes, traveling with always be a huge part of my life, but it’s not sustainable on the long run. The ones who say it is, are not traveling for that long yet.

    A warm hug from Portugal 🙂
    yara coelho recently posted…TOP 83 European bloggers you should follow in 2015!My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 13, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Hi Yara! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You’ve brought up yet another good point–the prospect of having no one to look after me if and when something major should happen like it did to you (or even something less serious, like an illness) is one aspect of this lifestyle that does really terrify me. While I know I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself and I appreciate the independence that solo travel has afforded me, I don’t want to feel as though I’ll be alone when I do actually need someone to lean on. Supportive friends and a supportive community are so essential. I’m looking forward to reading your post on the topic! Hugs back at you 🙂

  • Reply Gilmore July 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

    A very cool article enhanced by the enchantment and romanticism in your writing.
    (most travel articles just bore or irritate me haha)

    I must agree whole heartedly with all the points you raise, a very difficult thing to do as a man 🙂

    I am able to live anywhere on the planet as my work dictates the need only for a wifi connection, however, although I do travel extensively and like to live in warmer climates for those overcast UK winter months I have my base securely fixed in Great Britain. For many reasons as you state being a nomad can be hard graft and a little lonely. Nothing can beat making a family member smile, or the interaction of a person who has had a lifelong impact upon you or even the feeling of knowing your surroundings inside out (a security blanket I guess). That’s what makes Britain Great to me and I could never leave her shores on a permanent basis.

    Who wants to be the wrong side of 50/60 with a bag full of photos but no fixed abode??

    stay classy


    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 12:49 am

      Hi Gilmore! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you were able to relate to what I’ve said (and agree! That IS a big deal for a man 😉 ).

      I like the sort of lifestyle you’ve described…traveling a few months of the year but having a base to come back to. I think this is how I’ll eventually choose to “settle,” when that day comes around. Thanks so much for reading! Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…This is MY Athens: Not Your Average Walking TourMy Profile

  • Reply LuLu July 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    As a nomad myself, I feel compelled to add to this wonderful insight. You’re still thinking in selfish terms when you say you need a community and relationships. Again, you’re focusing on what you want. I’ve been committed to “lifelong learning”, being a perpetual student and enjoying it, only to realize that this benefits no one but myself. My goal now is to figure out how to channel what I’ve gained into something beneficial to the people around me. I think that only by giving back to others will one find true happiness.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Hi Lulu! I have to be a little bit stubborn here and disagree with you. Yes, I’m thinking about what I want for my future when I say that I need a community, but being part of a community implies give and take. I do still want to travel all my life, to be sure, so giving up the kind of nomadic lifestyle I have now will be a sacrifice in a way. But just as importantly as it will be for ME to have a shoulder to cry on in times of need, I want to BE a shoulder to cry on for the people I love. I don’t want to be the girl who never sticks around in anyone’s life. I want to be more accessible to my family. I want to see people regularly and support them as they work toward their goals and go through important life events. My friends and family deserve that much.
      Leah Davis recently posted…This is MY Athens: Not Your Average Walking TourMy Profile

  • Reply David July 15, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Hi and thank you for these words! I am currently working on an article myself where I am saying, that we don’t need to be digital nomads and explain why I am coming to this conclusion. I got exactly the same idea which will be left behind in your “home base”…

  • Reply Christian July 16, 2015 at 12:59 am

    Hey Leah,
    I totally relate to that. I am just back from an 18-months trip around the globe, and as much as I loved it, at the end, I was ready to go home… whatever that meant, as I have given up my apartment and got my stuff out of boxes. Now I am three months in, back in a job, in an office with artificial light… and I start missing the travelling again. I ask myself the very same questions, but I think I’ll need to create a home base, a small apartment with my things that I could rent out if I travel long term again but that I can come back to… I don’t think I could be a nomad forever, maybe just a part-time vagabond or something. I’m also observing how it affected my friendships back here in Brussels… gonna read your post about that, too. Thank for sharing your thoughts on this, you’re way further down this road than I am, thanks for the inspiration and the advice… Christian
    Christian recently posted…The boy with the red shoesMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Hey Christian! I certainly think there are ways to have both a community and a home base and travel regularly as well. I like the term part-time vagabond…that pretty perfectly describes how I hope my future pans out. So glad you found some inspiration here! Good luck on your journey, I hope you find the perfect balance of travel and stability 🙂

  • Reply Sarah July 16, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I have to agree with you… My husband and I started traveling about 3 years ago, we landed in Dominican Republic for a year and a half. Then we came back to the USA and started to explore the West Coast but that’s the hardest part for me is not having a base of friends to hang out with. However when I do meet up with people I haven’t seen in several years is always a good thing. We’re enjoying our traveling just not figuring out the community part so much either… So it’s just him and I conquering all the places we want to go.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:03 am

      You’re fortunate that at least for the moment you have a partner in crime 🙂 Perpetual solo travel can get pretty lonely at times! I hope you’re able to create your own community one day, I know it will be important for me! Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…This is MY Athens: Not Your Average Walking TourMy Profile

  • Reply Leandro Thomas July 16, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Hi Leah, first time reader here. Enjoyed this article a lot. Such a good, refreshing post – definitely no rose tinted syndrome here!

    I lived and worked in many countries, both as an expat (working for someone else) and also working for myself. Often people try to substitute real, human interactions with virtual ones. It isn’t the same however, as people often are in it to see what they can get out of the interaction, rather than just experiencing each other.

    I personally rely on having a solid base, with the freedom of being able to travel when I want to, where I want to, as long as I want to.
    Leandro Thomas recently posted…Tools of the Trade for Digital NomadsMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Hey Leandro! Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂 So happy to hear the post resonated with you. I’m hoping to develop a lifestyle like what you’ve got going on now with a solid base but still having the freedom to leave (and come back) when I want to. That’s what location independence is all really about, I think!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Unexpected UlcinjMy Profile

  • Reply Ted Schredd July 16, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Hi there,

    I enjoyed reading your article and I have to say for me I agree and disagree.

    1. Travel is selfish… well yes and no. You touch the hearts and minds of the people wherever you go. You inspire others by provoking possibility in their mind that if you can do it.. maybe they can to.

    2. Traveling is fun but not meaningful… again I agree but have found that if your purpose in life is tied to travel then it can be very fulfilling. If you have no purpose other than entertainment there is an emptiness that occurs that no destination will fulfill.

    3. Community.. absolutely agree but I have been traveling long enough that I have built up a sense of community in five different locations and return to them often. We are all excited to see each other and really make an effort to do things of local interest. I feel that I have community in many different locales.

    4. All or nothing.. Well it doesn’t have to be I have made a home base for three or four months of the year and then travel for the rest. It does get old having nowhere to hang your hat but I have made a very modest home base and that gives me that sense of home yet allows me to continue to travel.

    5. The only times I wanted to quit traveling were either because I was not enjoying my locale or when I feel that I am not doing meaningful work. I have sold everything I own three different times now and every once in a while I want stuff. But for me that is just me buying into the roar of society. No matter how much I travel (I am 49 now).. the travel bug has never gone away.

    So that is my two bit opinion and I hope I wasn’t offensive to your point of view. Wishing you safe and happy times regardless of what you do or where you go..



    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Hey Ted! Not offensive at all. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the subject. Really impressed that you’ve been able to create so many communities around the world to go back to often. That sounds wonderful. I know I will continue to travel for life, but I know the capacity will change and evolve over time. Who’s to say what I’ll want tomorrow…in one month…in one year from now? But that’s part of the fun, I guess 🙂 Thanks for reading!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Unexpected UlcinjMy Profile

  • Reply Thor July 16, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Hey Leah,

    I suggest you watch the movie “Into the wild” while thinking about your own words 🙂



  • Reply Matthias July 16, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Hi Leah,

    “My nomadic lifestyle has robbed me of the ability to form a community.” is exactly the reason why I started to do a Coworking Camp once a year. During 6 weeks in a beach resort you meet a lot of of nomads, startup founders and freelancers to make new connections, share experiences and reenergize.

    Maybe you should join us in November for a bit?


    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Mattias! That sounds awesome! How do I find out more info about these coworking camps? Would be very interested in attending something like that. Thanks for the idea! 😀
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Three Days in Tirana, AlbaniaMy Profile

      • Reply Matthias Zeitler October 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm

        Lots of info on our website: http://coworking.camp

        This year’s event starts soon, so maybe there is the chance for you to join us last minute. Otherwise hope to see you next year 🙂

        • Reply Leah Davis October 11, 2015 at 3:25 am

          Great, thanks so much for the info!

  • Reply Sanne July 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Wow Leah, I couldn’t agree with you more… It’s an endless dilemma though: if I stay in one place for too long I get restless and when I travel too much I miss the feeling of having a place to call home… I’m not sure what the perfect answer is for me but I think having a place that I can (and want to) go back to regularly and build more meaningful relationships would be best for me. Now I just have to find the place where I would like to do that 🙂
    Sanne recently posted…How to find the perfect job abroadMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I think we’re in the exact same boat. Part of the reason I haven’t settled for any extended period of time in one place is because I haven’t found a place that really kept my attention. I thought Medellin, Colombia would be that place, but I was out of there after 4 months. Who knows where I’ll end up! Good luck finding your community 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…This is MY Athens: Not Your Average Walking TourMy Profile

  • Reply April July 17, 2015 at 4:04 am

    This post resonated with me as I’m preparing to leave Chiang Mai, Thailand after living here for the last three years. I’m leaving for many of the reasons that you listed – lack of a sense of community or family as everyone is coming and going here, most people that do stick around for over a year are teachers who have a shelf life here of 2-3 years, and because everyone is coming and going, so are some really great guys making it near impossible to date here. Having people come and go out of your life is fun when you’re doing the same thing. When you want to stick around somewhere it’s not the same as having a real sense of family over a long period of time where only life experience and time can deepen those connections. I’m going back home in a few weeks to get some perspective on my life here, but knowing fully well that what I’m really looking for is a sense of home and family, even a partner – but abroad. It’s all a balancing act in my life of slow travel/adventure in the quest to find a partner/family who can share in this life with me.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Hey April! I too lived in Chiang Mai for a bit and I know exactly what you mean about people coming and going so much. I love that you mentioned life experience and time in being important to building connections with people. That’s something I forgot to point out, but you’re so right. So many people are adamant that a community that is spread out all over the world is good enough, but I just can’t get on board with that. I need to be physically with people, hugging, holding hands, making eye contact, and so forth. Those are the bonds I’m after! Hope you find the perspective you’re looking for. Thanks for reading and commenting!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Unexpected UlcinjMy Profile

  • Reply Gilles Barbier July 17, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Hi Leah,
    Excellent article, and I fully agree with you.
    However, I would maybe change the question: do you think you can find happiness in one life style that will last all of your life? Of course, many people do. But many people, at some point, aspire some changes, some new type of living, some new experiences. Why would it be different for Travelers?
    I love to travel – I was never a Nomad, though, as my family and friends are very important to me. The longest I have traveled was one year, and it felt good to go back. But I wouldn’t be able to do only travel. And I bet that as you wrote, after a while, I would want to settle (at least for a few years) before hitting the road again…
    Cheers, Gilles
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Gilles, you bring up an excellent point. I don’t think people are meant to go through life doing the same thing over and over again. I think change (and with that, growth) is essential to our happiness. Maybe a lifestyle that is constantly changing is the only lifestyle that will always make you happy? Ahh, I’m going to be pondering this for awhile now. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Unexpected UlcinjMy Profile

  • Reply Kaitlyn July 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I felt like this was a post that I could have written myself, although not as well as you did! I recently moved back home after my most recent stint living abroad, and although I still have itchy feet and am constantly planning my next trip, I don’t have a desire to pack up all my belongings and be permanently on the go any more. I like my little apartment that I have gotten to decorate to my liking. And I like having a community of friends through a variety of new hobbies and social circles. I mean, if I got the chance to actually get a visa and live in Europe permanently, I would take it IN A HEARTBEAT…..but, until then, I’m actually happy now being settled and taking a few trips throughout the year discovering new places and satisfying my urge to explore.

    PS – Love that last sentence! I want a dog so badly, but I can’t commit to staying in the states for the next 10-15 years, no matter how much I say I am content.
    Kaitlyn recently posted…Wonderwall // The Backpackers SongMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 17, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I’m with you, Kaitlyn! I would love to have a little place to call my own for once. I really have no idea when that will happen, but I know I’ll be ready for it when it does. I probably won’t be getting a dog anytime soon either, realistically, but I like to daydream about the day! French bulldog, methinks 🙂 Cheers, and thanks for reading!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Unexpected UlcinjMy Profile

  • Reply Heather July 19, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I’m coming to realize that the longer you travel, the more you’re actually able to form a community. I’m so happy to have friends in New Zealand and Hawaii and in South America. They provide such a great excuse to revisit some amazing places.

    That said, I think I’ve always known that travel can’t last forever. But for now, it’s helping me figure out who I am and what I want. In the end, this selfish time in my life will hopefully lead to a more selfless self. 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis July 24, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Plenty of people have expressed a similar opinion, that travel has actually afforded them more of a community than staying still. And good on you–I envy people who have really strong bonds in many places. I have friends scattered all over the world, to be sure, but a community? Hardly.

      Definitely agree with the last part, that this selfish time will [hopefully] allow us to be more selfless later 🙂 Cheers Heather, thanks for reading!
      Leah Davis recently posted…13 Delectable Greek Foods I’d Fly Back to Greece For in a HeartbeatMy Profile

  • Reply Dan Johnston July 20, 2015 at 7:02 am

    I’m jealous you beat me to the punch with this article, I’ve been thinking along the same lines but haven’t got anything into an article yet.

    If you study anything around happiness you find a common thread is community and relationships, something that is lacking on the road or even staying places for just a few months at a time.

    Going on 4 years as a nomad as well and for me the solution is to set up a home base and then travel about 6 months of the year from here (Prague at the moment). I’m hoping this becomes the best of both worlds.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 24, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Hey Dan! It seems a lot of people have been thinking something similar 🙂 How is Prague? I’m in Eastern Europe currently and have always wanted to visit, but I’m not sure if my trajectory will take me that way this time around. When I make it back here though I would like to spend some significant time living in a major European city. Hope we can both find that perfect balance of community and travel. Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…13 Delectable Greek Foods I’d Fly Back to Greece For in a HeartbeatMy Profile

  • Reply crazy sexy fun traveler July 27, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I so know what you mean! After traveling for 4.5 years I need a base, too. It’s tiring!
    crazy sexy fun traveler recently posted…Expenses when traveling – 6 months 2015, 8 countries, 14 flights, 2.828 eurosMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 28, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Yes, it does get exhausting! Do you have plans to settle somewhere?

  • Reply Nina Travels July 27, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    A very interesting post, I must admit! I have been daydreaing about becoming a nomad on a daily bases, but sometimes I do ask my self if that would even work for me. I mean, I like spending time with my friends, family… and I like to have a place, which I call home…. Thanks for your words, which gave me new material to go through. I guess nomadic life is beautiful, but it just cannot go on forever….

    • Reply Leah Davis July 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Nina! I think it’s something every traveler thinks about at some point, whether traveling long-term is a plausible choice and what an alternative to that might look like. I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. 🙂

  • Reply Neysha July 28, 2015 at 12:42 am


    I totally agree! I’m faced with the same dilemma. I wonder if there’s a balance between having a home and traveling for like… six months of the year. Is that too much to ask for? hehe Let us all keep searching for our happiness.
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 28, 2015 at 9:02 am

      I think lots of people have created a lifestyle that allows them to travel part of the year and have a base the rest of the year. That’s certainly something I want, so I am inclined to say that no, it’s not too much to ask 🙂 Hope you find the balance you’re after!

  • Reply Inverted Sheep July 28, 2015 at 5:07 am

    I love to travel and wander, but I also like to base myself somewhere and have time to get under the skin of the place. It’s great to wake up each morning not knowing what the day will bring or even where I’m going to end up by the end of it. I love the varied life travel presents and don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. However, it makes me appreciate a base and the mundane things in life even more … knowing I can cook a nice meal because I have all the ingredients and equipment to hand; knowing I can pick up a phone and chat with friends (AND, get this … meet them for coffee if I want to, without having to book a flight and arrange a visa), and knowing I can wash my clothes whenever I want. If I didn’t travel I would take all these things for granted. After years of travelling I’ve worked out what is the right balance for me between wandering and having a base. Of course, it’s different for everyone and there’s always that ‘grass is greener’ syndrome to deal with. Now where did I put that passport …
    Inverted Sheep recently posted…Up, up and awayMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 28, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Haha you are so right on so many points. It probably sounds funny to someone who doesn’t travel to think of something like being able to wash your own laundry as a luxury, but it is! Having pots and pans in your kitchen and being able to cook whenever you want? Amazing! Travel has definitely helped me appreciate those things as well. And seeing friends frequently is perhaps the most important thing for me.

  • Reply Lyndsay July 28, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Great post, a very thought provoking one. I agree, I have asked myself the same question and I honestly think it is possible. People are proving it in our so called ‘real life’, but It is not for everyone.

    Too much to consider and to realize, depending on your priorities, a nomadic life is or isn’t for you. As long as it makes one happy, may it be nomadic or not, it is still a journey.
    Lyndsay recently posted…10 Budget Places to Explore in New York CityMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

      Completely agree, Lyndsay. I’m not trying to purport that the nomadic lifestyle isn’t possible for ANYONE but I’ve come to realize that it’s not possible forever for ME. To each their own, and if it makes you happy, I say go for it!

  • Reply Rashaad July 29, 2015 at 11:07 am

    A very thought-provoking post.

    I’m an American who has lived in Japan, France and the U.K. so I have not had a permanent base and established a lifelong sense of community in any one place. But I am proud to have lived in all three of those countries and for the most part, I felt like I was a part of the community in whatever town/city I lived in. I am looking for to see a sense of community in a locale – but realize I’m there for the long haul.
    Rashaad recently posted…Home Sweet Home – GraduationMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Hey Rashaad! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree, forming communities in the short-term is different from forming a community when you know you’ll be in a place for a long time. That’s not something I’ve had yet and will be interested to see when and where that falls into place for me. Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Bewitching BelgradeMy Profile

  • Reply Todd @ Visit50 July 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Traveling helps invigorate and refresh my energy and enthusiasm for everything. Like everyone else, travel inspires me (especially when I was away for a half-year 15-country trip!), but unlike many people, it’s also exactly what I need to go back to appreciating what I have at home. Do you agree?
    Todd @ Visit50 recently posted…Island Hopping in Bocas del Toro PanamaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Todd! I do agree with what you’re saying. Traveling always helps me appreciate the things I had/have at home, like people who love me unconditionally and the simple day-to-day things that would be a challenge in another country. It’s certainly something I intend to do in some capacity for the rest of my life, to make sure I never take these little things for granted. 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Bewitching BelgradeMy Profile

  • Reply Andrea July 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Dear Leah,

    a really touching and beautiful article! My husband and I work on building our online business and I love to be able to work wherever I want to. This “wherever” however is our balcony, the coffeeshop in town, at my Dad’s house, … We don’t travel (at least not now) and have a home we love and enjoy. For me the best part of this lifestyle is being able to work from everywhere and not having to sit in front of a desk.
    I will surely read more of your blog, loved this article!

    Best regards + all the travel and all the home you wish for 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you so much, Andrea! Much like you, I intend to work for myself (and online, primarily) for the rest of my life, simply because I can’t imagine giving up the freedoms this has afforded me, including being able to call “wherever” home. I envy your current situation a little bit, as I’m desperately craving some stability right now. I’m sure I will find it soon 🙂 Glad you stumbled upon my blog, I hope to see you around more often! Cheers!
      Leah Davis recently posted…The Best of the Cyclades, Part 1: Mykonos, Paros and IosMy Profile

  • Reply Wayne Seto July 31, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Hi Leah, great and insightful post. I’m currently in the middle of a year long sabbatical from work and have struggled a bit with this nomadic lifestyle. I like the way you framed up this lifestyle as “selfish” which I most certainly agree. Your post definitely gave me some food for thought. Glad I found your blog and will be following along 🙂 Cheers and safe travels!
    Wayne Seto recently posted…10 Mistakes I’ve Made As A Digital Nomad: And How To Fix ThemMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Wayne! Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The nomadic lifestyle has its appeals, but is a lot more challenging than most people probably realize (including myself before I started traveling full-time). Good luck on your journey, I’m sure it will be worth the effort in the long run 🙂 Cheers, and safe travels to you as well!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Stunning Beauty in the Bay of KotorMy Profile

  • Reply Joella August 4, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    This is such a great post Leah! I understand your thoughts and feelings exactly. And I think my answer at this point is- no, it can’t last forever if you want to have a longterm community. My husband and I have been travelling or living overseas for years now. Even though our situation was not entirely “nomadic” as a lot of the time we stayed and worked (like we were in Beijing for almost 2 years) we also knew that we were never going to “stay” in each place. The first time I lived overseas I formed really close friends but, the more places I lived, the harder I found it to make close relationships. I think that’s because I always knew I, or they, would be moving on. Of course I had friends, but (apart from maybe that first year) I don’t think they can compare to the people back home who knew you for years. But there lies the catch- as you say- you also drift away from your old friends or, at the very least, you just don’t spend anytime with them as you are in different countries! Luckily I always had my husband as I met him when I first went overseas- but I think it’s important to have other friends too. We’ve just moved to California and we’re planning on staying put here longterm- so I think I’ll have to set about making a new community now!
    Joella recently posted…10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit ChinaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis August 5, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Thanks Joella! I completely agree with all of your points. Even when you’re in a place longer than a few months, maybe it’s a year or two, you still know an end will come and it IS harder to form relationships because of it. I’ve dealt with this many times. Congrats on the move to California! I hope you enjoy the stability of being in one place and the peace of mind of knowing that you finally do have a chance to form that community 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…My End-of-Year Travel Plans RevealedMy Profile

  • Reply Liz August 5, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Hi Leah! I stumbled across your blog when I first started reading travel bloggers and this post is a great example of why I love your site! While all of us travel-obsessed nomads like this idea of being on the go, I think I agree with the title of this post… it cannot last forever. But I think that perhaps a person can have multiple “homes” so to speak and change the nomadic style slightly. Maybe a person spends a 6 months working in NY then does the rest of the year in Southeast Asia freelancing instead of jet setting off to a new destination every week! I enjoy your thoughts on the topic and look forward to more posts 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis August 5, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Hi Liz! Thanks so much, I’m so glad you found me! I like your idea of having multiple home bases, and I think this is a likely path for me at some point in the future. I’ll always have the desire to move around, but maybe not always to unfamiliar places. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
      Leah Davis recently posted…My End-of-Year Travel Plans RevealedMy Profile

  • Reply Marek August 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Just wanted to say this is a very relateable post. I went nomadic for 2 years, but then I missed having some consistency and roots. Now I crave the freedom again. I think my ideal scenario is to have roots in some place, but to be out and about for at least part of the year. Maybe be home for the summer, but travel in winter. As with anything it’s all about striking a balance… every situation has their pros and cons.

    • Reply Leah Davis August 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Hey Marek! Glad you found something to relate to. So many travelers are echoing your sentiment here, myself included. I obviously want to continue traveling, but it’s striking that perfect balance that will be the challenge. 🙂 Thanks for reading and happy travels!
      Leah Davis recently posted…The Wonders of Mainland Greece: Ancient OlympiaMy Profile

  • Reply Sarah August 16, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I agree that I won’t be able to travel forever. It’s definitely exhausting having to constantly say bye to people you meet. I know that I’ll want to settle down at some point and live in one place for more than 6 months. And I also agree with what some others have said above, it’s nice to see you addressing the downsides of traveling and not pretend it’s always a cruizy life.
    Sarah recently posted…Volunteering with Dolphins: Monkey MiaMy Profile

  • Reply Diana van Dijk August 18, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Couldn’t agree more! And interesting to read all these comments of people feeling the same 🙂
    I’ve traveled for the last 4 years and finally found out that I miss the longterm, genuine connections with friends. And something else: I miss using my skills, being intellectually challenged. Being useful, get fulfillment out of my daily routine. So I’ve decided to settle (I still have problems with that word…) again and find myself a fulfilling job and meaningful connections. And it feels good. I will travel again, also longterm, but for now it has been enough.
    Diana van Dijk recently posted…Spring's in the air!My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis August 19, 2015 at 3:40 am

      That’s interesting, Diana, I think you’re the first person to mention needing the routine part of being settled somewhere, but I agree with you. Having some semblance of a routine in my life helps keep me grounded and being productive. Traveling certainly challenges me intellectually but as you also mentioned, I don’t particularly feel useful 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
      Leah Davis recently posted…The Wonders of Mainland Greece: The Monasteries of MeteoraMy Profile

      • Reply Diana van Dijk August 19, 2015 at 5:16 am

        You’re welcome Leah 🙂 And I also long for that dog and/or cat to connect with 😉 I miss the pets we looked after while housesitting during our travels…
        Diana van Dijk recently posted…Spring's in the air!My Profile

  • Reply Cest La Vibe October 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I think I want to experience the semi-nomadic lifestyles for a few more years and gradually settle down somewhere with someone who has also spent a lot of her life travelling.
    Cest La Vibe recently posted…Trinidad’s North Coast BeachesMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 7, 2015 at 9:33 am

      That sounds like a great plan! 🙂

  • Reply Richard Fowler January 11, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Leah,
    loved this article and the insightful comments,
    i am mid life at 44 and have been traveling for 1 year this month. Mexico, Colorado, Panama, Costa rica. i don’t have a blog.
    i just found your blog today and haven’t had time to read all your articles yet but i plan to do so as i find your honest emotionally exposed way of expressing rather refreshing. I agree most travel blogs seem like they are trying to see me their lifestyle by making it seem all good all the time which we all know it isn’t…
    I’m currently in San Isidro del General Costa rica where i almost rented a commercial space and opened a yoga studio. Yoga and travel are two of my passions but having a community is ever so valuable. I came from a wonderful community in San Diego where I had many friends and lots of work as well as about 500 different yoga classes to choose from each week.
    San Isidro Del General is a wonderful place, it serves 8 outlying communities as a central hub and has around 200,000 people but feel like a small town. Its very different form the heavily touristed areas. Best of all i was able to rent a great house with a million dollar view 4 km from the city center for $240 a month. I settled in, bought a motorcycle and made a few friends.
    i have a companion too, her name is Ali and she is a sweet yellow lab that I’ve had the pleasure sharing life with for 11 years now. Traveling with a dog is a pain but worth it for all those lonely times. I have to do a border run again and will probably return to San diego to see family. I’ve learned they really don’t understand what I’m doing or why and while they may say “tell me about all your adventures”, they really don’t have much interest past a quick run down on where I’ve been. As i mentioned i have only been doing this a year but am starting to wonder if my plan to spend 3-6 months in as many places as i can is really a healthy lifestyle. For example, I’ve been avoiding women who clearly would like to be in a relationship, i tell myself wow she’s awesome i like her but if i date her and fall for her ill be stuck here. I’m wondering if you have had this issue and how you dealt with it. I am also starting to feel the need to be productive. In San diego i had a high stress job as a commercial property manager of 5 large shopping centers, i told myself for years i hated my job and was selling my soul. Now that I’m free that isn’t a problem but new things are popping up. I.e i miss my yoga community. Don’t get me wrong i feel very happy with my decision to sell everything and leave and i am generally always exploring or having fun of some kind even the “I’m uncomfortable” kind of fun. But i also am yearning to settle and be part of something substantial and of benefit to my community. i like the idea of traveling 6 weeks home base a few months or more, repeat. just gotta find that home base as i know its no longer San diego. Something about traveling in poor countries has changed me.
    Columbia and then Chili are next on my list. You mentioned yoga in a comment above, How is the yoga scene in Medellin? Would it be a good spot to open a studio?
    Thanks for the chance to express and i look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    • Reply Leah Davis January 13, 2016 at 5:21 am

      Hi Richard! Thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment. You seem to share a lot of my feelings and those expressed by others in this comment thread. The feeling of being free to do what you please is exhilarating, but missing that certain something, which I think we’ve narrowed down to a sense of belonging or roots. I know what you mean by wanting to contribute to a community. That’s what I’ve been missing in my life.

      I don’t know much about the yoga scene in Medellin. I know there are a handful of studios but I never actually visited any. Could be a good spot though as a lot of locals are very health and fitness conscious. Best of luck to you and I hope you find what you’re looking for!

  • Reply Sabran MH March 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Lea,

    I was once had this conversations with a member of couchsurfing.org regarding exactly this subject. Living abroad, the confusing between being an exact expatriate or simply live in one place and from time to time trying to get a job to continue surviving for as long as we like the place. And then it leads to everything else but mainly talking about relationship. Digital relationship, long distance relationship and what we left behind. What you wrote here is exactly (or at least very close to) what I said in that conversations. So yeah!! nothing that I can’t agree about… and you wrote it beautifully.

    • Reply Leah Davis March 30, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Thanks so much, Sabran! There is a lot of confusion involved with this way of living, and I for one and reaching a point of exhaustion!

  • Reply Sabran March 30, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Or maybe we are all knew it well. Maybe it wasn’t a confusion at all…. We just refused to accept the fact yet and keep convincing ourselves that we can do it, that we can prove it can be done. And then there comes a lot of excuses and denials. Till we get tired though…. I’ve shared this article in my Facebook.

    • Reply Leah Davis March 31, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Thanks so much for sharing, Sabran!

  • Reply Emily // Amelia April 5, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Leah, this hit home for me SO hard. I moved to Breckenridge, CO in September, after three years of nomadic living (both Internationally and domestically) . I was craving a sense of home so badly, I nearly became depressed. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed human, physical connection until I moved here and found it again. The Skypes and e-mails were only fulfilling me so much. I had no idea the toll that travel had taken on me. Don’t get me wrong- some of my dearest friends in the world are 10,000 miles away from me right now, and the last three years were absolutely magical. I feel lucky every single day for having the experiences I’ve had so far in dozens of countries. But as I write this from my very own bedroom in the very country I was born in, I can honestly say that I’m thankful to not be in a nomadic state today. I’m thankful to be going to dinner with friends tonight, then to work tomorrow with people I love. The road will always be there, and I will always return. But damn, it feels good to call somewhere “home” again.

    Thank you so much for your words! My Mother actually saw your post and sent it to me, with the comment, “Em, did you write this and not tell me?” Needless to say, this really resonated with my family and I. You nailed it, lady! Thank you for giving me perspective here. Ending (or suspending) your travels does not equal failure. Some of us just need a whole lot more. <3

    • Reply Leah Davis April 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Aw, it’s always so nice to hear that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’ve been lucky enough to not stop traveling fully, but also feel more grounded as I’m spending a lot more time with loved ones wherever I go. In fact, that’s pretty much the question that determines my next destination–do I have friends/family there? Ha! I’m really happy that you’ve found the community and the life you are looking for in Breck (I LOVE it there, by the way, one of my best friends in the world hails from there) and I wish you so much happiness in the future! Cheers!

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  • Reply alex May 2, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Hi Leah, insightful post! I agree with you. I just settled down after traveling full-time for almost nine years (four of which I was a digital nomad). It’s been a beautiful journey but I’m exhausted and so eager to establish a community. Even though I was on the road for such a long time I was never able to feel 100% even when I spent 8 months in one location. Even though I now have my own permanent bed in my own place, I still continue to travel but boy does it feel good to come home at the end of every trip 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis May 2, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Thanks Alex! I’m finally settling down myself and I’m so grateful to finally have that sense of community I’ve been lacking for so long. I’m glad you found that for yourself, too 🙂

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