Notes On Why I Choose Not To Be A Full-Time Nomad

place to call home

Exploring the beauty of Nicaragua. Photo: Jessica Festa.

The other night I went for drinks with one of my visiting travel blogger friends, Joe*, a full-time nomadic man in his 40s who was getting ready to make the transition to having an actual apartment with a year-lease. While to many this may seem ridiculous — by this age most 9-to-5ers own their own home — in the travel blogger community it’s not unheard of. To many it probably sounds like the dream, to live your life roaming the earth everyday in a different city. And in many ways it is; however, to put it in the words of Joe:

“People don’t realize just how exhausting and difficult traveling full-time is.”

Though the longest I’ve been on the road away from home is four months — or seven, if you count studying abroad — this statement totally resonated with me. At the end of every four-month backpacking trip I’m always inspired by the journey, drunk on the memories, sad to see it end… but also uber excited to see my own bed, get a bbq cheddar wrap from Stay Fresh Deli, have a crazy Sunday Funday with my ladies, get a Bee Sting pizza from Roberta’s, take a class at the Manhattan School of Burlesque, veg out on my parent’s couch, play Joust at Barcade, jog through street art near Maria Hernandez Park… You get the idea.

Tweet: “People don’t realize just how exhausting and difficult full-time #travel is” http://bit.ly/1XMED5u #ttot #rtw

place to call home

Hanging with travel friends in NYC and mixing my two worlds. Pictured: Eric, travelFREAK, Me, The Legendary Adventures of Anna and Adventurous Kate.

Living A Double Life

For me, being semi-nomadic has always felt like a double life. There’s NYC Jessie, who spends most of her days leading tourists around with her camera, booze brunching on weekends, and devouring the city’s many events with her family and friends. I have such strong friendships and am constantly making plans to be out and about with the people I love. Then there’s Travel Jessie, who hits the road without a word, unless you count my blog posts and Instagram shares as a word, having solo adventures, exploring new places, immersing myself in local cultures and getting into mishaps (like getting denied entry into Curaçao) until it’s time to go back to my regular routine.

I love it, but it can be exhausting, not to mention I end up missing out on important events, fall way behind on my writing (and making money) and need to get back in the loop upon my return. Some people couldn’t imagine missing a family holiday or a close friend’s birthday. I do all the time.

And I’m not even a full-time nomad.

Tweet: “Some people couldn’t imagine missing a family #holiday or a friend’s birthday. I do all the time.” http://bit.ly/1XMED5u #travel #ttot

place to call home

Vegging out in my Brooklyn apartment and enjoying the place I call home.

A Place To Call Home

When you travel full time you see and experience so many amazing things, but it also becomes very easy to take travel for granted. Just like your home routine, when traveling becomes something you do full-time it begins to lose its shine and excitement. And maybe that seems ungrateful, but you could also say those wishing to be travel bloggers or full-time wanders working office jobs should be grateful for a steady pay check, health insurance and a place to call home.

A place to call home. Not having this is the biggest reason I choose not to be a full time
nomad. I live in a dingy apartment in Brooklyn with cracked paint, an ancient heating system that sounds like constant jackhammering (that is, when I have heat), and a bathroom so small I barely fit in it with the door closed. But after a long time away from this place I crave it so much. It may be ugly, but it’s cozy and welcoming, and when I see my shoes scattered about, colorful pieces from the unfinished puzzle I started weeks ago on the floor, cheap plastic bins holding my clothes because I’m too broke for real furniture, I feel like I’m being wrapped in big, giant, loving (uber unattractive) hug. And I couldn’t be happier.

Tweet: How and where do you define #home? http://bit.ly/1XMED5u #travel #ttot

Would you — or do you — travel full-time? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers by Don George [Travel Reads]

7 Comments

  1. Technically I could be a digital nomad (I’m a freelance translator) but I know it’s not for me. Work can easily stress me out and worrying about internet connections, etc. (not to mention trying to be online when my clients are in their offices) would ruin the whole experience of being in another country. I like to go away for a maximum of 4 weeks, concentrating solely on travel, and then return to my own place.

    1. @Sarah: I definitely feel you on that. I’ve been traveling in a semi nomadic fashion for about 6 years, and can’t remember when in that span of time I’ve truly been able to shut off completely and be “on vacation.”

  2. I love travel a lot, but I’ve learned recently that I definitely couldn’t be a full-time traveler. I need to be able to have a routine to occasionally break away from, and I’d find full-time travel too exhausting. I think for people who don’t want to travel full-time, there’s always a maximum amount of time that they can travel before it gets too much. I think mine is between 1-2 months and it works for me 🙂

  3. I totally agree with you, Jessie! I have been traveling for years. During my studies I spent every year 4 months abroad (in UK, USA, Greece). Now, during my full time job I can be on road approximately 1-2 months a per year. I use all my vacation (23 days) + weekends and public holidays for traveling. Older I get, I prefer to travel and return back home, and then again to travel and come back home… I can not imagine myself to travel the world without having a home and a place where my family & friends are. I really enjoy this type of traveling! 🙂

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