There are a lot of benefits to being on the move constantly and living in new places every few months. You get to explore new places, meet new people, experience vastly different cultures, try new things, step out of your comfort zone (you have no choice in this matter; fight or flight), amongst many other things. But I’ve received a lot of e-mails/questions asking if there’s anything I don’t like about it. Are there things I would change about this lifestyle? Do I ever want to quit and settle down somewhere permanently?
The truth is living anywhere is not all double rainbows and chocolate cake. There are downsides to being on the road in perpetuity …
- Less Than Stellar Beds
I haven’t slept on an extra firm bed in 18 months. For whatever reason most people believe the softer the better. Not for me. I like a bed that is just shy of a wood floor. Like maybe a wood floor with some really thick shag carpeting. :) What I usually get I’d liken to a big soft sponge that gives me a wake-up back ache (which only lasts a few minutes, thankfully). It is true that I could buy a new bed in every country I move to, but that’s a little extreme. I will, however, consider it the next time I decide to stay in a place for ~6 months.
- It’s Difficult To Maintain Relationships
When you’re regularly in different time zones and anywhere from a few hundred miles to tens of thousands of miles away from friends it’s not easy to maintain those relationships. Yes, there is facebook and the like, but that’s really passive and it’s bare minimum maintenance. Just check out why Sam deleted his facebook account. I really commend him for taking that step to consciously improve his relationships. I’m not sure it’s feasible to cut myself off from everyone on facebook at this point since I’m usually not in a geographic position to maintain those relationships otherwise. Or maybe that’s just a lazy excuse.
- Creating New Relationships Isn’t Always Easy Either
As you travel more it becomes easier, but starting from scratch with new friends every few months isn’t exactly the best way to form strong bonds with people. If everybody knows “this is going to end in X amount of time”, but still stays in the moment then that helps, but it can be a drag none-the-less. This largely depends on your personality as well. If you’re able to shut off your emotions and become a robot then you’ll do much better with leaving the friends you make in every new town. Most of us can’t do that. Sometimes I worry that I have become too good at it.
- Getting Settled Takes Time
No matter how many times I do it, getting settled takes a bit of time. I know I adapt much quicker now than before, and the whole process of figuring things out and getting settled is an adventure, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. What I’m specifically referring to is learning the pulse of a city. Where things are. The fun places to hang out. The good places to eat. Where to buy a pillow. :)
- Finding A Short-Term Furnished Apartment Is Usually A Frustrating Experience
I wrote about exactly what I do to find places to live in How To Live Anywhere. Each time I do it it makes it easier, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating. Finding any apartment anywhere is already a frustrating experience without the short-term fully furnished requirements. When you need a furnished apartment for a short amount of time and don’t want to pay astronomical corporate housing rates it’s exponentially more difficult. That said, it has been most difficult in the United States than elsewhere. We’re just not set up for travelers and nomads here.
- Missing Certain People
You’d think this is similar to maintaining relationships, but it’s not quite. When you travel you make a lot of connections without always making plans for keeping in touch. That can be for a variety of factors, but there are people I sometimes miss and I know I’ll never see them again.
- Is It Too Much To Ask To Want A Blender At All Times? :)
Yes, it might be, but I want a blender at all times. Hummus, smoothies, the options are endless. And a good juicer would be sweet as well. ;)
- Maintaining A Workout Routine Can Be A Hassle
Sure, you can do pushups and things like that anywhere, but let’s say you like to ride a bike. (I rode my bike for 2-3 hours/day when I lived in Poland.) That means you’ve got to first find a bike to buy and then sell it or get rid of it otherwise at a later date. It helps if you’re a runner. I’m not. And if you’re in a cold weather place most outdoor activities go out the window anyway. If you’re a gym rat it’s easy enough. You can find no-contract gyms everywhere, but gyms are not my style.
As you can see three of the bullet points above deal specifically with people. The reason is that people = life. You don’t need a lot of awesome people in your circle to have an awesome life, but you need a couple. And it dramatically helps your sanity if you are able to maintain and grow those relationships. We’re living in a very exciting time in that the Internet does make it easier to establish and grow relationships all over the world, but it’s definitely not an end all and be all replacement for actual human interaction.
This all begs the question, what’s the point of the nomadic existence?
For every negative reason up above I can come up with 10 positives. Maybe I’ll do that in the future but, if nothing else, know this:
I wouldn’t change a single god damn thing in my life.
If you can say the same then it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you are on your right path.
Are you on your right path?