An Introduction to Life as a Nomad
I’ve traveled the US a lot. A LOT. Probably 30 states or more. Once, I even drove from Monterey, Ca. to Fayetteville, Nc. And while it was an adventure (through the Mojave desert, in August, no air condition, untrained puppy as my passenger, 4 gallons of water in the backseat). Still, I sometimes feel like a liar when I tell people that I travel.
Leaving your back yard is far from leaving your comfort zone. For that reason, I hardly regard these intercontinental excursions as “travel.” For the same reason, Toronto does not really count for me either. That means the only true travel experience I have–the kind of experiences that make you feel humble–is when I went to Tegucigalpa for 2 weeks in 2014. Even then, I stayed in an apartment with all English speakers. We had a nice car, air conditioning, a housemaid, and all of the conveniences of the US. For the most part, I was vacationing, not traveling.
In January, I fell in love. With life. With myself. I quit my well-paying, stable, and even enjoyable job as a teacher to travel the world and learn more about its people. I joined up with a team of entrepreneurs, a makeshift family, making money on the go: the NomadApp team. In one of our first meetings as a team, the question came up about the hardest part of traveling and my new family started pouring out confessions; things I’d never considered–I think everyone dreams of traveling the world, and it’s the dreaminess that makes it seem perfect and glorious. But their fears surprised me and snapped me into reality: Like all things, there is opportunity cost.
From listening to Eva and Luisa, I made a discovery about myself–I’m sure it is the first of many.
I do not know what it means to lose my sense of home. I have such a strong connection with my city. Kansas City is a safe-haven for me, where I have my car, my clothes, my family, my friends. All the things that bring me comfort are there. It never occurred to me that being a Citizen of the World means not having a set “home.” While it makes sense; the less time you spend with people, the weaker your connections, and the more you travel, the fewer objects you have; I find myself hesitant to take the warm and fuzzy term “home” out of my vocabulary.
As I talk to other travelers. REAL travelers, I consistently hear that selling your possessions is part of the process. I know this. In having fewer belongings, you are freer. Still, I think of my table and chairs sitting in my parent’s basement. I think of my tea pot. More often, I think of my dog, Peaches, in Atlanta with a friend of mine. These belongings remind me I am not yet a traveler. I know when I come home, I still have my bed to sleep in. I can hop in my car to drive to my mother’s house, and I do not have to rely on anyone. Such days are coming to an end.
Tomorrow, I fly home to Kansas City after spending my first two months traveling on the east coast of the US. It was my first two months living out of a backpack. And my first two months sightseeing every week and setting my own work schedule. It has been truly amazing and life changing. But I have little feelings of excitement about the comfort of going home. I also already have tickets to my next destinations. This means my time at home is limited. Who will make the cut of important people to see before I leave again? How will I start the process of selling off my belongs? What does it feel like to gain a stronger bond with the world and loosen the reigns on home? I don’t know the answers to these question nor the pain that comes with them. However, I know it is all part of the experience, and I think it will be worth it.
This first lesson I’ve learned from traveling: you have to let go.