When it comes to full-time travel, there’s a particular narrative that gets most of the press: 20-something quits miserable job to travel and find him/herself!
Usually, the backdrop is Asia or South America. The protagonist lives in hostels and works in co-working spaces and cafes. The picture that emerges for most of us is one of bumpy bus rides, cheap living, and a total shaking-off of responsibilities.
And some of us think: Yes, but what about savings and retirement? What about work deadlines and clients? I’m not sure I could really get work done in a hostel. I’m not sure I could live in a room with 10 other people all the time. I’m not sure I want to live out of a bag, to take bumpy bus rides to new places every few days, to live without home comforts.
For some of us, the idea of traveling the world is a magical one, but the narrative of the 20-something without a care, a job, or a medical expense in sight isn’t one that fits.
Which is why the narrative bugs me a little.
Not because I begrudge anyone their carefree adventure, but because that narrative is just one of many in the world of full-time travel. And somehow the other narratives, about grown-ups with jobs and deadlines and maybe relationships and perhaps even kids or dogs, about retirees using their golden years to finally get to Paris and Prague and Peru, about families using location independent work to give their kids an international education, get swallowed up by the hostel-dwelling, cheap-traveling, no-responsibilities vagabond story.
The thing is, we need those other stories.
We need to know if full-time travel is for grown-ups too—for those of us who care about retirement savings and budgets, who would rather live in apartments than hostels, who think moving every three days sounds stressful, but living somewhere new for three months sounds exciting. We need to know it’s possible for us too.
We need to know if responsibilities and long-term travel could possibly, maybe, perhaps actually co-exist—or even complement each other.
The answer is a big ‘ol yes. And there are plenty of non-traditional digital nomads out there proving it every day.
Yes, there are 30-something, 40-something, 50-something, 60-something nomads.
Yes, there are retirees living a nomadic lifestyle.
Yes, there are full-time travelers who travel in a financially sustainable way.
Yes, we plan and save for retirement.
Yes, we live within our means.
Yes, most of us work for a living.
Yes, there are full-time travelers with kids.
Yes, there are full-time travelers with dogs.
Yes, it is possible to travel the world full-time and still live in apartments, save for retirement, eat healthy, raise kids, take your dog to the vet, meet your client deadlines, date, fall in love, and otherwise live a full, stable, grown-up life. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for some of us, this is our story.
And for those daydreaming about spending a year or two years or an indefinite period of time traveling the world, it’s important to know that there’s no one-size-fits-all way to do it. Our lifestyles are as vast as the lifestyles of those with roots in a single place. Nomadic life is entirely what you make of it.