It may seem strange that I am writing about full-time travel during a pandemic. But the pandemic will not last forever. While it lasts we all have plenty of time to dream and plan.
It’s a dream shared by many. Leave behind the hassles of daily life and travel the world. See faraway places, have exciting adventures, and meet interesting people.
Steve and I are fortunate to be full-time travelers who happen to be retired. But even if you aren’t ready to retire you can travel the world full-time as a digital nomad. There are countless people doing this and many of them generously share their stories and tips.
You may be asking yourself if full-time travel (or a nomadic lifestyle if you prefer) is right for you. Below are five signs that this lifestyle may be right for you, and five signs that it may not be.
Full-time travel may be for you if:
1. You thrive on change
If you are the type of person who is always wondering what is next in life this may be a perfect fit. Nomads need never get tired of the same old scenery. They can change locations as often as they wish (pandemics notwithstanding) or they can choose to stay somewhere longer depending on visa restrictions.
2. You are curious and love to learn new things
Whatever your passion, travel is sure to broaden it. You may even discover new interests.
One of the things I love best about travel is that it has made history come to life for me. I have never been a history buff, but seeing where things happened and hearing stories that I was not exposed to in the U.S. have made me understand and appreciate history.
Another thing that I love is learning about geography first hand. Hearing about or reading about places leaves me uninspired. Experiencing them has ingrained them into my soul.
How much you experience is limited only by your energy and your wallet. Every location has a variety of sights and activities to add to your experiences.
3. You are not tied down to a specific location
When we told people we were going to be traveling full-time several of them said they could never do that because they couldn’t leave their grandchildren. I totally get that. Since we don’t have grandchildren it was not an issue for us. Funny, no one ever said they couldn’t leave their adult children.
Steve and I are both introverts who value our private time. We miss our family and friends, but we did not spend most of our free time with them before we left the U.S. If you are constantly getting together with family and friends and love that part of your life, this is not for you. Even if you keep in contact through the internet, the lack of face-to-face contact and the changes in your life experiences can be hard on relationships.
When you get together with people from home you may find that you don’t have a lot to talk about. You may wonder why they aren’t on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about your worldwide adventures. This article published by Forbes explains this phenomenon well.
4. You are flexible and adaptable
We all know that things can and will go wrong when you travel. Flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, accommodations disappoint. If you are the type of person who can accept these situations with grace and believes that things go right much more often than they go wrong, a nomadic life may be a good fit for you.
Not only can getting there be a challenge but living somewhere unfamiliar requires acceptance and adaptability too. Our first Airbnb was in Barcelona. It had a small kitchen. So small that the refrigerator was in the living room. It also had a clothes washer. That was on the roof. This life is not for the persnickety.
You can read about some of our early Airbnb experiences in Lessons from Airbnb.
5. You value experiences more than things
It is easy to get caught up in the trap of materialism. If you are able to let go of material things that are tying you down not only will you be free to travel full-time, you will feel freer too.
Full-time travel is probably not a good fit if:
1. You don’t like change or uncertainty
If you dislike change this lifestyle is not for you. If you strongly dislike change you are probably not even reading this article.
2. You are tied to an area because of friends, family, or job
Besides not wanting to leave grandchildren, another reason for not wanting to leave home is caring for elderly parents or a special needs child. If you are in one of those situations and would like to travel hopefully you can get away once in a while for a well-deserved break.
Your job can also be the reason you can’t pick up and go. Some jobs can be done remotely, some, not so much.
3. You are really picky about food and brands
The Rolling Stones weren’t singing about travel but they could have been with their song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. If you are not adaptable to substitutes you are likely to be disappointed. You can carry some of your preferred brands with you, and some travelers have items shipped from home.
The flip side is that you may fall in love with certain foods or products that you can’t find once you leave a location. I tried but failed to duplicate the cava sangria I had in the coastal Spanish town of Sitges. The ceviche I had in Budapest fell far short of the wide variety I enjoyed in South America. And I am still looking for the face cream I found in Colombia.
4.You aren’t willing to give up your creature comforts
Every bed will not be as comfy as yours. And in our experience, most sofas in our Airbnb rentals score poorly on the comfort test. I miss my cozy terrycloth bathrobe and have to make do with less than luxurious towels. Cooking can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools and equipment. Your wardrobe will also be limited.
The list of things you will have to leave behind is very long. Only you can decide how important these things are to your happiness.
Of course, if money is not an object you can always travel at a 5-star level to get the fluffy towels and cozy robes. Personally, we are willing to do with some inconveniences in order to save money.
5. Pets are a (really) important part of your life.
If you can’t imagine life without Fido or Fluffy this is not for you. You can meet cats and dogs on the street and at animal cafes, but they won’t come home and snuggle with you.
When Steve and I left the U.S we only had one pet in our home. That was a rabbit that belonged to one of our daughters. We were lucky to find a great home for her. Before that, we were keeping that same daughter’s cats while she was in college. One of the things I miss the most is having them snuggle with me at night or cozy up on my lap.
Only you can decide if full-time travel is right for you. I can guarantee one thing. If you decide to do it, you will never be the same.
Safe and happy traveling,
Featured image by Alireza Soltani on Pexel.com