Many people fantasize about living a location independent lifestyle—a nomadic existence lived on the road, with each day bringing countless new places, people and experiences. Thousands of people simply make it happen with just a laptop and an open mind. And there’s no limit to the far-flung places they choose to call home on any given day—except maybe a reliable WiFi connection. But before you get too excited and start to browse travel websites like LonelyPlanet, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Orbitz , Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Rail Europe, Make My Trip ask yourself the following self awareness questions to make sure that a nomadic lifestyle really IS the right choice for you.
Do you have a nomadic personality?
Consideration 1: Are you comfortable with chaos?
When you are thousands of miles from home in a culture completely unfamiliar to you, the everyday can seem completely chaotic. Trains break down, food makes you sick, misunderstandings make you lost, and there’s not a thing you can do about it except be patient, adapt and keep going.
Consideration 2: Do you trust people?
There are times on the road when you simply have to let go and trust that people are inherently good: When a porter takes your bag to load on the train, when you leave your key at the front desk of your hostel, when you have to use the bathroom on a train but don’t want to take your giant backpack with you into the tiny stall. You will have to learn to trust the people around you and come to the realization that not everyone is out to take advantage of you.
Consideration 3: Are you open-minded and curious?
If the answer to this is no, you might have a really tough time with a location independent lifestyle. But if the answer is yes, you have the possibility of experiencing a world more rich and diverse than is humanly possible to visualize. When you travel, your experience will be much more vibrant if you are willing to immerse yourself in local cultures: Wear the local dress, observe local customs and try new foods. You’ll discover that it’s easy to make friends, as people will be just as curious about you.
Consideration 4: Are you spontaneous?
Being spontaneous may be one of the greatest tools that a traveler can possess in their personality arsenal. Just as in life, things on the road rarely go as planned, and schedules can be altered in the blink of an eye. Flights are cancelled, tour guides bail and roads are closed. But if you are willing to roll with the punches and maintain an “anything goes” attitude, small setbacks are much less likely to derail your trip or your mood.
Can you live without creature comforts?
Consideration 5: Are you ready to give up materialism?
Let’s face it—packing is a pain and when you spend months or years on the road, you’ll want to travel as light as possible. Be prepared to give up your favorite brands and make do with the local products around you. You must also be prepared to forego shopping: that amazing pair of boots in Italy or the handcrafted drums in Madagascar will most certainly put you over the 23 kilo limit and also put a kink in your budget.
Consideration 6: Can you sleep on the floor in an airport?
Ok, so this scenario may not happen every night, but the fact is that a life on the road will see you sleeping in all kinds of less than ideal locations and on uncomfortable surfaces. Through accommodation websites like Couch Surfing, Hostel World, Hostelling International, Airbnb and Home Exchange you’ll find inexpensive options the world over. But sometimes, no matter your best intentions, you won’t have a pillow, you may have to share a (grungy) bathroom and home may just be your seat on the bus. Don’t worry—the freedom you will feel makes those sleepless nights a little more bearable.
Do you have an independent spirit?
Consideration 7: Being alone—can you handle it?
While you are on the move, there will be times where you have to be alone. Either be it traveling solo, sitting in the middle of the ocean on a surf board and just letting the waves take you away, or splitting up for the day as you and your travel buddies hit different sights. You have to embrace being alone. In being alone, one discovers the smaller and larger silences of life. It is a new life, with more reflection than ambition. It gives you the chance to learn about yourself, expand your soul and allow yourself to grow.
Consideration 8: Are you financially independent?
If you have debt, maybe it’s best to make the lifestyle leap after it’s paid off. Do you have a skill you can turn into a viable business on the road? Brush up with learning websites such as Khan Academy, Skillshare, CodeAcademy, Lynda.com and EdX before you strike off on your own. If you already have some savings and are prepared to spend wisely, there is no reason why you can’t start leading a location independent lifestyle right away.
Consideration 9: Can you imagine life outside the 9 to 5 stable job?
Why work a 9-5 job stuck in the same place when you can travel around the world and make money doing it instead? Freelancers can and do work from anywhere with the help of sites such as ODesk, Elance, Craigslist, Freelancer and Fiverr. But before you give up the steady paycheck, know that you’re going to need the motivation and drive to find your own clients and get the job done. This complete self-reliance can be difficult for some, but if you’re prepared to be your own boss and up your game, you shouldn’t have a problem.
If you answered yes to all nine of the considerations, then congratulations! You’re ready to adopt a location independent lifestyle.