When we started our technomadic journey back in 2006, we thought it would be awesome to connect with others doing similar things. We looked around, and couldn’t find too much organized activity out there on the interwebs. But it seems since there’s been an explosion of awareness and communities of folks doing things similar to what we are. They’re just calling it different things.
We’ve been inundated with terms like digital nomad, location independent professional (LIP), nunomad, lifestyle designer, nuRVer and more. And of course, our preferred term… technomad.
What, if any, are the differences between these terms and how might they apply to us and perhaps to you?
All of these labels are rather loosely defined, and each can include elements of not having a fixed home, travel, utilization of technology, inclusive of a career/jobs and a consciously constructed lifestyle. And of course, each of these terms can be done in a variety of configurations from solo, coupled, family and/or group travel, on any scale from budget to luxury travel and for a fixed to indefinite time period.
The chart belows shows our understanding of what elements each of these terms specifically implies, although each can be inclusive of all of the elements based on personal manifestation. More than likely, more than one term will apply to any given traveler.
Nomads & Vagabonds
These are concepts that have been around from the dawn of humans. There are many people who are called to iternant wanderings of having no singular fixed home. Their reasons are varied, some as a matter of circumstance, some for following seasonal work, some for the pursuit of wanderlust. Their modes of transport are also varied; from hiking, biking, driving, flying, boating and more.
We both gave up our fixed homes and have embraced full time nomadism.
This term generally refers to anyone doing travel outside their home country, whether on an extended gap between phases of life, indefinitely, regularly for work or pleasure, as a nomad, as a location independent professional, as an expatriate or more. There are many forms of world travel involving staying at hostels, backpacking, flashpacking (backpacking with more tech), coushsurfing, long term rentals or generally just not settling down in one spot indefinitely. The travel can include or not include technology, and may or may not involve a consciously constructed lifestyle. Exile Lifestyle wrote a Field Guide to World Travelers that further breaks these options down.
We both have prior global adventures and we intend to incorporate more into our lifestyle.
The usage of the term seems to be more about working remotely using technology – whether while traveling, telecommuting from home or from a cafe around the corner. It’s not specifically being nomadic without a fixed home, but is often used to refer to perpetual travel while utilizing technology.
While not specific to us, it’s a descriptive phrase we’ll use sometimes. We rely heavily on digital connectivity to fuel our nomadism.
Location Independent Professional (LIP)
This phrasing comes from Lea and Jon Woodward’s own journey to escape the high costs of starting a business in the UK by working remotely in more affordable locations. The term refers to professionals in careers that are not location specific. It could be someone who telecommutes, works online, has a home based business, does work over the phone or any other variation.
It’s a term that can also includes full time nomads like us, and I’ve been a location independent software entrepreneur for over 15 years.
This term was around when we embarked on our journey, but there didn’t seem to be much activity on our brief visit to the community website then. We’ve seen them resurface recently, so hopefully with all the new buzz around these lifestyles, their well developed resources can be better utilized. Nunomads are described as tech-saavy entrepreneurs who take their work wherever they damn-well please.
Definitely a term that is fitting for us as well, although the nunomad is not necessarily technology dependent.
This is a community that brings together a niche of young-at-heart working age RVers – people who are traveling, living and perhaps working out of their home on wheels. This one describes us when we’re traveling by RV. However, it isn’t specifically about integrating in technology or even career with travel.
It’s a great community, and we’ve definitely feel at home there and have enjoyed many rendezvouses with fellow NuRVers.
This is a style of business traveler who spends a great deal of their time on the road – attending conferences, doing installations, training, going to business meetings and more. They typically have a home base somewhere, but home may also be their favorite hotel chain and frequent flier seat. They can likely be credited with monetizing advancements in mobile technology that allow digital nomadism to be more accessible, as smartphones, laptops and data cards are necessary components to their arsenal. Road warriors sometimes enjoy the travel and seek out professions that include it, and sometimes its seen as a necessary part of a job.
Chris was previously a road warrior before leaving the traditional work sector and becoming full-time technomadic.
Another buzz word that is faddish and has several sources of inspiration incorporating many of these terms, including 4-Hour Workweek, Free Pursuits, Intrepid Lifestyle, Thrilling Heroics, Exile Lifestyle, JetSetCitizen and Lifestyle Project. The term describes anyone who is not waiting until retirement to live the life they want – usually following the myth that one can outsource work to create a passive income stream. Terms like ‘breaking out of the cubicle’ are often associated with these folks.
Lifestyle Designers is a term that is often used to describe us, but we don’t strongly identify with it. Neither of us needed to break away from the cubicle – we’ve both pretty much lived lives of our own creation long before this term came on the scene.
And finally, our preferred term..
Less we think that all this digital location independent traveling life designing nunomad stuff is new, it’s not. Far from it. Steve Roberts started off in 1983 on a bicycle with tech mounted to his handle bars to keep him connected and working as he pedaled all over. Mobile technology wasn’t a concept, nevermind something you could just order online after twittering with other technomads about the ideal netbook. But he assembled it all; satellite phones, handlebar keyboard and solar panels helped complete his Unix-cycle. And he’s still at it, now on his new nomadic home, a geeked out sailboat named Nomadness .
The term he coined, technomad, isn’t as prevalent like the terms above, but we embrace it. While not completely descriptive of our lives, it’s simple and touches on the elements we most value – we’re technology enabled nomads.
Whatever you call yourself, make sure you’re living life on your terms, and are building a life that is your own creation. Don’t follow exclusively in anyone else’s footsteps, carve your own unique path!