Us humans are social creatures, and we tend form and value communities of like minded people.
Whether it be via hobbies, spirituality, family, friends, special interests, sports, school, work, volunteerism, or what not – when you live in a stationary place, you tend to form connections with people around you that become important to you, and very hard to leave behind.
And indeed, leaving a stationary life behind and embarking on a nomadic life of full time traveling does inevitably mean some disruption in your local community connections. Oftentimes, at first this can feel like a huge disruption that may seem like a full on severing.
Leaving behind peer groups and not being involved with them as regularly can be painful, and it is easy to see why community often wins in the face of full time wanderlust.
When folks ask me what the toughest part of our lifestyle is, I’ll often reference the community aspects. When I lived in Florida, I had a very active network of friends, and it was very difficult to leave.
It took me a long time reconcile these conflicts of mine – a desire for community versus a desire of a life with lots of travel. And honestly, I feel that desiring of a regular local community may be one of those things that tempts me back into a more stationary life in the distant future.
However, living a nomadic life does not mean forgoing community. It just means readjusting how you interact with community.
Use Technology to Stay in Touch
You may be physically leaving your peeps behind when you take off galavanting, and their lives will go on without you too – but technology has made it vastly easier to stay in touch than ever before.
Now that I am nomadic, I have become even more involved in online community and communications via things like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, Skype, video chat and old fashioned e-mail. This has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends back in Florida, as well as to continue to grow closer with new friends that I’ve met along the journey.
This sort of electronic presence provides a way to consistently keep up on things going on in the lives of the people I care about. But it is not a perfect substitute. There are times that I yearn to be closer, and technology is not always a satisfying replacement for in person quality time. And yes, there are some folks who aren’t as digitally connected, and unfortunately those connections have suffered.
But I trust next time I roll into Florida, even the lapsed connections can be picked right back up.
When we first started traveling, I had an idea in my mind that community had to have a more regular in person feel to it. I spent more time missing my old communities and saying good-byes, than I did looking forward to what was next. There were indeed rough patches and mourning for what I felt was a loss in my life.
However, over time, I’ve come to appreciate the new type of communities that nomadism has brought to my life.
We have begun to establish communities of like minded people across the country. While they may not be people that we get to see often, it is nice to arrive to a city where we have new friends who are excited for our arrival and make the time and effort to include us in whatever is going on. It’s taken some effort on our part, by being active online in local forums (such as Yahoo Groups, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and seeking out regional local based events to meet people. But it definitely has been worth it, and we intend to continue this trend. We have exchanged depth of one local community for breadth of lots of regional communities.
- Online communities have started to fill part of the void of a regular in person community. The friends we’ve made via commenting on blogs, twitter and more have gone a long way to allowing us to feel part of something.
We love having nomadic rendezvouses with a new set of peers who are also living similar lifestyles. Being in touch with so many other nomadic folks, and planning meetups as our paths cross allows us a unique opportunity to spend time with people who really get what our lives are about. For example, we recently where able to rendezvous with Cath & Andy Duncan in Colorado while they were visiting from the UK; and we have had several on-the-road rendevouses with our nomadic photographer friend Ben Willmore.
- There have also been communities springing up online where we can meet and interact with like minds, such as the Location Independent Clubhouse, Travel Blog Exchange and NuRVers. .
- Building nomadic community is also a big part of why we host Camp Nomadia – a theme camp at Burning Man for other nomadic spirits.
- Like me, many of the friends I knew in Florida have also moved on to other locations.
My nomadic lifestyle actually gives me a greater ability to stay connected via visits than I might otherwise had I stayed stationary. I’ve visited old friends who have moved on to California, Philadelphia, Indiana, Chicago, New Mexico and more. And I especially appreciate friends who let us know when they’re traveling somewhere and we’re able to rendezvous with them for some fun on the road.
Of course, none of this substitutes having a regular local community, but it sure does help to look at the bright side of things and appreciate the different kind of communities I have in my life now.
We have traded local depth for national (and international!) breadth, and once you adjust, it can be just as fulfilling – only in a very different way.