In 2015 I sold almost everything I owned, left London & decided to start a nomadic life. I’ve now been experimenting with this lifestyle for over 15 months, in this time I’ve covered 161,178km (which is 4 times around the world). I get asked about my lifestyle all the time so thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Why this lifestyle exists
Society wants you to go to college, join a large company & spend 40 years working your way up the corporate ladder. That approach to life has never sounded right to me. Despite the illusion of security, nobody today is secure whatever role you have. Companies are changing rapidly, whether it’s efficiency, cost reduction, automation, a revised business model or some upper management decisions – if you believe security exists, you’re wrong. If you look at history, the leaders of today are the losers of tomorrow. Right now, disruption is happening everywhere – nobody is ‘safe’.
Aside from security – the majority of people are unfulfilled. Chasing material things, moving between the brands & feeding the ego never leads to fulfilment… I tried it myself, but felt empty and very confused. I’ve met a lot of very successful people along the way and the biggest piece of advice they have all shared with me is that success doesn’t equal fulfilment.
From my travels, I’ve asked all of the digital nomads I’ve come across why they made the leap. They are all searching for fulfilment. By doing what you love, working on projects which inspire you & being truly ‘free’ to travel the world without the weight of the traditional path – you have all of the ingredients.
The nomad movement has been around for many years… but it’s only been more recently that the digital nomad movement has been possible. With the advancements in technology, affordable flights & platforms like Airbnb – it truly is possible now to live wherever you choose.
People make major changes in their lives due to serious pain, or the promise of massive pleasure. It’s usually serious pain which leads people to make the leap – they’ve had enough and are craving something which helps them take a breath again.
There is no blueprint to this lifestyle
Unlike the traditional path, the nomadic life doesn’t have any real blueprint. Everyone has their own set of values, priorities & approach – which makes it interesting but challenging. I’ve found myself constantly comparing the way I live to the other nomads I’ve met. When things go wrong, there isn’t always a clear answer and you have to think on your feet.
The system isn’t ready for the Global Citizen
Governments, tax offices & banks are not ready for the global citizen. They still require you to have a fixed address, they still operate with paperwork & need ink signatures. Banks advertise their global banking operations, but trust me – try and use your card in 16 countries – it’s painful. You still have to jump through their many hoops. Like the US, with their global taxation. I believe other countries may follow this path in the future as more people experiment with this lifestyle.
You don’t need much to function
I learnt pretty quickly that my priorities as a nomad were functional items – things which had a very clear ongoing purpose. After several months of revising the items in my bag, I discovered that I really don’t need much to function well. Some nomads I’ve met are super lean with just 2 days of clothes. I haven’t went this far, but I can live pretty well with 1 weeks clothing – it really keeps things simple.
For work & entertainment, I use a 12″ Macbook, Bose QC35 Headphones, iPad Air 2 & iPhone 7. I’ve had other items of technology over the year, but I discovered I would only use them every few weeks – so it really wasn’t essential.
It can be lonely
Nomadic life can be lonely, but with the rise of communities like NomadList it’s much easier to create good friendships with other people living this lifestyle. The greatest challenge comes from communicating with family & friends as it can feel like you’re living in different worlds.
Your personal brand & network are your greatest asset
The value of your personal brand is everything – be visible & engaged. I’d credit the majority of my success to the ongoing investment I’ve made into my personal brand. Whatever you invest in yourself is transferable across everything you do throughout your life and will always reap the greatest returns.
It’s worth being loyal
If you’re travelling as much as I do, then it’s worth choosing an airline alliance and being loyal to it. I wish I would of knew this when I was much younger. Miles & status will move you away from the back of the plane and make your travel experience much more fun. Airports don’t have to be stressful when you’re entitled to complimentary spa treatments, haircuts, day beds, showers & of course great food and drink. Find an airline alliance which works for you & be loyal – it’ll serve you well.
Create a strategy
Most of the people I meet don’t have a clear answer when I ask them ‘what’s your plan?’ I’m eager to understand what goals they have, when they want to achieve them & what is driving them. I’m met with blank faces or very broad answers. I’ve discovered the only way to make this lifestyle work is if you have a strategy for your life. Decide what you want in the short term, where you’d like to be in the long term & outline what is required to get there. It’s actually very simple, but most people never do this exercise.
Work/ Life balance doesn’t exist
Stop craving work/life balance, it doesn’t exist. If you’re craving this, then you need to review the work you’re doing. If you like what you do, it fulfils you & aligns with your personal strategy then it shouldn’t be painful at all. If you hate your work – create a plan for change! Don’t spend your whole life doing something which you hate… what a waste. It may be uncomfortable to move & may take sacrifice, but it will always be worth it long term.
Nomads generally don’t have this challenge – we embrace the work/life combo. With technology evolving, asynchronous communication platforms & clients in multiple timezones… life & work becomes a fluid combined experience.
Time is ticking
I’m conscious everyday that time is limited, so I live with urgency. I do things now, not later. I may not be here in 10 or 20 years… nothing is guaranteed. If I do live a long life, then the ability of my body and health will be reduced as I age… so I live fully now. If you’re not living with urgency – I urge you to do so now. You have no idea how many days you have left here, don’t waste a second.
If you’re looking to create a more fulfilling life at home, or perhaps even take the leap into the nomadic lifestyle, I wrote a book last year which can help. It’s available on Amazon here.