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This is a post about what a modern nomadic lifestyle actually means. We enjoyed this lifestyle of freedom for almost 7 years, a nomad lifestyle with kids, in Asia, Europe, parts of Africa, the USA and Central America. We loved our nomad lifestyle and no, we were not “living hand to mouth”. And then I read a few comments on our chosen lifestyle from the lady below. Read on!
A Nomadic Lifestyle
I don’t like that people are hating on the digital nomads and running down the nomadic lifestyle we love so much. I also don’t like that people are hating on the influencers. But today, digital nomad hate.
In this instance a wealthy older digital nomad was hating on the youngsters just starting out, the millennials presumably, and that’s just not fair. I am an older digital nomad woman and I think what these young people are doing is fabulous. So rant on.
This morning I was checking my Facebook notifications, it’s my job and I do it several times per day. I happened upon a post by a woman who shall be named Audra (for that is her name, real or otherwise) wondering why everyone in the digital nomad community disliked her so much for being rich.
The general gist of her post was, I’m rich, my husband plays golf, we earn pots of money and I’d just like to let all you other nomads know that, and by the way, why does nobody like me?
Well, I don’t like you Audra because you’re trying to shove your wealth down my throat. If we met in a bar would your first words be “I’m rich and my husband plays golf.”? I doubt it. We might get on until you started banging on about golf, I hate golf and have no desire to ever play.
Everyone starts somewhere. Kids starting out work their way up. I, at 40 something, had to work my way up. The fact that these kids are starting so young is just fabulous, it shows grit, determination and imagination in a messed up world. So good on them. You enjoy your fancy hotels and millionaire lifestyle, good for you, but stop picking on the kids.
If my kids decide to embrace a nomadic lifestyle I’d be very happy for them to do that. It was how they were raised so it wouldn’t even come as a surprise. They’d know what they were getting themselves into a what to expect.
The Lifestyle: What is a Digital Nomad and What is an Expat?
You know what, I actually don’t care. A digital nomad works online and finds a life of freedom through online endeavors. The word nomad implies movement.
The expat/ immigrant divide is another hot potato and I’m not going to go there.
I really don’t care what anyone wants to call themselves in the same way that I don’t get involved in the whole worldschooler, unschooler, homeschooler thing. I stick with homeschool, it holds no controversy or definition issues for me.
If somebody wants to call themselves a digital nomad that’s fine. Why would it bother me?
We are digital nomads by default. We travel, we move, we earn. I like calling myself a traveller, a travel blogger, a travel writer, a mum, an entrepreneur, it depends on who I’m talking to and what they’ll understand.
Does a Nomadic Lifestyle Involve a “Backpacker Mentality” and “Scraping By”
This was where I really got riled up. Audra’s initial comment was OK other than the self-glorification and “poor me” attitude, but the further down the page I read the more the other commenters added to the car crash.
People were telling poor Audra that people were “jealous” or that they were stuck in a “backpacker mentality” and couldn’t get out because their income was so low. There was also talk of hard work and slackers, implying that Audra and her financial peers were the only ones working.
I did not comment and I’ve never come across Audra before so there was nothing personal, I’m just annoyed on the part of my fellow digital nomads.
A lot of these nomads are young kids, just starting out. I bet they’re having a ball seeing the world for the first time and being their young, fit, gorgeous selves. Nobody wondered if Audra was “jealous” of their youthful fun.
Jealous? Why would anyone with the freedom to travel the world in ANY way be jealous of anything? We’ve all won the lottery. We’ve created the lifestyle we dreamed of and we’re making it work, we’re out there having fun, our way.
If people can’t understand a way of living different to their own, they may rationalise it in terms that make sense to them, but anyway, I’m not jealous, I don’t think anyone is Audra.
Are We Scraping By as Digital Nomads?
This bit is just about us and our circumstances, about how we best enjoy our travelling or digital nomad lifestyle. No, we’re not scraping by, we make more than enough to cover our chosen lifestyle and have done for a long time now. We finally got it right and made the websites pay.
We’re not staying in fancy hotels every night because we DON’T WANT TO. I do not talk about our income publicly, it’s vulgar. But you can all figure out how much we need to support ourselves so how much we need to be earning.
In year 1 we did ultra budget purely because we were trying to make $30,000 last as long as possible. It was a neat challenge and we enjoyed it.
I wouldn’t want to travel so cheaply that we had to couch surf, volunteer or house sit or camp, that would destroy my enjoyment, but each to their own.
Plenty of people enjoy all of those things and their choices aren’t based on finances.
We happen to have a post on how to travel for free here if you’re just starting out or enjoy that lifestyle. When you’re starting out you absolutely need to take the ultra budget route sometimes, it can be a means to an end.
I know plenty of people who do it that way and love it, again, I don’t care what anyone else does so long as they’re happy. I would never for a microsecond think that the couch surfers, volunteers and house sitters were jealous of us staying in hotels.
And by hotel, I normally mean cheap hotel or guest house because that is what we like best.
I know one travelling volunteer who went to Yale and works for Google. It’s not for financial necessity that she swaps work for bed and board, it’s about choosing a lifestyle.
Travel is The Priority in Our Nomadic Lifestyle
One of the kids asked me last night if we could afford to buy him a new computer. I told him that of course we could, I could buy it right now and Amazon would deliver it tomorrow.
It’s not about “Can we afford it?” It’s about WE DON’T NEED IT.
I’m not paying $1000 for a laptop purely for him to play a particular computer game. Well, maybe at Christmas, but not in August for no good reason.
We only buy the things we need, not things to impress because otherwise, we couldn’t afford the travel that takes priority.
In the same way, I don’t need fancy hotels to enjoy our travels. We’ll book one now and then sure, we just booked a beauty in Langkawi, but for the next several months we’ll be paying $20 /night for what looks to be a lovely place in Vietnam.
It’s not, in any way, the cheapest, nor is it the most luxurious and expensive, we picked it because we LIKE IT. Booking fancy hotels every night would have cut this trip short several years ago.
We drove a clapped-out old 4 x 4 for 2 years, we LOVED her, far more than the brand new model that we drove back home in Australia. She had balls and she had character.
I cried when she left us last week because of all the fun times we’d had together, much as we laughed when she was breaking down all over Europe. So many happy memories in that rusty old chassis. A fancy car does not make for a happy life.
Our backpacks contain few clothes because that is all we need.
I spend on jeans and running tights because quality in those two departments is vital to me, everything else doesn’t matter and I’ll happily wear my faded, washed-out, raggedy travelling wardrobe for as long as the seams hold.
I have a few toiletries that I love and spend on. My LUSH shampoo bars and Clinique mascara are my favourite splurges and I’ll stock up if I can. Otherwise, we’ll take whatever is available and usually pick the cheapest. I’m really privileged to be able to afford those two things.
A treat now and then brings so much more enjoyment than luxury every day.
We haven’t had professional haircuts in years. I’m more than capable of cutting everyone’s hair but last week we splashed out. It’s got to the point where my time is more valuable than the cost of a haircut and it was a fun experience for the boys.
My life is happier now than when I had cool hair. After all, who do I need to impress with outward appearances? Maybe Audra.
We own a few very expensive, very good quality backpacks. One is the new Osprey Farpoint 40, a good quality backpack will last a lifetime and be your best friend. I’m happy to spend in that department.
I also spend good money on sunglasses because it’s worth it, although my decades-old Oakleys have this week been replaced by Sungods, more on those later, but sunglasses with a lifetime guarantee have to be a good thing.
Money Does Not Equate With a Happy Lifestyle
I’ll tell you a little secret. I have 3 people in my life who are very wealthy. It made a difference to my financial journey when I was younger, so yes I’ve seen real privilege. I’ve been rich and I’ve been less-rich, although never truly poor, but I’ll tell you the honest truth, I have NEVER been happier than when I have my backpack on my back and my kids and my husband at my side laughing at what the world throws at us and loving its diversity.
The world is big and amazing and fantastic and if you stay in fancy hotels (with golf courses) all the time you’ll miss out on some of the wonder. I know because I’ve done it every which way.
This is why I’m not aiming to be rich. This is why I’ll charge peanuts for helping people. I’m in a position of privilege to be able to do that.
Just live life your way. Don’t waste one second thinking about jealousy, who may be jealous or what others think. So long as you and yours are happy and you’re doing no harm, just live, don’t judge. Ignore the Audras and their offensive vocalisations. Be kind, be gentle, aim to live your dreams.
Glad I got that off my chest 😉