There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to travel full-time. Many think I am on an endless vacation, and others don’t understand how this life is even possible. I am here to break those myths and express my own frustrations with nomads and the nomadic lifestyle.
1. It is an endless vacation.
Vacations are expensive. Spending like I am on vacation is unsustainable and unrealistic. I am living the same kind of life I always do except in a different country. I do the same things and live by the same budget but in different places. It appears that I am on an endless vacation because I am abroad and only post the best pieces of my life on social media (just like at home). I don’t post the pictures of me eating Cheeto puffs at three in the afternoon while reading a true crime book and still in bed because no one wants to see that.
2. I do not work.
I teach English online and work every day of the week. On weekdays, I work in the evenings for around 4 hours. On weekends, I usually work all day. The past few weekends I worked from 9 am – 9:00 pm with occasional 30-minute breaks in between classes. It’s not a regular work schedule, but it pays the bills. It is also exhaustingly repetitive. I teach the same lessons repeatedly and have to be grossly happy the entire time, or I might get a bad review. Afterward, my face always hurts from smiling so much, and I am starting to get worried about wrinkles.
3. My life is carefree.
My life is centered around access to fast, reliable internet because I can get penalized for having internet problems while I teach. My Bali homestay had a power outage while I was teaching, and I am pretty sure I had a heart attack because I was so stressed. Luckily, I was using a hotspot, so I didn’t lose my internet connection and could keep teaching.
I also get nervous about venturing too far during the day because of possible transportation problems and not getting back in time to teach. My reliance on quality internet gives me frequent stress and anxiety because it’s something I can’t control.
4. It’s always easy being so far from home.
Most days, I wake up, and I am thankful to be where I am and doing what I do. I want to explore, meet people, and live every second to the fullest.
Then, there are times when I wake up, and I am counting the days until I can have Whataburger again. Sometimes, I just want to stay home, read my book, and not spend any money. These days still bring me happiness, but I often feel pressured to constantly be doing something in each place.
It becomes exhausting, and sometimes I just want to do nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love change, abhor routine, and find happiness in exploring new places. However, it is human nature to sometimes long for the familiar, and on those days, it’s nice to do a lot of nothing. It’s the same kind of nothing I would do back in the states, and it brings me comfort.
1. The lack of authenticity on travelers’ social media.
There are numerous people making money from posting about their travels on social media. There are even more people trying to make money that way. I would be lying if part of me also didn’t want that at times.
There are hundreds of travel pages commenting on and following other travel pages that are putting out basically the same content. Everyone is trying to make it big, and I respect the hustle, but I wish there was more authenticity behind it. All of the captions sound the same, all of the posts have the same filters, and all of the poses are the same.
My social media included is relatively bland and not always reflective of my entire personality. If travelers want to inspire others to take the leap and travel full-time, the way to do it is through authenticity and relatability. I know many people will disagree.
2. Being a nomad should not make up your entire personality!!!!!!!!!
Traveling has this uncanny way to encompass someone’s entire personality. Traveling is one of the few, dare I say “professions,” that people allow to consume their whole identity. When you meet a realtor and ask them what they are interested in, they don’t just say houses. They have other interests too.
When I meet people abroad, I find it safe to assume they like to travel. They are, erm, abroad after all. But most of the travelers I meet can only talk about traveling. When we run out of travel stories, there is nothing left to talk about. It is insane to me that they have no other interests or hobbies. I have found it disappointingly difficult to express or talk about the other parts of myself while abroad.
3. Being a nomad does not make you better than other people.
There is a fine line between expressing joy and boasting. Sometimes, I don’t know to which side I fall. I, too, am guilty of playing up the joys of traveling and not also expressing the more honest truths.
Recently, I have seen many nomads (almost) judging people for choosing not to be full-time travelers. Countless posts about why people become full-time travelers (I have one) are teetering towards shaming people for working a 9-5 job. If people are happy, what does it matter if they are a nomad or working a corporate career? One is not better than the other. I recognize the intent is probably to express joy about one’s life, but it doesn’t always come off that way.
Obviously, not all of these frustrations apply to everyone, but they do to most nomads I have met. Overall, we travelers should be more cognizant of how we project our lives to the world. Authenticity is extremely important, and I found a lot of my social media was missing it. As I look around, I see others are missing it as well.
I know a lack of authenticity isn’t abnormal for social media. Many people try to be honest and open, but with that, you open the door to judgment, ridicule, and shame. Three things that are rampant in the online world. Despite this, I am hoping to be more authentic with how I portray my life to the world. Maybe my transparency will even help people realize they also want to be nomads. Or, if not, that’s cool too.