It’s hard to believe I’ve already been in Mexico for one month and that, in just two months, I’ll be on my way back to visit Canada. It seems like just yesterday that I decided I was going to travel permanently, and it seems like yesterday night that the plane was being de-iced on my way to Costa Rica.
On my travels, I’ve been writing a lot about the lessons I’ve learned and the illusions I’ve had dispelled along the way. I’ve had some incredible moments of gratitude, realizing that the beautiful landscape around me was only enjoyable because of my ability to enjoy it. I’ve had some moments of (at the time, reluctant) release, realizing that paradise quite often comes with the price of inefficiency. I’ve had some moments of frustration that turned to gratitude, realizing that the culture of people I’ve been searching for isn’t in any country—they’re in my community and scattered all over the world.
In the midst of all my learning and sharing, I’ve been having an incredible time. I’ve been reading over posts from this leg of my journey so far, and I realized that I’ve omitted one very important part: the absolute magic of it that I get to experience every day.
So, without further ado, I’d like to share 7 reasons as to why being a permanent nomad is actually the most awesome thing in the world and why I’d recommend it to just about anyone.
1. You break out of stagnation
We all have a tendency to become locked into static patterns of behaviour, thought, and feeling. When we go to the same job, same grocery store, same house, same car, day after day, breaking through those patterns of stagnation can seem near impossible.
Being a permanent nomad, however, you’re always going to new places, seeing new people, and being forced to reach into your behavioural bank for new ideas. This breaking out of routine makes it easier to break out of other ineffective routines.
As an example, when we first got to Costa Rica, Jamie and I both got over staying up late in less than 48 hours, even though it was a troublesome pattern for both of us in Toronto. A change of environment allowed a change of habit to happen almost instantly.
2. You never know, for certain, what’s going to happen next
Maybe I’m an experience junkie, because to me, experiencing new things is crucial. Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most epic thing in the world, but even brushing your teeth can be fun when you’re always doing it in different places, in different backgrounds. There’s something incredible about doing the same old things in a different space.
There’s something really exciting about arriving in a place and searching for the best spot to see the sunset. There’s something enthralling about seeing just how the sun comes up in the morning, where the light shines, and finding a new spot to drink coffee and have morning conversations. There’s really something about finding the perfect new spot for yoga or reading.
And then, there’s my chronic desire to search for adventure. In each new place, we’ve ventured off the beaten path and done some incredible things. You never know what these things will be before you go somewhere, but once you’ve done them, you get memories that last a lifetime.
3. You realize what “home” really is
When everything around you is different, you realize what’s the same. That sameness starts to feel a certain way—like home.
To me, home feels like writing. Home feels like reading a book so interesting that I forget where I am. Home feels like being in Jamie’s arms. Home feels like those brown eyes looking at me that way they do. Home feels like yoga. Home feels like logging into the 30 Day Self-Love Challenge group. Home feels like sitting in front of my computer, seeing the “Call from…” screen come up right before a coaching session. Home feels like cooking my favourite meals (even if it’s with different pots, pans, and utensils). Home feels like jump squats and situps. Home feels like hugging.
Home is the feeling of surrender in my heart to the present moment, wherever that moment may be. Home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling.
4. You can’t tell yourself fairy tales anymore
I think this is the most important one, actually. I thought, before I left, that I would find people all over the world who were just like me and that it was only in Toronto that I didn’t belong. Now I realize that my feeling of not belonging couldn’t be solved by moving someplace.
I feel, right now, that I don’t belong in most places, and that feels okay to me because I feel that I belong on the journey of self-discovery as well as the journey of being a nomad. I’m comfortable with not being comfortable. I belong not belonging.
I love people-watching, seeing some part of the world in its full glory, before taking myself elsewhere. I feel like that’s where I belong: on the fringes of society. And you know what? It’s really nice to feel like that’s okay (as opposed to feeling like it’s a “problematic” and “transient” state that I’ll need to sort out someday).
5. You’re constantly learning and becoming more open-minded
This comes, mostly, from learning a new language and new cultural customs. In Costa Rica, I learned how to cook Gallo Pinto and make a delicious Pico de Gallo. In Mexico, I’ve learned how to make awesome tacos. In both places, I’ve worked on my Spanish and interacted with locals who spoke almost zero English. From those interactions, I’ve not only learned about their cultural values, but I’ve also learned so much Spanish that I’m near fluent (at least, that’s what they tell me, but that could easily just be flattery).
In Costa Rica, I learned to embody the Pura Vida life, which I honestly feel has been the greatest leap in my mental health since discovering the importance of the love mindset. And I just know that, no matter where I go, as long as I keep myself open to learning new things, every place will have something new to teach.
6. You get thrust into relationship therapy
This won’t apply if you’re traveling alone, but if you’re with a companion, especially a loved one, you won’t be able to avoid this. Every relationship that’s thrust, long-term, into a situation where you’re always around each other is put under the test.
All of your problems come to the surface. All of the past, unresolved conflicts become apparent. Every single bit of unprocessed resentment, hurt, and guilt is suddenly as real as it was when you first felt it. Every annoying thing that you do and every annoying thing that your partner does is magnified. And the smaller your space, the more frequently these conflicts come up.
The real test comes in your ability to handle these conflicts of past, present, and future. Can you communicate about your emotions and respect theirs? Can you honour your past digressions and forgive yourself? Can you honour your partner’s past digressions and forgive them? Can you establish mutually beneficial routines of intimacy, communication, and conflict resolution?
If you can, you’ll feel what I feel now: a deeper sense of intimacy and love than ever before. Yes, we still have conflicts and disagreements like anyone else, but now, we actually have a solid system for sorting them out that both of us are committed to. That takes time and patience to implement, and traveling together is like a time warp for growth and communication. It’s been inspiring, and it’s been sobering.
If you think you’ve crafted the perfect relationship, travel together. Then, you’ll really see what you’re both made of. And you’ll grow so much in the process!
7. You learn about what you really want (and what you don’t want)
I thought that the ocean was the most important thing to have close by. All three of our places so far have been close to the beach. And yet, nothing mesmerized me like the jungle in Puerto Viejo. Just thinking about it makes my heart fill with emotion. I loved having the wild jungle plants all around me, monkeys howling at all hours of the day, and sloths popping up in the most surprising places. I couldn’t have told you that I would be so inspired by the jungle back in January before we left, yet now it seems so obvious.
I also didn’t realize how much of an aversion I have to civilization. I thought I just had a thing against Western, first-world, American-style civilization, but no. I just don’t like cities. I really don’t. I can’t take the cars, the fumes, the crowds, the dirt. After you spend a while living off the grid, coming back to it inevitably causes culture shock. And each country has their own “grid” and their own “off the grid.”
I’ve realized that my favourite part of each country is going to be its countryside, its nature, its rural bits, rather than its cities. Unless I’m visiting some specific people or having an event, I won’t be traveling to Tokyo or Dubai anytime soon. I don’t care how lovely the architecture is or how uncultured that makes me. I just can’t hack it.
And, you know, the most beautiful thing, the thing that really ties all of these 7 things together, is that I get to share my experiences here with you. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this work and to be able to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. It’s not just being a nomad that’s awesome, it’s being a digital nomad that’s the icing on the cake. I’m grateful that doing what I love, doing what makes me feel alive, is helping me help people.
I hope that, if you’ve considered becoming a nomad, you’ll not waste any time in starting. I don’t just mean taking a vacation either. Vacation comes from the word “vacate.” That’s not what being a nomad is about. Of course, freeing yourself, emptying yourself from your worries and anxieties—that’s important. Being able to create empty space within you is crucial.
But what being a nomad is really about is filling that empty, serene space within you with meaningful experience, learning, and never-ending insights about yourself, people, and the nature of the world.
As a nomad, you’re not just traveling to get away from life. You’re traveling to plunge into it, to experience it fully, warts and all.
And I think that’s something everyone, everywhere, can benefit from.