The mental challenge is the hardest part of all, since so many of the obstacles we face come directly from our own thoughts and beliefs. Living this way really forces you to see yourself for who you are, and when you do, realize you have nowhere to run or hide.
Right now, I’m typing these words while sitting by the pool at the bed and breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona. I feel like I’ve been transported into another world, as there’s nothing around but the trees and long stretches of road that lead into the desert. This is the third stop I’ve made during my travels so far, which have spanned a month of living nomadically on the road.
I’ve decided to give up any sort of permanent living space in favor of using my money to travel and see the world. The only things I have with me are the things I can literally carry on my back, which includes my purse, a carry-on bag, and two suitcases.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get when people find out I’m doing this is: What made me decide to do this in first place? It was honestly a decision I made gradually: Around May, I had to make a decision as to where I was going to live next, since my lease ended at the beginning of August. I was living in Columbus, Ohio at the time, the first place I’d gone since I graduated from college. I had moved there on a whim and didn’t really feel like it was home for me . . . but then again, nowhere really did.
I’m originally from Cleveland, and my family is the kind who grew up in the suburbs and never left. Probably 90% of my extended family lives within a 50-mile radius. I never felt like I belonged there, and wanted to live in a more vibrant city where the world was at my fingertips. I knew I didn’t want to move back there, and that I also didn’t want to stay where I was. When I thought about where I might like to go, nothing really stood out to me as being the place I belong. You see, I’m also in a very unbounded period in my life where I work for myself, with my employment not tying me to any specific geographic location, I’m single, and would have to live in one place for long enough to establish a ‘real life’ core group of friends.
What I did know was that I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I recently stumbled upon some articles written by those who were living nomadically, and the idea excited me. I hadn’t traveled much, since I never got the opportunity to study abroad in college, and my family is more the type who goes to Myrtle Beach for vacation rather than on a backpacking trip to Europe. With the urge to travel, lack responsibility, and see new places, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to pack my bags and go.
It’s been such an amazing journey so far, but it definitely hasn’t been without its challenges. Living expenses are a lot higher, there’s a lot of planning involved, and the day-to-day stress can actually be worse than you would think. Especially since I constantly have to be ready for things to go wrong . . . and still maintain my productivity.
The mental challenge is the hardest part of all, since so many of the obstacles we face come directly from our own thoughts and beliefs. Living this way really forces you to see yourself for who you are, and when you do, realize you have nowhere to run or hide. It’s a great way to push yourself and get insight into your state of mind, but no one said it was easy. I’ve had a few breakdowns, and many times where I felt so anxious that I just wanted to give up. But I promised myself I would stick with it, so even though I’ve come close to quitting, I’m glad to say I haven’t.
OK, now for the fun part — the joys! Living nomadically brings so much fun, spontaneity, and adventure into your life. One day I could be at a museum, and then going on a boating trip the next. I also get exposure to incredible people and and festivities, a spice of life you don’t get to have living in just one place. I also realize that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to maintain my business while being on the road, while many people are stuck living in their cubicles day after day. It is ultimately a blessing and I never want to take that for granted.
Most of all, the biggest insight I’ve gained is that I’m a lot stronger than I think, and I often don’t give myself enough credit for my resilience. Traveling alone and living out of a suitcase takes courage, and during those tough moments when I feel like I’m about to lose it, I have to remember that I’m so amazing to be allowing myself to have this kind of adventure, and not to let fear get in the way of my dreams. Pushing yourself and expanding your horizons is what life's really all about, and I’m living that motto every day.