How to be a Nomad When You’re Out of Gas Money (Because Your Mother Really Doesn’t Want you Hitchhiking)

I have come to the realization, with acceptance, that I am a nomad. I will probably never settle in one place permanently, nor will I be satisfied with one particular career path for the rest of my life. Until recently, I’ve been fighting this nature because nomadism isn’t the high-paying lifestyle that one hopes for in this day and age. What about retirement? Student loans? Bah, details…

But there is a realism I have to face: I simply cannot go packing up and moving every two years when the urge strikes me. I mean, I  could, but we no longer live in a world where the coffee shop, book shop, library jobs abound for us travelers while we put our minds and efforts into our current passion (yoga, art, writing, collage, upholstery–yes, all of which I’ve dabbled in at one time or another).

No, the new nomad has to be savvy with her Boho urges. I’m not saying don’t move on; those of you out there who have the nomad blood know you can’t physically stay in one place forever. But you can temper and soothe the need to move from the relative comfort of your home while you bolster the bank account enough to fund the travel.

Let’s face it–the need to travel and change is like a drug; if I don’t get my fix, I get edgy, anxious, crabby. And, yes, I’ve tried meditation, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no cure for what ‘ails’ me. This is just who I am and meditation, while not tempering the need to move on, has helped me accept this fact.

So, what can you do? Here are a few things I’ve tried (and, nomads, I’d love to hear your solutions, too):

1. Change your hair–cut it, dye it, dread-lock it, buy a wig, add extensions–anything to change your immediate appearance. Trust me on this one–it’s good for a few months. Then change it again.

2. Ink yourself (responsibly). Like tattoos? Spend some time creating/researching/designing a new one. Find a tattoo artist you like and respect (and trust) and make an appointment. Cheap? No, not really, but it’s everything a Nomad needs: change, daring, and (yes, even with tattoo trendiness) just a little bit rebellious. Visit the good people at Beyond the Ink for more tattoo advice. Not ready to commit? No worries. Grab a friend, some henna, and paint away.

3. Learn something new. For example, I’m suddenly obsessed with Ashtanga yoga–its rigor, discipline, and pure physical craziness. I’m also thinking of taking up Aikido (self defense–good for any Boho-Nomadic woman on the move). Pricey? Maybe, but with a bevvy of instructional YouTube videos and DVDs out there, you can pick up a new skill on the cheap. Try knitting, kite flying, sticker collecting, collage, bird-watching–anything that catches your interest. Score extra points if it’s dangerous (although steer clear of things like base jumping, unless you’ve mad skills).

4. Change your look. Nomads kind of have to use what they have on hand in order to free up time and funds for other adventures. But there’s no reason that wardrobe change needs to be expensive or boring. Thrift shops are obvious sources of new material and you can put your personal stamp on it with a few, often simple, alterations. DIY is all the rage, after all. Try one of these sites for inspiration (or, just log on to Pinterest and click around).

5. Rearrange your house/apartment/studio/tent/yurt/what-have-you. Move your couch to the other wall. Paint a mural on your ceiling. Clean out your closet. Plant a garden (windowsill variety works, too). Alternatively, learn to identify plants (preferably from someone who knows what they’re doing) then take a hike and see what you could survive on in the wild if you had to or wanted to (and you know you want to–it’s on your list of things to do before that last nomadic journey to the sky, after all).

6. Road/bike/bus/train trip. Choose a destination within a day’s travel from your current home–someplace you’ve never been before. Take the scenic route. Stop and see the world’s largest ball of twine and every scenic overlook on your route. Be the only stranger in a diner in a small town. Live wildly for a few hours.

7. Take up a cause and work for it. Write letters, protest, march. Create a manifesto for yourself and live by it. Until you change it, of course. Be true to your true self.

So there you have it. Will it help? For a while. Eventually, the wind will change course and suddenly nothing will do except packing your rucksack and taking to the road. And that’s okay, too. But for those oh-so-often days of restlessness, I’ve found that any number of these suggestions is a balm to the traveler’s soul.

P.S. If your desire to be on the road is too all-encompassing for these suggestions, try one of these sites for advice and inspiration.

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2 Responses to “How to be a Nomad When You’re Out of Gas Money (Because Your Mother Really Doesn’t Want you Hitchhiking)”

  1. Beautiful post, Amy! I have the same struggles, even if I stability is always a primary need for me. Inevitably my desire for change and adventure always crops up. It's a challenge, but also exciting to be a bit restless too. :)

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