For those just tuning in, I’ve been part of the ‘slow nomad’ world since 2008 – South Korea from 2008-2013, Thailand from 2013-2015, and Medellin, Colombia from mid-July 2015 to the present. There are many ways to travel, from the full-time, always-on-the-go traveler to the ‘settle down somewhere for months or years’ travel. Speed isn’t the goal – sustainable travel that you enjoy is.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve read a few travel bloggers beginning to slow down from a full-time traveling schedule to smelling the roses and picking out curtains. I reached out to a number of travel bloggers for their insights, and put this post together with their thoughts. While I didn’t want to imbue this post with my own viewpoint, the larger quotes in green are ones that really resonated with me.
How long had you been traveling, and at what pace?
Anita & Richard: We’re slow travelers which means we try to stay in an apartment or home for a week to a few months at a time to get a chance to live locally as well as meet people. We’ve been traveling for three years (started in September, 2012) and began in Mexico, moving on to all of the Central American countries and several countries in South America as well as a few of the Caribbean Island nations. In May of 2015 we changed our travels to Europe and have spent a few months in Spain and Portugal so far.
…we realized that we could make a lifestyle out of long term travel without a finite return date.
Ross & Alyse: We left Canada and started travelling two and a half years ago. We had originally planned on a very ambitious one year around the world trip but somewhere around month four or five we realized that we could make a lifestyle out of long term travel without a finite return date.
Our pace of travel now changes from fast to slow depending on the country and how we are feeling. In the first eight months of travel we had been to 10 countries, 53 cities and stayed in 59 different guesthouses, so needless to say we were moving. Around month nine we both needed to stay in one place for a while to recharge our batteries which is what we did during our one month stay in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
After our first year in Asia we were both feeling a little road weary so we decided to slow down our travel with some long-term housesitting assignments in New Zealand and Australia. We put down some roots in Melbourne for six months where we worked and immersed ourselves in the city and the culture.
Since then we’ve been travelling around Africa and the Mediterranean and plan to travel for three more months before heading back home for a much needed visit with our family in Canada.
Gloria: I’ve been traveling solo since I was 18. First started with trips in South America, heading for a month during holidays to Peru, Colombia, Equator, Argentina, later longest trip I’ve made was for little over a year and went mostly to Thailand, India and Turkey. I’m a slow traveler, I love to stay as long as I can in a destination so I can get the pace of the place, to see what locals do in their daily lives and where they go to eat or to shop. I’ve been only hours in a place if I didn’t liked it too (and that happened few times), it is all matter of being happy!
Gary: Technically speaking, I’m still traveling. I don’t really have a residence yet, but I have spent a bit of time with my family this summer. I’ve been on the road for 8.5 years now, since March 2007.
Wendy: I had begun my trip as a solo endeavour about 10 years earlier and then met my husband while in Rome the following year. Rome served as a sort of part-time base for us for the first few years; we would work there as tour guides during the summer and then travel in the winter. During our travel periods, we kept up a pretty fast pace, never really spending more than a few nights in the same place.
Craig and Gemma: Craig and I are have downed tools as teacher and tradesman to take an 18 month career break to travel the Americas (and beyond). We are currently six months in, one year to go! For the first four months we travelled around The States, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Cuba.
What was the first straw (if you remember), and what was the *final* straw?
I knew I was burnt out from moving all the time and my interest in seeing things and meeting people was virtually nonexistent.
Gary: There wasn’t really a final straw moment. Last year it just sort of dawned on me that I was tired all the time, I had been gaining weight, and that some of the joy had been taken out of traveling.
…some of the joy had been taken out of traveling.
Wendy: It was an accumulation of things over the years, really. Haggling is one thing that always gets to me, so when I’m travelling in countries where I have to haggle for everything (taxis, hotel rooms, a loaf of bread) I get run down pretty easily. The three months we spent in West Africa were particularly trying, in so many ways. The 81-hour bus ride from Dakar to Bamako is one that I will never forget!
Anita & Richard: We first realized that we needed to set up a base several months ago when my husband, Richard, who has a chronic respiratory disease became sick for the 3rd, 4th and 5th time and we had to scramble to find a new doctor in each country. Other “straws” are the desire for a home base again with a community of new friends as well as the need to travel lighter and leave the stuff we don’t need (seasonal clothing, etc.) in one place.
Craig and Gemma: Cuba. It’s exhausting at the best of times. There is so much hustle it grinds you down. For example. no one knows the times of the buses, everyone wants to you to buy cigars, it’s constant. I don’t think it helped that we were exhausted from three nights here, two nights there, type of travel. Our patience was limited.
How was being nomadic affecting your life / lifestyle / livelihood / romantic life?
Wendy: Our romantic life was great! Our mutual love of travel was what Nick and I first bonded over, and I believe our relationship is at its healthiest and happiest when we’re on the road. All in all our lives were pretty great too, but over time the hassles of travel started to wear on us, especially when we had to do admin-type things. Things that, in an alternate universe, should have taken five minutes, but that for us involved traipsing around town for hours looking for an Internet café that would let us use a flash drive and print or scan some documents.
Anita & Richard: We love being slow travelers and as retirees this has given us a chance to learn about new cultures, languages, fascinating histories and meet new people, things we didn’t have time to do in our former, career focused lives. We were actually kind of concerned that we might have problems being together 24-7 but travel has made us rely on each other and, after 35 years of marriage, actually made us realize how much we still like each other.
…travel has made us rely on each other and, after 35 years of marriage, actually made us realize how much we still like each other.
Ross: My life has completely changed. At home I had pretty much the same routine every day and with it days, weeks, even months would go by and nothing of huge consequence would happen. Now every day is new and exciting and the simplest thing like grabbing a coffee or taking the bus into town can turn into a crazy adventure. Getting comfortable with the unknown and not having the future all planned out 5 years ahead has been the biggest adjustment for me.
I know we both feel pretty lucky to have someone to share all of our beautiful and challenging travel experiences with.
My life has completely changed.
Being nomadic is just another way of living life…
Gloria: Being nomadic is just another way of living life, there’s some people who needs to move constantly and there is a lot of them around the world! It is fantastic, I love to be in a new city, surrounded by new things, new colors and flavors and new people to meet.Maybe the hardest part of being a nomad is to find another nomad soul that it is able to share with. It is already hard to find a romantic partner not being nomadic, imagine when you move a lot and not plan or want to stay longer in a city, harder to make plans together. But I know I will find that soul who will want to explore the world with me ;)
The concept of slowing down was difficult for me because my identity has become really wrapped up in traveling.
Gary: The concept of slowing down was difficult for me because my identity has become really wrapped up in traveling. I don’t regret the decision to travel full time at all. I had an amazing run, but the life did have a lot of drawbacks.
- Work. It has become more and more difficult to work on the road. It isn’t an issue of bandwidth, but never having a routine, usually not even having a desk, and the crappy hotel wifi on top of that. The truth is I’ve been slacking on my website the last few years and leaving a lot of money on the table because I haven’t been able to pursue projects.
- Life. Eating in restaurants and airports for almost every meal is not good. The dietary options are poor, especially when you are in western countries. I’ve gained weight and it I’ve personally found it hard to get in a workout routine when you are moving constantly.
- Romance. Doesn’t exist.
It sounds like you’ll be settling down for awhile. What’s the plan?
Gary: My current plan is to get a place somewhere, and then travel for 3-5 months of the year. The goal is to travel less and better. Rather than one trip after another and another, I’ll have time process my photos, write more and talk about it on my podcasts. I am thinking of setting up a small in-house studio where I can record audio/video and grow my podcast/YouTube audience.
I’m also launching some big projects later this year, and I don’t think I can really do that out of random hotel rooms. The last 8.5 years I’ve laid the foundation for whatever I do going forward. I’ve created a travel resume that few people can match, and helped establish my authority in the field. It is something I did and that can’t be taken away from me.
People like Rick Steves only travels about 3 months a year, and it is enough for him to run a large travel company. I’m sure I can get by with 3-5 months.
Anita & Richard: We’ve applied for a long term visa to live in Portugal and should hear back from the consulate later this month. We’ll return to Portugal next month and have retained lawyers in Lisbon who will help us work on the Portugal side to obtain a residency visa with the hope that we will be granted a permanent residency after 5 years. (Fingers crossed!) Our plan is to base ourselves in Portugal and take shorter trips around our adopted country as well as really explore the rest of Europe in a leisurely fashion!
Craig and Gemma: We are now in Canada and as UK citizens we can stay for six months without a visa so that was always the plan and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Craig used to live in Vancouver and wanted me to see it too with the view that we may apply for immigration in the next few years. We didn’t dive straight into the Van, we headed to the Sunshine Coast for two months and that was the best choice we made. We lived in a 70s-esque caravan in the back garden of a hostel. I went straight back to exercising which was what I missed the most and we enjoyed cooking for ourselves once again, which you actually really miss! We are now in the Big Smoke for four months and life is good. We are planning on doing more homestays or housesittings in the following year to continue this slow paced travel.
Gloria: I’m doing a reset and staying for a while in Chile for the next months, working on my site. It was really hard to make the decision to settle for this whole year (here are my hints about it) but was necessary. The plan now is to travel for a long time within the next years so I needed this quiet time to plan things properly.
Wendy: In the next few months we plan to set up a part-time base in Portugal, where we will live for perhaps six months out of the year. Having tried both constant travel and a more sedentary lifestyle, it seems a seminomadic lifestyle is really what suits us best. Travel will always be in our blood, but it’s also easier to enjoy the hair-raising adventures when you know that soon enough you’ll be able to mix yourself a cocktail or bake yourself a cake and savour it on your balcony whenever you want. Those are the little luxuries I miss when travelling.
I’m excited to live somewhere for a while and have a solid group of friends to hang out with.
Ross: In 2016 we’re interested in settling somewhere abroad and really taking the opportunity to dig into a culture, learn a language; something that’s tough to do with a one month whirlwind visit to a country. During our travels we’ve made great friends from all over the world which has been wonderful however it does get tiring to have to continuously say goodbye. I’m excited to live somewhere for a while and have a solid group of friends to hang out with.
You’ve been reading…
Anita Oliver and Richard Nash (No Particular Place To Go) are from the US. They retired early from successful careers as a pharmacist (Anita) and a human resources manager (Richard). They have one son who totally thinks our travels are great and hopes he can do the same at some future point. Their blog is at http://noparticularplacetogo.net and they post twice monthly.
Gemma and Craig (Two Scots Abroad) have downed tools as teacher and tradesman and are traveling the Americas on an 18 month career break. They are currently living it up on the Sunshine Coast of Canada after four months in North, South America and Cuba. Catch up on their stories of trekking to Machu Picchu; diving in Cuba and discovering that Colombia is safe, friendly and not full of druglords as the Western media would have you believe at Two Scots Abroad. Never miss a tweet through Twitter, a moment on Facebook, and a snap on Instagram.
Gary Arndt (Everything Everywhere) sold his house in March 2007 and has been traveling around the world ever since. Since he started traveling, he has visited all 7 continents, over 175 countries and territories around the world, all 50 states and every US territory, every Canadian province, every Australian state and territory, over 125 US National Park Service sites and over 295 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. He’s one of the best-known travel bloggers around, and can be found at everything-everywhere.com.
Wendy Werneth (The Nomadic Vegan) is an intrepid traveller, vegan foodie and polyglot. Having become vegan after many years of travel across 7 continents and nearly 100 countries, she’s now on a mission to show you how fun and fulfilling vegan travel can be. Follow her adventures at The Nomadic Vegan and download her free mini ebook, “8 Steps for Fun and Easy Vegan Travel“. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
Ross Collinson and Alyse Pascoe (Free Your Mind Travel): Three years ago we realized that something big was missing in our lives. From the outside we had everything, a home in a beautiful area near the mountains, a rental property in our hometown, two cars, good educations & credentials, luxury vacations each year and lucrative jobs with big corporations and great future prospects. Both under 30, had stellar futures laid out for us. And I guess that was where we saw the problem, we saw the next thirty years laid out for us and while it looked outwardly comfortable it was grievously short on adventure and the mysterious promises of the great unknown. That’s when we decided to quit our jobs, sold everything and bought a one way ticket to Tokyo and haven’t looked back since. See them at www.freeyourmindtravel.com, or connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Gloria Apara (Nomadic Chica) is a native of Chile. She always dreamed of a life of travel and is passionate about all the new things and people still waiting to be discovered. After some life experiences she decided to live her life at the fullest and chase her dreams. She created www.nomadicchica.com with the aim to encourage others to travel more and to empower women who are looking to solo travel the world. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
For plenty more expat stories, visit ExpatExchange.com.
Like this post? Like the Facebook page!
Latest posts by Chris (see all)
- Onward flight connects… now - June 18, 2018
- 5 things a Digital Nomad should never travel without - May 29, 2018
- The Tackiest Souvenirs Contest of 2019 - May 28, 2018