NOT MAD NOMAD
Historically a nomad was someone with no permanent home who moved around constantly in search of the luscious appeal of greener pastures. Fast forward to the present and although the term has evolved over the years, nomads do still find themselves lacking a permanent address. Travel nomads are people who seek out an adventure, moving from place to place in search of their greener pasture - their thrill that entices them to travel further and farther than before.
For me it was about building relationships, about diving into the culture of the locals that surrounded me. Finding new and interesting ways in which people my age chose to live their lives. I never wanted to feel like a guest; I aimed to be a friend that you invited over, instead of a tourist you gave a place to stay. This is how my year evolved; jumping from place to place making and building new relationships then following those relationships wherever they lead me. This meant a lot of nights spent top to tail in an average size bed or bundled up on the couch with the dog, or makeshift blanket mattresses on the floor. But, it also led to months in a two bedroom apartment cat sitting, or rent free guest rooms in college houses, or five-star hotels in Vegas, or luxury apartments in Orange County. The idea is to have no ties that keep you anchored down to a destination, but strong enough relationships that people wanted you apart of their lives. It’s a tough line to walk, but generally, if people know you live like a gipsy they are more prepared to let you go, and ultimately more ready for when you unexpectedly return.
So how did my expectations of picking up my life and taking it on the road match up to the reality of packing my life into a suitcase and not unpacking for the year to come? Well, for the most part, the reality exceeded my expectations. I didn’t expect to go the whole year without paying rent, or settling on a location. I didn’t expect the kind of generosity and hospitality I received from people or the intensity of the relationships I built. But in the end, the biggest realisation for me was that I wasn't bothered by how detached I was from things that were ‘mine.’ I never had my own place, my own bed, my own bathroom, or even my own pillow, and it intrigued me how little these material things actually meant to me. Sure it was evidently strange not to have a space that was entirely mine, but I never craved a connection to labelling things my own. This was an endearing discovery of a personal milestone, I pushed my limits and at the edge, I realised how little I actually physically needed to be truly happy.
In the week before I left for my life-changing endeavour, I got all ‘deep’ on Instagram and posted a quote by Richard Preonneke to inform my followers of how insightful I was. The interesting thing is it just became more and more apparent the more I travelled around;
"There is always a sadness about packing. I guess you wonder if where you're going is as good as where you've been."
My best piece of advice would be to not let fear hold you back. I'd love to say my year was all adventure all the time, and for the most part, it was. But, in some instances, I wish I had let my instincts run wild and given logic a back seat. Never be afraid to explore, it's true where you are going might not match the thrill of where you have been, but you owe it to yourself to experience what’s out there whether it be good or bad. These experiences help us grow as not only people but as travellers. Allowing us to further our knowledge of who we are and the atmospheres we thrive in.
How to not outstay your welcome:
If you dig it, here’s an extra tidbit; my sneaky little list of things to do in order to be the perfect extended houseguest.
Keep tidy: It’s obvious so don’t forget it. No one likes to do you a favour and then watch you turn their home into a junkyard. Blend into the surroundings; be a chameleon.
Share their interests: If you’re already butt buddies for like minded things then this one is easy. Express your interest in their interests; if you entice their passions you become the company they enjoy to keep.
Master their weaknesses: If your host mate hates the dishes, then love the dishes. No one's ever going to get sick of someone who takes care of all the things they dislike doing. Having you around will be more of a blessing than a curse.
Be positive: Happy people draw out happiness in others. So spread the joy and stay positive, be a pleasure to be around and always lift the mood. Be a person that creates an intoxicating atmosphere, your host will always be drunk on your vibes that they’ll never want you to leave.
Written by Ilana Porretta