A Location Independent Single
Posted in: Blog
by Richard Hamel, Co-Author of the Nu Nomad
I\’m a single traveler. Scratch that?I\’m a single nomad. And since people often ask me questions about my singleness, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter.
My traipsing the world solo started even before 2001 when I began doing so permanently?when I found myself traveling around the world for a second time in 1997″this time without my wife. She and I had parted ways a year before during our first ever around-the-world trip. (Though this fact is more incidental than germane to this story, it’s still nonetheless just the way life is, and neither of us have regrets about that.)
What I would have regretted, however, is having seen all that the world has to offer me only to return to the same old grind of a life I had known. Not that my life was particularly awful up to that point?in fact it was pretty good (I was working with charities and I liked those around me)?but that trail had been sufficiently blazed and I\’m not one to ignore new and interesting paths before me. So, I continued traveling?but this time, totally untethered. And, no I don\’t have money to burn. I am and never have been financially well off, no trust funds and no family net, so it’s not like I hail from the leisure class that fosters such a way of life. I simply made the decision to live the location-independent life, and converted my sedentary job (as a nonprofit communications specialist) into one that was completely mobile (website designer). And before I knew it, I had put myself in the enviable position of being able to see and enjoy the world indefinitely, while maintaining an income similar to that I earned while at ?home? (California). Yep, I\’m a Nu Nomad. And though nomads, like other travelers, can be found in pairs, groups or families. I, however, choose to go it alone.
Now, many questions may be flooding your mind at this point: Can one really take their work with them anywhere in the world? Absolutely!, which is why we (Carmen Bolaños and myself) created the Nu Nomad blog, website and book. Another question that may come to mind, the one I’ll elaborate on, is: Can a person travel/nomad solo for extended periods of time without becoming too or unbearably lonely? And, is it safe to travel as a single person? (Why, yes to all of that!)
Can One Travel Alone?
Traveling without a companion is no big deal. (Sure, it can be a little disconcerting at the beginning, but that goes away once you find yourself doing things that you’ve never done before and feeling things you’ve never felt before.) In fact, many people actually prefer traveling solo’such as yours truly. They find it liberating, if not inspiring. However, once on the road you’ll soon realize that you will not be alone out there all the time, and that it’s not such a lonely experience anyway. Here’s why.
In foreign countries, especially non-western ones, travelers tend to congregate in hotels, guest houses, certain neighborhoods, pubs, cafés and restaurants, or even on trains and buses. They seek one another out for companionship, to swap stories, to offer tips, resources and site recommendations. More often than not you will be finding yourself grouped together with other travelers, making more friends than you ever thought possible. This is one of the best parts about traveling solo! You may not even make it out of the airport before hooking-up with other like-minded people. My only advice to you about selecting a long or short-term travel partner is that you make sure that you and he/she are compatible, and that both parties respect the option of splitting up should the partnership becomes no longer enjoyable. (Heck, if my ex and I could do it, then total strangers should be able to.)
A prime reason not to have a permanent travel partner is the flexibility to do what you want, when you want. It’s liberating. While on the road, many solo travelers/nomads choose not to make their next decision until the very last moment. The more people that travel with you, the more you may have to consult with them and organize accordingly. Also, traveling provides for a lot of time for reflection, self-evaluation, and it allows one the opportunity to not only focus on his/her work, but to explore the creative side of his/her brain?be it picking up a paintbrush for the first time, learning Tai Chi, a foreign language, writing, or learning French cooking. When you have a partner, you tend not to have?or take?enough time for such things.
Solo Travel and Safety
Okay, so you’re sold on the traveling solo=liberation thing. Let’s look into safety.
It is true that by traveling solo you may be more vulnerable. But, this may make you a little more approachable. When someone sees that you’re alone, they don’t feel they are intruding as much as if you had a partner, so new conversations and friendships are likely to happen more often. As for violent crime, most travelers/Nu Nomads will agree that you are as safe, if not safer, in a foreign country as you are in your home country. The main reason for this is your status as a visitor to the area. (Foreign officials, such as police, have little patience for those who prey on travelers?jeopardizing the cash cow and source of national pride.) In other words, don\’t let your fears from home travel with you. Just use your innate good sense and you’ll be alright.
Solo Travel and Relationships
Probably, the only down-side to going it solo for extended periods of time is that it is often more difficult to build a long-term relationship while on the road than, let’s say, hooking-up with someone you’ve met at your local coffeehouse. The main reason may be that those who don\’t have the ability to relocate as Nu Nomads do, for as long as they do, often have expectations of residing in a particular place?usually theirs. Then there’s life-style and cultural variances to contend with. However, I’ve found that if a long-term relationship is what you really want, then you’ll most likely get it if you make it a priority. (I’ve found that the best way to hook-up with people is still the time-tested one: when taking time-off from my work and languishing on beaches, trekking or doing some sort of tourist thing.) So, don\’t let that dissuade you from experiencing all that you can. For now, enjoy your singleness. It’s something that is as rewarding as it is personal.
Where to locate other single travelers and nomads on-line:
Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum (Travel Companions)
Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum (Women Travellers)
Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum (Gay & Lesbian Travellers)
Travel Companion Program (Accessible Journeys)