Being a Nu Nomad and having the luxury of prolonged travel has really changed the way I perceive the world. What was once a “trip of a lifetime” to tick all the tourist boxes, has now been replaced with slower and more meaningful adventures. I’m still learning every day but the biggest shift for me came when I realised that being nomadic meant I could connect with local people in a way I never could as a tourist. So here’s my observations on how learning from locals can make you a better nomad too.
Learning more quickly
I had a few inklings of this from my early days as a tourist where short conversations with locals would teach me more in those minutes than any guidebook could in a day. This has been magnified 100 fold since becoming a NuNomad and now I actively seek these experiences whenever possible. Thankfully I now have much more time on my hands to meet local people and its one of the most important parts of my day. Seriously, just spend an evening with a local friend and you’ll have the most profound conversations going off at tangents you never knew they would. In Cambodia I had the pleasure of spending 2 days with a local man who showed me the real rural Cambodia that most tourists don’t get to see. We talked about life, love, marriage, the key to happiness and health. We swung in hammocks and spent hours learning things that no guidebook would tell me. He had as many questions for me as I had for him and it wasn’t long before we felt like ambassadors for our countries, hopefully offering a realistic view of our lives for mutual education. I’ve never learnt so much about the world as I have when just having a casual and care free conversation with a local. So put down the guide book and make some new friends.
Making smarter decisions
In a world where there are endless reviews online of everywhere we’d want to go and things we’d want to do, you still can’t beat local recommendations. Whether its finding tours of the best places to see or maybe even finding an apartment to rent for a while, local connections make all the difference. In my experience its the connections of your connections that lead to new and interesting experiences and opportunities. I had some very specific dates I would be in and out of Penang in Malaysia and wanted to find an apartment to rent for those periods. Something that would have been fairly hit-and-miss without local help. Thankfully a local friend recommended someone they knew who befriended me and helped me view apartments and even haggle a deal for me. Since then we’ve gone on to become great friends, taking me in to their home and making me feel like part of the family. I’ve been back a few times since then just to visit new friends and have a much more local experience that no package tour or website could ever offer me.
Make better connections
While friends and family back home might think that being a location independent digital nomad is an easy life it presents its own challenges and problems. To those thousands of miles away its all hammocks, cocktails and occasionally working on your laptop. I know all too well the reality of life overseas and there’s a bewildering array of things to sort out and things to worry about too. In truth it really can’t be done alone and its only with the help of locals that you can really make the most of it. From my own experiences in Thailand and Singapore, not only was my lifestyle enhanced by the new connections I was making around me but my business also benefitted. From just a few conversations I was hooked up with others with the same skills, teaching me about local business cultures and eventually putting me in touch with people who may be interested in collaborating. It has since opened doors I never knew were possible and changed the way I do business forever. All thanks to meeting locals and escaping the tourist bubble.
While its all too easy to stay within your comfort zone and sticking to your own kind, it’s also massively detrimental to the experiences and adventures you could be having. Meetings locals give me the most profound and detailed knowledge of where I was living and who I was meeting. It gave me the chance to find a better place to live and much better tourist experience. Not only that but the future of my nomadic existence and even the future of my business have been improved no end. Meeting locals is now a high priority for anywhere I decide to call home for a while.