Top Reasons Nomads Need Friends

Posted in: Blog

by Carmen

As we have begun our most recent nomad-ing journey I am keenly aware of how important my friendships have been in making our trip possible.  In fact, without the friends surrounding us at present there is no way my family could have made this journey to Brazil.  Many of us who are location independent or aspire to be are fiercely “sole-operator” types.  The flip-side of independence can sometimes be that we are less attached to friends and family than others might be.  If that describes you – think twice.  None of us are islands.  Developing and maintaining good friendships can dramatically effect our life experiences as well as world travel experiences.  Here are some of my musings on the top reasons nomads should develop strong relationships.

Most Importantly – We Need to Give and Receive Love

Let me just state this from the beginning.  None of the reasons I will give below will surpass this one in terms of importance.  Nomad or not – we all as humans are social beings in need of giving and receiving love.  This is vital to our emotional and physical well being.  In fact, it has been scientifically shown that people with strong social relationships live longer and happier lives.  What is our life about if not to leave this world a better place than we found it – and certainly that would include interacting with our fellow humans in a loving manner. If you are loving towards others whether in large gestures like adopting a child in need or in the smallest of gestures such as saying “good morning” to the person next to you – you are displaying love.  When this is done regulary, relationships will follow automatically.

But on to relationships and nomad-ing…

Friends Can be a Wealth of Travel Information

Strike up a conversation with almost anyone and you will find they have experienced some part of the world that you haven’t.  Friends can bring you a wealth of travel information.  Better yet – if you love world travel, you are probably interested in people from other cultures.  Seek out friends from other countries.  Get to know their culture, hear about their homelands, how they lived when they were there.  You can get a sense of whether you may like to visit sometime.  If you would like to visit, get them to tell you all about their country.  Most people love to talk about their homes and are enthusiastic to tell you about the beauty of their country or city.  They can also give you amazing practical information such as what cities may be safe or dangerous, and what type of food is most affordable.

Friends Can Allow You to Experience Another Culture without Leaving Home

In the same line of thinking, for those of you who are still at home but want to do world travel, cultivating friendships with people from abroad can be the next best thing to actually boarding the plane.  I will never forget when we hosted some Polish friends of ours who wanted to visit Austin at Easter.  Easter is a very important holiday to them so they wanted to find Polish food suppliers in our city, get their traditional foods, and attend a Polish Easter service.  The kids delighted in having their Polish Easter baskets complete with sugar goats and sausages blessed by the Roman Catholic priest at the service.

Hosting is a Wonderful Way to Cultivate World Friends

This memory segues me to the next topic.  If you have a spare room or even a couch, consider hosting people from abroad who need a place to stay.  Your local social networks such as schools, churches, clubs may be a source for finding such people.  If not, join an online organization such as CouchSurfing.com and start hosting right away. Our family has hosted circus performers including a Mongolian contortionist who traveled with Cirque du Soleil, Brazilian dancers, Broadway performers, and students from abroad.  Every one of these experiences has been positive and life enhancing for everyone in our family.  We have learned customs, languages and have been entertained by wonderful stories.  Most importantly we have made friends for life and have done good for others who needed help.  One of the principal reasons we are now in Brazil is due to our experience last year of having 3 Brazilian dancers stay with us for 3 months.  In fact, one of those dancers hosted us in Sao Paolo and was an amazing resource for showing us the sites.  How great to stay in a family home with friends as opposed to some sterile hotel room!

Nomads Can Be Super-Friends!

You’ll be amazed when you nomad how interested people become in what you’re doing.  Remember that as much hard work and planning that went in to make your trip possible, you are still incredibly blessed to be able to have such a lifestyle.  I am grateful every day for the privilege of being able to travel. Share your good fortune with your friends back home.  Keep in touch via phone, email, mail or Skype.  Can anyone visit?  You could be able to provide a place to stay and make a trip possible for someone who otherwise could not travel.  Additionally, you can be an inspiration and information source for any friends who may like to follow in your footsteps.  Plus you’ll get the benefit in my next point.

Friends Can Stave Off Homesickness

As much as I wake up feeling blessed each day to be able to have this lifestyle, sometimes I get homesick for things back in the U.S.  I find that keeping in touch with friends on a regular basis is a great remedy for this.  20 years ago when I traveled for a year, communication was not so simple.  I found my mind going into depths of homesickness at times, exaggerating my memories of how great my life at home had been.  Now, when it is easy to communicate with others back home, I find that my mind cannot make these exaggerated wanderings.  I am reminded that life back home is the same as it always was with its ups and downs, triumphs and struggles.  I can keep a balanced mental image and enjoy my life abroad more fully.

Friends Abroad Can Be Life-Savers

A lot of people have asked me how we chose Brazil as a destination.  In fact, for years I was telling my friends I wanted to take the kids to a Spanish speaking country.  Obviously, Brazil doesn’t fit this bill.  Well, the way it came about was actually because of a friendship.  A Brazilian friend in Austin (Marcia) who knew I was planning a year abroad in Mexico or Ecuador called one day to say she had decided to return with her family to Brazil and asked if we would like to come along.  She had children who were friends of my children at school.  The temptation to go somewhere where we would know a native person was too great (not to mention it was an exciting destination!)  As it turned out, having Marcia as a friend here in Florianopolis has been a life saver.  The difference it has made to have a native person help with finding housing, education for the kids, and simply explaining th
e basics of everyday life (such as how to use a Brazilian pressure cooker without exploding it) has been immeasurable.  I can’t imagine that we could have made this transition without her.

On-line Friends Are also Amazing

I’ve talked a lot about in-person friendships but I want to add that online friends can be equally important.  Cultivate relationships with people you find in social networking arenas.  People who share common interests can also greatly benefit from each other.  Of course, here you want to use common sense about safety issues – but it is possible to develop lasting and meaningful relationships online with people from all over the world.  In fact, Richard (my NuNomad co-founder) and I met online and without us developing a trusting relationsip across the globe NuNomad would not exist!

Friends Can Make all the Difference

As I look back on our first month of travel I am so grateful for the friends and family we’ve seen along the way.  I can’t even begin to thank everyone for what a positive effect they have had on our family and how much support we have felt from each of them as we’ve gotten started.  Here are some folks I’d love to mention:

Dede Clark who trusted me to build a couple of websites for her business which provided the extra funding I needed to make this trip happen.

The Holland family who hosted a going away party for us

Our Zaia/Cahill cousins who put us up in Boston and lent us a car

The Gawlick family who fed us lunch in Brookline and with whom we had an afternoon concert! (sorry I didn’t get a picture).

The Hunnewell/Julian family who hosted us in Cohasset and took the kids sailing

Grandma Zaia, Uncle John, Uncle Phil, Dave and Aunt Eileen who made our stay in Connecticut a great one! (the roles of family members will be played today by Canadian Geese on the shore since I couldn’t find a picture with everyone included!)

Charlie and Vanessa Pollock and their kids Hudson and Sloane who met us at 5 Napkin Burger for lunch. Charlie is currently in 9-5 the Musical!  Good luck with the musical and the new baby!

Rick and Holly Bologna and David.  Thanks to Rick and Holly for your advice on how to see David in his amazing performance as Michael in Billy Elliot! We loved it David!

The Ferreira family of Sao Paolo who hosted us and showed us the sites

Dirce Guarda who allowed us to stay in her wonderful hostel Casa Brasil in Lagoa de Conceicao off season while we looked for permanent housing.

And, of course, Marcia Pirmez and family without whom we wouldn’t be in Brazil at all!

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