Benefits and disadvantages of being a nomad

  1. You get to see the world
    You get to travel, a lot! You get to see places that some people can only dream of and you get to keep travelling. You get to learn from other cultures and see the world not merely from ‘your own’ perspective.
    On the other hand, everything becomes relative and you see the good, and the bad, of places and cultures from a more neutral point of view. Your standards become higher because your national standards just aren’t sufficient anymore and cultural relativism does not apply (in my case).
  2. You feel at home anywhere
    It doesn’t take long for you to feel at home, get to know people, learn (a bit of) the language.
    On the other hand, you don’t stay anywhere long enough to ‘grow roots’, meaning there is no place like home, literally.
  3. Your (best) friends live everywhere
    This is great, as you can see them while travelling. Work trips are never boring, cause you can always meet up with friends afterwards. On the other hand, your friends are, again literally, all over the world, meaning you can’t just easily meet up for coffee or chai latte.
    And for me, my best friends tend to be like me, meaning that they are nomadic as well and are moving around and living in different places every few years. At least it never gets boring!
  4. You know many different languages
    This may lead to pleasant surprises and instant feel-good moods. Having lived or been to different places, you have learned (at least a bit of) every language. As for me, being born and raised in the Netherlands with parents from Hong Kong, my basic languages while growing up were Dutch, Cantonese, English, German, French (and if you want to count the dead languages of Latin and Ancient Greek). The following languages (or snappy bits of languages) were added because of my nomadic experiences: Spanish, Italian, Swahili, Thai, Khmer and Arabic.
    The downside is, I know a bit of many different languages, but I never stay long enough to learn a language fully and speak it fluently. Though I’m aiming to improve my Swahili and Spanish again in my future travels!
  5. Enjoy and detach
    You learn not to attach (too much) to any place, anyone and thing. Knowing that everything is temporary makes you enjoy places, people and things until it’s time to let go. Anything, good or bad, is circumstantial and only temporary.
  6. New chapters and clean slates
    With each move, you start a new chapter in life. It’s like living many different lives in one. And while you need to “start over” building up your daily life and connections each time, this is also the beauty of it: you get to start fresh. Only the best of friends get to g(r)o(w) with you and the same goes for stuff, as you can read in the next and final one:
  7. You learn to live with less
    When you move around a lot, whether it’s travelling with a backpack or being a serial expat, you need to declutter each time you move. Like U2 said, “the only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind”. You will never have stuff you don’t need, at least not for long.
    This is also the downside; you have very little. When I compare what I have to what my settled down friends have, I have (barely) nothing (because I sold everything I don’t need) and I could never own a lot because I’m always moving. Things have no sentimental value.
    But then again, my (travel) experiences have made me rich.
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