The Evolution of the Modern Nomad

“Nomadism” is a term from the Old World. Most of us from the West weren’t born nomadic. On my travels I’ve only met one woman born into a nomadic tribe, she was from the Amazon jungle and had been ‘civilized’ as a teenager. Now at 100 years old she’s all but forgotten what it was like to roam freely. Some modern civilizations maintain a strong awareness of nomadic heritage, like Kazakhstan’s clan communities. But the modern world leaves little room for wandering today. Nevertheless, a modern form of nomading is undergoing a boom and growing in a way that hasn’t existed before.

Traditionally nomadic communities moved out of physical necessity, to be in sync with the seasons, the crops, the hunt. Today’s modern nomad looks for more than physical comfort and subsidence… although quality of life can be a factor. But beyond creature comforts, they’re driven by internal necessity. The settled lifestyle isn’t fulfilling something, and this nomad seeks something intangible, more ethereal. This nomad travels for feeling. People who sense this pull aren’t alone. The western nomad is growing in numbers, hubs and resources, creating a new phenomenon of its own.

These are the common traits of this emerging Modern Nomad:

  1. They use technology as a tool for income but it doesn’t define them. Many People think digital nomads are directly tech related – web developers, UX designers, etc. But most modern nomads live indirectly off the web, using technology only to shorten distances. Life coaches take meetings through Skype, consultants set up rotating global routes to visit clients, and writers only need to press send via email. The work of a digital nomad is a lot simpler than it sounds. Tech provides more options to reinvent work flow, and new work schemes are invented every day.
  2. Independent thinkers. They tend to run their own business, and live their life autonomously… digital nomading gives the potential for complete self-creation outside of the system, not just the 9-5 workday.
  3. They’ve travel-tested (extensively). They’ve spent a lot of time traveling around the world, visiting friends, trying different lifestyles and cultures out before committing to full or part-time nomadism. They learned tricks in the process -traveling with a lighter load and weighing cost/lifestyles benefits of different cultures. They probably have a trail of suitcases hosted around the globe, left from different travels before they temporarily settled in one place.
  4. The modern nomad travels light. They don’t ship a container to a new country when they move. They’ve learnt to be resourceful and adaptive, and benefit from lightness on the road.
  5. They prioritize experiences over things. See point #4. In this sense, living with less is actually more. They don’t collect souvenirs, and start to value personal connections more than urban living ever allowed them to.
  6. They have a sense of adventure. Willingness to explore and push past boundaries is key for this lifestyle … usually they are just mental fears around money, community or anything that challenges the usual assumptions. The modern nomad is a new kind of soul explorer.
  7. The form intentional networks of similar people. They keep connected through social media, which shelters friendships in dormancy until paths cross again. This modern nomad tends to be more secure in themselves, friendships are for enrichment and not security. Sharing similar lifestyles means that friends become co-conspirators, encouraging exploration and fearlessness.
  8. Urban hubs lessen in importance. Then global capitals of power, commerce and creativity have less hold, as they come at an expense of quality living. Capitals are to cruise through and gather resources, but not necessarily relied on for full-time living. Quality of life comes first, which usually means finding areas with more nature, peace and beauty.
  9. The love cultural integration. They don’t go to other countries for a Disneyland experience. They want to be challenged and get a buzz off self growth. This can be as simple as food variety, language assimilation, or cultural integration with new local friends.

The Modern Nomad is a contemporary phenomenon. The definition is still expanding, and it has the potential to become a revolutionary norm. As the numbers of Modern Nomads increase, they offer to others alternative world-views and approaches to life.

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