Life Nomadic: Traveling without Planning

Ahh, and we’re back. After a semi-hiatus of a few months, Todd and I are back to the full nomad lifestyle. I say semi-hiatus because within those four months we both spent a good amount of our time traveling around the US, Mexico, and Canada. And even when I was in Austin, where my family and most friends are, I lived in a 21′ RV on the side of the road.

Once a nomad, always a nomad?

Our trip this year is going to be very different from last year, but our first stop is the same as last year’s first stop: Panama.

I’m not sure why exactly we chose Panama last year, but this year we chose it because we’d fallen in love with the country. The people are universally friendly and warm, as is the weather, the food is dirt cheap and amazing, and there’s no shortage of adventure to be found.

Not to mention that Todd and I are both nearing fluency in Spanish and Panamanian Spanish is actually known for being very clear.

One hallmark of our trips is that we usually don’t plan much. We often go to a city with no place to stay and no plans, assuming we’ll figure it out once we get there. That’s probably where our mantra, “everything always works out” comes in.
When our flight landed in Panama, it was two in the morning. We have a few friends in Panama from last year, but imposing on them to sleep on their couches at 3am seemed a bit cruel. Getting a hotel was an option, too, but it doesn’t make much sense to pay for a hotel you’re going to be in for just eight hours, even at Panama’s bargain rates.

And so we chose the third, less obvious option. In our backpacks we cram in luxury-lite cots, giving us the ability to sleep in perfect comfort just about anywhere.

(side note: if you have the foresight, check before deciding to sleep in an airport. They have a good database, though most of the complaints people register are negated with a luxury-lite.)

We headed upstairs to the waiting lounge, where a dozen or so fellow travelers were awkwardly sleeping on the hard tile floor or slumped over in chairs. I hate to admit it, but I felt pretty smug knowing we were about to rest in perfect comfort in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

And we did. A security guard gently woke us up at 7am, we packed up our cots, and headed in to one of our favorite cities in the world with no plans or accommodations to speak of.

Life Nomadic: Welcome to Life Nomadic

The border agent was very suspicious of me.

“Where’s your luggage?”

“I don’t have any.”

“Do you have a return ticket?”

“No, but I have a ticket to Panama for next week.”

“Where do you live?”

This never goes over well.

“Well, nowhere, really…”

And it’s true. The closest thing I have to a home is a 21 foot RV that I park on the street and live in when I’m in Austin, Texas for a few months every year.

Last year my friend Todd and I made the decision to become modern day nomads and make the wonders of the world the backdrop for our every day lives.

We sold everything we owned other than two small backpacks crammed with cutting edge gear, and chased our whims around the world.

We ran with the bulls in Spain, sat under the cherry blossom trees in Tokyo, explored the catacombs of Paris, rode 4x4s across the dunes of Qatar, marched in the Carnaval parades of Panama, and a whole lot more.

This year we have a lot more planned, along with plenty of time to fill with whatever last minute adventure catches our attention.

And even better, we’re blogging about it exclusively for Gadling. Our goal this year is to show you what it’s like to be a modern day nomad, how to do it, and also how to use some hardcore nomad strategies to make regular travel even better.

We have three main principles that we follow, which you will hear a lot more about:

  1. Versatility

    We aim to be as versatile as possible. We pack extremely light, but with enough gear to cover any likely contingency. My small 28 liter pack has enough gear to keep me warm in 10 degree Toronto (where I write this from) and cool in 90 degree Panama (where I head this week).

    Our incomes are unbound from any location and we’ve developed good work habits to put in a full effort from anywhere in the world.

    We have no obligations back home to pull us back or encumber us while we’re gone.

    On top of all that, we eat healthy foods and exercise so that we can hike a few miles through the mountains just as easily as we can flop down on a hammock on the beach.

  2. Technology

    We use the latest technology available to fuel our worldwide adventures. Not just electronics, although we’re packed to the gills with those, but cutting edge clothing technology (more exciting than it sounds…) and even camping gadgets.

    Beyond what we carry, we use technology to keep in touch with family and friends all around the world as well as to generate enough income to fund our nomadic lifestyles.

  3. Deep Experience

    Our backgrounds and available time pose some restrictions, but we try to live like natives rather than trample the country like tourists.

    We try to learn the language of anywhere we stay for at least a month, rent apartments rather than hotels, and spend our time exploring the city rather than hopping from one Carlos and Charlie’s to the next.

    Whenever we’re able to make friends with locals we get a much richer experience, and we follow their recommendations on where to visit.

Whether you’re a fellow nomad, someone who plans to go nomadic eventually, a hardcore traveler, or even just an occasional traveler who wants to get more from his trips, I hope that we’ll be able to provide you with inspiration as well as practical tips.

There are a couple things I’d like from you:

  1. Your questions. Every week I will write an “Ask a Nomad” column. E-mail me directly at tynan DOT gadling AT weblogsinc DOT com and you may find your question answered right here.
  2. Your feedback. We’re nomads because it makes our lives better, but we write to try to make your life better. If you let me know which articles you like and which you don’t like, I can do a better job covering topics you’re interested in. Again, my e-mail is tynan DOT gadling AT weblogsinc DOT com.
  3. Subscribe. You can subscribe to the Gadling feed here, or to Life-Nomadic-only posts here.