How to Live the Nomadic Lifestyle

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Originally Published on Wandering Wolf Child by Ashley Leonard-Jones 

Having lived away from my home country for three and a half years, it got me thinking. In this time, I have been lucky enough to explore nine different countries, nearly the whole of Australia thoroughly, and live and work in three different places for longer than six months. Many people ask me how I do it, but it’s now become a way of life, ingrained into me.

Something I have encountered along the way is that, by moving around a lot, I find it hard to sit still and get stuck in this ‘on the move’ mentality. This was especially true after my recent seven month stint where I was not staying in the same place for longer than a few weeks. To overcome this feeling of being stuck, I plan smaller trips to surrounding areas to keep me interested—this is great in Alice Springs, where I have currently settled, as the terrain is so different from what I’m used to seeing.

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I think that the hardest thing for me, personally, is being away from family and friends; you definitely miss out on a lot of events and relationships get tested and stretched. The worthwhile people stay in contact, whether it be something simple like tagging me in an Instagram post I would like or more regular phone calls.

You definitely learn to trust people more and you get good at building relationships, building self-confidence and also becoming emotionally stronger. There have been many occasions when something awful has happened and I have just had to deal with it myself and make quick decisions. You learn to read people and recognize certain personalities to better judge their abilities to deal with certain situations.

Before I left England, sleeping was always a set routine—lights had to be off, silence was crucial and I needed a duvet to cover me. Since being on the road, pedantic routines like this have fallen by the wayside. I have woken up in all sorts of places from baseball pitches and farmhouse kitchen floors to lay-bys and red dirt. Sleeping in a swag has been an eye-opener, especially when waking up being sniffed by dingoes or accompanied by wolf-spiders.

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You learn to stretch your money. I get asked how I manage to afford this lifestyle, but it’s very simple. I don’t come from money and I don’t have an inheritance. It’s all about being smart and taking risks. I will spend longer periods working and saving, which gives me the opportunity to travel. Something that has really saved me on several occasions is a website called HELP X. The idea is that you work for someone and they offer you accommodation and food. It can be anything from gardening and housework to full-on farm work, and you could have your own room or be sleeping on a blow up sofa in someone’s living room—again, you have to be adaptable to change. My partner and I have lived in our car for weeks on end.

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Most of all, I’ve fallen in love with the sense of freedom that comes with the nomadic lifestyle—not having to answer to anyone and just being able to do exactly what you want. You get better at it over time. My dad always says, “If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it,” and I think we lose sight of what we want when we are constantly trying to please others.

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I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people along the way—the kind of people who understand what you are doing and are always there for you when you need them. There have been a few hairy moments including visa runs, my Vietnamese emergency surgery, losing a tooth, getting bitten by a spider, breaking down in the Outback and getting caught up in a professional cyclist race for over an hour, but I survive. And, sure my bed covers are sleeping bags and my boots are held together by electrical tape, but this is the life I chose and I love every second of it.

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