Being location independent unlocks a world of opportunities to experience a new and different lifestyle, replete with incredible adventures and creating friendships with like-minded people.
So what are the basics of being truly location independent?
Below are 5 principles that we have discovered and apply continuously throughout our journey.
Less is More
This principle begins with the distinction between “Need” and “Want,” and it took us some time to work through this one.
When we travel the world, lugging multiple suitcases simply doesn’t feel “free.” And when moving between multiple locations, having too much luggage simply becomes more of a burden than is necessary.
Remember that being location independent is a lifestyle, not a vacation with a clear beginning and end.
So how do we determine what we take with us?
While packing, we ask ourselves: do we need a particular item, or do we just want it for personal reasons.
Here’s an example. Certain items that we have with us continually and are truly needed, include certain medications and portable exercise gear. (more on this later).
There are many things that I (Kit) want to bring along, but they aren’t really necessary. For example, cute shoes for a particular outfit that I have in mind for some occasion that might or might not happen. Ladies, you probably have gone through this thought process at some time or another! Take a deep breath and leave it behind…
Pro Tip: If you can buy it within 20 minutes and for $20 or under, don’t take it with you.
“The One Thing”
In stark contrast to easily-replaced items while on the road, is the one thing that makes you comfortable and creates a feeling of familiarity. We call it a “woobie” – remember that from childhood?
Ours is a special silk pillow (Kit) and comfortably-fitting earplugs (Steinar). No doubt that the pillow is more challenging to pack than the earplugs, however, it makes a big difference in sleep, and that means the world!
Understand that Downsizing Doesn’t Mean Downgrading
Along our downsizing journey, we learned that there is a definite distinction between “stuff” and meaningful belongings that actually enhance our lives.
When we were in the process of determining what “stuff” was, and what actually mattered, we created categories to help us define it. It definitely became a soul-searching activity more than once.
High-quality items made the cut across the board.
Here’s how we did it.
We set up boxes and labeled them:
- Immediate Use
In the Immediate Use box, we put quality items that are well made, timeless, and which had multiple uses while being nomadic.
Kit had carefully selected luggage and backpacks that could nest or store for later use on the journey.
There was also clothing that could be used in multiple ways and in different situations. For example, to make a simple tank dress versatile away from the beach or warm climate, pair it with a shrug, scarf, jacket and/or leggings.
Steinar’s list included plain black t-shirts, clean and comfortable shorts and running shoes that can be used both at the gym and walking long walks in a city.
The Give box was filled with items that we no longer would use while being nomadic or that we were saving for that “one blue moon event.”
These items were in good/excellent condition and could be useful for someone else.
For example, this included nested mixing bowls, glasses, pitchers and decanters, accessories of all shapes and sizes, cutting boards, clothing that wasn’t versatile or didn’t fit so well, and items that didn’t simply suit us anymore…you get the idea.
These boxes went to neighbors and to our local humanitarian center.
The Throw box was for worn-out items or in a state that was not give-worthy. Based on these criteria, and knowing that the Give box had certain standards, it made the process of throwing much easier.
The last and most challenging (for Kit at least) was the Store box.
Memories encased in carefully-selected frames, awards, and particular items that marked a special occasion or time went into this box.
Also for storage was clothing for various weather (especially cold), boots, scarves (both wool and silk), and elegant clothing for select occasions.
Establish Your Personal Mindset
When choosing a nomadic life, especially as a couple, your mindset sets the baseline, and creates a foundation for your future choices along the journey.
This is a very personal conversation, and in the end, it’s extremely important that you both agree. Unanticipated circumstances that suddenly arise can create frustrations that shake the foundations if both parties are not in alignment with the baseline.
Our determinations were about our “Why” which included
- our personal definition of freedom
- ties (family, friends, consistency)
- to have a base or not
- where and when to go
- and language considerations.
We’ll unpack each one (pun intended) as we made determinations.
This is a very personal conversation, but in the end, it’s extremely important that you both agree. which might shed some telling light on your own determinations for a baseline mindset.
Why we choose a nomadic lifestyle
Both of us share a definition of freedom that doesn’t fit into a standardized format for work, play, socializing, or travel. We enjoy being able to work from anywhere and to stay or go whenever that time calls us. This is especially possible since we don’t have children and work is based on a laptop.
Regarding earning from anywhere, we have a dear friend who wrote a book on it, and created a course called “Ultimate Vida” which is a practical guide for discovering and leveraging your passions to create passive income.
If you are interested, here is the link.
We both traveled extensively in our earlier years for schooling, adventure and research. Kit’s book, Ancient Healing in a Modern World took her to over 30 countries for
Our friends and family became accustomed to our mobility and they know that it is an integral part of who we are.
Receiving emails, calls and/or texts asking when you’re returning “home” can weigh heavily. Before embarking on a season or lifetime of nomadic journeys, “clearing the space” with friends and family can be extremely freeing.
Base or not
This is a very personal determination that can be weighed equally, therefore once again it is a very personal choice.
Having a base somewhere gives the assurance that there is always a place to go if the nomadic lifestyle becomes challenging or if a break is needed.
On the other hand, having ongoing expenditures to hold onto a base can become burdensome depending on the costs. For us, weighing these factors required some soul-searching. We ended up agreeing that a base allows us a “rest stop” if needed and we factored in the cost of having that into our budget.
Once again, this is an exceptionally personal determination, and much depends on how long you wish to be nomadic. Three months is much easier to figure out than 9+ months.
It’s always temperate somewhere, so a good starting point would be to research the weather around the world during different seasons.
We like to follow the temperate weather so as to avoid frigid winters sweltering heat, and any kind of storm warnings.
For example, part of this was written from Southeast Asia in the colder months in Europe and the USA which is typically December – March.
That said, last year we spent the winter months in Southern Spain, which was temperate, and we found ourselves many times having dinner on the beach in January and February with our toes in the sand.
And November (2022), which is typically an uncertain month for weather, we were in the Algarve (Portugal) with gorgeous warm weather, stunning sunsets, and swimmable water. Yes, the Atlantic was actually warm that year. Who knew!
We are most comfortable with areas of the world where we can speak and understand the language at least 50% of the time. This honors the culture and countries we are visiting. At the very least, learning please and thank you in advance goes a long way for goodwill to prevail.
In many areas of the world, English is widely spoken, and language barriers are not so prevalent. These areas tend to have more tourist activity, so that is a consideration.
For example on the Costa del Sol of Spain, there are so many visitors that English is almost as prevalent as Spanish. However, outside major tourist or urban areas, very few people are speaking English, and that’s where having some knowledge of the language becomes extremely beneficial.
We picked Spain for an extended stay because Kit speaks Spanish and it made day-to-day living much smoother.
Smiling, patience, a positive attitude, (and occasionally some fun charades) can get you far when communicating.
Travels can be full of adventure, which includes managing the unexpected. And believe us, the only thing we have learned to expect is the unexpected!
This is where flexibility comes into play – in a big way.
Remember that the unexpected can’t be controlled, but it can be managed with a flexible mindset on how the journey unfolds.
In our own experience, international flights were canceled, with no viable replacement for the dates we had planned, which were crucial to the rest of the itinerary.
After managing the feelings of frustration, we pivoted and changed the entire schedule to work around the flight cancellation. It’s part of the Nomadic flexibility mindset that may take some time to adopt, but becomes immensely helpful on the nomadic journey, especially as a couple.
If one partner doesn’t readily accept changes, this could cause angst and frustration within the relationship, which could later appear in a different form.
It’s always best to establish the mindset as a couple, knowing that the foundation will be able to support any challenges along the way.
Define Your Optimal Experience as a Guide
When we were making the choice to be Nomadic (or not) we sat down and created a “Blue Sky” vision of what our optimal experience would be should we make the jump.
How we narrowed down our locations, is an important exercise as a couple. Each of us wrote our wishlist of how we would like to live.
For example, in the city, near the city, in the country, near the beach etc. Swimmable (preferably warmer) water was a big factor for Kit, and both of us were looking for a peaceful environment with easy access to nature and not too far from shops and services. We preferred a walkable location for this wishlist, however, we learned that a car was a necessity 80% of the time in our travels.
Another factor to take into consideration is the social element.
Being with other Nomads/ Expats can certainly have its advantages while learning the ropes in any country. The question would be if staying in an ex-pat area is preferable during your travels or if joining local language, cultural or other activities would suffice to connect.
Many times, certain ex-pat areas have a proliferation of one culture or another, and digital nomads in general tend to be younger and single, although you can find groups of all ages and marital status if you wish to find them. This is again a matter of jointly defining your optimal experience.
We love new experiences, cultural exchanges, and learning about the countries we visit. At this time, we haven’t joined any particular groups, however, that could change in the future.
Our motto is “Home is where the Wifi is” and wherever we choose to hang our hats at that time. We appreciate every location we have visited for its people, history, and diversity.
Know that you can have it all
If part of your optimal experience (above) is living with services you are used to, they definitely exist.
Depending on your location, you can find malls, restaurants, coffee shops, pharmacies, fabulous food, and online ordering with quick delivery.
We lived in Spain for 7 months and certainly didn’t lack anything we were used to having in the US or Norway.
Portugal also offers multiple services, especially near the larger cities. In both cases, we chose to be just outside (within 20 minutes) of larger cities, so this is where a car became part of the plan.
Bulgaria is another country where we had absolutely everything we wished for, from fabulous restaurants, and first-class malls to amazing health and wellness facilities. Car rental was very reasonable, which helped immensely with budgeting. The country is a hidden gem, and we look forward to returning during our travels.
What do you find is the biggest challenge in becoming or living as a nomad?
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