Every professional nomad eventually gets burnt out. Long-term travel, while being undeniably rewarding, is also extremely tedious. Country-hopping like “normal” people change TV channels takes a surprising toll on a person. And unfortunately every nomad eventually hits that point where they are tired of being a nomad. Especially digital nomads because we are essentially mixing a full-time career with full-time travel — a tough combination that eventually wears you down. For me it took 7 years, 4 months and 21 days. Exactly 2,700 days from the time I quit my job to travel the world until now: NOMAD NO MORE!
Not tired of traveling, just tired of being a nomad. Big difference.
Make no mistake, this does not mean I am done traveling. In fact in less than 24 hours I leave for Hong Kong. After that it’s China, Hong Kong again, Cambodia and India in a series of conveniently-timed back-to-back projects and press trips.
Haven’t even unpacked yet already leaving the country. HA!
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Breathtaking domes of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite the nickname, the mosque is not actually blue, but the interior walls are covered in blue tiles. Turns out there are several other "Blue Mosques" around the world, including in Egypt, Iran, Armenia and Indonesia. Have you visited any? #travel
Nomad no more….why?
Although people always talk about the freedom that comes with living out of a backpack, it also comes with limitations. Like a backpack. It may surprise you to realize but backpacks were designed for backpackers and long-term travelers, not photographers/videographers traveling with lots of heavy, expensive and fragile gear.
As I focus more on building my career as videographer and opening a media company, I need a base. Somewhere to store this gear I am not using, instead of random hotels and friends’ houses in various countries — as I’m currently doing.
Then there is the drone. Let’s not forget that within a week of purchasing this drone I made headlines by getting arrested again, this time in India. (Story will be published once I finish the video of the “illegal” Khajuraho drone footage that got me arrested.) Some countries its just better not to travel with a drone. Plus because I bought the biggest toughest drone suitcase I could find, it’s a mandatory piece of check-in luggage. And everyone knows that nomads are highly allergic to check-in luggage.
I may have a home now, but I’ll rarely be here.
Over the years my travel style has changed. First party. Then adventure. Culture and local life. Off the beaten path destinations. But always slowly, spending months in each country. Now I am finally tired of being on the road 24/7/365. I’d rather start flying in somewhere new for a project, spend an extra week or three exploring it on my own, and then flying back to a home base to do any post-production or follow-up work — not slaving over a laptop while still on the road instead of enjoying what’s around me.
View from my private villa in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka. Just myself and a female friend — well, and the private staff to cook all our meals and tend to our every need — yet I’m stuck spending half the time on my laptop. I am not doing this anymore.
Now that I have a home, I’ll actually be traveling more.
Sounds strange but it’s true. I’ve been doing slow travel for years and don’t get me wrong, it’s been great. Taking your time to truly learn a country instead of just visit it for a couple of weeks is a very different way of traveling. Much more rewarding, humbling and educational. But like all good things there comes a point when enough is enough.
As a nomad, you have to either pick warm or cold climate and commit. You cannot carry around two completely different wardrobes. Rather than give away the brand new winter jacket I bought for trekking in Nepal, I can now save it for skiing in Afghanistan the following winter or dogsledding in Canada.
Where are you living?
Thailand — but NOT Chiang Mai. Earlier this year I discovered a nice, quiet little beach in the eastern side of the country not far from Cambodia that is free from tourists. Came here originally for one week, ended up sticking around for six. Ever since I have been coming and going and I have gotten to know the locals. They’ve been teaching me Thai little by little and now know me well enough that people wave at me when I pass by on motorcycle. And just a few days ago I met a guy here I can speak Indonesian with.
After being a stranger in strange land for so many years it’s weird to have somewhere that although I’m still an outsider, the land feels like home.
My condo is 50 steps from the beach with a great view and I was able to get fiber internet installed for $25/month — 30MB/s down, 20MB/s up and no bandwidth caps. Already I’ve uploaded over 500GB of videos to my cloud storage. (Any of you digital nomads get sick of all the tourists in Chiang Mai, come on down here and join me!) 😉
After moving in I went grocery shopping and bought kitchenware and cleaning supplies and various basic household accessories. I got a nice big desk and fancy desk chair, a new couch and shelves and hangers to organize my clothes. And I actually kind of enjoyed it. Then I realized the old me would have slapped the shit out of me for thinking these dangerous heretic thoughts.
Great news pal!!!! You are growing up!!!!
— Andy McElwaine (@andymcelwaine) September 8, 2016
Well, I guess that’s one way to look at it, I guess. But I still feel strange.
Still want more?
Here are some interesting reads — my past nomadiversary posts. Enjoy!
- 7 Years & Countless Travel Fucktastrophes: The Stories I’ve Never Told
- How Did I Get Here? Life As A Nomad For Six LONG Years
- 5 Years Ago Today I Quit My Job To Travel The World
- Travel Wisdom: 4 Years & 16 Countries Later…
Now, I have to go book a flight to Hong Kong, find a hotel and get packing — cheers!