One of the knocks I often hear about people hesitant to seek location independence is that they don’t want to live life out of a suitcase. And I totally get that, because it’s not something I’d want to do either. But often, I’ll come across these location independence myths and I’d like to share some perspective on them.
It seems to me that people often think that being a digital nomad and location independent are the same thing. Well, they’re not.
By definition, a nomad is someone that does not have a fixed-address and constantly travels from place to place. Someone who is location independent has the ability (that’s the key word) to work from anywhere, regardless of location. Whether you love cornfields and want to live in Nebraska, or rather live near the beaches of Brazil, it’s your decision to make and one that should not limited by what you do for a living.
- Want to immerse in Japanese culture and learn to speak Japanese? No problem for a location independent person.
- Have to relocate temporarily to care for a family member who’s sick? Go right ahead and move if that is what’s required.
- Don’t like the political climate where you live? Check out another country while the situation back home resolves itself (if it ever does!).
Being location independent is not necessarily about being constantly on the run. It’s about options. About being capable to move where your current situation dictates is better for you and your family.
Rather than being a nomad, I’ve chosen to go the path of slow-travel. It’s a compromise between living a nomadic lifestyle and putting down roots in the community.
Slow-travel allows you the best immersion experience and gives you the benefit of extended travel. Travel is best when not viewed as a competition to see who has the most travel stamps or seen the most “landmarks”. The goal of travel is to let it change you, to see the world as other people see it and let it positively affect you. And if you’re generous, to allow yourself to be a positive influence wherever you travel.
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Top 5 Myths of Location Independence
Myth #1: It’s a Mad Dash from Airport to Airport: Flying is not a pleasant experience anymore, specially with all the security measures put in place today. Neither is hurriedly trying to adjust your body to timezone changes. Which is why people often need a vacation after their “vacation”. It’s good to unplug from the “fast-food” culture in every sense of the word, including from the idea that travel has to be “fast-food-like” to be enjoyable.
Great, so you’ve visited three countries in two weeks. Are you honestly going to tell me you got acquainted with the people or the culture? Not likely. But I bet you’ll have that empty-your-pockets-into-a-security-bin routine down pat.
Myth #2: It’s Sleeping at Seedy Hostels: Travel ain’t cheap. And if you’re looking to save on travel costs, hotels will eat your budget up fast, which is why many travelers often opt for the lowest accommodations possible: hostels. While it’s unfair to lump all hostels in the same bucket (there are exceptions), most are dirty, lack privacy, and offer only the most bare-bone accommodations. You get what you pay for, basically.
It’s far easier on the budget to rent a place short-term and leisurely explore your new location. The reason travel is expensive is because people splurge like millionaires when they’re “allowed” to travel for two glorious weeks every year. I’ve learned to travel how the locals do and have saved a bundle.
Myth #3: It’s Living Out of a Suitcase: While it’s fun to do that for short periods of time, it’s not a feasible strategy for everyone. A nomad has to achieve a very delicate balance between needs and mobility. Most of us like to have a semblance of a routine, a place to call our own, if only temporarily. Travel is stressful on mind and body, specially if you’re switching time zones. Double that if you have a family in tow.
It’s a great feeling to be able to explore your surroundings at will, knowing that “home” will be waiting for you close by at the end of a busy day/weekend.
Myth #4: It’s Working Out of a Cafe with Your Laptop: Sure, it’s cool to brag to your friends about making money while pounding down lattes in an exotic location. Internet cafes are fine for Facebooking and light browsing, not as places to do serious work from. Believe me, I’ve tried.
If you need to do serious work, such as calling clients, or concentrate on a project that needs to be delivered by a certain date, you’ll probably way more productive working from a designated place that you’ve set up to fit your work style.
Myth #5: It’s Like an Extended Vacation: There’s a huge difference between vacationing and slow-travel. People on vacation have a limited time to do all the sightseeing they can before they have to schlep back home. They’re often limited to visiting the country’s major highlights, which are great places to meet… other tourists. After two weeks of sleeping in beds you’re unaccustomed to sleeping in, eating food you’ve never tried before, often in time zones different than yours, your body will be literally aching to get back home.
As a slow-traveler, you’ll be letting your body settle down and your mind to process its new environment. There will be time to hit the landmarks. Not only that, you’ll discover little-known places that are the furthest from the tourist traps most visitors are directed to. You’ll have time to make yourself feel at home and find those items that reduce the effects of homesickness. And you’ll discover what the culture is like and its people.
Location independence is the Holy Grail for those that want to live a life of travel. By being location independent, you can travel as little, or as much as you want. You set the itinerary, not the airline ticket or a tour company.
What are you doing today to put you on the path to location independence?
Is it something you’d like to achieve? Share your experiences below!
Cover Photo: Flickr @ Nicola Since 1972