Is Nomadic Life Lonely?
One of our biggest challenges being nomadic is maintaining a community. Sure, you can keep yourself busy visiting holy temples, sampling exotic foods or snorkeling colorful coral reefs, but it’s no substitute for hanging out with family and friends.
Michaela, Stephan and Tony on Rabbit Island
We used to have a big community while living in San Diego. There were “happy hours” with co-workers, dinners with friends, and Survivor and Amazing Race nights with our family. After moving to Berlin, we had to start over, and our community was reduced to a handful of new friends. Now that we have gone completely nomadic, building and maintaining a community has become one of our greatest challenges. But that’s where social media comes into play.
Facebook and Twitter are excellent tools for following other travelers and connecting with them along the way. Tony and I have made it a priority to stay in touch and meet up with people over and over again. There was French Thomas who we met in China and India. We met Jonathan and Rebecca in China, Tibet and Nepal. We encountered Richard and Emma, several times in India. Our latest rendezvous was with Michaela and Stephan, a German couple from my home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. We first met in India in 2008, saw them in Thailand in 2009, and met up again in 2010 for a few days of island hopping in Southern Cambodia. Speaking my native dialect reconnected me with my home (and drove Tony slightly insane). But it is important to reconnect with your own culture once in a while.
Online chat, Skype and email have all been great instruments to bring home a little closer. But sometimes it’s just not close enough. What do you do if you can’t go back as frequently as you would like to? You convince your friends to visit you on the road, like Lisa and Garrett from San Diego or Beverly, who’ll be traveling with us for a couple of months in Cambodia and Laos.
So to answer the question of whether our lives as nomads have been lonely – absolutely not. Sure, it takes time and effort to stay in touch, but social media has made this process a lot easier. Of course, I want to sit in a cafe with an old friend and laugh until I cry, but I can’t have it all. In the meantime, I satisfy myself with XOXOs, LYs and LOLs.