Leggi in italiano qui
Not all those who wander are lost
A year ago today, hungover and cold, I left my beloved London and embarked on my first “official” nomading trip. In between going back and forth to London to resolve some bureaucratic issues (hello citizenship!), over the course of the next 12 months I travelled to Argentina, the US and Canada, Italy and Thailand, where I am right now.
Anniversaries, like New Year’s Eve and similar moments, always prompt some reflection and taking stock, so I thought I’d jot down some of the lessons learnt (or unlearnt!) over the course of this very interesting year.
– Pack less: you won’t need half of the stuff you’re throwing in your suitcase/backpack.
– Pack smarter: some things you really cannot replace while out on the road. It does take time to refine your packing skills.
– Make time to connect with people “at home” (wherever that may actually be – my loved ones are spread around the world), even if it sometimes means Skyping at dawn.
– Continue posting pics on Facebook that highlight the good life you’re living now (or just how happy/content you are) despite many, MANY people telling you that they’ve had enough of being envious. They love you, they want to see more, and you should try to inspire them to go after what they want too. 🙂
– Learn to appreciate fleeting and intense friendships. In this digital nomading game, people walk in and out of your life on a regular basis (usually this is just when you’ve realised how awesome they are and how cool it is to hang out with them), and you have got to get to grips with the fact that they will leave tomorrow. But then again, you might meet them somewhere else along the way, and then it will suddenly feel like you’re home again. Guys, you know who you are!
– Don’t sweat the small stuff. I am usually already pretty good at this, and this relaxed, healthier life is just pushing me more in that direction. Comments, littledetails, niggling annoyances… can all be banished to the recycle bin.
– Learn some words in the local language. With Spanish it was easy, with Thai not so much. Admittedly I have done a poor job in Thailand, only knowing hello, thank you and, my current favourite, how to say “5” (it is “ha”, so when you want to say LOL or hahaha in Thai, you just type 555! Great, isn’t it?). Must do better.
– Break out of the usual working patterns. Before, I could not write if people were being noisy next to me or with music playing… Now, I make do (I do think I probably need to invest in some good noise-cancelling headphones). I can concentrate in a busy cafe (if the food and coffee are good!) just as much as I did in my quiet apartment.
– Tropical weather is bad for electronic devices. Remember that.
– Think outside the box. This has been the biggest take-home so far. I am constantly plagued by self-doubt about not being able to do something or not being good at something else, and more and more, by talking to people here and just seeing the kind of opportunities people have seized, I ask myself “well why the hell not me?”, so I’ve been expanding my concept of what I can and want to do and throwing myself out there.
– It’s OK to drink water and go home early. As my friend the Happy Chanterexplained it beautifully in her own blog post, you don’t have to be part of every social event, gathering or party going on. You need to be a bit selfish sometimes, to make sure you’re healthy (in body and soul/mind) and do what is good for YOU. Some people may be travelling to party all the time, props to them. I am travelling to see the world and be healthy but most of all to concentrate on my own projects that I’ve been putting off for far too long. So 5 nights out of 7, after dinner accompanied by water, I go home to rest, watch some Netflix and sleep, ready for the next day. Those other 2 nights I’ll go out, have drinks and enjoy myself (not that I don’t the other times) and go home when I want to – which, it turns out, is still pretty early compared to my “previous” life… And you know what? I don’t feel bad about that! It’s great. If you find that boring, that’s your problem. 🙂
– Don’t go by first impressions too much: people and situations can surprise you.
– Be open to discussing your projects and ideas, and the problems you may be having with them. Chances are, as you talk through them, you’ll get a new idea or someone else could come up with something interesting. And if not, it’s still good practice for pitching and networking.
– And finally, it’s ok to be a SLOWMAD (slow nomad). Go at your own pace, because, after all, that’s the only pace that matters.
Here’s wishing to more years of successful and healthy nomading!