You hear a lot of things about digital nomads these days. Instagram is full of their vanlife exploits. What you may not realize is that a nomadic lifestyle has been alive and well, even in Western cultures, for centuries. If you do not consider yourself a digital worker and you have no intention of ever living in a van, you can still make your dream of a nomadic life come true.
What Is A nomad?
A nomad is a traveler who finds a way to make a living while moving from place to place. Historically, nomads are groups of people who rely on flocks or herds of animals and either follow a wild herd as it moves or take a domestic flock from pasture to pasture throughout the year. The key elements of this lifestyle are the lack of a permanent home, traveling, and working.
How Can You Become A Nomad On Your Own Terms?
If you dream of living a nomadic lifestyle, but think it is beyond your reach because of your current skills, think again! There are plenty of options for all kinds of people to earn a living while seeing the world:
1. Learn to sail. Many traditional sailing vessels have apprenticeship programs where you can work and learn simultaneously. Imagine taking people out for whale watching San Diego harbor one season, doing lobster dinner cruises on Long Island Sound the next, and then spending your winters taking tourists out on the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean.
2. Hang out with animals. For another water-based nomadic adventure, help track and study endangered marine animals, such as manatees and sea turtles. Although many marine biology jobs require a degree in the field, some only require your time and willingness to learn.
3. Make natural spaces more accessible. America is full of public spaces, from state and national parks to local ponds and playgrounds. Did you know that you can find seasonal work maintaining these places? Spend your time building trails, doing restoration after wildfires or creating wheelchair-accessible vantage points.
4. Teach kids how to make a difference in the world. You do not need a science degree to answer questions like, “How does climate change affect the ocean?” If you would like to work with kids, but teaching science is not your thing, consider teaching rock climbing, crafts or foraging at summer camps all over the country.
5. Buy a van and start blogging. Yes, there is always the classic digital nomad option. Not all digital nomads are bloggers or vloggers, though. You could also become a remote bookkeeper, web designer, content writer, English teacher or lots of other things.
As you design your dream nomad life, focus on making a living doing what you love and not tying yourself down geographically. Do not focus on getting rich or acquiring a lot of possessions. Even if you can only live this way for a year or two, you will never forget the time you spent on the road, on the trails or at sea.