Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

U is for Unique

Day 21 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

The nomad lifestyle is not only adventurous and an embodiment of freedom, it is unique as well. In the United States, where usually only two weeks of vacation time is granted, people are not used to traveling far or frequent. Most Americans don’t have a passport (and, as I learned recently, millions don’t even have any form of ID!). So, while few people travel abroad, even fewer do this long-term. I can’t blame them, the US is huge and there are a lot of amazing places to visit. They are missing out, however.

The early days of Mark and I...

The early days of Mark and I… above the Grand Canyon

In Europe, the travel bug (and vacation time) is a bit more prominent and some graduates celebrate earning their degree with a year of backpacking. But, once couples are settled with their mortgage, yard and pets and/or have started a family, they remain home bodies. It is rare to have a friend or family member who roams the world years on end (call yourselves lucky :-)). Yes, this is a unique life.

Panoramic view of coastal New Zealand

Panoramic view of coastal New Zealand

Of course, being unique is good and bad. “Special” can have many meanings, and while some might call us crazy, let’s just stick with different. Mark and I have an unusual perspective on many things and that influences our personality. We have our priorities, like most people, only they are not in line with the ideals of the majority, and that is fine. While, many years ago, I felt that “nobody” understood my desires, now the tide has turned, or I just care less.

So, what can be “bad” about this lifestyle? Apart from not having any roots, enduring discomforts, forgoing certain luxuries and missing good friends and family, the logistic and administrative side of things can get confusing and annoying. When someone asks “Where do you live?” do I give my mailing address in the US or in Belgium, or do I explain where we currently rest our heads? (I have gotten in trouble with US immigration about this one.) When asked on a form for my phone number, do I leave it blank (I don’t have a phone) or do I write down someone else’s? (Who does not have a phone number, right?) And, what do I enter as my profession? (Teacher? Freelance writer? Unemployed? Am I even allowed to have a profession on a tourist visa?) Imagine my sense of not fitting in at the doctor’s office, when the nurse doesn’t understand my blank stare after asking my previous height, weight and blood pressure. While, all I am trying to do is prevent her from feeling awkward if I were to give her the metric measurements I know…

The good thing about this unique lifestyle? We always have a lot of stories to share, memories to cherish and photos to show. And, it makes us happy, of course.

Do you know any long-term travelers? What makes you unique? Which unique lifestyle would you like to try out or do you dream about?

Less than one week left in the A-Z blogging Challenge! Thank you for swinging by our site, leaving a comment underneath or a like on Facebook, and checking in tomorrow, for “V is for Variety”.


  1. Where are you from? Is a good one. Usually, people are asking me that because of my accent, so I tell them England, even though I have lived in the states since I was 12. Sometimes we say “from here!”

  2. Hi there,

    Yes, I am having fun on the A to Z! I have 3 posts left. This is my first time doing it and I wish I would have written ahead so that I had more time to explore others’ blogs and comment! Ah well, I’m here, aren’t I? So I do find your lifestyle interesting. My husband and I both would like to do that, we just haven’t taken the plunge yet. We want to get our daughter through school first. I did move to England for a few years when I was first out of college and I did my substitute teaching over there. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

    • Experiences abroad as a traveler or expat are so interesting, aren’t they? I’m glad you got to taste life in England after graduating. By the sounds of it, more travel is in your future! Exciting, for sure… The A-Z challenge is more exhausting and time-consuming than I anticipated. I guess that’s why it is called a challenge. 🙂

  3. It’s amazing how the simplest questions (like what’s your address?) cause us to pause and really think about the answer. One of the things I’m enjoying so much about the A to Z Challenge is finding other people who really ‘get’ that.


    • Stephanie, I am so glad that we found each other! 🙂 Cruisers are a special bunch and some things are just not understood by non-cruisers. Such is life, and I have long given up on trying to explain certain sentiments, priorities and experiences to landlubbers…

  4. You are at least my third unique of the day which proves we are all unique! I don’t know anyone who lives like you – the nearest was a colleague who took 6 months off to sail the Atlantic but that was many years ago. That’s why I find your posts so fascinating – you are so different from me. And thank goodness for that! The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same.

    • Haha, Anabel. That’s what I always say! I love how everyone is different and unique in their own ways. The last thing I want is a boring world! 🙂 Now, why am I not surprised that unique is a popular u-word? With universe as a close second…

  5. Many of my friends now complain about how difficult it is to take care of their houses and wonder when they should downsize. We’ve always traveled. We’ve slept and lived so many different places, that it seems to mirror the beauty of the larger world — and its impermanence. So, I say travel as long as you can, and when it’s time to make that nest, keep those memories close. I really enjoy your posts and photos!

    • Thank you, Beth. I wish I had more time to browse all my photos before I picked some. Maybe in the future. You know, after I traveled for a few years, people would ask me when I would settle. I said “I don’t know,” but in the back of my head I thought “One day”. Now, I don’t even think “One day” anymore and just see what the future brings. I might never be (mentally) ready for that nest. And, while Mark and I have kept an eye out in the past as to which country we would prefer to live “for a while”, honestly, we have not find the perfect match. I guess we are picky… or restless. 🙂

  6. Liesbet there is a part of me that longs for the lifestyle you have. Then there is the part of me, the part about to become a grandmother any day, that loves having the geographic closeness to family. When Dave retires we do plan to do longer term travel and look at more unique ways of doing that. I shall be coming to you for advice!

    • Any time, Sue… Although I am not that experienced in anything. We just kind of play everything by ear. I think it is good to have a base, though, especially if you are a family person and like to have friends around. I do miss that part, but luckily – touch wood – we both still have our parents around and that gives us a great base in two countries to catch up with our “old world”. I think you two will be perfect longer term travelers!!! So exciting!

  7. You are the first long term traveler I have ever conversed with, and it has been nothing but pleasurable.

  8. Our current plan – 8 months of cruising, back to work for 5 months, then 6 months of cruising and repeat – seems to strike most people as “such a great idea…!”, but not one they could EVER see themselves doing. Too far out of the box, I guess!

    • When we were cruising and meeting “part-timers”, we always envied the great balance they struck between six months boat life in the tropics, and six months back to friends, family, the familiar and conveniences (and work in some cases). If you can afford two homes, it appears to be the best of both worlds. The negative is that the first weeks back on either end will be spent organizing the new life/period on board or on shore. Especially “wrapping up” the boat and getting it ready again will be time-consuming and frustrating times, but worth the switch.

      I have met a lot of people who respect what we do, but couldn’t do it themselves and I totally understand that they prefer the comfort of their unmoving house and the presence of their friends and families above the adventurous and the unknown. The boating lifestyle is not for everyone and there are plenty of relationships that falter or trips that are cut short, because the cruising life is harder than anticipated and expectations are not met. Great for you guys to give it a go!!!

  9. blkbtslonglegs

    April 25, 2016 at 21:51

    I hadn’t thought of the issues not having a “permanent” address might cause. During my university years I moved every four months, so I always used my mother’s address as my permanent address. I sometimes felt like a bit of a fraud though 😀

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

    • We are both so fortunate to have our parents (and their addresses) as our “residence”. Not sure what to do without them, really… I guess we would have to “live” at (in?) a box at the post office. 🙂

  10. Oh! I don’t think I could handle just 2 weeks of annual leave a year! It’s a month in Australia and I typically take double that if I can get away with it! I think the benefits of the nomad lifestyle far outweigh the negatives … but that’s my personal preference, I know a lot of people who are happy just being home bodies 🙂

    • Yep. Each to themselves, or however that expression goes… It takes all kinds to make the world go round. I respect people’s choices, whether they are home bodies or travelers (I do know whom I would connect better with, though :-)), and – don’t tell anyone – there have been times (like on a non-stop three week sailing trip across the ocean) that I wished I was sitting in a house on the couch, with a book in my hands and a cat on my lap! 🙂

  11. As a fellow traveler, I hear you on the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’. I think it would have been more difficult for me not to live this dream than it is to live it. But still, I sometimes fantasize about how great it will be when this adventure is behind me and I am ‘home’.

    • You know what will happen whenever you are back home, Lisa! Your feet would get in a state that needs scratching, at least after a few months in NY! 🙂 I am so glad that you are still out there, living “the dream”, for yourself and for me to be able to read and hear all about it!

  12. I hate the question, “where are you from?” I never quite know how to answer it and I tailor my answer to the asker/situation.

    • So weird that we hate that question, because there is no easy answer. And, we don’t want to get into the whole explanation of it over and over again… We have often tried to come up with a funny and crazy sounding answer, but we are just too honest, or unimaginative! 🙂

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