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Did you feel "lost" transitioning to nomadism?

 

by @rad4ever | 6yr  | 38 comments

I was wondering if any of you have had this while on the road.

The whole transition from normal life to nomadism and moving around different places has been super fun but also super intense. Itโ€™s also why I built #nomads, to remove those feelings a bit :smile:

From times Iโ€™ve felt super amazing and then super lost.

How has it been for you to shift from normal life to your nomad life?

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@sachitgupta | 3yr

@levelsio

Started traveling a few months ago as I messaged you on Facebook. 2 years later, this thread is still amazing and super helpful. Thanks!

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@nomadtax | 5yr

The biggest challenge I face is the abundance of choice. Because I can go anywhere I want / do anything I want, I struggle to choose. Itโ€™s like going to an ice cream parlor and having the choice of 10000 different varieties.

Sometimes I also surprise myself with thoughts of settling down and having kids. I feel like Iโ€™d miss out on something important if I never have kids.

In a way, we are all part of a big experiment. We have no data / stats to help us make decisions. This is scary, empowering and an incredible opportunity all at the same time.

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@sonia | 4yr

Yes! and then sometimes all that abundance of choices just makes you want to not do anything and stay in one place for a whileโ€ฆ

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@kalitherapy | 5yr

Iโ€™m in Southeast Asia right now and truly feel like Iโ€™m done for a bit. Next week, I fly back to the US (where I am from) and Iโ€™m really looking forward to spending several months there. Although Iโ€™ve enjoyed my slow travels over the past year, I have now recognized that I can only spend so much time in developing countries before I start feeling like those characters from โ€˜Lost in Translation.โ€™ Iโ€™m at the point where I really need to reconnect with my old support network for a while.

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@vladepap | 5yr

Agreed. Iโ€™m also at that point, missing canada, friends, needing to recharge the batteries.

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@sonia | 4yr

I do agree on how nice it is to be in a developed country after spending months in south east asia. I am in Australia currently and enjoy the comfort of clean streets/nature, big supermarkets and people I can actually easily communicate with. I didnโ€™t realise how much I missed that while in SEA (sometimes maybe, but not to the point to make me want to leave). But I am also very much looking forward to spending a few months back in Europe soon!

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@vladepap | 5yr

This thread hits pretty close to home for me as Iโ€™ve been struggling with the whole โ€˜my life vs. normal lifeโ€™ type of thinking for awhile now.

When do I feel lost? One example I felt lost today was in the supermarket. I made a pilgrimage from where I was staying and just spent probably 30 mins just looking at cheese, apple cider vinegar, fruit and veg, stuff I wonโ€™t buy because there is no fridge where Iโ€™m staying and I wonโ€™t stay long enough to use a whole bottle or pack of anything.

This year actually I finally just accepted my path. I get very restless when I stay somewhere longer than three months, and these days it seems my tolerance is getting shorter. I do worry that I wonโ€™t ever be able to stop sometimes, that I wonโ€™t meet someone. That I wonโ€™t get to have all the parts of a life that I want. A partner, kids, a home. A career. Will I be poor when Iโ€™m old? How can I start thinking and planning long term?

I definitely have an MO when I travel, in order not to feel isolated: stay in a hostel, go to a party or festival, chat to people in the street even! Coworking spaces not really. Stay active, walk or bike everywhere, hike.

Sometimes my life feels very one dimensional. Other times I come to myself: look where I am! And I feel grateful. Everyone has doubts, questions, no matter what their life is like. This path Iโ€™ve chosen.

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@rad4ever | 5yr

Itโ€™s almost a year and a half after I wrote this post and a lot happened.

Iโ€™ve done a lot of testing and analysis of when I got this weird mental state and when I didnโ€™t.

It comes down that our minds seem to use our environment (location, what you see around you, people around you etc.) to identify ourselves.

I was born in the Netherlands and I grew up there. As much as I donโ€™t associate myself to most people there, if I move across the world (eg Japan), I am excited by the novelty of the environment there (neon lights, crazy adventures) but I can associate even less with the people there.

Not like I donโ€™t enjoy being there or like them. But Iโ€™ll never on a deep level understand what it is to be Japanese. I do what is to be Dutch. I mean I spent 27+ years there including when my mental frameworks were shaped (my youth).

I stepped into this movement thinking as a distinct anti nationalist. I still am. But I never thought how strong the biological programming of my own culture would be. Itโ€™s engrained. As much as I donโ€™t enjoy so many parts of my culture (itโ€™s boring, predictable, structured, unimaginative, kinda similar to German culture), Iโ€™m part of it.

And here comes the point. Every time I felt lost, I wasnโ€™t part of Dutch culture, but I also really wasnโ€™t part of the culture of the place I was visiting. Even if I connected with locals.

This is highly personal though. And it differs from person to person. What I see in many people that grew up traveling (like third culture kids or the children of expats), that their minds are intrinsically international. My mind WANTS to be that, but itโ€™s not as well trained at it because it never grew up like that.

So when donโ€™t I feel lost?

When Iโ€™m with my Dutch friends having beers and talking shit. When Iโ€™m with my parents watching horrible Dutch TV. Itโ€™s my identity.

Does that mean I canโ€™t or wonโ€™t travel for extended periods of time? No! I love travel. But Iโ€™m aware that I need to be a large part of the time in my own country, with my own friends, to feed my brain and not feel lost.

Iโ€™ve always been scared to type this stuff because it seems slightly hypocritical to be someone who promotes travel and nomads as the future. And I do believe in that. I never said it wouldnโ€™t be challenging mentally though. It is for me.

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@kathrynoh | 5yr

Interesting observations, and definitely not hypocritical. No lifestyle is perfect and itโ€™s helpful to discuss all aspects, not just presenting this image of laying in a hammock on the beach with a laptop on your knee and a fruity cocktail in your hand.

Iโ€™ve found Iโ€™m definitely more productive when Iโ€™m in a location Iโ€™ve been to before. For example, Iโ€™ve spent a lot of time in Japan and there is no novelty for me. There is also a lot less brain work with the tangible things of everyday life - I can travel from point A to point B without having to think too much, I can go to the supermarket and know whatโ€™s available and where to find it.

But there are the intangible things too. Sometimes itโ€™s nice to be around people who get it when you make a joke or cultural reference. That whole thing where you have shortcut conversations because you donโ€™t need to fill in the gaps.

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@ani_goes_tweet | 5yr

I think the first time I left the country for a long time (it was for a year, back in 1994), I felt a bit lost, but thatโ€™s also when I discovered that I had found my wings. Since officially becoming a nomad, however, about four years ago, I have never felt lost. Rather, I feel incredibly empowered. I feel like I own myself.

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@theblakemoore | 5yr

I totally get where youโ€™re coming from Ana! Iโ€™ve only been on the road for 5 weeks as a DM and Iโ€™ve found it tough. Iโ€™ve found it super difficult validating what Iโ€™m doing to myself. I know ultimately itโ€™s what I want, but there is the temptation to approach life in the way youโ€™ve been so accustomed to doing it before โ€ฆ which wasnโ€™t making me happy! I guess the biggest thing Iโ€™ve had to do is just understand the direction of my life is a much more positive now than it was 5 weeks ago. Like you said, itโ€™s all a transition, and transitions are rarely as smooth as you hope. Stick in there, itโ€™ll all work out!

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@munly_leong | 5yr

Iโ€™m the other way around. itโ€™s very natural for me to be working remotely and very unnatural for me to have to commute :slight_smile: but I think as far as reference to non english speaking lands and cultures, Iโ€™ve been a relative wuss and havenโ€™t put myself in that position to really comment. Closest to that for me was Montrealโ€ฆ but it was still Montreal, people could still speak English but they just hated it if you made them :wink:

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@kalitherapy | 5yr

Hi Ana,

I saw your post and just wanted to say that I speak with a lot of new DMs (and I am a new DM myself). Know that what you are experiencing is VERY common, you are not alone and most of the time, you will find a way to resolve these feelings on your own. The more I speak with DMs, the more I feel like we too go through stages similar to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Rossโ€™ 5 Stages of Grief and Loss. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we do lose some things when we go from a traditional, static lifestyle to a nomadic one. I encourage you to keep blogging to help process your feelings as you make this difficult (but ultimately beneficial) transition.

Aaron

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@anaidoeurope | 5yr

Itโ€™s been a week now since Iโ€™m seroiusly feeling lost in this transition. Iโ€™ve been looking for answers in books, on the web, in nature, in my family. But most of all, in myself and my business - if it can maintain my dream scenario of being a digital nomad. Like some of you shared, a lot of context changing can trigger existental crisis and you wonder a lot about yourself. Your own priorities, passions, values, endurance, resourcefulness, your skill set. In my case also some attachements, to my workplace, the city I live. Is it the fear of the unknown or is it just the familiar fear of change that I donโ€™t know. All I know is, in the last days fear has been consuming me and causing my old pattern for solution finding to surface - run away. But all probably comes down to how much you know yourself, about your perpetual state of happiness and what you are willing to do for that. To be a bit more percise, how much are you likely to willing to sacrifice for that. Iโ€™m going about it again, looking for answers and Iโ€™m so happy to find this post. Iโ€™m landing in Bangkok on January 18th '16. If we donโ€™t like societal systems, we know and respect freedom - I guess we can be free and Bangkok is hopefully Bangkok just the start. Iโ€™m writing a blog about it and it helps me a lot. http://idoeurope.tumblr.com/

Awesome site :slight_smile:
Greets from Slovenia,
Ana

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@dhamm | 5yr

Yes, I definitely have felt lost after doing this for about 8 months now. Part of the problem is I would like to interact and work with other digital nomads, but donโ€™t have the time outside of current projects to contribute to anything. This, along with natural anxiety around people has caused me to be hesitant to attend meetups or go to co-working spaces and I end up just working from the apartment. I probably would feel much less โ€˜lostโ€™ with a group of friends in certain cities like boromisa said.

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@jessehanley | 5yr

Push yourself to connect with other people.

No matter which city I live in I always make sure to work at co-working spaces, live in a hostel or two and attend meetups. Even on those days where Iโ€™m not in the mood I make sure to get outside and connect with others.

Iโ€™ve known lots of nomads who just work in apartments or hotel rooms and it can get awfully depressing and boring. Travel and life abroad should be enriching and it only becomes enriching when you connect with others on the road.

Thanks to Nomadlist I have met and become amazing friends with peeps in Norway, Chiang Mai, Berlin, loads of cities in the US, the UK, Paris, Amsterdam and more. Just two days ago I met a New York guy who has invited me over for the Winter - how cool!

Hereโ€™s two book suggestions which I found answered this question for me: The Alchemist โ€“ Paulho Coelho & Vagabonding - Rolf Potts.

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@dhamm | 5yr

Good recommendations, will try a coworking space for the first week in the next city. Also downloaded The Alchemist :smile:

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@jessehanley | 5yr

Awesome stuff!

Enjoy it and let me know how it goes!

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@flowen | 5yr

Iโ€™ve been thinking about this, a lot. And I think Iโ€™ve got it figured out (until my next trip, haha).

Arenโ€™t we all not what we think we are? When people tell me they โ€˜knowโ€™ themselves, then I always have this inner feeling to disagree. Because โ€˜youโ€™ is never really โ€˜youโ€™. We all have dynamic personalities and nothing stays the same. When traveling this is especially noticeable.

As humans we label everything, we give everything a name. Also ourselves and our actions. We conceptualise everything, including ourselves. Itโ€™s because we have too. But these labels of concepts are not defining who we are, but we try to stick to them. Other people stick labels to us and we stick them on to others. But itโ€™s never ultimately โ€˜trueโ€™. Itโ€™s just a concept.

And when we travel, we look back at how we were before traveling, but weโ€™re different now. So these labels are wrong and we can feel misunderstood by others or ourselves. Thinking we should do or think this and/or that. But itโ€™s just a label. Donโ€™t confine yourself to what youโ€™ve done before and still want to do or what others say. If you remove all the labels, then all that is left is you. There is nothing more then what there is NOW in the present moment. That was really hard for me to accept at first, but finding this acceptance gave me a lot of peace of mind.

This is a really simple explanation, if you want to know more check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX-oeoOqaYU

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@worldtravel | 5yr

Iโ€™ve always felt lost hahaโ€ฆ there is nothing for me back home anymore any wayโ€ฆ family gone, no relationsโ€ฆ and a deep desire not to work for corporate america haha

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@rad4ever | 6yr

Thatโ€™s pretty spot on, Iโ€™ve had that often. Esp. at night in hotel rooms alone.

I attribute it to being traveling alone and losing any constant in your life and any form of familiarity. It can push you into a good existential crisis. Really just like any meditational retreat would do. Existential crises are scary as hell though. It seems like a rite of passage though when you leave your home society and realize the total freedom you can have and then realize the total absurdity of life that nothing matters.

If you get through that (I have now), it becomes kind of peaceful. You donโ€™t believe in (societal) systems anymore, but you believe in just total freedom and doing whatever you want.

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@rynesweeney | 5yr

@levelsio Transitioning from a highly structured 8-5 M-F routine to a โ€œwork from homeโ€ lifestyle, do you find it is easier to set specific routines for certain days to maintain some structure as a soft transition? Or is the structure the problem? And getting used to the sporadic and ever changing lifestyle the point?

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@jimcanto | 5yr

I actually crave that crisisโ€ฆoftenโ€ฆand have for many years. Iโ€™ve experienced many moments of profound change in my life and I get the sense, though on a smaller magnitude, those moments presented similar feelings of uncertainty. Iโ€™m creeping closer and closer to nomadism and can feel those moments coming again. Iโ€™ve hunted the kind of freedom @levelsio speaks of since I was 17โ€ฆalways being sucked back into the status quo. Many years later, the complications of breaking free are many. Now, as I turn 50 at midnight tonight, I can finally see light on the horizon. Iโ€™m so looking forward to being mobile and un-tethered. A ways to go. Lots of ties to release. But Iโ€™ll get there. Iโ€™m looking forward to that feeling of profound changeโ€ฆ and living in it.

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@felixhornoiu | 6yr

Jack Kerouac is too dramatic:)

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@flowen | 6yr

Uhm, donโ€™t quite understand what you mean. If they act introvert/nervous too this would help?

Aaahhh! Itโ€™s all about โ€œthe baselineโ€. I almost forgot about my own theory, but wanted to write a blog post about it. Itโ€™s all messed up now. I get it.

So when you stop travelling, you will have to adapt again, right? Makes sense, quite logically. Not afraid you wonโ€™t ever find a place to feel grounded this way? Some day you might have to stop travelling. Wether the reason is age, money, physical problems, whatever. What do you think about that or you just donโ€™t?

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@flowen | 6yr

So Iโ€™ve been back for a month now and felt more lost then ever. I didnโ€™t understand why and couldnโ€™t explain this feeling. But I felt misunderstood by people and their view of my traveling. But at the same time I couldnโ€™t explain or perhaps it was just me feeling judged somehow. I felt a bit nervous around old friends and introvert but didnโ€™t understand why. Coming back I immediately got a shitty flu and after that started working long days on a freelance project. Iโ€™m not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I just donโ€™t understand it. Iโ€™m slowly getting to my senses by spending as much time as possible with my girlfriend, friends and work. But maybe this is just ignoring something that I donโ€™t understand.

anyone else experienced something like this?

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@rad4ever | 6yr

Yep, that takes time. It helps if they do the same.

Your life was completely different in Bali than it is in Holland. Itโ€™s normal your mind needs to adapt again. Your brain is literally trying to make a sense of what is the โ€˜normalโ€™ for you. Youโ€™re changing it so much that it gets a bit lost.

I went through this last year, and now Iโ€™ve reached a point where my brain knows that the normal is that I keep flying around everywhere, and it feels OK and safe. So now I feel happy and grounded if Iโ€™m in Amsterdam, or in Bali, or Shanghai, or wherever. It doesnโ€™t matter anymore.

But it takes time.

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@flowen | 6yr

Having no constant feedback makes you wonder who the hell you are. There is no structure and regular schedule. Unless you create one yourself, that might help make things more sane :smile:
When I had no computer and lost my iphone during my first longterm travel I freaked out. But once I accepted it, I learned to just go with the flow: whoever I meet or whatever happens Iโ€™ll go with it. Now I like the fact that I canโ€™t control it. In the beginning it felt awkward and scary, I couldnโ€™t look up what other people there opinions were of a place or if I should spend my precious time here or there.

But later I was able to accept things just the way they came at me and so many wonderful things happened. I welcome surprise now and having too much control actually bores me (unless there is a time constrain aka deadline). Some days were boring, some days were the best ever. And thatโ€™s just what it is, a constant dynamic change of feelings but I think the most important thing is being able to accept that itโ€™s just the way it is. So stop fight the feeling of fear but just let it overcome you, acknowledge and then let it go and continue with whatever you want.

Also my feeling of experiencing time was so different: except for making flights I didnโ€™t care much and felt more free and less worried with what I should do with my time. Everyone always stresses about how precious time is and how little we have, but people seem to forget itโ€™s also about the quality and that time is just thatโ€ฆ time. Just enjoy what youโ€™re doing :smile:

(now I wonder when I return to the western world if I can maintain that feeling)

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@jonbstrong | 6yr

I found it quite hard actually - went from from wage slave mode to backpacker party mode to โ€œOh shit Iโ€™m in a foreign country and have to get my head down to make this happenโ€ mode. I think I took the wrong approach - trying to be a solopreneur until I felt I had the chops to engage with the larger community of people who are already established. #nomads and other open platforms are a great answer to this - encouraging collaboration, allowing newbies to be part of the discussion and preventing entrepreneurial loneliness (DC is great but somewhat closed and feels a bit elite).

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@jrdnbshp | 6yr

Itโ€™s never easy. At the start of this year I felt lost because I was bouncing from project to project and not completing anything. Now Iโ€™ve learned to be much better at adhering to deadlines and shipping products, so that comforts me. Every time press comes knocking though, the nerves return. โ€œWhat if what Iโ€™m building isnโ€™t good enough?โ€

I still regularly ask myself the existential questions as well: โ€œAm I working on something important enough?โ€ For me right now itโ€™s about building the skills I can scale with later. Learn to build a product, learn to market it, learn to scale it. Then apply those lessons to bigger and bigger projects. I think nomadism is a great way to build those skills in a low-risk environment, but the thoughts will never totally disappear.

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@kirkbeard | 6yr

Itโ€™s an amazing thing to do, and Iโ€™d never regret doing it but it can be stressful at times. The constant need to find reliable internet and balance work/life/travel can be difficult.

Itโ€™s a liberating thing to do, but not always โ€œeasyโ€.

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@cbovis | 6yr

@levelsio in what sense do you find it intense? Is it the stress of not knowing where you are financially or perhaps loneliness?

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@rad4ever | 6yr

Itโ€™s the complete entire freedom that I can now do whatever I want. Which is very new to me. Thereโ€™s no society, structure or authority to regulate me anymore. Iโ€™m a completely free individual. Thatโ€™s awesome but also scary in a way.

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@marinajaneiko | 6yr

Hmm, I donโ€™t remember, it was so long ago :smiley:

But seriously, the more people who do the same thing you meet the more โ€œat homeโ€ you feel while traveling. In the beginning (that is 5 years ago) I met only few people who would actually be traveling AND making money, so I felt like Iโ€™m the weirdo and all successful people are somewhere in San Francisco or London or Toronto. It gave me enormous anxiety feeling I might be doing the wrong stuff with my life (even though I fully enjoyed it). But then I started meeting more and more digital nomads, started writing about my lifestyle and the picture changed - now I think Iโ€™m the one doing something right about my life. So thatโ€™s about my early anxiety :slight_smile:

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@rad4ever | 6yr

Thatโ€™s exactly it! This idea that Iโ€™m doing the wrong thing even though Iโ€™m successful at what I do and itโ€™s super fun, this nagging feeling of โ€œwrongโ€ is there. Itโ€™s slowly disappearing though also thanks to meeting people like you guys/girls :slight_smile:

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@boromisa | 6yr

I think itโ€™s a balance and finding the pace of change that works for you. When I started last year, I was a travel maniac and thought nothing of twisting tickets to give me multiple 23 hour layovers across half a dozen cities/countries. So I started to travel slower and โ€œlivedโ€ in a few places for a while, but you get restless with that as well.

It also helps to start establishing places that feel more like โ€œhomeโ€ and checking in once in a while, whether it be to change out clothes or visit with friends and family. I do that with SF, Chicago, Berlin and Buenos Aires. For you, it may be Amsterdam, Taipei, Tokyo and Ubud. Itโ€™s nice to balance time between idyllic paradises and places where resources and connections are more cemented and centralized.

As for the โ€œwhat am I doing with my life?โ€ Welcome to your quarter-life crisis :slight_smile: I think youโ€™re pretty far ahead of the curve on acting on your dreams and you certainly understand the value of a portfolio over a brand/years of experience on a resume. A little dose of impostor syndrome is pretty healthy. Recognizing it shows self-awareness and that youโ€™re probably not a douchebag.

Almost everyone I talk to (and Iโ€™m sure this happens to a lot of you) when hearing Iโ€™m nomadic, says something to the effect of โ€œI wish I could do that.โ€ Count yourself fortunate that you have the right combination of skills, resources and ambition to be in a situation many people would envy, and help others achieve their dreams and happiness too. Itโ€™s not a cure for feeling what youโ€™re feeling, but the longer you do it, the more the โ€œfear of missing outโ€ (the dreaded FOMO) will subside and the more youโ€™ll know yourself as a person.

Ignore the press, they just look for anything that gets them clicks regardless of accuracy. I got burned by that recently and learned that what they publish may be the opposite of their actual experience. Focus on creating value for others and being genuine.

How does everyone else keep from being lost? I am curled up on a couch on a rainy evening, waiting for pho and a (really close) friend to get home. This is what I need right now.

Happy to chat offline too :slight_smile:

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@cbovis | 6yr

I think that feeling is always there though regardless of what you do in life. You always question whether youโ€™re doing the right thing and itโ€™s rare (and potentially dangerous) to have complete conviction about something.

Perhaps it is more prevalent in nomads due to the lifestyle not conforming to standard expectations? In a sense youโ€™re an outsider to how the rest of the world works and like you say talking to other nomads makes you feel better potentially due to feeling more part of a group.

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@kirkbeard | 6yr

I think this sums things up quite nicely. Rather than going with the flow, youโ€™re attempting to break away from the status quo and try something different, which can add additional stress to whatever you might be attempting to achieve.

You have to step out of your comfort zone more than usual, in an attempt to do something different to what most people are doing (or expecting you to do).

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Best place in Portugal near cool nomads, good surf, and a great cowork spot


in Portugal by @joelnicholson | 3d 2 days ago | 9 comments

Hi there, title says it all. Canadian nomad hoping to find the city/town in Portugal with great, consistent surfing, a solid coworking spot, and a fun group of young nomads. Please recommend!

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Where should I set up my company as a remote worker?


by @beloruchka | 3d 2 days ago | 7 comments

Iโ€™m looking for any recommendations for services or people others have used to get answers on the best place to set up their businesses based on their personal circumstances.

Leaning towards Singapore after a ton of research, but would really like some concrete advice before jumping in.

Appreciate it!

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How to learn a language without taking a formal class?


by @zakamercury | 3d 3 days ago | 5 comments

How to learn a language without taking a formal class, while traveling in different countries?

What advice can you give me?

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What's the best thing to do with your phone/ your phone number when travelling?


in Poland by @davda1546 | 12d 11 days ago | 6 comments

Hey, hope everyone is well!

We're leaving in a month to go travelling. Our first destination is still to be confirmed, but will likely be Poland or Slovakia. We will be moving around every month or two to different destinations.

The question we have is: what do people do with phones/ phone numbers when hopping from country to country? Ideally we'd just like one number for the whole trip (even better, the number we already have) wherever we go, rather than getting new SIMs with different numbers.

This is just so it's easier to keep in contact with family/ clients/ etc.

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Villages-rural destinations in Europe, for slow nomadism?

 

by @magalhini | 4yr 3 years ago | 28 comments

Hi fellow nomads!

Iโ€™m currently on a quest to find some places for temporary living on a quiet, ideally green and mountainy village, somewhere in Europe, since I feel l could use a break from the busy lifestyles of Berlin and London.

Trouble is, everyone always goes for the big citiesโ€ฆ finding villages with decent access (not requiring endless hours of driving from an airport) is proving to be tough so far :confused:

Some options are some inner, rural places in Romania and Slovakia, but I would love to hear what suggestions you come up with! Maybe somewhere in your home country that you know itโ€™s a gem to decompress around nature ?

I would love to hear your thoughts :smile:
A cheer for slow living! :camel:

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