I don’t know that this lifestyle is for everyone. At the end of the day, moving to a new place can be very lonely - especially when you first get there. It helps to know that this is always just a phase of moving anywhere and that, eventually, you’ll get through it and meet people.
I’ve learned that one way to curb the loneliness is to find places to live where there will be people around. Hostels are great because there are lots of other travelers coming in and out. City centers will have places to go that are within walking distance and opportunities to meet people. Coworking spaces are also good ways to quickly surround yourself with a group of like-minded people (if you’re lucky enough to be a developer/designer/entrepreneur/ etc…)
When it comes to meeting people, I’ve just found you’ll be at the extremes. You get to have conversations with people that are MUCH more different than you would if you never leave your comfort zone. At the same time, sometimes you spend friday night drinking a beer alone and reading a book. It isn’t good or bad, it is just the trade you make. For people who value “interesting” conversation, this is fantastic. For those who value deeper, more intimate conversations, you can still find them, but they’ll be more rare.
In general, I think that most people would agree that there are some things that the lifestyle forces you to develop that are rewarding.
The first is minimalism. We’ve all given up a lot of physical crap to get here and, from what I’ve experienced and read, most of us don’t miss it. It clears our minds. Everything that I own can be carried on to a plane which means everything has been thought out and selected on purpose. I understand the word “need” in a different way now. I place higher value on things like “experiences” and “conversations” than I do on items. Even most of the items that I do obsess over are tools like my camera or exactly how much computer stuff I need to do my job. I don’t celebrate them for what they are, but what they enable me to do.
Second, for those of us who work on remote teams, we learn to be a lot more focused. Our schedules don’t align with our teams and we depend much more on written communication. We train ourselves to concentrate more, be more productive for shorter periods of time, and express our productivity to others (because they don’t SEE us every day, so our presence needs to be known in other ways). Similar to the way we manage physical objects, this means we have to be a lot more deliberate and conscious of the work that we do.
We also learn - because we have to - to go with the flow. The simplest things are hard when you don’t speak the language. The internet will stop working and you don’t know why. You have to pay attention to the locals to know where the safe and unsafe areas of town are. Stuff isn’t open on Sundays. Every little thing is a challenge and some things take a lot longer than the “should.” We learn to roll with it - we appreciate the journey because it will always be an interesting story later.
In general, I think that some people are more driven by new experiences and this is a rather extreme version of that. I know that I, personally, get board easily and this satisfies that problem for me.
I’m also incredibly lucky to be currently living in places with a much lower standard of living than I am used to. When I have conversations with the locals, I’m daily reminded about how lucky I am to be where I’m from, to make what I make, and to have been raised in such a peaceful and stable place. When your Uber driver tells you about starting his life over because of the violence in his home village, you start to see your own life from a different perspective.
I’ve become a lot more introspective since I started travelling. I read more. Write more. Contemplate things more. When I walk away from wherever I’m staying my phone no longer has internet - anyone who wants my attention will have to wait until later. I can sit and read at a restaurant without interruption.
Personally, I spend less time with “junk food,” like netflix and facebook. I still fire them up when I’m feeling home sick or want to relax, but it becomes a treat once every week or two rather than a staple of my evening. I can walk outside and find something interesting - I don’t have to rely on my computer.
So, at the end of the day, I would say that you adjust to the lifestyle and learn to become more open to experience and more introspective - both of which stretch your independence muscles. It helps to consciously recognize how lucky you are to experience things that most people don’t get to experience. It feels good.