Global Nomadism: Tourism as a Lifestyle?

With Global Nomadism (aka Digital Nomadism or Neo-Nomadism), travel takes a central role in the lives of its protagonists, becoming a key tool of liberation and identity research, as well as a modern status symbol.

Global Nomadism
Global Nomadism: Man Overboard – Photo Courtesy: Adrien Sifre @ Flickr

While on the one hand, globalization, the cultural revolution brought about by the Internet, and the recent financial crises have shaken the Western world, burning millions of jobs, on the other, they also opened new areas of opportunity, that global nomads were promptly able to recognise.

This vanguard of a few thousand individuals, especially millennials, pursue a holistic lifestyle, by which the boundaries between work, study, and leisure get blurred and travel remains the ultimate aspiration. In their opinion, the rules of bourgeois society should be rewritten to make them fit for “liquid modernity”.

What has been cut apart can not be glued back together. Abandon all hope of totality, future as well as past, you who enter the world of fluid modernity.

Yes, that’s Zygmunt Bauman, who in 2000 also argued: “we are witnessing the revenge of nomadism over the principle of territoriality and settlement.”

In fact, the reconfiguration of time-space notions affected all of us. Our social relations, and often our job, are now location independent. They move with us on the cell phone. And commoditization involves more and more professions, not just coders, web designers, photographers, marketers, and freelance writers.

A real boon for global nomads, who, just like the ancient Aborigines bearing their name, hit the road carrying the bare minimum and can manage to adapt with great confidence and control to any environment or situation, as they are no longer in need of stable reference points, comfort zones, and old habits.

Global Nomad on the Road
Global Nomadism: Young Woman on the Road – Photo Courtesy: Steven Lewis @ Unsplash

Having grown up in the “Age of Access“, global nomads sanctify permanent connectivity, wireless communication, and the sharing economy. More than by Kerouac or Hemingway, they seem to be inspired by Timothy Ferriss and the aggressive startup culture in vogue today, and despite not being Marxists, they reject the property ladder, preferring to amass experiences than possessions.

These tireless travelers often rent out their own apartments and work at night as freelancers to pay their travel costs, while getting a sense of the place they are in and learning a new language during the day. They use Airbnb and Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or join co-living/co-working spaces and start-up retreats along the way, although most of the times that’s not even necessary since they can rely on a wide and varied network of contacts spread across the globe.

Global Nomadism Is About Staying Connected
Global Nomadism Is About Staying Connected – Photo Courtesy: kris krüg @ Flickr

Numerous global nomads also run blogs and are successful authors, speakers, or digital entrepreneurs. Southeast Asia and Latin America are among their favorite destinations, mainly due to the low cost of living and the good quality of life. In the last few years, places like Bali, Chiang Mai, Medellín stood out in attracting digital talent with various urban renewal projects and international initiatives.

So, should we all embrace Global Nomadism? Actually, global nomads face several practical challenges, such as maintaining health insurance, getting work visas, and handling tax issues, but most of all they have to deal with the absence of a fixed ground and the difficulty of building real long-term relationships.

As well said by A. D’Andrea: “they belong to a universe of displaced peoples with displaced minds“. To many, global nomads may seem like Peter Pan, for which post-tourism perhaps means living every aspect of their lives as tourists.

If you’re planning to mobilize your life, these online resources and further readings may help: Nomad List, Teleport, Free as a Global Nomad, Vagabonding, The $100 Startup.

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