Nomadic No More: Why We’re Giving Up Full Time Travel

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A big change is coming for us in 2017, and it actually begins this weekend.

We’re giving up full time travel.

This might come as a surprise since we’ve often praised our digital nomad lifestyle and the freedom it gives us to work and travel from anywhere in the world. Yet, the beauty of such a lifestyle is indeed that you can work from anywhere in the world. For us, for now, that place is the USA. We’re choosing to go home. Here’s a bit about why we’ve opted to stop traveling full time, and what this means for Two Drifters going forward.

The Nomadic Life Can Be Tough

There’s quite a lot behind our decision to become nomadic no more. First, long term, nonstop travel takes its toll. Though we haven’t actually been on the road non stop for very long, we’ve traveled abroad on and off for a few years. Since last summer, we’ve had no home, no car, and no plans to return back to the states. Our travels were indefinite.A few years back, when we’ weren’t yet nomadic, we spent time in between adventures at home working hard and saving money to fund our upcoming travels. This was a smart move because it enabled us to have enough money to do things like travel in Australia for half a year. But this type of hard-core work & travel is pretty tough because saving becomes your sole focus. If travel is your goal, it’s easier to make those necessary sacrifices. But it can be hard, too, to give up other leisure activities. No dining out or fun splurge purchases while you save for your travels. It’s doable, but it isn’t always fun. And what happens when your priorities change?

When we began our online work as freelancers and bloggers in 2013, we were excited to have more mobility and flexibility to travel and work at the same time. This meant less pressure to save like crazy, but because our salaries were modest, it also meant that budget travel was still the order of the day.

Truthfully, what a lot of long-term travelers don’t always reveal is that this style of travel necessitates serious budgeting. Quitting your 9-5 career and hitting the road sounds like a dream but there’s a slog that goes along with it. Not all travel bloggers are making a sizable income from their blogs, and even those who earn something generally supplement with freelance writing, social media management, or other work. Aside from blogging, getting started freelancing or working for yourself is easy but the ramping up takes time. It can be several years before your income matches a traditional salary, and this demands serious effort, too. It’s difficult to do the quit-your-job-and-travel thing and head off right away to expensive destinations (without significant savings). This might be why so many digital nomads and full time travelers end up spending so much time in places like SE Asia. The region is super affordable (not to mention a fantastic destination) and this makes it easier to sustain the nomadic lifestyle for longer.

β† There are exceptions to every rule. See how these couples make travel work for them, some full-time.β†ž

This is in part one of the reasons we chose to spend several months in Romania. Eastern Europe is a great digital nomad spot, and with super fast Internet and low prices, Romania is a wonderful option. But we started to lack the time and ability to actually travel in our destination. We haven’t seen enough of Romania, even in two months here. Our story became the same: working hard 6 days a week as freelancers to fund our lifestyle, yet hardly getting to really “travel” at all. When digital nomadism becomes just a way of life, that can sometimes take the true pleasure out of travel. Hopefully, our new approach can help us recapture that.

 

When Roots Become More Important than Routes

The financial stress of long term travel wasn’t the only factor that influenced our decision. We also realized, we were simply just tired. When you travel constantly or very frequently, there are so many plans and arrangements that need to be made. We know that all types of lifestyles involve stress, and most of the time, the benefits and beauty of travel far outweigh the stress, but we also recognized that we were beginning to desire something different.

Perhaps this is something that can start to happen as you get a little older, but we feel a craving for more stability.  It would be awesome to have somewhere to display our travel souvenirs and hang up our decor—items that have up-to-now been lying dormant in cardboard boxes. We want a home to call our own and a place we can maybe start to build a community.

Dare I say, we want to “settle down” a bit?

Nathan and I miss our family and friends. These things are massively important, and being back home means we’ll have much more time with them. It can be a lonely life on the road, too. Though we meet people as we travel, keep in touch with friends and family online, and also are part of a lively travel blogger community, most of the time…it’s just the two of us. Thankfully, we really like each other, but we definitely could use more social interactions. Giving up our traveling lifestyle means we will no longer miss friend’s weddings, we’ll be there to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and we can just spend more time hanging out with folks we love.

Oh, and speaking of love, we want to get a dog!

This might seem like a small reason to stop traveling so much, but Nathan and I are pretty obsessed with animals. I love that about him. If we’re walking down the street we never fail to point out a cute dog to one another. They make us smile. We’ve loved housesitting in the past (it’s an awesome way to save money on travel expenses) and we’ve always fallen head over heels for the animals we’ve cared for. It becomes tough to say goodbye to these precious cats and dogs, and it is really time we had one of our own. We have doggy fever probably the way some couples our age are crazy for babies. But while little drifters are not in our immediate future, an adorable canine friend certainly is!!! We look forward to becoming fur parents and also discovering the possibilities for dog-friendly travel.

So a place to live and make our own. A little doggy to turn us into three drifters. More connections with community, family, and stability. Someday, potentially to own our own home. Ironically, we’re looking to live the life that so many people seem to end up running from, or at least resisting. But I’m personally starting to see that there’s so much value in living the *conventional* life, and that wanting to have the house, the car, the kids, the 9-5 job: it’s all perfectly okay. I understand why people would happily choose the traditional path.

Long Term Travel Isn’t for Everyone

Should you quit your job to travel?

Maybe, but consider the decision carefully.

Maybe you LOVE travel, but you really like your creature comforts and are not willing to give up the permanency of a home base or even a 9-5 job that you enjoy. That’s legit and you can still find plenty of time to travel, even with a full time job.

I used to think that full time travel was the only way to “truly” be a traveler. What was the point if your life wasn’t completely devoted to the journey and to the adventure? Maybe I’m somewhat of an all-or-nothing thinker, because I used to feel this way when I was doing theatre, too. If it wasn’t an amazing professional opportunity that would promote my career towards Broadway, then I wasn’t interested.

[blockquote]Now I recognize the value of just doing something for fun, for the pure joy and love of it[/blockquote]

Now I recognize the value of just doing something for fun, for the pure joy and love of it. I’m ready to go back and do some good old fashioned community theatre with my fellow showbiz lovers. This is in fact another reason for wanting to quit being nomads: we can participate in other non-travel pursuits that have meaning for us; things you can’t do while on the road. So keep your eye out for me on the local musical stage or in an improv comedy class.

But back to long term, full time travel. We’ve discovered that it just isn’t for everyone.

Right now, it isn’t for us, but we still plan to make travel an integral part of our life.

*It can be tough coming home after traveling. See this article on post-travel depression.

The Travels are Far From Over

So, we may be no longer wandering the world and living nomadically, but don’t think for a second this means that our travels are over! We’re still a travel blog (with perhaps a touch more lifestyle focus going forward) and we still adore going on adventures around the globe. We still plan to travel, but it will be less extensive, probably less frequently, and may include different or closer-to-home destinations.

But you know what’s great? Now, when we travel, we can actually TAKE A VACATION.

We can spend a week or two fully enjoying a destination, relaxing, exploring, and not having to put aside time in our days to work. Hallelujah! Giving up full time travel may mean more true TRAVEL for us, imagine that!

And while we’re building our home base in the states, we can really devote more time to the blog and to our freelancing and our writing careers. Hopefully, this will seriously pay off and we can afford some amazing trips in the future.

Our Life Going Forward

We arrive home at the start of February 2017 and our plan is to stay with family for awhile as we plan our next move. Our intention is to move some place in New England, a place I’m very familiar with and which has a great blend of culture, outdoor adventure, and travel opportunities. If we’re not traveling all the time, at least we can live in an awesome place that is a major travel destination itself. New England rocks: from fall foliage to Maine lobstah’, to Boston sports, to Vermont’s Green mountains….there is sooo much to explore. And it’s awesome for romantic getaways. Ah, I’m getting excited just thinking about it right now! Get ready to see a lot more on New England travel on the blog, as well as other northeast destinations.

As time passes and we settle a bit, we’ll also hopefully get the chance to see more of the country. I have never been west of Tennessee, so there’s a heck of a lot for me to see. Perhaps a road trip will take place, the two drifters and our dog in a van on the open road.

And as opportunities present themselves, we’ll still do international travel. We might stay a bit more in our hemisphere for once, as Central and South America are totally unexplored regions for us.

As for the blog, you can expect more of our great travel content, as well as more in-depth pieces on destinations, particularly in New England. We’ve always blogged about relationships, love, hiking, photography, books, coffee, and other lifestyle topics, but you will be seeing more of these in the future. Two Drifters is about the couples lifestyle, adventures near and far, and how to have your best life possible. After all, our motto is “journey farther, together.” We intend to do that in every possible way.

Will you come drift along on our new journey with us?

 

57 thoughts on “Nomadic No More: Why We’re Giving Up Full Time Travel”

  1. Wow, that is indeed a big change!! And one I totally get as it is what we’re doing right now. We full-time traveled for 9 months (also housesitting) before basing ourselves here in Madrid. It’s nice to be able to build a community and really get to know and feel a part of a place. We’re also so much more productive being based in one place and, getting to take little trips, and then coming back home to write about them (heading to Berlin this week to housesit for a week, whoot!). But omg, you’ve never been to the West of the U.S.! Definitely do that asap! I mean, once you get settled, of course. I hadn’t been until a couple years ago either and the landscapes absolutely blew me away. Tons of amazing hiking. Anyway cheers to the new adventure!! Sounds like a great decision for you guys =)

    • I know! Crazy I haven’t been out west!! Though I’ve at least been to the west of Canada. Definitely want to take an iconic road trip and do some awesome hiking. I bet Madrid is a wonderful place to be based and you’re right, it’s way easier to be productive in that way. Thanks a million for your comment and continuing to read our blog! We appreciate it xx

  2. Best wishes for your new lifestyle choice. I, too, struggled with the green grass on either side of the fence. I was happily free and working contract jobs that had me doing interesting things in interesting places, without a full-time home of my own or predictable schedule. At one point though, I wanted to learn to belly-dance. I realized that in that lifestyle, I couldn’t commit to being somewhere every Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 for three months. I had to say no. That was the turning point in my life. I’m now in a long-term job with a little bit of flexibility. Sometimes, I yearn for the freedom I had, but most days I am happy with this sense of routine and belongingness. If the pull to pack up and go gets strong enough, I can always reevaluate and make a change. So can you. I hope this works out for you.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Heather! I understand feeling that yearning for the opposite life, no matter what we’re doing. I’m sure at some point we’ll wish we were still on the road. I’m definitely looking forward to having a routine, getting to do things like take dance classes, meet up regularly with friends, etc. It’s all very exciting!!

  3. Love this!!! I totally understand this. I haven’t really travelled nomadically, more based myself somewhere overseas and travelled from there, but I’m so ready to stop setting myself up in a new place all over again when I know that I’ll be leaving eventually. I love the idea of being able to actually indulge in passions that aren’t related to travel, and not be saving every penny for travel related things, to have a network of friends and family that I see IN PERSON on a regular basis not just through a screen. Anyway, I’m super excited for you guys and to see more about how your journey unfolds!!! Yay for new adventures of a different kind!

    • thanks a million Sonja! Sounds like you really get it….I could see you doing the same in a couple of years. πŸ™‚ Whatever our journeys may entail, I know we’ll be making the very best of them!! xxx

  4. Most people want to settle down at some point and that doesn’t mean they don’t get to travel. I think that, in most cases, having a nomadic lifestyle is a phase, which hekps you grow, develop new skills, meet new people etc. It’ important to choose what’s best for you. Best of luck with all your plans!

    • thank you so much for the support and wisdom! It’s true, the nomadic lifestyle is one that makes sense at a certain point in your journey, but not forever. I’m looking forward to settling down.

  5. I hear ya. We’ve dabbled with the idea of going nomadic and we are going to try it this summer. However, traveling nomadically with a family of 6 is going to be a challenge and constant arrangement making. I totally understand you wanting roots…maybe for starting some family travel of your own????

  6. That’s a huge decision but one I fully understand. We love travelling but also love returning home to our little house, friends and family, it’s the perfect balance for us. Wish you both a very happy future! ~ Carole

  7. Oh Amy! I’m quite sad, I didn’t manage to meet you while you were in Europe! Who knows? I might see you in Boston in April?! But I get it. Personally, after a bit more than 2 months in England, I’m already fed up being settled. At the same time, it’s the only way I can get lot of work done! :O See you around the world girl!

  8. SO excited for you two!! We’re moving “home” soon too & ironically it will give us the stability we crave, while also giving us more financial freedom to travel as we wish, so we’re excited! Here’s to an awesomely & surprisingly conventional 2017 for all πŸ˜‰

  9. My husband and I have been travelling non-stop for 8 months. When we left, we set a goal for ourselves to travel for a year and then settle down without that nagging “what if we never get the chance?” feeling. Well, we’re SO excited to settle down! We’re enjoying our year of travel, but you’re right – it’s EXHAUSTING, and we miss having roots and settling in one place. We’re positive that we’ll be happy to settle down after the year is over!

  10. Hey guys, congratulations, you’re completely normal!! Just moving along to the next stage of life. And of course you’ll make fabulous fur parents. That will be one lucky dog…….or maybe two?? Think about a rescue if you can yx

  11. Amy, I am so excited for y’alls decision – for listening to what your souls are calling you to do right now. And, by the way, what a super great, reflective and smart post this is. Soooo nice to read your honestly and thoughts. I’m absolutely inspired by you two! And I’ll keep following along! Maybe we will bump into each other (finally!) one day in New England when I am visiting. Love and happy becoming nesting nomads! xoxo

  12. It must be a hard decision but it is truly amazing that you guys can follow your hearts to create the path you wanted. My virtual hugs to you from

  13. Great post Amy and congratulations to you both on the next phase of your journey! It’s great to hear the realities of life on the road and also for people to understand that there are so many different ways to experience, explore and find adventure aside from quitting your job to go travelling full-time. I totally understand about the dog part too, my husband and I are massive animal lovers and get a little jealous every time we see someone out walking their dog! Looking forward to following the next part of your journey.

  14. I love this post. It honestly sums up so many of my feelings about travelling! I don’t think I ever want to be constantly on the road, the comfort of having a base is too much for me and although blogging is one of my favourite things, I’ll never be cut out to be a full time digital nomad. Thanks for sharing your experiences πŸ™‚

  15. Hey guys I could literally copy and paste everything you’ve written in a blog post of my own because it describes mine and my partners exact situation. After living nomadically for 2 years we started experiencing the same cravings for a ‘normal life’ but unfortunately had a set back with visas which extended the trip to another 6 months! We’re finally starting a new life together with a base in Australia (tomorrow actually) and this article couldn’t have come at a better time to reassure me that it’s a good decision (for now). There are so many places we want to explore in Australia so the travel will never end, but really looking forward to having a place to call home in between trips. All the best for your new adventure! <3

  16. We can almost relate. We always had and always will have a base. We love the idea of having a place where we can simply come home to. For ten years, this place has always been Bristol, but moving forward we are giving Portugal a try. It’s going to be a period of transition and it might even be difficult for us, knowing that all our stuff, is not awaiting for us anymore. But we are keen to start over, somewhere sunny, somewhere chilled. I can’t imagine the true nomadic lifestyle, it’s just not for me. I need too many things around to keep me happy, including my huge workstation without which I wouldn’t survive. haha. Wishing you the best to you both. And yes, we want a dog too. I’m already imagining us running on the beach with our dog. Because that is the lifestyle that we want. New England is awesome, great choice for sure!

  17. This is so interesting – I always hear the quit your job and travel but I have the same thoughts as you, sometimes it’s nice to settle. And no reason why you can’t do loads of travel when settled anyway! Good luck on the next part of your journey x

  18. This was a really interesting read for me… being someone who is considering that lifestyle I feel you’ve heaven a really honest review of the pros and cons of it all! And I so agree that there is no one way to be a traveller, that’s the beauty of it, of life in fact! That we’re all different! I wish you all the best in your new chapter.

  19. Thanks for sharing your story! I think there are many stories out there that focuses on the upsides of travelling and living the digital nomad life but not so much about the realities and cons of nonstop travelling for long periods of time.

  20. This is a really interesting perspective. I’m trying to leave my 9-5 but not to become a digital nomad – but to gain some freedom. I want to choose my clients and I want to be able to hustle hard and take a vacation when I’m done and not feel guilty about it or be restricted by the time my company allows. I think I’d like to land somewhere in between and this was a wonderful point of view to read.

  21. Good luck settling back into your new routine! It’s so important to be self-aware of what works for you and what doesn’t and so much of that can change over time! Loved your honesty, I couldn’t agree more that long term travel is not for everyone. Even though my husband and I have toyed with the idea, right now we are just enjoying taking frequent well-planned trips with a full-time job. Work hard, vacation harder is how we role πŸ™‚

  22. Love, love, love this post, Amy!! I read this a few days ago and was floored by how honest and open you were (and it allowed me to share a similar story on my own blog). Particularly I relate to wanting to explore other interests besides travel (you know I’m a fellow musical theatre geek :D) and in particular what you said here: “Now I recognize the value of just doing something for fun, for the pure joy and love of it. I’m ready to go back and do some good old fashioned community theatre with my fellow showbiz lovers.” I used to scoff SO HARD at people who would go pursue a professional theatre career only to return home and do community theatre. Now, as an adult? I SO get it. Just because you don’t want to do something as your career doesn’t mean you can’t have it as a part of your life. So thank you, thank you for sharing! <3

    • yay!! I’m so happy others feel the same way! I totally understand that scoffing at community theatre. It’s odd how youth blinds us a bit haha. I always remember how happy those adults in community theatre were lol . Now I want to do a show so badly…gotta figure out where I can do that!

  23. Amy, thank you very much for this article!
    I do not understand why everyone is so afraid to admit that nomadic lifestyle is not all that great and fun? This creates a distorted image, especially for people far from blogging industry who think that all bloggers do is have fun doing nothing. In the times where every second article is all about ‘how to quit your job and travel the world’, we need more posts like this one. Yes, you have the right to slow down and yes you shouldn’t feel less cool because of that.

    • I’m so glad this resonated with ya!! Yes, the nomadic life can be exhausting, and not everyone is suited for it. And most of all, it’s not the only goal for us travelers. We’re really excited about slowing down and can’t wait to share our adventures here at home πŸ™‚

  24. I was nodding in agreement the whole time I read this. We’ve been travelling for 8 months now and itching to go back to stability for about 7 of them! We aren’t ending our once in a lifetime opportunity early – that would be a waste – but we are SO looking forward to nesting, family, community, pets, and vacations. Happy for you two in this new exciting phase of life!

  25. Exciting news for you guys!! We have slowly been transitioning to part-time travelers as in two three month trips a year and short trips in between since my hubby still works a few months out of the year. I like having a home base and he would like to be nomadic so we have been talking a lot about what’s next. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and the realities of full-time travel.
    Good luck on your new adventure!

    • thanks for the well wishes! Yes, big changes ahead, though we know travel will still be a big part of it all. I’m glad you can relate –a home base IS important at times, but being nomadic can be amazing. I guess we’ll always be pulled a wee bit in both directions. πŸ™‚

  26. My partner and I travelled fully nomadically for about 1.5 years, but ended up feeling the same way and going back to London with the idea of reconnecting with friends, settling down/resting a bit and earning more money. However I’ve never regretted anything more in my life. I feel physically sick thinking about how I was living life on my own terms and now I’m back as a London wage slave with all the misery that comes from working constantly, commuting and paying high rent and living costs. Oh and as for friends etc, I barely have time to see them anyway. Anyway, that’s just my experience. Hope it’s better for you. I certainly won’t be coming back to London ever again after this year ends.

    • oh nooooo this is scary. I bet it’s tough in London, especially. Such an expensive city. Are you heading back out on the road now? I feel like there’s always an opportunity to change if needed. Would be curious to know how your future pans out.

  27. Yes! After four years of longterm solo travel, I recently retired from that life. Some 1000+ cities/towns/villages, 50+ countries, and all seven continents…I was done living in hostels and sleeping in airports. I was done living alone. And what I wanted most…was a dog! I got back to the USA after spending the past year as a scuba instructor on a tiny Indonesian island two months ago and the first thing I did was get a puppy, lol. First time I read someone else having that sam desire.

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