My life of travel began when I was 17 years old and headed to Greece with one of my best friends, Athena. Since then, I’ve been to many countries, nearly all 50 states, and married Whaka. We continued our precious, unique lifestyle.
When I became pregnant with Tahi in October 2010, I thought our lives of travel and adventure had received its termination notice. I saw all the adventures of our past as out of reach now that we were going to have a child, so Whaka and I searched for books and discussed how to keep our lives filled with adventure. Still, we came up empty handed. No worries, we thought; this wide-open future would allow us to carve our own path. And so we have.
There is something unique about Whaka and I – some would call it strange – because we share the desire to be adventurous, nomadic, constantly moving. We have a hard time staying in one place for more than six months. The life of the road is in our blood; therefore our daughter Tahi became a nomad in the first few months of her life. We also do not want to be our daughter’s only teachers; we want life, experiences, places, and wonderful humans from all over this planet, to help raise our child.
In carving this path for our family, we learned so much. And what we have learned can be applied to every day life – to those not on the move, and to singles and married couples, as well.
We want to remind each of you that if you dream of being nomadic and adventurous, this lifestyle is within your reach. Sometimes, it is not easy and sometimes, you feel like it might not be worth it when you are in the middle of the craziness that can occur. But at the end of the day, you will not regret the lessons you have learned, the people you have met, and the joy you have created by being nomadic – either as a family or alone, making inseparable connections along the way.
I’ve organized these lessons, from life on the road with Whaka and Tahi, into six categories:
1. Be Organized and a Minimalist
Part of our desire to be nomadic is that we want a simple life. We actually want to spend time with our daughter. We figure if we lived our lives at the pace we did when we were in L.A., we would have to work too much to afford even a tiny studio. So we decided to get rid of our stuff, hit the road, and play the game of being nomadic. We wanted to teach our daughter to love life and living. We wanted to be with each other, not get caught up with “things.”
You – and that includes most of us – think you need things, until you let go of most of your things and realize that much of what you own sets up an illusory life. In reality, you need a lot less than you think. The less you have, the easier it is to float through this world. Then the question comes down to: How do you deal with the things you do need?
When we first started our nomadic life we did not have an RV. We had three carry-on pieces – one for each of us – and a fourth piece we shared.
- We learned to choose clothes we loved and even though we have fewer clothes than most, we still have clothes we don’t even wear. We learned to rely on quality clothes, less of them, pieces we can layer, and then to get rid of clothes we were not wearing.
- Most folks think that Tahi just won’t have toys, but she does. She gets one basket (that she can take in and out of the RV). If we get a new toy, she has to get rid of another toy; this teaches her non-attachment.
- We do have electronics (Kindles are great because we can rid ourselves of most of our books); and we have a basket where all the gadgets live.
- We have two toiletry bags, one for inside the RV, and one we use when we travel with (it comes in and out of the RV or on a plane trip).
- If you plan on being nomadic, we recommend that you own: GRID IT, quick-dry towels, fewer pairs of shoes in favor of warm, wool socks; and quick, or solar “ways” to recharge your phone, camera, computer, or Kindle.
2. Be Thankful for Your Friends and Family
Being a nomad is the perfect way to teach our daughter how to make friends. Our nomadic journey usually sends us on a loop: L.A., Costa Rica, Wisconsin, and up the west coast and the states that take us over to Wisconsin – and we have even been to Australia and New Zealand. So every year, we do this loop and see our friends and their babies grow – like markers in our lives. We see them, talk about how much our children have grown and continue to develop our friendships. It is a gift to have friends in all corners of the world who are not nomadic, for they provide us with a landing station to reconnect.
Our running hypothesis is that human capital and kindness is way more important than economic capital. Even though we now have an RV (after years of sub-leasing or AIRBNB), we usually pull up to someone’s house, in the front, or the back, or on the street, and spend anywhere from one day to four months in and out of their houses. Though we have a shower, it is way easier to shower where the water is not limited to 40 gallons for ALL water consumption.
When Whaka and I were not nomads, we always opened our home to travelers; most folks called us a “free hostel.” But we knew that our kindness and openness would be “paid” back. We have been paid back, but that does not stop our gratitude. We say thank you through cards, by giving massages, by trying to clean up more than we dirtied and making our friends’ spaces look better than before we came into them.
What if you don’t have friends in a city? Use the library to recharge computers and phones, and as a quiet, free place to work. Sometimes, we find a hot yoga studio for rejuvenating warm yoga and a shower. None of the studios mind if Tahi takes a shower with us at the same time.
3. Create Ritual to Ensure Grounding Within
Every night, to prepare for sleep, we brush our teeth, go to the bathroom, read our books, and engage in our candle ceremony. It does not matter if we are in Eugene, Oregon, or Pavones, Costa Rica: We observe the same ritual. We learned this ritual, what we call “the candle ceremony,” from some friends in Oregon. We light the candle and we say why we are grateful. We blow out the candle (by we, I mean Tahi). It is our way to keep “consistency” in our family.
Every day, I practice the Art of Living, a breathing technique that helps me start the day out right. Whaka does oil pulling every morning and uses that time to be quiet and contemplative. Whatever you do, it is important to find your own way to Ground Within and realize that you are the creator of your peace or your not-so-peaceful days.
4. Movement is Needed Daily
As if moving from place to place is not enough, we recommend that your body keeps moving to match the travel you are doing (either daily, weekly, monthly, or bi-yearly). Well, of course if you know anything about us, you will know that we love to fly. We also travel with an Omni sling, which we hook to a tree to create aerial yoga anywhere in this world. But as a family, our main movement would be flying, giving, and receiving Thai massage, yoga, and walking. The gift of light is something we do as a family and it is something we give as our human capital. When we get cranky, we know we need movement. Tahi always says, “I need my exercise.”
Sometimes, folks use “traveling” as a vacation from their “normal” lives of exercise and diet. If we did that, we would most likely weigh double our current weights. “Traveling” is vital for our family’s happiness, which usually leads to something glorious because we don't really take breaks from our eating and exercising routine. When we arrive in a new city, we immediately find the best park and walk to it. We meet new parents, and Tahi has a chance to exercise in new surroundings. Taking walks is also a great way to familiarize yourself with the city you are about to call home for a while.
5. Alone Time is Necessary
Alone time is important – whether you are traveling or not. But when you are traveling, most likely in tight quarters, if you don’t take that alone time, you just might bust. Cultivate alone time to recharge so you can keep going. Head to a yoga studio, a coffee shop, or go for a walk – whatever satisfies your need for quietude. Just remember that alone time will help you see your situation more clearly every day.
6. Share Your Gifts
This is the most important nugget of knowledge we have learned. We have taken trips just to chill – also very important – but learned that those trips should last only about seven days. When you are nomadic, you are traveling, floating, or cruising through this world, but if you are not contributing to the betterment of the world, your spirit starts to diminish. The way we contribute, or give back, is to create ways for us to teach Acro or Thai Massage.
Whaka is usually able to create work everywhere we go; who doesn’t want a massage with a Maori healer? Depending on how much we plan, we can teach from city to city, like our Up & Over Tour. Sometimes, we hold private classes or workshops with our friend’s friends. This not only generates an income, but it makes our lives worth living. Sharing our gifts is why we were put here on this planet, and we encourage all of you to do the same.
A final note: Being nomadic is not as exotic as it might seem; also, it is not as scary as I am sure some of you are thinking. Having Tahi, liberated us from thinking that we had to work a typical 9 - 5 job. We threw off our chains and have opened up our world to limitless possibilities. Tahi has learned a lot on these travels, which will hopefully propel her into being a confident child, then adult. We trust that everything will work out perfectly and so far, that thought has proven correct.