Can you believe that one year ago today, I packed all of my belongings into a single suitcase and started travelling the world, living without a permanent home?
In the past year, I have:
- Embraced my nomad title in Rome, where I was blown away by the history of the city and the extreme heat of the summertime.
- Eaten 14 pizzas and 20+ scoops of gelato within 14 days in Naples, and experienced the Amalfi Coast – the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my travels so far.
- Sampled the best food of Italy, and possibly of my life, during my month in Florence.
- Crossed off the popular Italian tourist attractions of the Cinque Terre, Pisa and Venice.
- Discovered a hidden gem in the northern part of Italy: Trieste.
- Holed up in a beach-front apartment for autumn in balmy Split, Croatia.
- Travelled with my best friend throughout Norway and Sweden, experiencing my first white Christmas.
- Spent what was arguably the best month of my life in Guatemala with my best friend.
- Lived and studied in Paris for three months (and loved every second of it – I’m counting down the days until I can go back!).
- Endured an absolutely miserable month in Morocco, and abandoned plans to remain there for two further months.
- Returned to my “home” London four times.
Not bad for a year!
Today, I wanted to address some of the questions I’m regularly asked about my life on the road.
How do I make money?
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a huge trust fund. Like a normal person, I survive on the income I make day-to-day. My income is split about 50/50 between the nutrition and training programs I offer on this very blog and the work I do as a freelance journalist. I write for a number of websites about a wide variety of subjects including finance, feminism, travel and, of course, training and nutrition.
I am very fortunate that I can work absolutely anywhere in the world, provided I have an internet connection.
Where do I pay tax?
I’m not exempt from taxes (if only!). I pay taxes to Australia, the only country where I have residency. As I am not in any other country for more than six months out of a 12-month period, I am not a resident for tax purposes.
Isn’t it really expensive to be permanently on holiday?
As you can see from the posts where I document my monthly expenditure, living as a nomad isn’t as expensive as you might think. I use Airbnb most of the time (where you can usually get a 30 to 40 per cent discount if you stay for a month or longer), but also sometimes stay in hostels or with friends.
Doing this has always resulted in a lower cost of living than when I lived in London or Sydney. Because I live in a normal house/apartment, I can prepare most of my own food. And finally, because I work like a normal person, I’m not out doing touristy things every single day of the week – which, combined with eating out, is where all the costs add up when people think of travelling expenses.
I don’t make as much money as I did when I worked full time (although I probably could if I wasn’t studying French for 20 hours a week as well!), but my monthly expenditure is a lot less, so it all balances out. Travelling through Europe by train and even plane is often cheaper than train travel within the UK. My biggest cost thus far has been my flight to Guatemala (£500) but it was worth it considering how little I spent there (less than €800!).
How many hours a week do I work?
Living as a nomad doesn’t always involve laying on beaches and drinking cocktails. Some weeks I easily work every day, punching in at least 60 hours, while other weeks I might take four consecutive days off.
The amount I work also depends on the country and my intentions there. Guatemala was cheap and a place I viewed as more of a pure holiday destination, so I worked maybe 50 hours for the entire month. In Paris, I easily did more than that each week. It makes sense considering that France is about four times more expensive than Guatemala.
Is it difficult only having one bag of stuff?
It was only a problem when I had to deal with extreme cold over Christmas in Scandinavia. The rest of the time, I have happily embraced my new minimalist lifestyle. You realise how unimportant it is to have “stuff” instead of experiences, and this also helps in keeping my expenditure down. It makes it much easier to throw together my bag and go somewhere on a last-minute whim.
Usually, I rotate the same few outfits for the summer or winter, meaning that I wear my clothes to death and am then able to throw/give away the old to make room for the new at the start of each season.
It is a bit weird not owning any furniture or regular household belongings, such as towels or bedsheets.
Isn’t it tiring?
Having to constantly move and never feel truly settled can be tiring, but it’s hard to dwell on that amongst all the positives. The first thing I do when I arrive in a new city is immediately unpack my bag and put my suitcase away so it feels like “home”. To be honest, I’ve had enough of most cities after a month anyway.
What is the hardest part of being a nomad?
Honestly, it’s probably all the logistics: booking flights, trains and accommodation, and trying to navigate a new transport structure, mobile phone network and even supermarket system is time-consuming and mostly annoying after you’ve done it once.
Because I’m travelling alone, I have to make all the hard decisions alone. Sometimes I just want someone to adult for me! At the same time, I have tried to travel with others and it’s ended up being a massive headache (except with my bestie, of course!).
I rarely have plans for a city until I arrive, as researching can suck up so much time. This has only backfired once, in Morocco, but I don’t think there was any amount of research I could have done that would have prepared me for that god awful place.
I rarely feel lonely as I have no problems making new friends. In the past year, I have only felt “homesick” once, when I missed my best friend’s engagement party. I was in Morocco at the time, so my emotions were heightened anyway – I knew that feeling homesick for Perth meant I had to book my flight out of there immediately!
I’m not yet prepared to change my travel plans for another person, so I’ve mostly avoided dating and the expectations that come with it.
What is the best part of the experience?
It’s extremely liberating to know that I can pack up all my things in 15 minutes and travel to almost any country in the world, visas permitting, any time I want. For example, my trip to Guatemala was very last-minute, as were most of my travels throughout Italy.
When will I go back home to Australia?
If I have my way, never! It’s hard to feel homesick for a place I haven’t lived for more than five years. If I settle anywhere, I would like it to be in France, but there’s no reason I can’t do what I’m doing now indefinitely.
Do I have any regrets?
Only that I didn’t start living this kind of lifestyle sooner! I ummed and ahhed about it for over a year before finally taking the plunge. I needn’t have worried as my income was already pretty stable and I knew my freelance income would pick up as soon as I devoted more attention to it.
It truly is an amazing way to live for anyone that loves to travel and doesn’t mind a bit of instability and spontaneity.
Do you have any other questions about nomad life?