New gen­er­a­tions take their dig­i­tal life on the road.

worldwide travel Nomadic lifestyles: Living with less

There’s no doubt about it. Travel is big.

The travel indus­try has been explod­ing in recent years, with fig­ures show­ing an 86% increase in leisure travel from 2010 to 2020. And it shows no signs of slow­ing down.

The pop­u­lar­ity of back­pack­ing, flash­pack­ing and couch­surf­ing among twenty and thirty-somethings has shown many that they can live a fuller, richer life with noth­ing more than the con­tents of a sin­gle bag or suitcase.

With an increas­ing num­ber of peo­ple able to work remotely using lit­tle more than their lap­top, a large chunk are decid­ing to uproot their lives and opt for a life of travel.

What we’re see­ing is a mas­sive shift in how many younger peo­ple are liv­ing today. And it was some­thing we didn’t quite expect.” says Mark Schu­mann of Schu­mann & Asso­ciates. “They’re essen­tially nomads, with no fixed home. And they like it that way.”

Unlike the tra­di­tional nomadic tribes of Aus­tralia and India, these mod­ern nomads are liv­ing with lux­u­ries, at least the ones that are impor­tant to them — most of which are now dig­i­tal. If it is light­weight and prefer­ably multi-function, it’s good to bring along.


But why is this hap­pen­ing? And why now?

There are sev­eral rea­sons for this shift:

A reduc­tion in fear-mongering has made world travel seem safer, espe­cially for those in the U.S. who have been tra­di­tion­ally more cau­tious to travel internationally.

These gen­er­a­tions are rest­less…
Always on the look­out for some­thing new. Some­thing more. Some­thing else…

Another impor­tant rea­son is that the MTV gen­er­a­tions need con­stant visual stim­u­la­tion. And what bet­ter stim­u­la­tion that explor­ing a new city, or, bet­ter yet a whole country?

For many, gam­ing has offered this con­stant visual stim­u­la­tion, but oth­ers long for ‘doing it for real’ and tak­ing to a life of worldly explo­ration and discovery.

Finally, many com­pa­nies are now allow­ing employ­ees to work remotely — as long as the work gets done. A linked-in lap­top and a quiet space in Belize can pro­vide a bet­ter work­ing envi­ron­ment than a noisy office in Illi­nois. Those who aren’t per­mit­ted to work remotely will often cre­ate their own busi­ness and work for them­selves. We’ve seen a mas­sive increase in globe-trotting entre­pre­neurs over the past decade, with every­one from pro­gram­mers, design­ers right through to pho­tog­ra­phers and tat­too artists tak­ing to the road.

What would once take up a room,
is now portable.

backpack closet Nomadic lifestyles: Living with lessYears ago, the aver­age 20-something’s bed­room may have con­sisted of a shelf of DVD’s, a few piles of books, some albums full of pho­tos, some messy piles of CDs, a desk­top com­puter, clunky mon­i­tor and a closet full of clothes. Oh, and a bed…

Now, all of that can fit in a back­pack and be taken around the world (except of course, the bed).

To break it down: the major­ity of the list — piles of music, movies and pho­tos all can be eas­ily car­ried on an ultra­light, ultra­thin lap­top, or pocket mobile device. The rest — ie. cloth­ing, is sim­ply a mat­ter of some clever deci­sion engi­neer­ing. The youth of 2021 do not much feel the need to stay in one place.




Notions of com­mu­nity are redefined.

The same device that stores their dig­i­tal ‘stuff’ of course also gives today’s dig­i­tal nomad instant access to any of their friends, in any coun­try, com­plete with 3D video inter­faces that are ‘just like being there’.

Instead of just one group of friends, these new nomadic explor­ers have mul­ti­ple groups of friends that they have met dur­ing their trav­els and will reg­u­larly keep in touch with and cross paths with again.

Schu­mann sees the over­all shift as very pos­i­tive, with these ‘nomads’ gain­ing an increased under­stand­ing of the world and the peo­ple in it. He notes “A meet­ing of two peo­ple from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures enriches both of them. Minds broaden & atti­tudes change.”

There may come a time where these nomads actu­ally want to set­tle down and stay in one place, but until then, let them be free.


Photo cred­its: mil8tran­chis