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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Buckman

What Are Nomads? Why Modern Travelers Reverting To This Ancient Way Of Life

Updated: Sep 26

yurt tent in a desert

There has been a surge in modern travelers converting to a nomadic way of life.

The soon-to-be leaders of society, Millennials and Gen Z, are ditching conventional office jobs and opting for digital nomad-friendly careers.

What is a digital nomad you may ask?

A digital nomad is a person who travels the world while working remotely.

They often live in multiple countries for months at a time amongst a community of other digital nomads.

Younger generations have an irrevocable desire for freedom that was never seen as possible by those who proceeded them.

The cause for this difference in thinking can be correlated to the birth of social media. People born after 1990 have never seen a world without the internet.

The difference between this generation of people and the generations that came before the digital age is their exposure to the rest of the world.

Prior to the internet, everything you know about places you had never been came from books, stories, or movies. This leaves a lot of room for opinions and misconceptions.

Due to the rampant world of the internet, you can see first-hand what life is like in any city, state, or country. This resulted in younger generations being raised with exposure to alternative cultures and ways of life.

Kids now grow up seeing 18-year-old millionaires on YouTube who started businesses and never went to college. 30 years ago, that was never an option.

When you see someone do something you never thought was possible, a part of you ignites and knows that there is potential for you to create that life for yourself.

The potential for a life of pure independence and freedom is what fuels the fire of a digital nomad. A sedentary and cyclical life is a soul-sucking trap for a person with nomadic desires.

Common characteristics of a nomad include adaptability and a craving for change in environments.

A repetitive lifestyle with the same people, places, restaurants, a 45-minute commute to work, and watching the same TV show every Tuesday night is a nomad's worst nightmare.

This fear of settling is driven by curiosity and the need for adventure.

Some may say that the digital nomads are here to show humanity how to truly live.

man traveling on a beach as a digital nomad

What Are Nomads And What Do They Do?

Nomads are nomadic people who do not live in a fixed location or have a home base. They live their lives traveling to and from multiple locations.

The modern-day nomads and historical nomads are similar in principle but have lifestyle variations due to evolution. The original nomads traveled to follow seasonally available plants or animals that they would hunt, to trade and barter goods, or to follow their migrating livestock.

You are reading this article on a state-of-the-art 21st-century piece of technology, so I would assume you are not interested in hunting and gathering.

Hence, the term digital nomad. A combination of nomadic principles with modern-day technology and lifestyles.

bus driving through a desert and mountains

What Is The Nomadic Lifestyle?

The nomadic life is essentially a lifestyle where you have location freedom. Location freedom is an overlooked necessity for a fulfilling life.

With location freedom, you have the ability to be where you want when you want. The traditional ways of working result in a life that literally revolves around work.

You go to school, get a degree, and find a job. Once you follow these steps bound to you due to your human nature, you must live in proximity to that job.

The American Dream, which is much overplayed, romanticizes the lifestyle of a solid job, a white picket fence, and a happy, loving family.

The concept itself sounds quite nice, yet it rarely comes true for most people. This is due to the lack of fulfillment said job actually brings to any given person.

No form of external pleasure will fill the dissatisfaction within yourself. Therefore, the American Dream is not possible unless you have a job that fulfills you.

There are few outlets of traditional employment that have fulfillment and satisfaction. This is due to the almost robotic function you are expected to have in the workplace.

Humans are creators. Our current society suppresses the natural human desire to create as soon as you turn 18.

Creativity is a lost desire in most people because they have been conditioned to function in a purely logical way, especially in Western culture.

It isn't just humans either, with the rise of artificial intelligence we are learning more about the mental dangers of the workplace.

This AI robot was programmed to complete repetitive tasks that would replace a traditional warehouse wage worker.

The robot resorted to self-destruction after only 15 minutes of repetitive work.

Imagine the impact on a real person!

In a perfect world, everything would be free and no one would have to work. Unfortunately, our world is far from perfect.

The best thing a person can do to escape this fallacy is to create a free life for themselves.

This includes financial, time, and location freedom.

With these three freedoms, a person can truly live as opposed to survive.

The key to doing this is exploring entrepreneurial paths. Many digital nomads are also entrepreneurs but that isn't the only way to become a digital nomad.

There are many different routes to creating a nomadic lifestyle for yourself. Test out the waters and try everything!

long hair cow on a pasture

What Is The History Of Nomads?

In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, the allure of a nomadic lifestyle has once again captured the imagination of modern travelers.

This way of life, characterized by constant movement and a deep connection to nature, may seem like a contemporary trend.

However, it's essential to recognize that nomadism is far from a new concept. In fact, it is one of the oldest and most enduring ways of human existence, with a rich history that spans thousands of years.

Early Nomadic Societies:

The origins of nomadism can be traced back to prehistoric times when early human groups were primarily hunter-gatherers.

Before the advent of agriculture, people relied on their knowledge of the land and its resources to sustain their lives.

They moved with the seasons for nomadic herding purposes following the migration patterns of animals and the availability of edible plants.

Nomadism was born out of necessity as these early humans had to constantly adapt to changes in their environment to survive.

Nomadic Pastoralism:

With the domestication of animals around 10,000 years ago, a new form of nomadism emerged - pastoral nomadism.

This marked a significant shift in nomadic life, as communities began to travel with their herds of domesticated livestock again, such as sheep, goats, and camels.

Pastoral nomads relied on the natural grazing patterns of their animals and moved herds of them to different pastures to ensure they had enough food.

The development of the pastoralists and nomads allowed these communities to expand their territories and traverse vast distances.

They developed an intricate knowledge of the landscapes they traversed, discovering trade routes and establishing connections between settled societies.

The Silk Road, for instance, was a network of ancient trade routes that facilitated cultural exchange and economic activity between East and West, heavily influenced by the nomadic tribes that inhabited the regions it passed through.

Nomads and Civilization:

Contrary to the popular belief that nomads were entirely disconnected from settled societies, nomadic groups often played crucial roles in the development of early civilizations.

The ancient Mongols, one of the many nomadic tribes, built one of the largest land empires in history, thanks to their mastery of nomadic warfare and skilled horsemanship.

They not only established a vast empire but also facilitated the exchange of ideas, technologies, and cultures between East and West.

Moreover, nomadic tribes frequently acted as intermediaries between different settled civilizations, transmitting knowledge and goods between distant regions.

Their adaptability and resilience to harsh environments were valuable traits that facilitated their engagement in both trade and conflicts with neighboring societies.

group of nomads on camels trekking through the desert

What Are Modern-Day Nomads Called?

Modern Resurgence of Nomadism:

In recent times, the allure of nomadism has experienced a revival as more people seek an escape from the constraints of modern living and settled civilizations.

Technological advancements, particularly in communication and remote work capabilities, have made it possible for individuals to embrace the nomadic life without severing ties to their professions or personal connections.

Digital nomads, in particular, are a growing community of individuals who use technology to work and sustain a traveling lifestyle.

By leveraging laptops and internet connectivity, digital nomads can work from coffee shops in bustling cities or remote locations amidst breathtaking natural scenery.

How Do Modern Nomads Live?

Nomads of the 21st century, also known as location-independent entrepreneurs, remote workers, or digital nomads, have found a way to break free from the conventional 9-to-5 routine and are opting for a more flexible and adventurous way of life.

Embracing Remote Work:

At the heart of the digital nomad lifestyle is the ability to work remotely.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, it is now possible for professionals to collaborate with teams and clients from anywhere in the world.

Armed with just a laptop, smartphone, and a reliable internet connection, contemporary nomads can maintain their productivity while traversing the globe.

Nomad-Friendly Destinations:

One of the primary reasons why this way of life has gained popularity is the allure of exploring new places and experiencing diverse cultures.

Digital nomads often seek out destinations that offer a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, a lower cost of living, and a comfortable environment to work from.

Central Asia and Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali, along with European cities like Lisbon and Budapest, have emerged as hotspots for nomads' travel due to their affordability, modern amenities, and strong internet infrastructure.

Co-Working Spaces and Cafes:

While the idea of working from a tropical beach might seem appealing, in reality, contemporary nomads require a productive workspace.

Co-working spaces have sprung up in various nomad-friendly locations, providing remote workers with well-equipped offices, meeting rooms, and opportunities to network with other professionals.

Additionally, many nomads frequent local cafes, which offer a laid-back atmosphere and a caffeine-fueled boost to creativity.

Work-Life Balance:

Living as a digital nomad is not just about work; it's about embracing a balanced lifestyle.

Contemporary nomads often take advantage of their new surroundings by engaging in activities such as yoga on the beach, hiking in picturesque landscapes, or even attending local cultural events.

The flexibility of their schedules allows them to prioritize experiences and personal growth, leading to a healthier work-life balance.

Building A Nomadic Community:

While the digital nomad lifestyle might seem solitary, many nomads actively seek out opportunities to connect and collaborate with fellow travelers.

Most nomads connect via a social media group, online forums, or co-living spaces.

These connections not only foster friendships but also provide valuable insights, support, and even potential business partnerships.

Challenges Of Life As A Nomad:

Although the digital nomad lifestyle offers tremendous freedom, it is not without its challenges.

Adapting to new time zones, dealing with visa requirements, and managing a steady income can be daunting for some.

Additionally, maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky when the line between work and leisure is blurred.

However, the resilience and adaptability of modern nomads often lead them to find innovative solutions and a sense of fulfillment in overcoming these obstacles.

digital nomad working on a computer with a view of mountains

The Age Of The Digital Nomad: Why Are People Reverting To The Nomadic Lifestyle, In A Modern Way?

A new breed of adventurers is emerging - the digital nomads.

These modern travelers have embraced a semi-nomadic lifestyle reminiscent of our ancient ancestors: the peripatetic nomads, pastoral nomads, and Mongolian nomads.

But unlike the nomads of the past, they are equipped with the power of technology and a desire for freedom that transcends borders and conventional norms.

So, why are more and more people becoming contemporary nomads in this modern age?

Let's delve into the reasons behind this growing trend.

Technology Empowerment:

The widespread availability of high-speed internet and advanced communication tools has revolutionized the way we work and connect with others.

Remote work opportunities are no longer limited to a few industries but have become a viable option across various sectors.

This technological empowerment allows individuals to take their work on the road, breaking free from the confines of a traditional office environment.

As long as they have a laptop and internet connection, contemporary nomads today can earn a living from almost anywhere on the globe, giving them unparalleled flexibility and control over their lives.

Embracing a Simpler Lifestyle:

In an increasingly materialistic world, many people are finding solace in simplifying their lives.

The nomadic way of life encourages a minimalist approach, as digital nomads often need to fit their belongings into a backpack or suitcase.

This move towards simplicity allows them to focus on experiences rather than possessions, leading to a sense of freedom and contentment that material wealth cannot provide.

Cultural Immersion and Diversity:

Traditional tourism often involves brief visits to popular tourist destinations, giving travelers only a superficial understanding of the places they visit.

On the contrary, digital nomads have the opportunity to immerse themselves in various cultures for extended periods.

This fosters a deeper appreciation for diversity and a broader worldview.

The ability to live and work in different countries allows digital nomads to understand the nuances of various societies, languages, and traditions, creating a more profound connection to the world around them.

Escaping the 9-to-5 Grind:

The traditional 9-to-5 office routine has been a source of frustration and burnout for many individuals.

The quest for a better work-life balance has driven people to seek alternatives that allow them to escape the daily grind.

The digital nomads have discovered the key to work from anywhere and travel the world.

Digital nomadism offers a chance to blend work with leisure, granting the flexibility to set one's own schedule.

This newfound autonomy enables individuals to work during their most productive hours and take time off for personal pursuits or exploration.

Pursuing Adventure and New Experiences:

Life as a digital nomad is an ongoing adventure.

The opportunity to travel to new places, try diverse cuisines, and meet people from different cultures and walks of life enriches the nomadic experience.

For those with a sense of wanderlust, this lifestyle provides an avenue to satisfy their thirst for new experiences continuously.

Lower Cost of Living in Some Destinations:

In certain countries, the cost of living is significantly lower than in developed nations.

Digital nomads often choose to base themselves in these locations, stretching their budgets further and affording them a more comfortable lifestyle.

This financial advantage enables them to live in places they might not have been able to afford on a short-term vacation, fostering a sense of temporary belonging and cultural exchange.

Environmental Consciousness:

Surprisingly, nomadism can also be beneficial for the environment.

As digital nomads often opt for co-living spaces or short-term rentals, they tend to consume fewer resources than traditional homeowners or long-term renters.

Additionally, embracing a minimalist approach and reducing consumption contributes to a smaller ecological footprint.

The rise of the digital nomad is a reflection of a changing world where technology, the desire for freedom, and the pursuit of authentic experiences converge.

This modern manifestation of the ancient nomadic lifestyle offers individuals the chance to escape the confines of routine, embrace cultural diversity, and explore the far reaches of our planet.

As more people discover the advantages of this lifestyle, the age of the digital nomad is bound to expand, shaping the way we perceive travel and work in the years to come.

person walking through the Sahara desert

When Did We Shift From A Nomadic Lifestyle To A Sedentary Lifestyle?

For thousands of years, our ancestors lived in nomadic communities where people were constantly on the move in search of food, water, and shelter.

However, around 10,000 years ago, a remarkable transformation occurred - the advent of agriculture and the birth of settled societies.

This pivotal moment marked the beginning of a new era for humanity and shaped the course of civilization as we know it for centuries.

The Rise of Agriculture: A Turning Point

Around 10,000 BCE, in a region known as the Fertile Crescent, encompassing parts of modern-day Middle East and North Africa, humans made a groundbreaking discovery - they could cultivate crops and domesticate animals.

This revolutionary innovation led to the birth of agriculture and heralded the Neolithic Revolution, a period characterized by the transition from a nomadic society of hunting and gathering to settled farming communities.

The shift from nomadism to a sedentary lifestyle was driven by several factors.

First and foremost, agriculture provided a more stable and reliable food source.

Cultivating crops allowed communities to produce surplus food, enabling them to settle in one place rather than constantly roaming in search of sustenance.

This surplus also led to specialization, as some members of the community could focus on tasks other than food procurement, such as craftsmanship or governance.

The Birth of Civilizations

As farming communities began to thrive, they laid the foundations for the first civilizations.

Settled life allowed for the accumulation of wealth, leading to the development of more complex social structures.

With permanent settlements, people built permanent structures, leading to the rise of cities.

This, in turn, fostered trade, communication, and cultural exchange between such groups.

Modern Nomadism: A Contemporary Trend

Fast forward to the present day, and we find ourselves witnessing a renewed interest in nomadism.

While the majority of the world's population now lives in urban centers, there is a growing community of modern nomads who have chosen to adopt a nomadic lifestyle voluntarily.

The shift from a nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary one marks a pivotal point in human history, as it laid the groundwork for the development of agriculture, settled societies, and ultimately, civilizations.

While the majority of humanity has chosen the comforts of a sedentary life, the allure of nomadism persists in the hearts of modern travelers seeking to reconnect with our ancient roots and explore the world on their own terms.

Final Thoughts

The history of nomads is a testament to the enduring spirit of human adaptability and resourcefulness.

From the earliest hunter-gatherer groups to the modern digital nomads, the essence of nomadism remains rooted in a deep connection to nature, exploration, and the quest for new experiences.

As we witness a resurgence of interest in this ancient way of life, it's evident that the allure of nomadism continues to captivate the human spirit, inspiring us to explore the world and our own selves in the process.

The revert to this ancient and simplistic lifestyle speaks for the downfalls of modern society.

Urban areas are overpopulated, disconnected from nature, and borderline robotic. Life in a world like that leads to an insurmountable bundle of mental issues and dissatisfaction.

Less is more and that is what we have learned as a society. Experience, connection, and pleasure are the only true sources of fulfillment.

A cold modern world driven by money and productivity is counterintuitive to human nature.

It is just a matter of time before the world begins to realize their dissatisfaction is due to environmental factors and not because of themselves.

A world that is culturally educated, experienced, and fulfilled is what we should strive for.

At the end of the road, the only regret you will have is not living more.

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