I've been living as a nomad - without a permanent home, wandering from place to place with a backpack and a half - for the past year. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that all these things have happened. I have hitchhiked over 17,000 km, been hosted by complete strangers, camped at a wedding, met many new friends and created this blog. This adventure has no end date. I like moving around and I hope to keep doing this either my entire life or until I decide otherwise.
And of course, I've learned a lot. But it's also interesting to think how much I haven't learned yet, how the same patterns, questions and occurrences follow me wherever I go.
In many ways, this year was exactly what I wanted it to be: adventurous, unexpected, ever-changing. I'm happy about this decision. I never regret it, because even when I think of something I
might miss, I remember how I felt when I was living in one place. Bored. Confined. Almost imprisoned.
There's a lot I'm still struggling with. These aren't necessarily things that are related directly to living a nomadic life; many of these were familiar to me before. And this is what I want to share today, in honor of my travelversary.
1. How to maintain a balanced diet
One day I'm drinking smoothies in a well-equipped kitchen (made of fruit found in the dumpster), the next I'm hitchhiking thousands of kilometers, the food in my backpack is not enough (I never know how much to bring) and I'm buying overpriced and undernutritious snacks at petrol stations. For a while I avoid sugar successfully, then I tell myself that a little bit is alright, and suddenly I'm eating spoonfuls of jam every day and wondering why I feel out of balance (sugar triggers my mood swings). And then I realize that I'm mostly eating plenty of wheat for all of my meals, while one of my current paid jobs is creating presentations about healthy lifestyle.
I'm pretty good with math, but when it comes to finances, my brain flies out of the window. And I've learned a lot about spending less (or even nothing) on accommodation, transport, food and other things, but I'm still paying off thousands of euros/dollars to my beloved bank due to old debts.
3. Time planning
Create my comics. Write my book about alternative travel. Write my novel. Make videos. Draw. Learn Dutch. Work on my Italian. Read books. Watch films and TV series. Exercise. Eat. Talk to people. Take walks. Sleep. Hitchhike to new places. See the town I'm in. Skype my friends and family. Write a journal. Meditate. Work.
I want to do all of these, all the time, and I keep making schedules after schedules. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I have no idea where my time is going.
4. How to explain what I'm doing
Whatever I say, I often feel that I'm only presenting a small part of my life. If I say I'm a blogger, I'm excluding my studies. If I say I'm traveling, it sounds like I'm seeing twenty new places every week, not staring at my laptop for 10 hours a day. Maybe #3 explains it best: I'm trying to do a million things at once and often not doing most of them.
5. Rolling up my tent
I've probably done it over twenty times by now, but I tend to forget the right way, and then I find myself trying to squeeze it into the bag anyway because I'm too lazy to do it all over again. Of course I still end up doing it all over.
Somehow I always have long lists of little things to do that keep growing. And when I start executing them, it always takes much longer than I'd expected. When something happens on time, I'm quite surprised!
7. Not getting distracted
I was just about to stop writing this post because I heard someone in another room ask a theoretical, non-urgent question in another room that I might have an answer to. I think
this illustrates the situation pretty well.
8. A new language (namely, Dutch)
I've been learning this language for a few months now (why? I like languages, and I like Dutch, and yes, I know that almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English) and I still can barely
string a sentence together. Listening comprehension is even harder - my current level is animation for preschoolers, where I can understand about 85%!
I only have two words to say: No Clue. Probably one of my biggest struggles even as a non-nomadic person. At least, being nomadic, I always know that at some point I'll move on to another place, and leave everything behind.
I'm not sharing all of this to complain - I think I've chosen a beautiful life and all of these are an inevitable part of it. But instead of talking about how perfect this year was - and in many ways, it was - I wanted to share what my life really looks like. It's imperfect and unbalanced. And real.