Why I left the grind and became a nomad - Journal of Nomads

Why I decided to leave the grind and become a nomad

How did our lives look like before Niko and I were nomads? And why did I decide to adopt this particular lifestyle? I will tell you all about it in this article.

 

 

I’ve been a nomad for almost seven years now. Seven years! That’s actually quite a long time when you think about it. Somehow, it seems like it was only last year when I took my backpack and boarded the plane to Australia. Time goes fast when you enjoy it! Back then I didn’t know that my trip Down Under would change my life completely and that years later I would still be on the road.

 

 

 

Niko has been on the road for even longer. He started traveling when he just turned 18, now almost eleven years ago. At that moment he didn’t know either that this would become his lifestyle, although it wasn’t such a big adaptation for him as it was for me. He grew up in a house without electricity or running water in the Canadian forests so he already had an unconventional life even before he started traveling.

 

How did our lives look like before we became full-time nomads? You’ll find out in this video (you’ll also see footage of where Niko grew up):

 

 

 

Although I tell you in the video what my life looked like before I was nomads, I want to go a bit deeper into why I decided to call the road my home and never looked back on a conventional lifestyle.

 

As you could hear in the video, I used to live a ‘normal’ life. I studied for six years in college to become a primary school teacher and I also got a bachelor diploma in psychology. I enjoyed my studies (I especially liked psychology), but something started gnawing at me. It didn’t feel quite right.

 

Was I ready to start the ‘real’ life? Did I really feel like building a career and earning money so that I could buy a house, get married, start a family and save money for the day I would retire? Nope.

 

Why I left the grind and became a nomad - Journal of Nomads - Blue Mountains - Australia

I felt more like ‘living on the edge’ (Blue Mountains, Australia, 2012)

 

 

When I graduated, I quickly found a job as a special needs teacher. It consisted of teaching children with learning difficulties and behavior problems. I also lived with my former boyfriend in a cozy apartment on the coast. I had everything to be happy. I had a respectable job, a sweet boyfriend, a big circle of friends and a well-established routine. You could say that I had made a good start in this ‘adult’ life.

 

But I wasn’t happy. My life felt meaningless. I liked teaching, but my heart wasn’t completely in it. I also didn’t like being stuck in a routine in which I had to work from Monday to Friday, and nicely follow rules that were imposed on me. I was also having a hard time with the way the (Belgian) educational system worked, which I discuss more in detail here.

 

On Mondays, I was already looking forward to the weekend. But when it came, I often felt too exhausted to do anything. I used to go out a lot but this also started feeling meaningless. Why would I want to spend the money I made during the week partying? The only thing I really enjoyed, was going with my friends to the beach or going for a long walk in the forests or fields. Those activities reinvigorated me.

 

I guess you can read between the lines that I was suffering from depression. In the hope of feeling better, I started changing things. My boyfriend and I broke up after a seven-year relationship, I stopped working as a teacher, I moved to Bruges where I started living with my two best friends and I did several jobs (which had nothing to do with teaching ). Somehow I tried to get more purpose in my life. But whatever I did, I experienced a feeling of emptiness in my soul and I just couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy.

 

Why I left the grind and became a nomad - Journal of Nomads - Ireland

Sneem, Ireland

 

 

To make a long story short, after a few years of searching and turning in circles, I decided to take a break. I went for two months to Ireland in search of some peace. Through an online volunteering platform, I ended up staying on a small domain in the middle of the Irish woods, a place the owners (Elly & Roderic) had lovingly called Temple Grove. There I helped them create a spiritual retreat, where people can meditate in nature and reconnect with themselves. In return, Elly and Roderic helped me find peace and taught me the art of listening to my heart and soul.

 

Why I left the grind and became a nomad - Journal of Nomads - Temple Grove

One of the many beautiful gardens in Temple Grove

 

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll recognize this place from the story about how Niko and I met: Ask and it is given, an uncommon love story. It’s also the place where Niko and I spent our first year together. Watch this video and read more about Temple Grove here.

 

During my stay at Temple Grove, I came up with the idea of traveling for a longer period of time. After those two inspiring and recharging months in Ireland, I returned to Belgium with the intention of working hard for several months and saving up for my next trip. At first, I didn’t have any idea where I wanted to go, but when I heard that I could travel in Australia for a year on a working-holiday visa, the decision was quickly made.

 

I thought that one year on the other side of the world would be enough for me and that, when I would return to Belgium, I would be ready for the ‘real’ life. But that wasn’t the case! That year changed EVERYTHING for me. Traveling gave me the feeling that I was living life to the fullest. I met a lot of like-minded people and I discovered how to make money while traveling.

 

What was supposed to be one year of travel, eventually became two. When I finally returned to Belgium, I just knew that I wanted to be a nomad. The rest is history. I’ve now been on the road for seven years and haven’t regretted this decision one moment.

 

Last summer in Georgia, still a happy nomad!

 

 

In my opinion, living a ‘real’ life means having a lifestyle in which you feel happy. It actually doesn’t matter what you do. As long as you feel alive, you’re also giving meaning to life. Right now, I’m happy being a nomad and who knows, maybe one day I will feel like settling down somewhere. The most important thing for me is that I’m doing something that makes me happy. That’s living the real life.

 

Why I left the grind and became a nomad - Journal of Nomads

 

Read more stories about our life on the road here.

 

 

Are you happy with your current lifestyle or what would you like to change about it?
Would you like to live as a nomad or do you prefer to have a home base out of which you travel?
Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

7 Responses

  1. Gage coffman
    | Reply

    I’m getting ready to travel to Cambodia for my Nomad life when I graduate college next year. I’ve been traveling basically my whole life due to the military. Reading your story is so relatable to my life and makes me even more exited for the journey ahead. I thought I knew what I wanted which included working a job until retirement. I realized I wasn’t happy and luckily I realized this fairly soon as I’m only 25. I just have never been happy working the daily grind and have truly only felt alive when traveling. Thanks for your inspirational story.

    • Hi Gage, it’s a pleasure to hear from you! I’m very happy to read that you decided to listen to your heart and have the courage to do what you really want. I wish you lots of awesome adventures, inspiring meetings and beautiful moments on your journey!

  2. Laura
    | Reply

    I don’t think I’d ever want to leave the grind completely, but I’m still pretty jealous of your nomad lifestyle! I wish I was able to see even a tenth of the places as you’ve seen.

  3. Journal of Nomads
    | Reply

    Hi Salticid,

    Thank you for sharing your story with me! I’m very happy to hear that my personal journey gave you hope and inspiration.
    I can tell by reading your story that you’re not in a happy place and that you’re going through a lot of changes. I wish you all the strength you need to make these changes and follow your heart!! Try to find your happy place within every morning when you start your day (I love listening to podcasts of Abraham Hicks, try and see if you can find these. They will help you lift your spirits. Have you ever heard about the book ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle? These books can help you beat the dark thoughts) and know that your Turkey dream is possible! There are many different ways to make it come true.

    Like you already saw, you could ask for housesitters to come and look after your animals. Vice versa, there are plenty of housesitting opportunities in Turkey, which will help you save a lot of money!! As you’re from the US, have you ever considered teaching English online? You’ll definitely get a job as you’re a native speaker! The money is good and you can teach while you’re traveling so you can finance your trips. I’m not sure if you saw the guide I wrote about it, here’s the link (https://www.journalofnomads.com/online-teaching).

    Don’t lose sight of your dream, keep it and work slowly and steadily towards it. I’m sure you can make it happen! Take the first steps and the rest will come your way. You can do it!!

    Wishing you all the best!! Lots of love!
    Cynthia

    • salticid
      | Reply

      “Don’t lose sight of your dream, keep it and work slowly and steadily towards it. I’m sure you can make it happen! Take the first steps and the rest will come your way. You can do it!!”

      Thank you so much for your kind reply & allowing me to liberate myself here. 😉 It’s uncanny how everything is just falling into place already. I’m stoked! Trekking & village hopping is what I’ve got to do. And I got myself my mobile home (2 lb. tent) for 70% off (!!) just right before the sale expired. Magic! 😉

      And you are so right, I’ve GOT to keep sight, and continue to work uphill with a focus on regularly accomplishing something to not only get me there, but to do it from a very good space where I can get the most out of the experience. I’m fascinated by Turkey’s vast & diverse history & I always have an anthropological curiosity about the places I visit. So I’ve got books to read before I go! And I’ve already drained my library of their offerings. A month loan/deadline is a good structure for me to have in place.

      I’ve been a fighter most my life, so I’ve got faith in myself. I’ve lived before. I can do it again. I used to always seek out challenges, because it made life more interesting & rewarding. And I’m going to take full advantage of my Turkey dream to challenge myself to heal now. How’s that for a plan? 😉 I’m a stranger to moderation and forgiving myself, but now that I have a goal that is just so perfectly right – I’ll strive to take self-aware judicious measures to attain healthy stability.

      I’ve got to get my trekking kit together. And since it’s been so long — it’s from scratch. As mentioned, I’ve got my travel home – so that’s a big piece there. And it’s been thrilling window shopping my wish list. 😉 There is such freedom knowing you’ve got all the gear that’ll take care of you almost anywhere. 😉 But it’ll take some time to cobble the requisites together & I know myself well enough to dangle items in front of myself as incentives to continue moving forward. This is like the perfect therapy program for me. It feels like the stars are fining aligning my way, but then again, I had to look up first. 😉

      And yes!! Thank you for the online teaching English link. I’d actually stumbled upon it immediately before I read your post! 😉 I’m totally going to do that. Teaching online English wasn’t even on my radar. I’ve contemplated on-site international teaching many times, but it’s not right. So yeah, this is a *terrific* resource you’ve provided!! That’ll help get the airfare & that’s my biggest hurdle! Yay!

      Once again, Cynthia, I cannot even begin to thank you. You’ve shone a tremendous light that means an incredible amount to me. You are a beautiful, amazing person. That comes through so clearly & by just being you, I feel blessed.

      Cheers.

  4. The World n Us
    | Reply

    Cynthia, I love the way you live your life! If I knew what I knew now and had my time over again I would have adopted a similar lifestyle. Travelling, seeing the world and connecting with nature are all things that bring me happiness. But in saying that, the path I’ve taken has led to me meeting my wife and having 2 beautiful boys. So I can’t complain too much 😉 As you know we travel a fair bit, but travelling perpetually as a family is now our goal.
    ~David

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you so much David for your beautiful words!

      Oh, I’m sure that if we could go back, we would all make different decisions. But I strongly believe that the decisions we made in the past, led us to who and where we are now. My path led me to Niko and this world trip, yours to your wife and your beautiful kids! And you’re showing that having kids doesn’t limit you in your goals and dreams, which is really inspiring!

      I really hope to meet you and your family soon in person, whether it’ll be in Australia or somewhere on the road!

      Warm wishes,
      Cynthia

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