I received an email from someone that stumbled upon my site while doing a search, and she sent a question that I’ve been thinking about for a week or so now. I decided the question and response would make a good post:
I’ve travelled a bit and participated in missionary trips. I have a bit of experience in teaching (about 7 years doing pro bono work). I’m curious about all things foreign …
What advice do you have for the 20 sum year old female that sporadically wants to become a nomad?
Oh, advice, I have so much of that! But, where to start?!
First off, I love emails like this. They show that someone has the idea of taking off for life-changing travels but are still looking for a bit of support and encouragement to make that dream life a reality. I remember when I was uncertain and unsure of how I could pursue my life of travel, tossing out crazy ideas here and there to my family who proceeded to look back with a bit of disbelief, so I can completely relate to this situation. This is the time that BootsnAll became a huge part of my daily life because it provided a forum of travel-loving supporters that gave me the momentum to actually get up and go.
Tip #1: Check out Bootsnall.com.
Their message boards are a great, friendly place to get free travel advice. And, I’m not saying that because I write for them; I write for them because I think they are awesome.
I think, as a female, the idea of traveling to foreign lands on our own is a very scary one for our parents. I do believe there are more things to think about when you are a solo female, but I also think that crazy stuff happens anywhere around the world, perhaps even walking down the street of a small, Midwestern town. However, explaining this to the parents is never something that is typically easy.
Tip #2: Prepare a list of female travel blogs in the areas of the world you wish to explore, and show this to your family.
It’s one thing to think that Kyrgyzstan (for example) is a crazy, backwards, dirty and crime-ridden place with bombs and guns going off left and right, but it is another to show your family the blogs of people that are there (or have been there) with photos and stories that show it in a bright light. Take the time to educate your family on where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing, and perhaps support will be easier to find.
When it comes to planning your type of nomadic lifestyle, you must consider several factors: how much money you have, how you intend to maintain money levels abroad, and your travel style. In Gaby’s case, it sounds like teaching abroad would be a great opportunity to maintain an overseas life, and also travel from place to place.
Tip #3: Plan with your strengths and skills in mind.
Those with teaching experience may need to save up less money before taking off (you can start the adventure sooner!) because they can work while overseas. Those with location-independent jobs can proceed to move around the world and continue producing an income. Budget travelers can save money by staying in hostels and couchsurfing, which means more money for adventure.
However, we never know how nomadic life will treat us until we’re actually pursuing it. This can lead to stress and travel burnout, maybe even a little depression if we feel lost on the road.
Tip #4: Take a trial run.
I suggest a smaller trip of no less than a month to get a real feel for life on the road. If all goes well, make plans for something a bit more long-term.
Getting yourself mentally and physically ready for a trip is just as important as booking the tickets. Travel gear must be bought, a backpack must be packed and female travel issues should be discussed.
Tip #5: Check out Female Travel Underground and Her Packing List.
Yes, shameless plug, but useful nonetheless. FTU covers topics for female travelers from packing to on-the-road annoyances, while Her Packing List covers packing and gear.
If you’re like me, you want to head out RIGHT NOW! I’m talking, you want to book a ticket, pack a bag and get on a plane today, right? I hate waiting, and a lot of times, the fact that you have so much to do in preparation for a big travel outing can be overwhelming to the point that you put it off. When will it ever happen then?
Tip #6: Make a clear plan of action.
Set a date you want to leave, prepare a money saving plan and mark out monthly goals. The biggest part of becoming a nomad is, for most people, just talking about it in the sense that it will happen. “I am going in August,” instead of, “Someday, I will go.”
I would say this is good starter advice for any female thinking about long-term, nomadic travel. Anything you would add?