How Being A Nomad Ruined My Normal Life


While writing this article, I was on an 18-hour train to New Brunswick for another two weeks of travel. Today is August 21, 2016. Ten years ago, on August 21, 2006, I had just started my first overseas adventure in the USA. I decided to travel on this day again, to celebrate my anniversary of 10 years of living and traveling overseas. For me, there is no better way to celebrate an adventure than to go on another adventure.

Living and traveling overseas has had a positive impact on my life and my character. It pushes me out of my comfort zone to discover new places that I have dreamed of visiting. I’ve made friends from all over the world. It also makes me realize that the world is a beautiful place, and life is too short to just live in a cubicle and repeat the routines of home, work, and back home again.

Being a nomad has many benefits; it’s certainly not come without any downsides and sacrifices. Living abroad has been my best decision, and I do not hold any regrets about my initial decision. I have realized that travel and expat life is too addictive and too hard to let go, I’ve also reached a point of no return to my normal life.

I have read countless pieces on how travel benefits us, change us for the better, but let us not forget about how travel ruins our chance of a normal life.


This possibly comes as a surprise. Having lived through almost a third of my life, I have hardly entered relationships. It is difficult to have long-lasting relationships, as I frequently move from place to place. In addition, I have developed a high standard for my life partner after seeing so many places, as a decent job, mortgage loans, cars, expensive clothes, and luxury candle light dinners can no longer please me anymore. I still believe in a happy marriage, as I did when was young, but I am unable to sacrifice my nomadic life for the sake of a relationship.

Family and friends

It has been three years since I last saw my parents. I have missed out on my best friends’ weddings, my two cousin’s first-born, and several other conventions and numerous family get-together celebrations.

After living on your own in a foreign land for many years, you can finally return home during the holidays. You are filled with so much happiness and excitement that you can finally see your parents and your friends again. As you enter your home, you are excited and overwhelmed by the warm atmosphere. You give your parents and friends enormous hugs and wish you all will never part again.

After those refreshing moments and hangouts, you gradually realize that your friends are no longer on the same wavelength as you. Conversation quickly turns ugly after 10 minutes of sharing your passions and travel stories. They cannot understand why you still travel so much and be cool with it, while you cannot live with just having a job and taking care of the household like your peers do. Your family’s repeated speech of the uttermost importance of settling down strengthens your desire to escape again. Four years ago, when I told my family I was planning to move to Canada, they thought I was off my trolley. They started an intervention and tried to make me settle down, but I was too crazy to go back on that path.

Extremely independent and low-maintenance

Being independent and low-maintenance is a good thing, but being too independent and extremely low-maintenance makes me tricky to be around. I do not live with the help of others for anything, be it advice, travel tips, taking care of the household, and career pursuit. Like a hermit, I gladly embrace the solitude and do everything on my own – rent a car to drive around an isolated island, hop on a plane to a foreign land without knowing anyone there, and navigate new places.

I am comfortable having meals in restaurants and going to movies by myself.  I would become a mess when being thrown into a group setting. My introvert persona makes it difficult for me to stay among crowds for long. It only adds tension when I have to wait for others, compromise my own decisions, and please other people. I prefer to venture on my own than, to go out with a group of people.


I have read that travel helps with career advancement. It allows us to get to know the world, to connect with others, to learn new languages, and develop exceptional problem – solving and communication skills. All of these are what employers are looking for in potential applicants. However, I have moved so much I have barely had any jobs for more than a year, and when an employer sees my resume highlights seven jobs in five years, and takes into account my several unemployment gaps, they will undoubtedly question my stability. They will hardly believe that I would not quit my potential job in my first year to travel. It is also difficult for me to live with a full-time job with a limited vacation period.

The worst of the worst, I still cannot stop traveling and living my expat life

I have spent most of my twenties traveling and living in North America. I caught the travel bug when I first stepped on that 12-hour flight to the USA. My only antidote is to continue traveling. The more places I explore and the more I learn, the more I want to travel. It brings me invaluable experience, fulfillment to my soul, and unbelievable joy. One of my favorite moments was in Cavendish this summer. I was coming back to my cottage, turned my eyes towards the bonfire inches away from my room, and I was then greeted by two travelers next door. We shared baked potatoes, exchanged stories, and laughed throughout the night. The twilight illuminates the night sky; the Milky Way hangs low, the air filled with peace and serenity. Turns out we were the only group in the area. Cell phones and computers were tucked away. That moment is something I craved for a long time-to not think or worry about anything, just enjoy a simple moment in a beautiful place with beautiful people.

There are times I fear losing myself and my adventurous spirit. Deep inside, however, I know I will never give away my nomadic life for anything. Travel is an addiction, and the desire to explore does not just go away because of the sacrifice we’ve made and the critique we receive. So, be brave. Be crazy. And if you want to book a one-way ticket to somewhere that you cannot even pronounce the name of, do it. And, if you made it this far, celebrate it every day.

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Adventure and living a nomadic life

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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