I know what you’re thinking “Why the hell would you use the seven deadly sins to describe anyone’s pursuit of the nomadic life? Just how dark and twisty are you Maggie?”
Well, you see my parents let me watch the movie Seven (Se7en) with Brad Pitt when I was 13 years old. Unsurprisingly, I then didn’t sleep for the next year of my life… or at least that’s how long it felt.
Though it was terrifying at the time – the concept of the movie really stuck with me ever since.
Having also studied psychology in university has led me to be naturally curious about the fears and desires that drive human actions, which is what the deadly sins are all about.
Because of this, I decided to put together a list of the things that often prevent people from achieving their dream of a location independent or nomadic life (as told by the way of the 7 [not-so] deadly sins).
Here we go!
Sex. Ok no maybe not sex, but relationships definitely (so – sex). I think we’ve all met them – the couples whose hopes and dreams are very clearly heading in two completely different directions.
Let’s say you really want to live out of a backpack and see the world, while your partner is looking at retirement plans at the age of 25 – which one of you will compromise? Because ultimately – someone will.
The extent to which this is problematic really depends on how badly you want that freedom lifestyle. If you’re confident that you won’t wake up one day and resent your partner for preventing you from achieving your dream then you’re one of the lucky ones. Because this lifestyle (or the dream of it) is often an unshakable obsession that’s hard to give up.
So, what if you can’t shake this feeling like there’s this big bad world out there for you to see and your partner is the reason you haven’t gone out on your adventure yet… what then?
There’s a reason why so many people find love on group tours. It’s because your love of travel is not the same as your love of watching synchronised swimming in the Olympics from the comfort of your living room.
It’s not a phase, or a hobby. It’s something that you either possess or you don’t. If you do, it can take over your life. Everything you do will be in pursuit of your next travel high as it really and truly is an addiction. It’s an addiction to freedom, adventure, adrenaline and everything else that comes along with it.
Nick and I are very lucky that we both feel more comfortable sleeping on airport floors in foreign countries if it’s in pursuit of adventure, rather than sleeping in the same comfortable bed as a part of a stable daily routine. Travelling with your partner is make or break for a lot of relationships.
If your partner doesn’t share this addiction – you have to consider the life you’re giving up for the one you’re gaining with them by your side. This may sound extreme, but it happens all the time. I’ve met a lot of middle-aged solo travellers whose biggest regret is letting their partner hold them back in their pursuit of adventure.
Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, and your love of travel is something you share with your partner.
Only you can really know what’s right for you, but I felt it was only fair to put this into the list as it really can be the thing that either makes or breaks your pursuit of a nomadic life.
It’s also the reason that several of my relationships have ended in the past. Luckily, Nick is just as much of a travel-junkie as I am and I couldn’t have it any other way!
No, not in the 90-piece Chicken McNugget order kind of way. But I suppose in a way it kind of is.
The gluttony that prevents people from the lifestyle of their dreams refers to over-consumption to the point of wastefulness.
Think of the suspicious smell in your fridge, it’s probably some vegetable or meat that’s gone off because you bought more food than you needed and couldn’t eat it all. Sadly, everyone does it but not everyone sees it as a wakeup call to buy only what they need.
The fact is this – if you’re going be a digital nomad, you will have to have some initial savings in order to kick start this kind of life. This will take a bit of a sacrifice on your part.
So, you may have to cut down on a few luxuries. Or travel to places like Vietnam where luxury is affordable.
We all have that one friend who always complains about being broke but seems to always be out for dinner, brunch, drinks etc. Don’t be that friend.
The takeaway here (pun most definitely intended), is to start living life with a minimalistic mindset as much as possible, before you even go off on your nomadic adventures. Be the idiot who brings a tea bag or instant coffee with you to Starbucks and asks only for a cup of hot water – it costs 10 cents and yes I was that idiot for about two years. Check out our post on money-saving tips for even more advice.
Your bank account and future adventure plans will thank you, trust me.
This could be toughest sin of all to overcome as a nomad, yet the most rewarding if you manage to do it. It’s difficult not to get attached to your daily comforts, your materialistic possessions.
I understand, believe me. I only discovered what an electric blanket was when I moved to Australia but now I can no longer remember my life BEB (before electric blanket). It’s the best thing in the world, as a Canadian you’d think I would have had one earlier, but sadly I lived 25 EB-free years.
On top of this – as a vegan and a smoothie-addict, I also have an unhealthy attachment to my NutriBullet and I find it extremely hard to let go of it when we travel. But this is important to know – people who have less are often so much happier than those who have more. This is because they appreciate the fewer things that they do have.
I used to have more clothes than I could wear in several months.
The day I packed a backpack with only the items I could carry and donated everything else to charity – something shifted. I realised how much money and time I would save while travelling without any room in my backpack to fit more clothes or souvenirs.
It’s freaking freeing. It’s also incredibly difficult for a lot of people.
Trust me when I say that nothing worthwhile will ever happen if you remain inside your comfort zone. As Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Yet so many people live their lives this way.
They go to jobs they hate so they can afford to buy more things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like, and expect something to change somewhere along their regular routine.
Remember, you have so much to gain by giving it all up. Keep only the things that bring you joy and give away as much as you can. De-cluttering your life will also de-clutter your mind and bring you one step closer to your nomadic life.
There is a reason why the “become a millionaire in a week” scams still exist.
It’s because as a society we want everything to require a minimal effort, while still achieving big results, and most importantly we want everything to happen as quickly as possible.
Remember the weight-loss diet that promised you that you would lose 30 pounds in 30 days by wearing a belt that’ll shake your belly fat while you watch Dance Moms and eat pizza? Much like that, chances are you won’t achieve your dream of a nomadic life without putting in the work.
I find this oddly comforting mainly because I’m a bit of a paranoid parrot. I generally follow the “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” rule, especially while working online. I actually find courses that promise to get you results quickly and effortlessly really demotivating. This is because when your results take longer than what was promised you end up feeling like crap. I’d rather know what I’m in for at the very beginning so I can prepare myself.
So, though sloths are super cute, your journey to the perfect nomadic life won’t be easy, but it will make it that much satisfying when all of your hard work pays off.
But… seriously, how great are sloths?
I actually really struggled with this one.
That’s when I realised that I was looking in the wrong place. This category may not pertain to me, but certainly remains relevant with respect to other people’s reaction to me “coming out” as a freelancer chasing the happy and free nomadic life.
I had a lot of negative backlash from people in my life to my decision to live a freedom lifestyle. I had some of the most important people in my life calling me a quitter and an aimless dreamer amongst other things.
It feels like crap, but it really shouldn’t hold you back from achieving your dream life. It certainly didn’t stop me.
People will have different reactions to the events in their life; reactions that even they may not fully understand. It might even come from your own family as they aren’t going to like having a long distance relationship with you. That’s to be expected and is surprisingly completely irrelevant. What is relevant is your response to their reactions. THIS is everything.
Using doubt as a powerful motivational tool and dedicating your efforts to proving everyone wrong is one way of handling this kind of situation. It’s not easy, trust me. It’s completely natural to go on the defensive and feel hurt when people question your decisions.
The alternative, is to let their anger and disapproval get to you. Keep in mind, a lot of this negative backlash is just a display of fear. People will fear for your financial stability, career progression or whatever else they may deem as important aspects of life.
They mean well, give them the benefit of the doubt and try to move past it – because your dream of a nomadic life depends on it.
How many times have you had this conversation with your friends:
You: *scrolls through Instagram, sees photo of beautiful famous travel blogger or Doug the Pug, sheds tear*
Friend: “What’s wrong?”
You: “How come there are people out there getting paid to travel the world and dogs in hot dog costumes that make more money than me?”
I worked at a travel agency so this may have been more common in our office than most. But on some level we have all been envious of online celebrities (human or not). But only a very small percentage take that envy further and find ways of achieving similar levels of success. Sometimes you just have to get pissed off and put the “I could do that” attitude into action, because trust me you definitely can do it, but it might take a bit more than strutting in a hot dog costume to get there!
The beauty of the internet is that anything is possible (like millionaire dogs for example, do they even know they’re rich? I’d like to think so). The point is – we all feel envy sometimes, ideally you want to use it to push you forward and set it as a benchmark for what you want to achieve.
Remember that everyone has the same number of hours in a day, what you do with those hours is entirely up to you.
Who else was told by their high school guidance counsellor that higher education would solve all their problems? I know I’m not alone in this.
Absolute rubbish. I have no regrets about going to university because ultimately, in a really roundabout sort of way – it brought me to exactly where I was supposed to be, right here.
I’m also not trying to bag on higher education here, not at all. However, let’s just agree that at the age of seventeen or eighteen, you are not prepared to choose one direction of study, leading to a career which you will then stick with for the rest of your life.
It’s almost like the ‘high school sweetheart’ effect. There are some amazing couples out there who have been together for sixty years since their first year of high school.
The reality for many others, however, is that from high school onwards it is unlikely that you will both grow separately and together in a way that complements each other’s likes and dislikes… for the rest of your lives.
Choosing your profession of choice at the age of seventeen is exactly like that.
Can you really expect that fifty-year-old you, will still have the same aspirations as you did thirty years earlier?
Perhaps, and for many it all works out. However, I also think people need to give themselves the option to change. Change regardless of what age they’re at, instead of hanging onto their diplomas and degrees for dear life. It may be an expensive piece of paper, and it’s hard to let go of all the things you hoped it might bring you, but if it doesn’t work out how you thought it would, remember that it’s not your only option.
I guess what I’m saying is please don’t let your pride take over your potential for happiness or dent your hopes at beginning a nomadic life.
Life is way too short and exciting for anyone to stay in a job they hate, with a partner who doesn’t support their passions, or even in a country which doesn’t suit their needs. The nomadic life certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you can’t shake the feeling that maybe it’s something you’re supposed to explore then maybe there’s a reason for that.
Only you know what’s right for you, but if chasing your dream of travelling the world feels right – do it and don’t let anyone, or anything stand in your way!
PS. For actual budget travel tips geared towards digital nomads, freelancers and anyone else enjoying the nomadic life, check out our posts on finding the best accommodation, booking cheap flights and housesitting.