There are days when you want to sit down and write a post about investing, but some creature from within crawls its way from the dark depths of your brain. Writing is like that sometimes — it can get messy.
Today was one of those days. I wanted to write a cool post about investing, but instead found myself writing about a financial independence topic that’s been nagging at me for months — The association between financial independence and a nomadic lifestyle.
The Nomadic FIRE Lifestyle
If you read a lot of FI blogs like I do, you’re bound to encounter it — Individuals and couples that have achieved financial independence and spend most of their days traveling the world.
These people have millions in savings, but no “home base” to return to. Instead, they simply keep traveling and the adventure never really seems to end.
This makes for plenty of cool blog posts — nomad FIRE blogs and tweets are filled with foreign locales, exotic dishes, and sun drenched beaches. This kind of imagery really ‘sells’ the whole FIRE lifestyle.
Even I’m guilty of showing off our travels — We went to Japan for a month and I spent weeks writing blog posts about that adventure. This summer, we went road tripping around the Pacific Northwest. In 2016, we went to Hawaii and lived it up — dining on fresh fruit and seafood while chilling-out in front of our own private pool.
We’ve had an awesome time, but this makes a FIRE seem like some kind of endless travel party… a life of perpetual travel and hedonic bliss.
But is this reality?
Different Travel Models
So yes, there definitely people that can do it. They chose that lifestyle and get to enjoy all the positives and negatives associated with it.
Don’t let those blogs fool you into believing that’s only what FIRE is about. FIRE can be about any lifestyle you want!
There are all kinds of models that work — some individuals travel intensely for years and then finally settle down to a less mobile lifestyle. FreedomWithBruno is a great example of this — Amanda and Travis spent about a year traveling Central and South American, and then suddenly stopped. They now run an AirBNB in Asheville, North Carolina.
Another category of travelers I’d like to call attention to (and I put myself into this bucket), are individuals with families who only travel occasionally. Bloggers like RootOfGood, RetireBy40, and the Tako family spend most of our days actually NOT traveling. Why?
Not everybody wants or needs to travel the world 24/7!
Back before Mrs. Tako and I reached financial independence, we did a ton of traveling — We visited places like Europe, Australia, Mexico, Japan, and Canada. We had a great time, and we still managed to save over 50% of our salaries. But here’s the thing — many of those locations I have very little desire to visit again.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed traveling to those places… They were fantastic, but we’ve already checked those boxes, saw the sights, ate the food, and taken the photos.
The idea of living out of a suitcase day-after-day has lost most of its appeal.
Now, we’re what I call “Sometimes Travelers“. Instead of traveling full-time, we simply prefer to go on occasional trips during the year (like our month-long trip to Japan).
In 2017, the Tako family spent 2 months traveling (roughly 17% of the year) and $7k of our annual budget on travel costs. That seemed like plenty of travel for us!
Other examples of “Sometimes Travelers” — The RootOfGood family spent 3 (summer) months traveling in Europe, and RetireBy40 recently returned from a trip to Cancun after visiting Hawaii earlier in the year.
Despite indications to the contrary, we’re not all nomads and travel bloggers — we’re just regular people who gained complete control of our finances and can now travel more often.
Most days we live a typical home life, doing typical home stuff — making dinner, doing laundry, gardening, taking the kids to school, grocery shopping, raking leaves, etc.
It’s true that we do travel more now that we’ve FIRE’d — but our travels end-up being more like a vacations, instead of a nomadic lifestyle.
The Family Factor
Another reason why the nomad lifestyle isn’t realistic for many , is the whole ‘Family Factor’. If you’ve ever tried to travel with young children, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about — traveling with young children can be a lot of work.
Not only do parents need to carry a bunch of extra stuff (diapers, a change of clothes, toys, books, snacks, etc), but fussy children can make travel absolute hell. I know what I’m talking about here folks — As a parent who recently landed in Japan covered in vomit, I speak from experience. Some very wet and smelly experience…
Traveling with kids isn’t easy.
There’s also the added expense of traveling with your kids — in many cases children pay the exact same price as adults for airline tickets. This can dramatically increase the cost of travel for a family.
While it is possible for families to travel frequently, it takes a certain amount of steadfast dedication to do it full-time. Many FIREd parents like myself simply default to an easier option — being “Sometimes Travelers” instead of full-time travelers.
While popular FIRE blogs do a great job of selling a nomadic lifestyle of perpetual travel, don’t let those exciting blogs alter the course of what you find fulfilling in life. You don’t have to travel all the time to have an amazing life!
For some people, a full life is definitely going to be about travel. For others, perhaps they find joy in volunteering for their local community. It’s entirely up to you!
Simply put, a nomadic travel lifestyle makes for great blog posts, but it might not be what you need to live a long and happy life. A little bit of travel might actually work better for you than a life of endless travel.
How much of your year would be the ideal amount of travel, and where would you go?