How to Talk with Your Partner about Going Nomadic

Although I had known for at least ten years that I’d eventually live a nomadic lifestyle, my husband certainly had never thought about a real, full-time, nomadic life for more than a few minutes prior to meeting me.

In college, he had done his “road trip in a van” adventures and as a career sales person, he’d grown to love his mileage perks which he hacked for vacations and non-work travel. He had also had a job where he didn’t own a home, traveling from worksite to worksite for 18 months. He had good nomad chops, but could he really go nomadic? Full time? For, like, possibly ever?

No Flinching Here. We Start With “When”

Fortunately, when I talked about my dream of living a nomadic lifestyle, he didn’t flinch. He was curious. We started talking. We explored the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the issue. Who was easy. Steve and I.

Originally the conversation started as a plan to live abroad once our youngest daughter finishes high school. Serendipitously, her graduation date and his retirement date coincide. Although I was anxious to become nomadic sooner (read about my 4-month nomadic adventure to Latin America in 2019) and my finances allow for it, my parenting role does not. I feel the parental pull to maintain a home for our daughter until she leaves for college.

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We set the date. Fall 2021.  We found our “When.” But what would we be doing and where would we go?

Let’s Live Abroad

As we started discussing the ideas of living abroad, we soon learned that several countries had cities that met our criteria. That criteria included:

Quickly, our live-abroad plan turned nomadic. Why not invest at least two years traveling to cities that met our criteria and make an adventure out of it? Our “Why” had been found.

The Nomadic Budget Question, or How?

The conversation turned to the “How” of the question. Steve and I openly talk about money between the two of us, and because we had come from divorces, we had decided when we first met to keep our money in our own accounts. We maintain our own budgets, we split expenses on household items, we each pay our own kids’ expenses, and we share travel expenses.

We started to research how much we should budget for our retirement life as nomads, and we came to agreement about how much we would each contribute monthly (which we’ll discuss in later posts.) Once we determined our budget, we looked at the lifestyle it would support, and committed to the plan. I was ready; Steve needed 18 more months before he felt comfortable.

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At the time we had this conversation, our departure date was about two years out. Simultaneously, we also actively got involved in the world of travel hacking by applying for credit cards that rewarded us with lots of airline miles. We began banking thousands of miles to reserve for future trips to help us buy down the expense of travel. Luckily we timed our credit-card project prior to the COVID shutdown of many of these sign-on bonuses. By discussing our finances, building a budget, and banking airline mileage, we fleshed out our “How.”

Where Did We Want to Go?

These conversations lead us to the next big conversation about “Where.” We knew that we wanted to depart the US on a flight paid for by mileage. In order to get seats with reward travel, we would have to book our flights almost 300 days prior to our departure. With a departure of September 2021, we would have to figure out the first part of our nomadic plan and book its first flight in October 2020.

Thus, in September 2019, we holed up in an Airbnb in the Colorado mountains to watch the aspens turn color and to draft out a rough itinerary. A friend had developed this amazing spread sheet of the world’s temperatures, and we started working it. Since we have both traveled extensively (I’ve been to over 53 countries), we wanted our househunting trip to be about places we would like to live (see criteria above), not necessarily about seeing additional wonders of the world. We’ve seen many of them already.

We listed the countries and built a super rough itinerary. We know this itinerary will 100% change, but we wanted to create some infrastructure and direction to our logistics. And truly, we just wanted to understand where we would need to book our first flight.

Here’s our itinerant idea.

Costa Rica El Salvador Guatemala Bolivia Colombia Belize Honduras Uruguay Australia New Zealand South Africa Japan Israel Italy Spain Portugal Mexico

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Yes, we know that this is not a straight line and we cross the equator a few times. But we organized this based on weather (we want to stay between 50-80 degrees), stay in each region for about 3 months, hopefully housesit many times, and discover the best of these areas. Thus, our “Where” was defined.

But What Would We Do in Our Nomadic Life?

Finally, we worked on the “What” question. What would we be doing as we traveled? This part of the conversation went on for quite awhile and continues to evolve. For me, I’ll continue to write this blog, author books, and generally live a nomadic life writing when I want about whatever travel/nomad topic fits with our lifestyle.

Steve, on the other hand, has struggled with this question. Like me, he has worked his whole life and raised kids. I have gotten a jump on his retirement, settling into a schedule of hiking, writing, working out, cooking, parenting (for a bit longer), and making friends. He’s struggling with this. Perhaps he’ll create a consulting business, develop a love for surfing, or maybe even start a podcast. He doesn’t know, and I’m confident he’ll figure it out. So, “What” is pending.

What Are We Doing Now While We Prepare?

In the meantime, while Steve works, I’ve taken on two projects. One is my 50 Hikes 50 States Project, which coincidentally, allows us to gather more airline points, and also visiting other cities in the US we might want to retire to. If the international gig doesn’t work out, if the world implodes from COVID, or we find we just want to be in the US, we’re actively looking at different US cities (meeting the criteria above) in case we land back in the US for full-time living.

Needless to say, we have plans.

And they’ll change.

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See you on the trail,

Chris

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Chris Englert, the Walking Traveler, has visited over 60 countries and all 50 states. Usually traveling with her husband, yet sometimes by herself as a solo traveler, she uncovers neighborhood walks, urban hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss.

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