Essential tips for the Nomadic life

Life is often so busy and full that plans of travel and exploration are left on the backburner, which is why retirement can be the best time to tackle those wish lists and adventures. Not to mention, after a lifetime of dashing around madly, you’ve earned a little fun.

One way to do that is to pack everything up and hit the road – become a nomad. If the grandkids can do it, why not you?

Here are our top tips and advice for living the nomadic life.

Start a discussion with your partner

Before you even think about selling up and setting off, you’ll need to spend a lot of time discussing the ins and outs with your partner. The good news is you’ve probably had some time to practice communication and compromise.

You’ll need to agree on important points such as how you will fund your travels, what kind of budget you will stick to, places you want to go, and when (or even if) you plan to come back and settle down again. Be sure to also decide if you’d both be open to travelling with other retirees, or inviting the grandkids along for the occasional adventure.

For those looking to travelling solo, it’s still a good idea to sit down and think about these questions! It can help to give you more of a concrete plan and some direction as you set out to explore.  

Set a realistic budget

Anyone who has ever travelled knows that deciding to live on $100 per day and actually living on $100 per day are two very different things.

Setting a realistic budget isn’t just about looking at your savings and dividing them up by days. It’s about researching the places you want to go, creating spreadsheets of how much you expect to spend on accommodation in each place, food, activities, and everything in between, and setting a budget based on how much you will be likely to spend.

If you plan to travel in a campervan, the cost of purchase will take a sizeable bite from your budget, but it can be quite the investment as the more nights you sleep in it, the more you save on hotels and other accommodation providers. Be sure to explore Trade Me to view current market prices, and don’t forget to look at ex-rentals from companies such as Mighty Campers and Britz, which can offer some excellent deals.

Set a budget for the short term (per day/week), long term (per month/full trip), and consider forms of income such as renting out your home while you’re away to supplement your travels. 

It will be tempting to set budgets low, but don’t forget to allow some space for frivolity – this is retirement, not your OE, after all.

Plan for the seasons

Travelling in winter might be the dream for ski bunnies, but it does make certain aspects of the nomadic lifestyle significantly harder.

If you can either travel largely in the warmer months, or head to areas that don’t experience too much rain or very low temperatures, you’ll be able to spend more time out exploring on foot, making the most of longer days, and not worrying about staying warm if you’re travelling by campervan.

Manage your risks

There are certainly some risks involved with a nomadic lifestyle, but good management can keep them to a minimum.

For example, prepare and pack an emergency kit to travel with you that includes a basic medical kit, torches and batteries, spare water and non-perishable food, some cash, and back-up print outs of important documents such as your driver licences and medical prescriptions. 

If you are spending a lot of time driving, as many nomads do, aim to drive during the day, take plenty of rest breaks, and never drive while tired – or after a big lunch, for that matter. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of checking road conditions before you drive, so you’ll know to expect roadworks and other speed bumps. The NZ Traffic app is fantastically useful for this, it covers road closures, congestion, accidents, and even live webcams so you can see the weather conditions for yourself.

You can also invest in insurance to cover your travel plans, personal items, and health, just in case you encounter problems along the way.

Stay in touch with family and friends

Life on the road as a nomad will be unlike any other experience. You’ll see new things, try strange foods, and meet incredible people at every turn.

But there’s nothing like hearing your loved one’s voices, filling them in on your adventures, or even speaking to them via video call.

Make a point of staying in touch with family and friends via regular phone calls filling them in on your days or updating your photos on Facebook. It’ll help to keep you from feeling so far away, and they’ll love hearing what you’re up to. Even if they are green with envy.

Plan your eventual return

Unless you plan to travel off into the nomadic sunset, never to return, you’ll need to have a plan in place for heading home, even if you don’t know exactly when that will be.

This might mean storing your furniture and belongings while you’re away, or renting your house out with the expectation of returning. However you do it, it’s best to have a plan so you won’t be left scrambling once your travels come to an end.

Living a nomadic lifestyle is the kind of thing many people can only dream about, but taking your retirement and turning it into a non-stop travelling adventure is absolutely possible with a little bit of planning and a lot of daring.

Get the admin out of the way first, such as organising funeral insurance, travel insurance, and any other cover you’ll need on the road, then stop dreaming and start living that nomadic life.