Nomads Get a Bad Rap by Most of America

More and more people are ditching the traditional nine to five and setting out to explore the country in vans, RVs, and even buses. Most of these people are families, couples, and individuals who want more out of life.

They want to explore the world instead of staying on the same patch of dirt their entire lives. So why do nomads traditionally get a bad rap?

In this article, we explore nomadism, why nomads can have a bad reputation, and the benefits of this lifestyle. Let’s dig in!

What Is a Nomad in America? 

A nomad is a person who has no permanent residence and frequently moves from place to place. When you think of modern nomads in America, you probably envision retirees traveling in an RV or young couples living the #vanlife.

But the truth is, humans have been living this way for centuries. From hunter-gatherers to traveling tradespeople, nomadism is nothing new. It’s no wonder that many of us feel a calling to return to our ancient ways and explore new horizons.

Today, most nomads in America travel in some kind of home on wheels (although some travel by foot, bicycle, or boat). They’re not just the classic retirees we’re used to either; they’re working people, families with young children, and everyone in between. 

Benefits of a Nomad’s Life

First and foremost, being a nomad can be great fun. At the very least, it’s not boring. Constantly changing your environment and exploring new places is exciting. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see next! 

Secondly, it can be a great way to practice minimalism and conserve your resources. Living nomadically forces you to downsize in one way or another. Depending on your lifestyle before, you’ll probably find yourself toting around less stuff, using fewer resources, and potentially spending less as well. 

Thirdly, travel can provide an excellent education. This is why “road schooling” has grown in popularity. Seeing Gettysburg in person will always beat out reading about it in a textbook. Traveling is also a great way to learn about different cultures, and it’s beneficial for the whole family.

A mom and her daughter ride an electric bike through the wilderness

Disadvantages of a Nomad’s Life

No matter how much social media glamorizes full-time travel, no way of life is perfect. While it can be eye-opening and fun, a nomad’s life has downsides as well. 

Living nomadically can be very expensive. This, of course, depends on your rig, where you stay, and what activities you do. But just because many saw it as a way to save money, that doesn’t automatically make it an inexpensive lifestyle. 

It can also be lonely. When you’re on the road, you truly have to seek out community and like-minded people. And while there are many opportunities in the nomadic community to do so, it might not be as easy when you’re hundreds of miles away from everyone you know.

Lastly, RVs, vans, and other vehicles tend to depreciate. Unlike owning a home, living on wheels isn’t a great financial investment. Couple that with the difficulty of finding work that accommodates this lifestyle, and it’s easy to drain your bank account. 

A backpacking nomad hikes along the Tour du Mont Blanc

Why Do Nomads Get a Bad Rap by Most of America? 

It’s easy to figure out why nomads get a bad rap if we analyze our society’s history. In the past (especially before it was possible to hold a job on the road), people who traveled from place to place were seen as unconventional at best. At worst, people thought of them as thieves or mischief-makers. 

As humans, we also tend to distrust “outsiders” until we get to know them. Luckily, our society is evolving, and many are seeing nomadism in a much better light.

With more opportunities to live and work on the road, many of us provide for our families while we travel. Still, there can be a stigma around nomadism. But as more people embrace this lifestyle, it becomes more accepted in our world. 

Where Do Nomads Live in the U.S.? 

Just about everywhere! You can find nomads at RV parks and campgrounds, work camping at a job site, staying on public lands, and even mooch docking in a family member’s driveway. 

However, there are places that nomads frequent more often than others. These include RV-friendly towns such as Quartzsite, Ariz., Niland, Cali. (i.e., Slab City), Yuma, Ariz., and the entire state of Florida in the winter.

There are many popular places for full-time travelers, and where they are depends on the time of year, what they do for work, and countless other factors. 

A shirtless nomad stands on top of his van and yells with his arms outstretched to the world near the beach

How Do Nomads Make Money?

This is probably the number one question a working-age nomad gets. There are many different ways to make money on the road. Each nomad usually figures out a way that works for them depending on their skills, style of travel, and availability. 

With modern technology, there are many opportunities to work remotely. Whether someone has a traditional full-time job that they can do from anywhere or run their own business from the road, there are countless ways to make money right from a laptop. 

There are also work camping opportunities. These include becoming a campground host, working at the Sugar Beet Harvest, working for Amazon’s Camperforce, and even becoming a gatekeeper. If you’re interested in learning more about working on the road, is a great place to start. 

A nomadic couple sits in the back of their van selling coffee on the street.

Is It Illegal to Be a Nomad?

If you’re interested in this lifestyle, you’ll be happy to know that it is 100% legal to live nomadically. Nevertheless, you’ll need a place of residence.

This doesn’t need to be a physical patch of land, but you’ll need to determine which state you want to be a resident of. One of the most nomad-friendly states is South Dakota since you only have to spend 24 hours in the state to apply for residency. 

You also need to find a way to get your mail on the road. The Escapees forwarding mail service is popular, as it sends you your mail regardless of where you are in the country.

Lastly, just make sure you’re camping legally (i.e., not camping on private property without permission), and you won’t have anything to worry about.

The Nomadic Movement

The nomadic movement is on the rise in America, largely because there are so many ways to make income on the road. Traditionally, nomads have gotten a bad rap, but thankfully, this stigma is wearing off as more and more people decide to take off and explore America.

This lifestyle also provides many benefits, including the opportunity to explore faraway places, meet like-minded people, and provide children the education of a lifetime. Nevertheless, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and every way of life has its downsides. It’s all about weighing the pros and cons and determining what’s best for you and your family.

Are you interested in living life on the road?

A beautiful woman lies in the back of her van with topless with messy hair with a beautiful mountain scene outside the van doors.

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