We’ve starting to nomad more seriously. Why? I think it’s actually a more natural way to live. The idea of a fixed residence is — I think — not quite right.

Looking back over this blog, there’s a “Driving Across the USA” section with some notes on driving back and forth from McLean, Virginia, to Las Vegas, Nevada.

The notes on these voyages aren’t too interesting because it was a pair of low-drama trips. These are the best kind to be part of. There’s no real story because nothing happened. We drove. We arrived. Yawn.

Over the last 25 years, we’ve lived in a bunch of places.

  • Schenectady, NY, for maybe 15 years. A long stretch at a single address. It was here that we arrived at the idea of nomading. Those of us in high-tech work often wonder why we have a fixed address. I spent years moving from hotel to hotel to be near my clients and going to a fixed house on weekends.

  • Norfolk, VA, for about 3 years. We perfected technomad life here, working from apartments and marinas.

  • A boat for 2 years. We moved up and down the US east coast, including a visit to the Bahamas. We were temporarily retired, I wrote non-fiction, but avoided “full-time” work. My partner managed the boat, the food, the marinas, the destinations, everything else.

  • Richmond, VA, for about 18 months. This was “full-time” work. In an office. Technomadding was not part of the deal.

  • McLean, VA, for about 3 years, also in an office. (The move took a day: 2 hours to load the car, 2 hour drive, 2 hours to unload.)

  • Las Vegas, NV, for a year. This started just before the COVID-19 Pandemic. I had resumed a kind of technomadism that became corporate policy.

  • McLean, VA, for about a year.

Unpacking the truck
Unpacking the truck

Now, we’re splitting time between the boat and a truck. The boat can go many places, and is completely self-contained. We can camp in the truck, but it’s not quite so luxurious.

Everything we own fits in the truck (and on the boat.)

There are two parts this this. It means not buying things. And it means giving things away we aren’t actively using. It means we have very, very few mementos.

We’ll be staying for a month or two with a sequence of relatives, or Air-B’n’B’s near-by the relatives. Or cheap hotels. We’re flexible. The point is to follow the weather and avoid being on the boat in hurricane season in the Caribbean or Florida.

Seasonal Work

I’m unclear on why seasonal work is treated like a personal failure. In the US, migrant farm labor is tied to a lot of the racist history of the country. I’m vaguely aware that laws against vagrancy are generally racist in their intention — to drive away displaced formerly enslaved people, thrown off their plantations with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Poverty can be criminalized via anti-vagrancy laws.

Good weather tends to shift, seasonally. Of course, you want to live in the north in the summer and the south in the winter. This is a delightful thing. I cannot stress how pleasant it was to pick up the anchor and move the boat to follow the good weather.

People flirt with this on a regular basis. They take vacations and go someplace nice. For a little while. Some people have vacation homes and spend a fair amount of time there.

Too many companies offer tiny scraps of vacation time. Many people have jobs which provide zero days of paid vacation; traveling someplace nice incurs a double cost: the cost of travel and the cost of no income. Other people have perhaps two weeks into which they have to cram a lot of personal time, leaving barely a week to vacate their “fixed” address and go somewhere nice.

The US policy of “work constantly” is terrible. Indeed, it seems to be a kind of reprehensible evil. People need to travel. They need a winter home and a summer home. They need to follow the seasons, the plants and the animals.

We’re looking forward to an aggressive level of vagrancy.