“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
You’re one of us. Your collection of National Geographic magazines is to be envied. You bawled like a baby in the first five minutes of the movie Up, because you’ve never bonded more with two cartoon characters. You’ve seen nearly every documentary ever made because you’re fascinated with other places and cultures. You cringe at the notion of living the rest of your life in a dreary 9-5 slump of working from the bottom of one in-box to the next. You consume travel blogs like oxygen. Regardless of what friends or family say, you’re ready to take the plunge. But you’re wondering, where does one begin a modern-day nomadic life? How do I make that transition from want to wanderer?
Choose two specific destinations. The first is a far off, long shot, distant goal. Maybe item #437 on your bucket list. The second should be somewhere slightly outside of your comfort zone, but within reaching distance. Print off pictures of both destinations. Buy or print out a map of the world. Yes, the world. Spread it out across a pegboard and tack it down. Stick a pin where you are on the map. Stick another in Destination Number 1, and a third in destination number two. Use good old-fashioned string to connect “You Are Here” to Destination Number 1 (the one within reach), then, leaving the roll still attached, set down the string and don’t attach it to your second picture. That comes later.
Make plans to go to your first destination. Before you give me a hundred reasons why you can’t, let me tell you why you can: Plan your life around the places you want to live. Don’t have the money? Plan your trip around a seasonal job that will allow you to visit during that particular job. Many countries have websites that will refer you to people who will either exchange room and board for help around their property/farm, or hostels that have inexpensive or free work-exchange housing. There is also the option of housesitting. So, whatever your method may be, plan your trip and go to your first location. It doesn’t even have to be another country. It can be somewhere in your own state. A nomad is a nomad is a nomad in many ways and forms.
Return to wherever home may be and pick yet another location. This will be Destination Number 3 (not including where you started out). Here’s where you get to revel in the act of winding your string from your last location to the new destination, and celebrate the first victory in your new nomadic existence because, my friend, you are one step closer to cutting the ball and chain that is the life of being tied down to one place. Look at your board. Just take it all in. One day, that string will connect to that far off goal, your dream locale, and you’ll be getting ready to go on the one trip you’ve always dreamed of taking. It makes you wonder where this map is going to wind up during its time on this earth doesn’t it? A sailboat? An RV? A bus that’s been converted into a tiny home on wheels? The options are limitless, as always.
My personal experience is this: There was a time, before I became a traditionally published author, when I was terrified to fly. To be frank, I was scared to travel anywhere really. No matter how badly I wanted it, the very thought of speaking in front of a huge crowd of people at a writers’ conference, on the art of character development, was terrifying. But I did it.
As a child I traveled all the time and had grown up dreaming of traveling the world, yet somewhere along the way, something happened—life happened—and fear took over. For nearly ten years I went no more than eight hours away (driving distance). Then my love of writing, specifically fantasy fiction, gripped hard on my heart and renewed my wanderlust. If my characters can be bold and unafraid of the unknown, then so shall I.
I bought a map. Thumbtacks. Printed out pictures. And then I made plans with my publisher for book signings, conferences, conventions and readings. Some of them outside of my comfort zone, and I also printed out a picture of Fiji (my dream goal).
My map is now littered with strings and tacks and mementos, post-it notes and wish lists, but one day that string will connect to my trip to Fiji, and that scared young woman who could scarcely think of flying, will pack for the destination of a lifetime. And the love that was sparked initially from the deep adoration of all of those pictures I’d seen in the pages of National Geographic growing up as a child (my late grandfather, and dearest grandparent, got our family a subscription every year) will finally come to fruition as I get to take my children and husband to see these places in person.
I assure you, other than seeing your work in print, there can be no greater joy than this for a writer: to explore another world with those you love. While I may not have many stamps on my passport just yet, I’m well on my way to securing a life of being untethered to a single location, and living just as adventurously as my characters.
So tell us, where are you choosing to go with your own story? If you’re a fellow traveler or nomad, where did you first start your journey and how? Tell us in the comments! We love our readers and love hearing from them even more.
Breanne Best, also known as fantasy fiction author J.S. Chancellor, was born in Columbus, Ohio but is a nomad at heart and thus she will forever roam, always in search of her next story and another adventure. She journeys with her loving writer husband, two beautiful little princes, and a black German Shepherd. Read more of her work at welcometotheasylum.net and on her author Facebook page.
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