Living a Nomadic Life

Living a Nomadic Life – Making the Most of Our Time

Who Are Trinity and Bonnie?

We are Trinity and Bonnie. When we were both 43 we sold our home, everything in it, and quit our corporate jobs to pursue a full-time travel lifestyle. This wasn’t the first time that we reinvented our lives.

Trinity made a major life change at the age of 27 when he moved to the USA from the Philippines. He had nothing more than a suitcase and a working visa.

Bonnie (that’s me) made a major life change at the age of 30 leaving behind a troubled first marriage. I secretly lived in an empty office at work until my next paycheck arrived. It allowed me to make a deposit on a tiny half-sized trailer for rent.

We met at work and got married at the age of 33.

The Great Ocean Road - Victoria, Australia
The Great Ocean Road – Victoria, Australia

Before Living a Nomadic Life

While working in corporate IT for a Fortune 50 company we enjoyed a simple lifestyle. Our home was large enough to entertain many guests, but aside from that, we lived quite frugally.  Neither of us grew up with wealth so we were used to doing most things ourselves and rarely went out to eat. Of course, it helps that Trinity is an excellent cook.

We loved our routine and careers and felt like our time was being spent on something valuable. Our jobs were part of organizations that worked together to supply a necessary service to customers.

With a simple lifestyle and good jobs, we inevitably accumulated savings and began looking for diversified investments.

In 2014 we purchased a foreclosure. We spent weekends fixing it up and then rented it out. By 2016 we had three rental properties all paid with cash in North Carolina.

Making the Most of Our Time

Of course, as with all things we don’t control, things can change. New management in our company changed the environment. Over the next two years, it gradually became more hostile and divisive.

Trin was already ready to go and had been dropping hints for the last year about making a change. I still hung on to career goals and aspirations. I hoped the environment would get better.

Ultimately, the day came when the final straw was laid and I said, “enough.”

I came home having completely given up on the organization. It was a place I no longer wanted to dedicate my time to.

We both knew then that it was time for the next chapter – Life Chapter 2.

Rice Terrace Banaue - Ifugao, Philippines
Rice Terrace Banaue – Ifugao, Philippines

Deciding What Change to Make

Initially, we discussed travelling for a year and then possibly changing our careers completely. Maybe we would look for something that would be limited to only 40 hours a week. Something that we felt would provide value.

While researching how long our savings could float us for travel we realized that we might not ever need to go back to work. I couldn’t imagine retiring at 43. My whole life I planned to work until I physically or mentally could no longer work.

We consulted a financial advisor to ask if we were crazy. He couldn’t make a recommendation on the crazy part but he said we could indeed retire on our savings.

Planning the Next Chapter

Before giving our notices at work, we began to sell off everything in our home. We put price tags on every item in our home. When people stopped by to pick up an item we had listed online, we asked them if they wanted to shop through the rest of the house. We sold a few truckloads worth of items with this method.

Four months ahead of time we gave our notice at work. We worked for the same company so it had to be coordinated. We told our bosses at 2pm in the afternoon.

I scheduled a meeting with my team and broke the news that we were selling everything and taking off with our backpacks to travel the world. It was the best day at work we had in a very long time.

Living a Nomadic Life
Leopard seal on an iceberg in the bay where an hour later Bonnie jumped in for a quick polar plunge

Making the Big Change

As I walked through the house putting price tags on everything, I found it difficult to let some items go at first. I took pictures and relived memories connected to each memento. Once the amount of stuff dwindled down to what we could fit in our car, I was amazed at the sense of freedom I felt.

We sold our home in North Carolina and drove to Arizona with what was left of our belongings stuffed in the back of our old Subaru Outback. We have family in Phoenix and we bought two more rental properties there.

And then we purchased one-way tickets to Costa Rica.

Living a Nomadic Life

Our first two years we spent backpacking Central and South America. We traveled mostly overland utilizing public transportation and primarily living in Airbnbs. We filled our days with hiking and exploring. Most Latin American countries give an automatic 90-day visa to USA passport holders. We used up most of our allotted days in each country.

After reaching Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America, Bonnie hopped on an expedition to Antarctica for a month. Next, we visited friends and family back in the USA before taking off again for the Philippines and then Australia.

Galapagos Marine Iguanas
Galapagos Marine Iguanas

How Do We Decide Where to Go Next?

Our plans are fluid. Generally, we pick which continent to explore next. We research the best way to get around (backpack, RV, car, etc.). Then we buy a one-way ticket to that continent.

While on the continent we decide where and when to move to the next location based on what we find out and how much we like each place.

Until the pandemic hit, the longest we ever stayed in one place was six weeks. That was in the mountains of Panama. We took extra time in a beautiful hacienda in Boquete for Bonnie to have knee surgery and then recover before moving on.

How Do We Spend Our Time?

Routine is something we rarely get and keeping track of the date or even day of the week slips by us. We stay active with hiking, exploring, blogging, doing language lessons, taking classes, researching information about each place we visit and where to visit next. 

When we get behind in our online activities we sometimes stop for a few days in a town with a good library.

A multi day trek in Torres del Paine national Park in 2018 - Chile's Patagonia Region
A multi day trek in Torres del Paine National Park in 2018 – Chile’s Patagonia Region

Biggest Benefit: Freedom

The biggest benefit of living a nomadic life and being location-independent is the freedom to stay longer in places we enjoy, or simply move on when we are ready.

There is even more freedom in being financially independent. Opportunities and choices are open to us that we otherwise might not have. A financial cushion gives us the comfort of knowing we are never truly stuck. 

When we embarked on our backpacking trip to Latin America, we had no idea what it would be like. But we went knowing that if there ever came a time that we think we’ve had enough or we no longer want to do it, we could buy a flight back to the USA and set up home again. 

So far, we are loving travel. Eventually, we will pick a home base and maybe only travel for part of each year. Either way, it’s nice to have the options – the freedom to choose.  For us, that freedom is so much more important than a fancy home, expensive cars, or overpriced clothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with those items, we just have them on a much lower priority in our lives.

Creating Meaningful Connections

The greatest difficulty with this lifestyle is maintaining our relationships with our friends and keeping the connections strong. Inevitably, some friendships fall away, but I found this to be true even when we were living in one place.

A wonderful aspect of traveling is that we meet people all over the world. We’ve met locals who are generous about sharing their culture. We’ve also met a lot of fellow travelers and then run into them a few countries later.

The difference in our relationships is that we now have time. While we were working in corporate spending 50-80 hours per week, there was precious little time to do anything other than work. Now that we are free, when we do see our friends we can spend a few days focused on just them. We have learned to go deep quickly when we find someone we click with and have epic evenings spent talking and laughing late into the night.

Thankfully, modern technology helps us keep in touch. GoogleVoice gives us free phone calls to the USA and social media helps us keep up on all the little things that happen that make up our lives.

Living a Nomadic Life
Limestone cave in Lencoise, Brazil

Suggestions for Lifestyle Freedom

Our biggest suggestion for lifestyle freedom is to live simply and get rid of stuff. Admittedly, this is a personal choice, and it’s probably not for everyone. We know people who live complicated lives and thrive in them. We know people who own a lot of belongings that accord them happiness and fulfillment at a healthy level. 

Living simply is a life focused on the most important things. Simplicity is not automating all the tasks in our life. It is getting rid of the stuff that makes our task list so long.

Our problem with “stuff” is that it depreciates, weighs us down, and generally gets in the way. Having fewer things makes life lighter, not only in a physical sense but more so as it relates to our wellbeing. Plus, it helps us save money.

Both of these things build flexibility that enables us to take opportunities when they come. Financial Independence is the journey of moving from a lifestyle of living paycheck to paycheck to one where savings can cushion the unexpected and give us more freedom to change so that we are not tied to a job that we may not like.

Where Are We Now and What Are We Doing?

Living a Nomadic Life – Making the Most of Our Time
Crater Lake – Oregon, USA

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Do you want to read more inspirational stories of those that have made a lifestyle change in their midlife? Check out all the stories in our Life Chapter 2 series below and be inspired.