Ever wonder what it’s like to be a nomad? Maybe you searched YouTube and were greeted by a horde of 20-somethings from Chiang Mai pushing their online dropshipping business course down your throat.
Search for “digital nomad” on Instagram. You’ll mostly find recent college grads flaunting their carefree, scenic, “laptop lifestyle” travels.
With these common digital nomad stereotypes, it’s not surprising that many older people aren’t sure if they’re too old to be a nomad. In reality, it’s an option available for anyone at any age.
Ask yourself, “what is a nomad”? It’s merely a person who moves from place to place. With this definition, it’s not too astonishing that age isn’t a significant factor if you want to be a nomad.
The Truth of the Nomadic Lifestyle will Shock You
You might be surprised to discover that many digital nomads don’t fit the typical stereotype. There are many types of nomads, with nomad life meaning something different to each segment.
You Can Be a Nomad Without Being a Traveling Backpacker in Flip-flops
Some nomads prefer to travel internationally, full-time, with a backpack and often a bleeding bank account.
On the other hand, many digital nomads never leave their home country. American nomads traveling through America comprise the majority (53%) of digital nomads. In fact, nomadic RV life is one of the most popular types of nomadic communities in America.
America isn’t the cheapest destination in the world for a nomad. Still, some remote workers live a comfortable life as digital nomads in the USA for under $1500 a month. The USA does offer conveniences such as reliable internet – one of the biggest concerns for digital nomads. Regardless of your location, remote working has never been easier than now, especially with remote working software like Krisp to enhance your calls.
Many Nomads Are Part-time
Many digital nomads aren’t full-time. Instead, they adopt digital nomadism for just a few months.
The majority (65%) of digital nomads have only spent between one and three months in the digital nomad lifestyle. Only a tiny fraction of the nomadic community (11%) have fit the stereotype of full-time vagabond by being digital nomads for over one year.
Most Digital Nomads Are Older than the Stereotype
Digital nomads don’t just vary in their length of nomadism. The digital nomad community encompasses almost every age range. According to a survey by FlexJobs, the majority (54%) of nomads are over 38.
The stereotypical millennial and generation Z nomads only comprise 27% of the entire nomad population. Baby boomers make up almost a third of digital nomads, and over 40% identify as generation X.
Quotes from Older Nomads Living a Nomadic Lifestyle
Modern-day nomads from the older generations often live an RV nomad life. Many of them have written helpful books and offer insights on how to become a nomad.
What do they say about living as digital nomads at their age?
If you’re wondering how to be a modern nomad, you might be interested in Robin Barrett’s book, “Be a Nomad Change Your Life: The Ultimate Guide to Living Full-time in a Van or RV”. She chose to become a nomad in her 30’s after discovering that digital nomad can have many meanings:
“… a series of catalysts changed my life and I dove into years of research to find that the ways in which people choose to live a Nomadic Life is as varied as their modes of transportation and that there was a way for me to change my life and pursue the dreams I had buried for years.”
Ignacio Nieto Carvajal
The host of Micropreneur Life, Ignacio Nieto Carvajal, doesn’t see why digital nomadism should be reserved only for the younger generation.
“I would encourage anyone to do it. I’m 38, my partner is 45. We are traveling the world for quite some time now, and we have met amazing people from 20 to 60 years old.
You are never too old, or too young, to join us.”
Toward the older end of the digital nomad age continuum, we have Palle Bo, the host of Radio Vagabond. Here’s what he says about his choice to live a nomad lifestyle at his age:
“It’s never too late. I was 51 when I left. I never had any regrets about the life I had until then, this is just a new chapter. And I feel I have lived more the last two years than I had the first 51 years of my life.”
What does Alyson Long, host of the World Family Travel Blog, think about the stereotype of digital nomads being millennials?
“I think that’s a little odd as most of the nomads I know are in their late 30s, 40s, even 50s ( I am 52). I think being older is a huge advantage as we had our ducks in a row financially, we’re already married and our kids were old enough to travel.”
Being in her 30’s didn’t stop Kim Orlesky, author of “How to Be a Nomad: Go from Business Suit to World Backpacker”, from trying the nomadic lifestyle. She mentions the societal pressure that creates a mental barrier for many who want to become nomads:
“I was in my 30s. People in their 30s don’t quit their careers and sell their property to live like a nomad. We are at that age where we are supposed to find a partner, create a family, and continue to work our way up the corporate ladder.“
Robert Witham possesses a skillset well-adapted for digital nomad life. He is an author of several books, including “How to Be a Successful 21st Century Nomad”, and is also a videographer with a YouTube channel. Nomads of all ages are likely to agree with his motivation:
“Since I am still of a working age and not independently wealthy, I choose to work while I travel instead of waiting for a “someday” that may never arrive.”
Digital Nomad Travel Tips for Older Nomads
There are pros and cons to the nomadic lifestyle. These nomadic lifestyle advantages vary with age, destination, and profession.
Here are a few digital nomad problems and advantages to consider if you’re older but still want to be a nomad.
You Have More Professional Experience and Leverage with Your Boss
Part of the digital nomad stereotype is mostly-broke “wantrepreneurs” trying to start their nomad business, or freelancers fighting for jobs at third-world rates. The truth is that over a third of digital nomads work for a company, while only 18% own a business and 28% are freelancers.
Age can give you an advantage whether you prefer to be an entrepreneur or instead keep your job and become a remote worker. You’ll have better luck negotiating an arrangement to work remotely in digital nomad jobs when you’re more experienced. You’re easier to trust and often have more valuable skills. Transitioning to remote work becomes a much simpler task.
You’ll also be better at managing yourself and staying on task than many younger nomads. These self-management skills make it less likely that your attempt at digital nomadism amounts to nothing more than a gap in your resume and a failed, stressful vacation.
Consider Medical Facilities in Your Destination of Choice
On one hand, “medical tourism” exists because medical care is often more affordable in the cheapest digital nomad locations. On the other hand, increasing age also means an increase in the risk of health problems.
A young nomad might be less concerned about a lack of more sophisticated healthcare at their destination. However, as an older digital nomad with more risk, you can’t afford this luxury. It’s not a reason to give up on the nomadic lifestyle – instead, it’s a reason to do your research.
More Free Time and Better Work-Life Balance
As you get older, you often value work-life balance more than you may have in your more energetic years. This freedom of time is a great reason to be a nomad. Digital nomads (73%) cite advantages to work-life balance as one of their favorite parts of the nomadic lifestyle.
If you choose to be a nomad, you might find yourself in a state of digital nomad retirement. Forty hours of work per week (or fewer) is the norm for 70% of digital nomads. Meanwhile, 55% are also saving for retirement – another crucial consideration if you opt to be a nomad later in life.
Insurance Is More Important
While a fresh college graduate with two changes of clothes, a cheap laptop, and a backpack might not be concerned about insurance, you do need to factor this into your costs if you’re older.
The dangers of nomadic life are often exaggerated, but there is still increased risk if you’re older. You’ll have a higher chance of health problems. You’re also more likely to be traveling with valuable possessions you acquired during your traditional working years.
Budget Travel Can Be Harder
Sleeping in a train station and begging for change to catch the bus to the next town might sound like a glorious adventure when you’re 22. As you get older, you start to crave creature comforts.
Ultra-budget travel is less likely to be your preference if you decide to be a nomad at an older age. If this is the case, be careful when researching costs for different locations, since you’ll probably spend more than younger nomads report.
You’re Never to Old to Be A Nomad
Forget the media’s portrayal of digital nomads. Being a nomad is an option just as viable for you now as it was one, two, or three decades ago.
Find your inspiration and advice from older digital nomads, consider the drawbacks at your age, and enjoy the perks if you do decide to be a nomad.