The dictionary defines a nomad as “a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.” While this definition captures the gist of being a nomad, the modern nomad might have slightly different priorities.
Many choose this lifestyle to get away from the stressors of current society, while others have this lifestyle thrust upon them due to complex circumstances. Either way, the community of modern nomads is growing fast thanks to individuals and families like the ones on this list.
The nomad lifestyle has gained so much popularity over the past ten years that the well-liked nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (2017) by Jessica Bruder was adapted into the Oscar-winning film of the same name in 2020, directed by Chloé Zhao. This book details the lives of modern nomads as they experience post-9/11 America. The film even cast Bob Wells, who is featured as number nine on our list of the ten best ways to live like a nomad.
Related: 10 Bizarre Things People Rent While Traveling
10 Solo in a Custom Van
Like most young adults, living expenses are astronomically high. Many are turning to living in cars, vans, or RVs to combat these costs. Having your dream home on wheels might not be everyone’s goal, but it is Amanda’s.
“After battling the common fight of working to afford her home while sacrificing things she enjoyed, she decided to take control of her situation and move into a tent. A tent turned into a van, and she has now found a home that allows her the freedom to explore nature while finding her inner peace. Within her DIY build, you’ll find items that have been passed down from family, art from talented friends, and an abundance of creative storage space throughout. Amanda and her dog Frank live van life the way so many of us think it should be, simple, free, and full of experiences.”
Talk about an exciting way to see the world while still having the comforts of home and more money in your wallet to do the things you really want to do.
9 Live Like Bob Wells
Bob Wells, also known as “Vandweller,” is an American YouTuber and author known for founding the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous and for running his YouTube channel CheapRVliving. Although Bob’s life as a nomad was not one that he expected, and his first time moving into his van was done out of necessity, he eventually realized that this lifestyle was one that best suited him.
After living in mobile homes and cars for over 20 years, Bob has started a charity called the “Homes on Wheels Alliance,” which provides livable cars and vans to people that need them. Bob is known for creating a large sense of community among “Vandwellers” in the United States with his Rubber Tramp Rendezvous bringing together over 10,000 people living in their vehicles. His YouTube channel provides tips for living in your vehicle, installing solar panels, and finding affordable dental and vision care.
8 Become an Upscale RVer
If you’ve got a house to sell or a lot of savings, the life of an upscale RVer might be the one for you. Purchasing a new RV can cost up to $300,000, but with a used RV it’s more like $15,000 to $40,000. According to an article in the Washington Post, one million Americans “live full-time in RVs,” and many claim that this decision has improved their marriages and made their family closer.
The perks of an RV are that they typically have more space than a van, a built-in kitchen and bathroom, and more storage. Families of six can even live in an RV comfortably while having the ability to travel the nation.
7 The Converted Sprinter Van
The converted-van life has many different meanings, and for people like husband and wife Chris and Sara, it means living in a van with a gorgeous tile shower, hi-tech security system, fully functioning kitchen, and office space.
“Hey y’all! We’re Chris + Sara, a husband-and-wife travel duo currently working and traveling full time with our pup, Kramer. We’ve always dreamed of traveling full time, and in May of 2018, we took the leap and made it happen! Today we’re balancing work and fun everywhere between the Pacific and Atlantic. From hiking and cycling to tacos and coffee, we’re trying to see and experience as much of this world as we can! While our home is currently on wheels in our DIY Sprinter van, our travels take us all around the world.”
Keep in mind that sprinter vans cost around $50,000, and the cost of converting the interior into a livable space is highly dependent on how much of it you can do yourself.
6 The Minimalist Nomad
Minimalism is a common theme throughout many modern nomads. Although there are a lot of glamorous versions of the nomadic lifestyle seen across the internet today, at its roots, the nomadic lifestyle is one that benefits from the ability to pick up and move at the drop of a hat.
Many people choose to become nomads because they feel the burden of societal expectations, such that downsizing not only their home but also their belongings is all they can do to feel free from these modern shackles. If your reasons for becoming a nomad are more in line with freeing yourself from societal norms, financial stress, and consumerism, then the minimalist nomad might be what you’re looking for.
5 The Digital Nomad
The digital nomad is someone that lives a nomadic lifestyle while working remotely. They usually do freelance work or have an open schedule that allows constant travel. This has become an even more popular lifestyle since 2020 due to the increase in jobs allowing for remote work.
Typically, the digital nomad has no fixed home and stays in hostels or short-term rentals. It’s a term that is used rather loosely, so the digital nomad can be someone that lives in a converted vehicle or RV. However, more often than not, they are travelers making money online.
4 Converting Your Car into a Tiny House
In the video above, Alyssa Vanilla explains how she converted her hatchback into a tiny home. There are many pros to converting a hatchback or sedan instead of a van, including the increased affordability, cheaper gas cost, and more convenient parking accessibility.
Alyssa’s channel goes through the various pros and cons of living full time in your car and tips and tricks for this way of life. Converting your vehicle is an excellent idea for anyone looking for easier and more affordable ways to live like a nomad.
3 The Renovated School Bus
Of all DIY homes on wheels, the school bus seems to have the most potential to make it your own because of the large amount of space provided.
The couple in the video above built a shower, compost toilet, closet, living room, bedroom, and kitchen into their school bus while keeping the bus drivable. They use the bus to travel the country with their two dogs—and did it all for $15,000.
2 The Self-Sufficient Sailor
Not every modern nomad lives in a recreational vehicle. Some live on a sailboat.
“Brian and Karin Trautman have been living on a sailboat for 10 years, and their boat is set up so they can be off the grid in remote places for months at a time with solar and wind power providing electricity, a water maker that turns salt water into fresh water, multiple freezers and loads of storage space for food, and even a small washing machine on board!
They’ve sailed 83,000 nautical miles, which is the equivalent of circling the earth at the equator more than three times. Their latest adventures include sailing as a family with their 6-month baby, Sierra, and outfitting the boat with a heater so they can explore the Arctic this summer after several years in the Tropics.”
This life requires different skills from that of a vehicular nomad, or “Vandweller,” and can be pretty expensive to get started. Although you’ll save on gas and car insurance, you should consider other costs like parking your boat and sailing lessons. Not to mention, you’ll have to be pretty confident that you won’t get seasick.
1 The Truly Unaffordable Space-Ship on Wheels
If you are not one to outfit a van or other vehicle to your specs, you can always purchase a home on wheels. This luxury motorhome is basically the Bugatti La Voiture Noire of livable vehicles. The interior looks like the inside of a private jet that Elon Musk might own, and is filled with automated blinds, so much storage, and sleek black and brown shelving. The bedroom looks like it is straight out of a hotel, fitting a queen-sized bed. The bathroom has no shortage of space. There is even a garage embedded into the back of this motorhome.