Location matters. Community matters.
We’ve met a few “location-independent” people on our travels—usually singles, though there’s an occasional family—that doesn’t live anywhere in particular. They live where the wind takes them. Their work is done online, so they’re able to live out of their backpacks and move about the cabin indefinitely.
Essentially, they do what we’re doing for the next few months, except this is their permanent way of life. Literally everything they own is in their backpacks, and they stay put in one place for a few weeks or months, then pack up and trek on elsewhere. Rinse and repeat indefinitely. (Digital nomad is another popular term for this sort of lifestyle.)
There’s a certain appeal to it, I think. Traveling light, both literally and figuratively, means being where it’s best for you and your family at the moment without being encumbered by outside stuff. The emphasis is more on experiences than in collecting things—and of course I’m all about that. And you have more freedom to meet new people and enjoy them in the present, before you or they move on in their journey.
But that last part, for me, is where the rubber meets the road. and where I’ve decided that as much as I love travel, I just can’t be location-independent as a permanent way of life. It might be good for some people, but it’s not best for our family.
Here’s why: because for us, location matters. It doesn’t matter simply as the setting descriptor for this particular act (Act III: The streets of Thailand, a city set in a lush northern rainforest). She’s a major character in our play. She’s one we draw from, who changes us, who we dialog with by relating to her seasons, her quirks, her blessings and curses.
Doi Suthep, Thailand
Where we think of Home Base ultimately has to do with where we put our things, yes, but it’s deeper than that—it’s about where we find our earthly center, from where we draw our main community lifeline. For our family, we need a permanent place. And that makes us happy.
Being in community is about doing fun stuff together, sure, but in my opinion, the real roll-up-your-sleeves-and-share life happens with each other in the mundane. In the everydayness of life. When it’s hard, and you’ve got to collectively power through the rough stuff. Or even when it’s plain old boring.
Yes, we meet lots of people while we travel. But then they move on, and so do we. The kind of community we crave is a permanent one, one that, quite frankly, is steeped more in regular life than in adventure. That’s the life-sharing and the vulnerability and the realness we crave. We love to travel, but we personally have a finish line. We will return to a home base, where we will put our few things and we will welcome neighbors and old friends into our lives once more.
What’s been your experience with community—how long do you feel like you need to stay in a place before you find it? Have you ever had to start over? And could you do a location-independent lifestyle?
You May Also Like:
Get the weekly email called 5 Quick Things,
where Tsh shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)
You’ll also get an excerpt from her latest book, At Home in the World, a memoir about the school year her family backpacked around the world.