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    Living the #nomad Lifestyle: Fact vs. Fiction


The common bond amongst all these folks is the shared spirit of travel.

“Life on the road” and the “freedom of travel” have been depicted in movies, painting, music and literature throughout history. The lifestyle has come to the forefront in recent years through the “art” of social media—you can’t escape the beautiful people in beautiful vans in beautiful places on the booming #vanlife Instagram hashtag. While some art shines a light on the glamorous side, others focus on the harsher realities.

Director Chloé Zhao and the team behind Nomadland won big at the 2021 Oscars for the film’s portrayal of what the road is like for those forced into the lifestyle. So, what is the truth? Well, from our experience, it’s a little bit of both.

LIFE ON THE ROAD  We have lived some version of life on the road for the last six years—currently in our FUSO FG140 4×4 we lovingly call “Denny”—and thus witnessed the recent evolution of the nomad community as well as the explosion in popularity of the lifestyle.

The truth is that the diversity of people living the #nomadlife proves to be as varied as those who choose to live stationary lives. When pulling into a gathering of road dwellers, you’ll find retirees driving luxurious motorhomes that come with price tags larger than many homes, young families in travel trailers and the hip crowd drawn to the #nomad lifestyle in “schoolies” (converted school buses) and van builds.

Most travelers we meet choose to lead this life and most engage in travel because they want to see the world, not because it is a cheaper way to live than a traditional home. The common bond amongst all these folks, regardless of why and how they choose to live on the road, is the shared spirit of travel.

UPS AND DOWNS  The same could be said for the portrayal of what this life is like. The extremes are both right and wrong. There’s no getting around the realities of having a limited water supply, finding places to dump your waste and living in small spaces. However, the trade-off is waking up in beautiful surroundings, meeting new people and living a life less ordinary. The reality is, it’s not all glamor and it’s not all bleakness.

Ben and Rebecca Pazdernik

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY  Nomadland portrays a strong sense of community on the road—a shared sense and understanding of a lifestyle that many struggle to comprehend. This element of the lifestyle is certainly true.

A tight-knit community amongst travelers exists, so much so that we like to say, “it’s never goodbye, it’s just see you later,” because you would be amazed how the road repeatedly brings you back together. We have forged lifelong friendships, keep in touch with those we have met along the way, and know if we ever needed anything, one word on social media would bring them to our aid. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Ben and Rebecca Pazdernik

“All who wander are not lost.”


TROOP TRAVEL (OR NOT!)  While we do meet friends to journey together for short distances, some travelers form long-term troops, spending months on end sharing meals, destinations and childcare, similar as home dwellers may do with neighbors. How much or how little community you create on the road, is entirely up to you. You can attend as few or as many events as you wish and travel makes visiting family and friends surprisingly easy. You often find yourself exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there.

While this existence might not be for everyone, the idea connects with the human spirit which is no doubt why the theme has run through art for centuries. Perhaps it goes back to our roots as hunters and gatherers when we foraged far and wide. Or maybe it’s the thrill of the wind in your hair and the road laid out before you with destinations unknown. Whatever the reason, ask any traveler and they’ll remind you of the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “all who wander are not lost.”


ABOUT BEN & REBECCA  For more than a decade, life-long travelers Ben and Rebecca Pazdernik have enjoyed life on the road, venturing beyond the glacial beauty of their home state of Alaska to roam the vast North American continent. Having built an international online audience in the process, in 2018 the couple purchased a FUSO FG140 4×4 expedition vehicle to embark on an extraordinary around-the-world adventure. For more, follow the journey on their Outliers Overland YouTube channel.