The transformation from city-dwelling, job-working, taxpaying citizens to roaming, penniless nomads seems to most people a transformation on a scale beyond imagining. How one can go from the security of rental contracts and direct-debits to the world of asking for day-old food and camping in quiet fields is a common question and it may be on your mind too.
It’s not a transformation which happened over night for me, it was a slow process in the beginning, firstly convincing myself that my career was not my life and that travelling was even something I wanted to do. After making the separation from my career, everything proceeded much more rapidly; it really was incredible to see in myself how quickly our planned 3-month bike tour became a way of life as normal as city life had seemed some weeks ago.
It became apparent to me that I had been living a strange sort of existence, working long hours to make money that I wouldn’t even spend, putting that money away for some sort of biblical flood or even to put towards that most coveted of goals in capitalism: a mortgage. It took Katie’s niggling desire to live a travelling life and the coming together of my anti-consumerist mentality to create the right conditions for me to leave behind a well-paid job in order to live out of four bike panniers.
It truly was the best decision I have made in my life. Without wishing to sound cliché, every day really is an adventure: not in the sense that something incredible happens every day, but that each day we have the task of plotting a route which takes us vaguely westwards, finding food, water, somewhere to sleep, and managing our relationship with each other; it’s tougher than you might imagine to not let a small argument blow out of proportion when you are out of water in 35°C heat.
We are seeing the world for what it truly is; sometimes it is a nasty place full of suffering, for instance when we come across one of Spain’s uncountable factory farms or a nuclear power plant discharging huge amounts of gas (as Tom mentioned in the comments, this gas is water vapour and probably not a contributor to climate change, but it is a reminder of the industrial scale of the waste produced by these plants). Occasionally it is wonderful; when a shopkeeper smiles at us and offers us far more than we asked for. This is the most real education I have ever received, nothing that any school or institution could provide for me.
What’s more, there is no age restriction for living this sort of life, we are both relatively young to be cycling nomads, and we have heard tales of those in their elder years enjoying the freedom still. It even seems to be one of those secrets that people discover a little later in life, but one that Katie figured out much earlier than most. For us, it will be a very long time until we stop moving, and when we stop, who knows what we will want from the world, but for now I am extremely content broadening my view of it and spending every minute with someone who shares the same passion for exploration and adventure.
Travelling can set you free and there’s no easy way to explain to someone how it feels to almost completely remove yourself from society and lead a life without its constraints. We have both found it hugely liberating; we are both becoming happier with our bodies and minds and finally feel that we have a freedom that our previous lives didn’t permit us. If there was any one reason for becoming a cycling nomad, it would be this.