post

Searching for a base…

Victoria taking in the sunset on Cerro San Bernardo

Long-term travel has become our norm. We choose a place and we make it home, sometimes for weeks, more often for months. We make friends, we find favourite cafés and create a rhythm someplace new. We learn what time the market cuts its prices, how to ask, “¿Hay wifi, por favor?, and how to top up our temporary phone.

Then one day, it comes time to leave. We pack up our bags and we’re gone, caught on the scent of something new. A new destination, and with it a new number to learn, cakes to find, and words to try and make sense of.

We scratch surfaces of cities and dive deep into the wells that let us in — the flashes of conversation, the brief but piercing friendships, and the moments of recognition, surprise and enchantment that imprint themselves forever. There is much to love in the life and freedom of long-term travel, but there are also cracks that start to appear.

Fruit truck in San pancho

We loved our local veg truck in San Pancho.

The goodbyes become a little harder, energy wanes and the excitement takes more to sustain. Just as we once longed for the thrill of something new, we now sometimes find ourselves yearning for depth and continuity in something steady.

We want to grow vegetables, start a book group, and build a community that lasts more than months. We also want to travel. And therein comes the balance. We want to find a base – a home within our travels – somewhere to return to again and again, a place to leave from, but them come back to.

We’re not alone in that search. Over the past few months, nearly every nomad I have spoken to has shared a similar desire. So many are looking for a base, or have already found one and made it theirs. Dan and Audrey are in Berlin, Hannah loves France, and Christine is in Barcelona. Travel remains part of their lives, but they don’t want to be nomadic.

Cake at Katulki Berlin

Excellent cake is key

Steve and I are part of that camp. Wanderlust still overwhelms us and we have endless plans for where to explore. We want to spend part of the year in different places – a few months here and there – and take regular trips to shores afar, but we also know we want a base. The question is where will it be? Where will we call home?

Could it be San Pancho, Berlin, Barcelona – or maybe even the UK?

The world seems wider than ever and our minds are filled with the possibilities . When you can live anywhere, where do you choose?

As ever, we’ll be sharing our journey with you along the way. And we’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a base? Do you want one? Do you hate the idea? What’s your perfect balance?

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Comments

  1. says

    We’re just about to leave the UAE to lead a nomadic life, so I’m itching to get away from routine! But I do know that I’m also a creature of comfort, so I’m not sure how long my nomadic urges will last for! It’s best to just go with the flow, take each day as it comes and make choices on the basis of how you feel at the time. That’s how I operate anyway!

  2. says

    VERY timely. I’ve noticed that shift too among some long term travelers and we have felt it as well. We’re actually planning to settle into a home base next month (although I haven’t announced where yet) and I’m really, really looking forward to it.
    Steph recently posted..Travel Makes Me Love the US MoreMy Profile

  3. says

    Beautifully written. I surely have a base where i can return to. So, yes, I’m someone who looks forward to coming home. But, I really appreciate you guys – who are able to make temporary homes, form friendships and learn so much along the way. I think there is a lot to learn from you.
    Renuka recently posted..Solo Travel In India – The RealitiesMy Profile

  4. says

    I feel your struggle, Victoria! Berlin seems right for us for a number of reasons (that we’ve already discussed at length) but there’s always still that niggling part of me that wonders if there’s somewhere else even better…though I doubt there’s anywhere with better (vegan) cake!
    Sam recently posted..June 2014 ReportMy Profile

  5. says

    We’ve been doing some longish housesits and that has really helped us feel like we have a base, even if it is only temporarily. It works for us right now. A few weeks before we’re about to leave we get that excitement of somewhere new to explore. It gives us that perfect balance for now but I don’t think I’ll rule out a real base sometime in the future.
    Kellie recently posted..House sitting – The Free Ultimate GuideMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      Yep, housesits seem like a great way to do it. Unfortunately, we’re currently drawn toward being in a city and housesits can be a little harder to come by in places like Berlin (at least the long-term ones).

  6. says

    After being nomadic for just over a year, I can’t see we’re ready to stop. But perhaps in another two years from now we’ll be ready to have a base. At this point though, even going back to Australia for three months over the summer scares me a little.
    I think I would worry a little if I had a base to think about whilst I was away. Perhaps this will change though.
    I think you should make your base somewhere sunny :-)
    xx
    Carmen recently posted..How to make a routine while travellingMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      I know how you feel. I used to really balk at the idea of going home. It’s taken me by surprise to now be drawn towards it!

  7. says

    We aren’t nomadic by any means, but we love to travel. We keep a home base near Toronto because we both work in the city. We travel as much as we can between work and with saving up money to do so. I like the idea of having a place to come home to where I can have my balcony vegetable garden in the summer, where our kitty lives with us, and where our friends and family are. I totally admire everyone that can make a nomadic lifestyle work and live that exciting type of life!
    Lauren recently posted..Introducing Foodie Friday with a Spinach Lasagna RecipeMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      A place of belonging is a nice way to put it. We feel really drawn to the idea of having a community right now.

  8. says

    You’ve eloquently described my eternal internal reality – the push and pull between roots and adventure. I’ve solved it (at least for now and the past few years) in exactly the way you’ve described it in your post. I’ve made Milwaukee and now Madison my homebase where I have friends, a book club, gardens, community of colleagues, and all the rewards of home while continuing to explore and travel. Wisconsin isn’t the most exotic of locations for a homebase, but it has incredible benefits, affordability being at the top of the list. We pay a third less for our three-bedroom home for our family than friends of mine who live in the Bay area in a charming but small apartment. Wisconsin has four distinct seasons, and the changes are dramatic and evoke a rhythm in my life that I don’t find in places where the seasons are more subtle. In other words, I look for reasons to love my homebase instead of always wishing I were somewhere else – because there’s always a somewhere else, even on the road! I wish you two the best with your decision, and just know that whatever you pick, you will be right.

    • Victoria says

      Thank you Jen. It’s so wonderfully reassuring to hear from others on the same page! Seasons are something we have on our list of wishes too! I think sometimes it’s easy to overlook the rewards of home. Travel really helps to put that in perspective :)

  9. says

    I hear you guys!

    Its funny how our entire lives we thought we wanted to be true nomads, but after a year on the road it became clear that while we do want extensive travel its important for us to have a home base and community to jump off from…and one were excited enough to return to.

    The last year has been an excited journey into designing and building that home base. Large enough to entertain while home, small enough to easily leave for month on end. Now that home base has been established we are happier than ever (and the urge for long-term travel is stronger than ever)!!

    The question has now become whether other areas are worthy of a “second” base…or whether the beauty is simply in seeing/seeking out someplace new every time ;)

    Good luck in your continued search…
    brydanger recently posted..Return to VANMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      So great to hear that you’ve found a good balance. Doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were chatting about all this in San Pancho!And yes, I totally hear you on the idea of a second base!

  10. says

    Funny how this is happening to so many of us at the same time. Setting up a home base here in the Swiss Alps has been a dream. In fact, I had a lovely moment a few weeks ago, coming back here from the second small trip I’ve taken since settling in, where I realized “Oh my god, I’m excited to go home.” That’s never happened before. It was an amazing feeling.
    Gigi recently posted..My Search for Authentic Balsamic Vinegar (An Experience of Inspiration)My Profile

  11. says

    I really think that there is only so long one can be truly nomadic before the realities of that way of life sink in and one realizes how exhausting it is to constantly pull up roots and start anew. I love being location independent, but the longer we traveled, the less tolerant we were for blazing through places and trying to act as though we were taking a conventional vacation. Some of our happiest moments on the trip were when we settled in Ho Chi Minh City for 3 months and just allowed ourselves to indulge in “regular life” for a while… if visas weren’t such an issue in Vietnam, we likely would have stayed there for another 3 months!

    One thing I’ve always been envious of you Europeans is how many potential places you have available to you that you can potentially call home. If you want to set up a base in Berlin, or Paris, or Barcelona for a few months to see how it goes, it’s no problem! And if you love it and want to stay the rest of your life? Still no problem! As a Canadian, I’m still searching for a place that I like enough that I’d happily engage in all the paperwork and jumping through hoops to call another country home… I’d love to find that place, but for now, I travel in the hopes that I will!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Travel Photo Roulette #81: The Face of a NationMy Profile

  12. says

    Right now my base is in Korea while I save money, but this time next year I hope to be in Mexico. Of course I want to travel all over Latin America, but it’s nice to get a bit settled and move slowly. I like Korea, but I love Mexico.
    Claire recently posted..Growing in a Distant PlaceMy Profile

  13. says

    As we are only just coming up to our first full year of travel we are not at the point of wanting a more permanent home base of our own. However right from the start we knew that we wanted to travel slowly rather than hop from place to place. During our 8 months of traveling through Mexico we rented an apartment twice…once for three months and once for two months…plus we had a one month housesit so we were only fully on the move for two of the eight months. We are now back home staying with family for the summer before heading out again in Sept. We have found that this balance of travel and having a “home” for extended periods is perfect for us plus it saves money…it’s a win win!
    sarah recently posted..The Hidden Gem of Jetty IslandMy Profile

  14. says

    I`ve read this article with pleasure!

    If I have reached the point when I really want to settle down and start my own book-reading club or have kids and stuff, I consider reading this article again.

    Question: What is the hard point about constant traveling? I might think and write about it as well – soon. As soon as I have reached that goal of being a constant nomad.

    Greets from Kyrgystan

    Patric

    • Victoria says

      Thanks :)

      The main difficulty for us is the upheaval. We are drawn to having a base because we’d like a bit of continuity – a place to be a part of something for longer than just a few days, weeks or months.

  15. says

    Been thinking about you as we are currently in your old neck of the woods! We are up the road a bit in La Penita, housesitting for a few months. It’s so lovely here, I can definitely see why you fell in love with it. I’m sure your base will present itself when you are completely ready.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..#soulshots – Be OpenMy Profile

  16. says

    Some of your words could have come from my mouth. My circumstances are very different from yours, but I set off last September on what I today realize was a quest for a new base, and I am about to land up almost back where I started! Perhaps just the grass seeming greener? Dunno. But like you I get to a stage where I burn out on the travel (at least I think that’s what happens), and the result in my head and heart is just the same as the frustrations of being stuck in one place. Yet the solution – a base with the ability to travel at will is not an affordable option. That’s the problem.
    Linda recently posted..“Another Fork Stuck in the Road” (apologies to Greenday)My Profile

  17. says

    It has been a while, but I’m glad I actually read through all the posts I have missed in the meantime… I absolutely love this one Victoria! I can relate perfectly well to your thoughts. This curiosity and desire desire to blossom rather than to root. It certainly requires skill and experience to master this tightrope walk between settling and wandering and what I call the marvellous “longing for the unknown”; seeking change in order to sharpen the senses…
    I think we actually do not itch for places, we yearn for emotion and what person we are or will be in a particular spot on the map. People transform places and vice versa and finding a balance between these two may lead to a certain degree of fulfilment in life…
    Not sure if you ever heard of it, but I could imagine it might be extremely interesting for you as well: “el síndrome del eterno viajero” or “the eternal traveller syndrome”. A wonderfully inspirational “mind’s stroll” contemplating on places from the perspective of a modern nomad…
    Thanks again for the inspiration and best of luck! :)

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