May 8, 2024 5 min read

The Traveler, part I: Getting the Right Mindset to Become Nomadic

Since we are a new outlet to share traveler and nomad stories, welcome to, “From the Beginning: A Nomadic Tale,” the origin story from one of our writers, and how he started out his life on the road in 2019; at age 64.

Life on the Road--especially trains--is never boring!
Life on the Road--especially trains--is never boring!

Norm Bour now has 43 countries behind him, over 50 in total, and is currently in Asia for the year. He’s going back to Square One with this ongoing series, to share how it began and how you might be able to do it, too. You can also check out his initial story he wrote for The Traveler for an overview.

At age 70, he and his wife have visited six continents, and you can learn more about them from their website,, and also his books, including Nomadic Life for All Ages, and his new one, The History and Magic of Northern Greece.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” is a well-known quote that actually came from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, and even though he said that over 2500 years ago, it is just as true today as it was back then.

The process to becoming nomadic—and it is a process—involves many steps aside from the obvious—getting your first plane/ train/ bus/ cruise ticket, and starts in the mindset you approach it with, and not just an idealized fantasy of “life on the road.” Many people—maybe you—have always dreamed about traveling the world; sleeping under the stars in some faraway land.

I never had that dream, even though my mother was born in Hungary and wanted to take me there to see her homeland until she was unable to travel. I had seen much of my native America by road, since I traversed it three times in two years when I was just 21-22 years old, but the idea of traveling overseas? Nah, it never caught my fancy.

Years later I got married and had a very smart stepdaughter taking Latin classes in high school, and every year her teacher organized a trip to Italy for a week over Easter. They needed adult chaperones to help with the two dozen or so kids that went, so that was my first taste of Europe in 1995, when my wife and I joined the party. Rome, Venice, Florence, and the southern coast of Italy, truly did blow my mind, but never compelled me to rush back.

How can you NOT be awed by the Colosseum?
How can you NOT be awed by the Colosseum?

It wasn’t until 2016 that I had the chance to re-experience Europe, but this time it hooked me. Much of that backstory was published in my initial intro for The Traveler website. But the process of actually manifesting Life on the Road starts in our brains—our souls—and forces us to face the realities of leaving everything behind. IF that is what you plan to do.

Many dip their toes into the nomadic pool, and that is perfectly fine. Keep a “home base,”  furnished or not, rented, or vacant, but do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

In my case, my wife and I were real estate free since we disengaged from that responsibility in divorces several years earlier, so really it was just a matter of determining what property STAYED; what came with us, and what was to be gotten rid of.

That doesn’t sound easy to do—and it isn’t.

So. Much.Stuff...
So. Much.Stuff...

We live in a materialistic world, and over the years we collect ridiculous amounts of “stuff.” When the time came to expunge those possessions, we both did it callously and logically, and tried to limit the number of things we were “emotionally attached to.” Getting rid of furniture was easy, ditto kitchenware and things around the house, but clothing—so very personal—was more challenging. Old photos, record albums/ CDs (remember them??), old electronics? Also tough.

But wait! After we get rid of all this chattel, where are we going??

In our case we went to Valencia, Spain for our first stop in February 2019, since we had spent about six weeks exploring Spain and Portugal a few months earlier, and liked it. In the summer of 2018 we rode bikes, trains, and buses, and started in Barcelona, then onward to Madrid, then an overnight train to Portugal, where we spent several weeks. Trains are convenient, relatively affordable, and they took us to both countries, and beyond, and, like many, we fell in love with Spain as well as Portugal.

The Algarve in southern Portugal has some of the most amazing cliffs and water!
The Algarve in southern Portugal has some of the most amazing cliffs and water!

How can you not?!

Overall our six week trip was overwhelming and memorable, along with life changing. Our AHA moment came at our last stop; the small, time left behind Balearic island of Menorca, in Spain. Just one hour’s flight from Barcelona, I called Menorca, “the Land that Time Forgot,” since it felt like it still existed in the 1970s. No big hotels, no timeshares, and not a lot of people. Our small Airbnb was just a few yards from the harbor and our normally high energy, can’t always relax mindset, chilled out.

That final stop was the decision maker, and before we left we knew that we could actually make the move.

We went so far as to attempt residency in Portugal, but balked when we found out it was required that we be “proficient” in the language, which was challenging for both of us. Next we tried Spain, which offers a special visa for retirees called the Non-Lucrative Visa, and we spent way too many hours and lots of money, only to be denied. Of course I was dejected, but recognized that we did not NEED “long term residency” since we were not really looking for a “second home.”

But many others do.

So, before you consider going nomadic, think about the reasons you are doing it, what you want out of it, how long you might plan to do it, and “Is there an end game?”

So much to think about, and I can only share our experience and you can use it as an example, maybe a guide for yourself.  Next we’ll cover the actual purging process and one of the most difficult aspects: clothes and what to take.

home is where you make it

Thank you for reading and make sure to subscribe. We're constantly exploring new destinations and share our stories, tips, and the beauty we discover along the way.

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