How I Feel About Moving Around The World 26 Times A Year
In the past year I’ve lived in 14 different cities, took 19 flights, spent countless hours in planes, airports, Ubers, taxis and Airbnb apartments. I’ve spent more than $5,000 on my flights around the world and twice as much on rent. Welcome to my digital nomad life.
Here is a list of places I’ve stayed in for more than one week:
Medellin, ColombiaPlaya Del Carmen & Sayulita, MexicoNomad Cruise across AtlanticMadeira, PortugalBarcelona, SpainChisinau, MoldovaBucharest, RomaniaBlagoevgrad, BulgariaBangkok, ThailandCanberra & Melbourne, AustraliaSan Diego, USARio de Janeiro, Brazil
And here is a list of flights I took in the last 12 months:
Medellin, Colombia > Cartagena, Colombia > Medellin, ColombiaMedellin, Colombia > Playa del Carmen, MexicoPlaya del Carmen, Mexico > Cartagena, ColombiaNomad Cruise (crossed the Atlantic Ocean for 12 days from Colombia to Portugal)Lisbon, Portugal > Madeira, Portugal > Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon, Portugal > Barcelona, SpainBarcelona, Spain > Chisinau, MoldovaChisinau, Moldova > Bucharest, RomaniaBucharest, Romania > Sofia, BulgariaSofia, Bulgaria > Belgrade, Serbia > Sofia, BulgariaSofia, Bulgaria > Bangkok, ThailandBangkok, Thailand > Sydney, AustraliaCanberra, Australia > Melbourne, Australia Melbourne, Australia > San Diego, USASan Diego, USA > Puerto Vallarta, MexicoPuerto Vallarta, Mexico > Rio de Janeiro
I own a small suitcase, a backpack, and a carryon bag. I’m tired of packing and unpacking every two weeks (on average) but I choose to live this life. The “packing/unpacking” has become almost a mechanical process… Get my clothes rolled up and into the left side of the suitcase, get all toiletries into their own little bags, pack electronics, books and shoes, throw in miscellaneous things in random places where there is space, close one side of suitcase, jump on top of the suitcase so it can close, pack the backpack with laptop, documents and valuables, call an Uber and get ready to go… Works like a charm every time.
Today I have moved yet again to a new apartment from Ipanema to Copacabana area in Rio de Janeiro. We usually book an Airbnb apartment for the first two weeks in a new place and then find something else as soon as we arrive to a new place. Pre-Carnaval Rio de Janeiro is a different story.
You have to book early for the Carnaval time, otherwise, you end up with something really cheap and sh*tty or something really expensive. We were lucky to have stumbled upon a nice apartment in Copacabana so booked it in for a month while we were still in Mexico. Good news? We have to move again in March unless we decide to stay in Copacabana.
During my travels, I came to accept the simple fact that there is no perfect Airbnb apartment, just like there is no perfect country or a perfect person. Everywhere I find something I like and dislike, conveniences and inconveniences. Great location, modern apartment but full of mosquitos and a shower that doesn’t work properly. Nice apartment, no mosquitos but too hot. Amazing apartment, cheap but sh*tty location. I guess it teaches me life ;-)
People are often surprised by the small amount of stuff I own but I would like to get rid of more :) I buy new clothes wherever I go and discard the old ones when I feel like I don’t need them anymore. When in a new place, I crave change and adding a local flavor to my wardrobe. I came up with the verb “blendissimo” while in Colombia trying to explain to Estring that we should learn how to “blend in.” I also try to learn from the local women of the country I live in: observe what they wear and how they hold themselves, how they behave and talk on the streets, how they walk and smile to men ❤
During my travels, I want to feel like a girl and not a bagpacker so I always wear make-up, dresses and take care of my hair and nails. I do what other girls do at home, although home for me is a different city every time.
How do I feel about moving so much? It’s getting to be quite exhausting but it is also exhilarating. I can pack and unpack my stuff in one hour and be ready to hit the party. In the three months in Rio de Janeiro, we will move and live in three different places. Every time we need to pack and unpack, get an Uber, figure out the new apartment, where everything is and how it works, and get familiar with the neighborhood.
The moving around so much keeps me on my toes and out of my comfort zone which is great for life experience but not so great for peace of mind. At this point, I’m feeling what most “digital nomads” fear: a time to “settle” and experience a longer, 6-month to one year stay somewhere (yes, by “settling” I mean living somewhere for at least 6 months)…
Now, choosing a place to stay for that long is the hardest thing… I believe it will happen once we decide on starting a family so that’s quite possible next year. I still want to live in Africa for a couple of months, go on a Safari and get to know Cape Town and African culture. Africa is still a weird, unfamiliar place that gives me a fuzzy feeling of fear and excitement.
During the actual travels, my backpack is my carry-on so it has my laptop, all the documents, my kindle, money and other stuff I might use on the road. It also serves as my daily bag for carrying my laptop, yoga attire or Portuguese class notebooks. (I recently upgraded to a Quicksilver bagpack so I travel like a girl and in style ;-)
I also travel with a small bag for extra stuff that doesn’t fit. This time this bag contains the 10 large pom-poms I bought from Mexico as a wedding decoration for my upcoming wedding in September.
I also own an over the shoulder cotton bag and a small bag for little things or for when I go out.
In my main 24-inch suitcase I have everything I need:
- Underwear: I fell in love with the “Intimissimi” Italian brand mainly because they sell these panties that you can’t see under yoga pants and the quality is amazing!
- Toiletries & make-up: (gotta travel like a girl, yo!) I LOVE the “Khiels” brand so I use that for my skin care and deodorant. I own very little makeup — just what I need: mascara, eyeliners (LOVE the “wet look” ones from “Burjois”), the “Naked” eyeshadow palette from “Urban Decay” I rarely use, tweezers, blush from “MAC” and other tiny things. I also own 3 perfumes (that’s too much I know, I would get rid of one but one was a present from husband and you don’t throw these away and the other one just smells really nice ;-)) Shampoo and conditioner I buy when I arrive at a place and I also carry argan oil for my hair. I don’t have any nail polish or nail polish remover because I just never find the time to deal with my nails. I prefer to get a “shellac” manicure and be done with it for a week or two.
- Summer clothes: I only have one “winter-ish” black jacket, one pair of jeans, two pairs of leggings to travel in, little shorts and summer short and long dresses.
- Yoga wear: 3 sport bras and 3 yoga short/leggings.
- Swimwear: 3 bathing suits I got from “ROXY” on sale.
- Shoes: handmade boots I got in Medellin, Colombia; wedges from Barcelona, Spain; Havaianas flip-flops I bought from Amazon; sneakers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Books & journals: “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, “Women Who Run With The Wolves” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, a coloring book, a scuba dive record notebook, a journal for my “morning pages,” an everyday notebook for ideas etc. and Portuguese classes notebook & textbook.
- Electronics: iPhone, Macbook Pro, Kindle, toothbrush (!), headphones, microphone, mouse etc. (that’s from my podcasting days. I feel like I’m going to need them someday!) and their chargers, of course.
- Miscellaneous: stuff like my scuba diving mask, incense sticks, spices, macadamia nut flour (ok, I know that’s a little too much, but if you’re gluten-free and you get your hands on macadamia flour, you don’t let that sh*t go!)
I have been literally living “out of the suitcase” for about two years now and it has been amazing. I realize I don’t need much and feel quite liberated. Sometimes I feel the urge to get a really nice handmade Mexican bag but I know I don’t have space for it so I only buy what I can carry with me. One time I really wanted to get hot rollers for my hair… I let that go in a week or two.
Main rule: if I can’t fit it in my suitcase, I have to let it go (or throw away something instead.)
I am quite fearful of owning a home because that means I have to “fill it in” with stuff. I guess this fear is based on my female nature that can’t really have an empty house but I shall try to keep it very minimalistic.
Challenge question: how would you organize your life and your suitcase if you had to live off it for one year moving around every month?
The “Always On The Move” Wanderova
P.S. Here is the approximate travel plan for the next 7 months:
March: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > São Paulo, Brazil > Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (visit for a week to check out São Paulo)April: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > Washington D.C. USA (visit for a weekend to see my American host family)April: Washington D.C. USA > Bali, Indonesia (staying for 3 months for a yoga training course and just to live)June: Bali, Indonesia > Sydney, Australia > Bali, Indonesia (visit Australian family of future husband and my bestie in Melbourne)August: Bali, Indonesia > Bucharest, Romania (visit sister & family and legally get married)August: Bucharest, Romania > Chisinau, Moldova (prepare for wedding)September: Chisinau, Moldova > Belgrade, Serbia (visit Serbian family)