Across the globe people are tapping into a new way of incorporating travel into their daily life – nomadic living. The modern nomad, or digital nomad lifestyle, is often synonymous with the pursuit of sustainability. Fear of climate change and an increased awareness of health and wellbeing are central components to this.
Globalisation has brought us a new kind of professional freedom. Freelancers are at an all time high and thanks to the rise of social media coupled with this new ease of digital marketing it has never been more accessible to earn a living as an individual or small self-run organisation. More and more people simply need a laptop and wifi in order to work.
With rising rates of pollution, limited exposure to nature, and ever increasing house and rental prices, living in the large metropolitan cities of the world has become less than desirable. More and more people are giving up their homes in the cities for eco lodges, communities and tropical co-working spaces.
Young people especially – who have few attachments, children, mortgages or spouses – indulge in the freedom of work and travel. Life is no longer a commute to a 9-5, but instead life, work and wellbeing are one. Holidays are no longer a set number of days a year – but are daily morning swims or weekend trips to the beach or jungle between batches of work.
Organisations like NuMondo are growing in traction – people are choosing to take prolonged vacations working and living in eco-communities as a break from “real life”, as opposed to conventional holidays. Numondo even offers a conscious travel academy (see more here) to prep you with all the tools you need to be a sustainable traveller and or a digital nomad.
I personally left my 9 to 5 job in the bustling polluted city of London to pursue a way of life which freed me and allowed me the space to continue to work and live in unpolluted, nature-filled environments where I was also living in a state of reduced consumption and almost carbon neutral. Sustainable communities are popping up all over the world, and I set off last year to live for four months with a self-sustaining community on an eco-lodge and biodynamic farm in Costa Rica. The community is called Tierra Valiente, or Brave Earth. They currently run a retreat centre, biodynamic farm and ecolodge as they continue alongside to build the accommodations to house the rest of their future community.
My daily duties included managing compost, tending to a nursery of baby plants, learning about permaculture and regenerative farming methods, and helping out with their communications and retreat centre. They are creating a living laboratory example of how to set up and run a self-sustaining community successfully in the hopes that others too may adopt this and find more sustainable ways to live long-term as one viable solution to tackling the future of climate change. Being surrounded by the most luscious, vibrant and wild nature, hiking every other day, learning about plants and permaculture, eating food with the highest nutritional value due to the healthy soil it’s grown in, and being surrounded by other amazing community members whose commitment to sustainability goes above and beyond was the most nourishing way to live for my mind, body and soul.
But just how sustainable is this way of life? There is simply no getting around the fact that air travel is almost always involved. So how does an extra two or three flights a year compare to the carbon footprint you leave living in a metropolitan city vs. a sustainable community?
In the shorter-term, there is no throw away culture, no takeaway fast-food or coffees. Instead the farm is constantly planting more and more trees and plants, water comes directly from a spring at the neighbouring mountain, 80% of all food consumed comes directly from the farm or neighbouring farms and – aside from short trips into town – there is little to no travel involved.
In the longer-term, living this way for a period of time increases and creates a new awareness around sustainability, consumption and generally how to live a way of life that is more harmonious with nature. The long-term benefits are also that people will integrate this mind set and way of life into their everyday – whether its uprooting entirely and converting to this lifestyle long-term or adopting aspects of it when back in the metropolis.
I for one have tried to adopt the 80/20 rule (80% of all I consume coming from within 100 miles away, with 20% from overseas) and purchase all my fresh produce from local UK farms – using Farm Drop and Hackney City Farm Veg boxes, eating seasonally, setting up my own compost system in my garden, and trying to only buy local and natural cosmetic products and clothes.
My experience in Costa Rica was truly life-altering. My goals and dreams for the future have shifted – they now lie in finding a way to live as carbon-neutral as possible and in a place that is truly sustainable – both for the planet and for my own wellbeing.
Travel sustainably with these traveller tools.