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Your Burning Questions, Answered

Woo-hoo! I have been a digital nomad for just about one year now. 360 days, to be exact. It's kind of an addiction at this point. I crave being on the road, the excitement of getting somewhere new, of always having a new house and new restaurants and new activities and new trails. I always want to be going somewhere. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and have no plans of stopping. If you are considering this lifestyle, you might have some questions. I might have some answers. 

1) How many miles have you gone so far? I logged around 26,000 miles this year for $3,300 worth of gasoline, an oversized share of that in California. And one alternator, one front wheel bearing, a set of rear brakes, an alignment, and quite a few oil changes. My car is 11 years old, after all. And not that I kept track, but I'd estimate I've spent about $60 in tolls, pretty much all on the east coast.

2) What are you doing with your mail? Luckily, my dad is nice enough to deal with my mail, so everything gets forwarded to my parents house. But ugh, I wish I didn't have to get mail. There is no reason in 2021 to have snail mail, yet some organizations, like my HOA, insist on sending things through USPS rather than email. Very annoying. I want out, permanently.

3) What do your finances look like for this kind of travel? I own a condo in Boulder that pays for itself. I have an AirBnB super host who rents it out for a commission, and I make enough on that to pay the mortgage and HOA fee. And because I'm a remote employee, my company pays for my internet and cell phone. So I'm almost cost neutral on homeownership while building equity and not just dumping money down the drain. That said, AirBnB rates have gone way up since I started (a quick Google search yields dozens of articles on how expensive both the housing and the fees have become) and I'm spending more than I'd like to. As a frequent AirBnB user, I also find it very annoying that they don't have any kind of customer loyalty program. I use other services when I can, but the unfortunate fact is that AirBnB has the most options and is easiest to use.

4) Isn't it annoying always having to figure out how different coffee makers, light switches, and showers work? Slightly, but I guess I'm constantly building new connections in my brain instead of running on autopilot, which helps ward off Alzheimer's. I also get to try out all kinds of house features and find out what I really like and what frustrates me. You know, in case I ever win the lottery and get to build my dream house from scratch, 100 percent to my specifications. I could plot it out for you like no one else. I can think of details now that no one else would. Right now, I'm actually in a house that has all the light switches labeled. This is my first stay that has done this, and it is appreciated.

5) Do you wish you were doing this with a partner? Right now is the perfect time to do what I'm doing. If I wait until I meet someone (which is super low priority for me at the moment), that person might not have the ability to travel. Or I might be in a different role where I can't do this. I would never hold off doing the things I want to do until I have a romantic partner to do them with. The life clock is ticking, people! Besides, I have a lot of friends visit me. It's a free vacation house for them! And I'm introverted. I'm quite happy for long periods of time with my books and my writing and a nice trail all to myself.

Sure, every once in a while, I wish someone was here to share certain moments with. Usually when I'm driving down the highway at 85mph and can't reach my snacks in the cooler and don't want to pull over. But not having to accommodate someone else's pee breaks and being free to sing loudly and badly to 80s music while driving is more important.

6) How do you choose the places you go? Sometimes based on ideas I have in my mind about how magical and beautiful certain places are (Maine, Arizona, Tennessee), sometimes I go to a specific place because I have athletic goals and activities I want to accomplish there (Oregon, California, Colorado, North Carolina), and sometimes I have only a general region in mind and apply my most important AirBnB filters and see what pops up and take a chance on the unknown (West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas). I've tried to go places that are a bit harder to get to, that I wouldn't fly to on a 3-4 long weekend holiday. What would be the point of sticking to places that are close to major airports when I'm road-tripping? 

I was sticking mostly to rural regions when I started out because of COVID-19, but I'm over that. After being in Redding where I had the gym, built a little group of friends, dated someone interesting, met coworkers, and basically had a normal life, I kind of had a hard time going back to ultra-small town life in Silverton. My brief stint in Wears Valley, Tennessee aside, from here on out, I'm sticking to locations with more going on, such as my current location, Winston-Salem.

7) What's your favorite experience so far? I don't do favorites. In anything. Books, movies, TV shows, places. My favorites change too often. Every place I've gone has been interesting. Life is often what you make of it, and if you can't find some wonder and interest in a place during a five week stay, the problem is likely you, not the place. So my favorite place is always the place I'm in at that moment, and I don't regret any of my stops so far. But if you're asking me if, gun to my head, I had to choose one of the places I've been so far to live, it would have to be Tucson, with West Virginia as the runner up. If I had to choose my favorite trails, I'd say the ones in Hot Springs National Park. After you get past the first half mile on either side of the main drag where all the tourists are, you have the trails almost to yourself. They are beautifully groomed, the forest is lovely with nothing in it that wants to kill you, it starts right outside your back door, and you can run right into town for a beer and food after if you want.

8) What's the worst thing about this lifestyle? About four months into this adventure, I got really tired of unloading and re-loading my car, but I've streamlined that process now and it's down to one-third of the time it took me when I started. So I'd say the worst thing is intake paperwork. I'm always a new client, so every time I go for an appointment (dentist, optometrist, massage, gym, physical therapy, etc), I have to fill out new client paperwork, which can be super tedious. Especially that time the eye doctor office asked me to download and fill out all the paperwork in advance, which I did, but then when I got there they said it was the wrong paperwork and their website must need to be updated, so I had to do it all over again.

9) When will you stop travelling and settle down again? Did you read the intro to this post? Honestly, the idea of "living somewhere" repulses me at the moment. I'm sure I'll change my mind, probably sooner rather than later, but I currently have enough travel destinations in mind to keep me on road for the next year and a half.

10) Where are you going next? Keep reading the blog and you'll find out!