Revision as of 21:53, 27 November 2009 by Sitarane (talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Nomadic people (Greek: �������, nom�des, "those who let pasture herds") are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30 to 40 million nomads in the world. While most of these nomads are part of rather traditional nomadic tribes, there is also a small but increasing amount of people (mostly in the Western world) who adopt a nomadic lifestyle, roaming around freely over a vast territory.

Other and older terms used to describe all kinds of nomads: hobos, itinerants, technomads, perpetual travelers, location independent professional, vagabond, tramps...

Humans have been surviving for hundreds of thousands of years as nomadic tribes, maximizing the effectiveness of the use of resources through sharing within their tribes. Still today, some of the harshest places on earth are inhabited by nomads.


What's that?

These elements were collected during a "What's a nomad" discussion at the 2009 S.H.E.

Neonomads are people travelling as a lifestyle, staying a few days to a few months in a place.

Neonomads, can be travelling with very limited amounts of money, through hitchhiking, gift economy, dumpster diving or just by trusting strangers, learning to receive, hence to give and share, according their needs and resources. They feel home wherever they are.

What is a nomad? A nomad is someone who believes that traveling (physically or mentally) is a way to learn (about others and about themselves) and to experience life. Some of the nomads travel for work, others for study, others to learn from random encounters on the road.

Neonomadism is a non-exclusive sub-culture. People can identify themselves as nomad to a certain extend without being constantly on the road, or they can be nomads for periods and live a more sedentary lifestyle at times.

Common Yearnings

  • Social contribution, volunteering, meaningful projects, social revolution
  • Trust
  • Change
  • Social identity, a tribe
  • Integrity of our values, bend them as little as possible
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Time not wasted on things we don't support
  • Deeper bonding - relationships
  • Elements of stability

Common Needs

Basic Needs

  • Rest, warm shelter (subject to seasons), quietness, sleep space
  • Food
  • Hygiene & health care
  • Love
  • Emotional support
  • Physical integrity / Safety
  • Personal space - although it's generally less than sedentary people, it's still a need, and we tend to forget it
  • Exercise, sports, or play
  • Support in case of emergency

Social & Actualization Needs

  • Family, homely feeling
  • Being in touch with other people - home, family, hosts, friends, etc, a place to receive mail
  • Acceptance / Identity
  • Growth, learning opportunities
  • Opportunities to contribute to projects that value us
  • Differentiate what we need from what we should/are told to do
  • Discover other practices
  • Meeting new people
  • Share (like it's vital to do it..)
  • Find balance, feel grounded
  • Not to go through the same cycles over and over and re-do things endlessly
  • Delearn/Unlearn
  • Location-Independent techniques, methods, rituals

Technical Needs

  • Internet connection
  • Transportation - within cities or between cities
  • A place to drop stuff, and respect of property / intimacy / organizational needs
  • Money
  • A legal status (avoid being deported)
  • Working space (eventually a chair and desk), and uninterrupted quiet time
  • Working material (stationary, art supplies.
  • Find the next place you're going to be / sleep at
  • Language skills/learning, communication, etc

Common Resources

  • Nomadbase-type economic projects
  • Networks & Communities
    • Skill-sharing
    • HospEx
    • Intentional Communities
  • Peer production infrastructures
  • Mainstream institution support: grants, programs...
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Freeshops (spaces to exchange/swap goods - especially clothes)
  • People we've met & their resources
  • Willingness to use hidden resources, dearingness
  • Freedom of thought, decision, location
  • Informal education, Open Universities

Common Challenges

  • Lack of residency status in any country
  • Create (our own) reference points
  • Exhaustion of the road and withdrawal
    • Punctual physical weakening
    • How to keep the underground close to the surface, to not withdraw ourselves from all other 'realities'
  • Staying connected without being online all the time


  • Communication/relations with sedentary people - others who do not experience multiple shifting realities
    • Keeping presence when faced to other peoples fears
  • Stable intimate relationships
  • Sustaining a family
  • Other family responsibilities
  • Go beyond superficial relationships
  • Are we selfish because we don't come "back" when something happens "back home"?


  • Earn money: Some people stop to get a full-time job for a short period, other freelance...
  • Spendings: ... and where and how to spend less

Social Participation

  • Collaborate on long term projects
  • Build social recognition: people assimilate freely neonomads, travelers, tourists and freeloaders, but these concepts do not overlap clearly, and carry different connotations.

Common cultural elements

  • Curiosity - looking forward to learning about other cultures, other ways of doing things, other
  • Priorites are defined differently because needs are defined differently
  • Neonomads create the world that the live in
  • Generally wary of labels - Maybe because we're nomads?
  • Sometimes we are tired of travelling and must settle a bit... Sometimes we're tired of settling and we need to travel a bit...
  • Nomads have little fears
  • We want to be a little bit there and a little bit away at the same time...

Conception of Time

Most neonomads do not differentiate the days of the week, and treat each day as "another day". Therefore, they do not see week-ends as special moments.

They have a conception of time that is very anchored in the present. It's difficult for them to make plans further than a few months ahead, and if they do, it's very likely that these plans will change according to the opportunities they meet en-route. They usually have a flexible approach to scheduling. They can have very productive periods followed by rest days or travelling days, each of these feeding a different aspect of the nomad's life.

Conception of Space

Conception of Money

  • Contributing to Society, paying taxes, hitchhiking, dumpster diving. Are these activities parasiting society, commensalism, or is it even productive? Our conception of the morality of these activities may differ a lot from the common thought.
  • We feel we're more useful to society by living this way than being in a life we wouldn't like, with a regular job, etc.

Conception of Comfort & Material World

  • Nomads belonging are also nomadic, especially clothes, furniture, tools..
  • Ability to turn trash into food

Conception of Relationships

  • Trust, regularity not needed so much as joy and moments of connection
  • Sharing-oriented interaction

Conception of Travelling

  • Travelling is not a holiday, but it's just life, it's the way life is experienced
  • Travelling as an archetype of freedom. Freedom is freedom of thoughts, acts..

More resources