Fareconnect has had the pleasure of being able to quiz Nora Dunn, or The Professional Hobo, on her experiences as a world traveller from money saving tips to ideal destinations. In 2006, Nora Dunn sold her financial planning practice and all her worldly possessions to seek out her dream of travelling the world. Now, 10 years later, she has several publications that teach others how to travel in a financially sustainable way. Perhaps what is most remarkable about the woman behind the The Professional Hobo, are the creative solutions upon which she has founded her life as a modern nomad. Luckily, Nora Dunn was willing to share some of her insights and travel tips from her decade of full time travel.
FC: What was the most difficult part of adapting to life on the road? If applicable: any advice for other travellers attempting to overcome that issue?
ND: One of the biggest challenges I had in adapting to life on the road was to establish a pace of travel that was sustainable – not only financially, but also emotionally and physically. If you're on the road for a long time, constantly changing destinations is both expensive and exhausting. In 2010, I had a rapid pace of travel that meant I changed beds every five days on average (the longest I stayed in one place that year was 2.5 weeks). For the first six months of 2011, I was comatose!
Now, when I go somewhere, I generally plan on staying at least a couple of months. This also allows for me to keep up with my online work (which financially sustains my travel lifestyle) as well as get a nice sample of “local life” in my destination.
FC: How do you deal with communication barriers? Any tips, apps, or advice?
ND: These days, it's incredibly easy to stay in touch with family and friends all over the world with email, instant messaging, social networks, and video calls. The only communication barriers I've encountered are around miscommunications, which can happen when you're not face to face with somebody. If you have something important to talk about with somebody, try to schedule a video call (such as with Skype) so you can see each other and have a real-time conversation.
FC: Travelling provides ample opportunity for self-realization. If anything comes to mind, when and where was your last ‘ah-ha’ moment and what has it led to?
ND: Well. Funny you should ask. I've had lots of massive “ah-ha” moments on the road, but the biggest and hardest to swallow came just last month. After eight years of full-time travel, I arrived in Peru in early 2014 for three months. Although I was never looking for home, I realized I'd found it shortly after arriving. Three months turned into over two years in Peru, and even a change of lifestyle when I started apprenticing with a shaman and seeking my residency! But just last month, my arrangement with the shaman dissolved, along with my opportunity for residency.
At the moment, I really don't know what I'm going to do – whether I find another shaman-teacher and seek residency in Peru (which isn't easy to get) another way, or if I just hit the road again.
A few things have happened as a result of this change, one of which is I'm once again reducing my worldly belongings to that which fits into a carry-on bag, after having established a home and “nested” in Peru. It's scary stuff! It touches nerves around fear of the unknown, and fear of letting go. I've done it once, and I'm doing it again. And despite the innate fear that comes with this process, I can remind myself (and readers) that “everything will be okay”. Just breathe through the process and remind yourself of the great adventure you're about to embark on.
I've also realized just how influential your motivations for travel are on the experience you have and destinations you choose. I have a friend who is about to start to travel full-time, but he's desperate to find a partner to do it with. I see how his motivations are affecting both his enthusiasm for the road as well as the destinations he wants to choose.
When I first started travelling in 2006, I had an open agenda to explore and live around the world. This allowed me to see the vast experiences, friendships, and opportunities that were available.
Now, 10 years later, I'm a little less enthusiastic about discovering new places and more focused on finding somewhere to call home – at least for a while. It affects the destinations I am looking at and how I research them (for example, I pay more attention to visa regulations and residency possibilities before looking at airfare). However I realize that this is a limiting way to view world travel, so I'm trying to remain more open to all destinations and opportunities, even if it might not strike me as being an ideal home. You never know what you'll encounter or who you'll meet on the road; keep your eyes open for the myriad of possibilities that come knocking when you travel. This is good to remember regardless of your motivation to travel.