The Modern Nomad

How many of us just wish to pack up and move away? I know I do, frequently. As it happens, I am a person who does pack up and move away rather often. There are others out there. Some that desire a move, and some that move as often as possible. It may be that their family moves around a lot. It may be that their job requires them to move. It may be that they are college students and have to switch dorms or houses every few semesters. It may be that they are part of a culture that is nomadic by nature.

The circus is a community of nomads. A circus community is similar to a small town. A small town that happens to be on wheels. It is a community that lives, eats, works, and travels together. Community kitchen on wheels, offices on wheels, bedrooms on wheels, and in some cases if the circus is large enough, a school on wheels for children. They stop only to entertain along the way. And resupply as needed, of course. Everything they need is carried with them. Every person within the circus is important. They could be a ticket seller or they could be the master of ceremonies. Either way, they are a community and no person is more important the rest. The circus folk are modern nomads.

Similar to the circus is the carnival. Carnival workers tend to be likened to that of gypsies and are often accused of cheating customers whenever they can get away with it. Whether they do or not, carnival people spend so much time together, they become family. They become a community and are also modern nomads.

Those that enjoy the RV lifestyle are also nomads. Primarily these people are retired individuals who have become tired of living in one place. They are people that love to travel and would ideally do it for the rest of their lives. The majority of RVers travel with the seasons. Travel south during the winter months and in the north during the summer. This lifestyle is more family based, because instead of moving an entire town, they move their house. While they primarily spend time with their families or alone, depending on who they are traveling with, they tend to make new friends easily when coming across another RVer. Many RVer’s live off of retirement money, work at campgrounds temporarily, or make products to sell and live off of those profits.

Another modern nomadic is the Boat Dweller. They are similar to the those that travel in RV’s with one major difference; they travel in a boat. And rather than traveling by roads, they travel by water. When they dock for an extended period of time in boat yards, they become part of a boat neighborhood. Though it is temporary, those that live at the neighborhood on the water become a community. Then, as the weather clears, others leave, or the seas call to them again, they disperse, leaving their little neighborhood behind. Communication with the land can be tricky of course. Luckily, the Internet, cell phones, and satellite communications do the job to keep these nomadic individuals in contact.

Then there are those that may not even consider themselves nomadic. These are people that can’t seem to stay in one place. They move as often as possible, even if it is just a block away. They get rid of things regularly, not wanting anything to weigh them down. They are highly adaptable, able to adjust to a new town and a new house quickly. They thrive with change. These are people that are not likely to be happy living in one house for the rest of their lives. These are people that one day might be in a circus, or living on a boat, or driving about in an RV. Or, perhaps, these are people that would adapt well to living within a community of people that live off the land, live off the grid, live sustainably, and move around regularly.

Perhaps they feel within them what many have forgotten. Our ancestors moved with the seasons. They followed the herds they were hunting. They used the land and then moved on before they destroyed it.

I don’t believe that any of us were meant to be sedentary.

– Miranda Vivian



  1. miles said,

    June 12, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    I dunno – from what i understand most indiginous people were semi-nomadic, meaning they stuck in a particuluar bioregion, but followed the different food sources throughout that region during the year, and in the north stayed warm and fed during the winter. in a village. There are exceptions to this i am sure, but i think it needs to be emphasized that indiginous cultures, most all humans before this civilization, were generally native to a bioregion. All wanderings would be within their landbase.
    If anything civilized folks have a wandering sickness – fucking up in one place and running off to the next in perpetuity, no sense of belonging or responsibility to a landbase.
    Anyhow, i appreciate yr writing, thats just my 2 cents. Usually when i get the urge to ‘run away’, i consider it part of being civilized – instead of fixing things just abandoning them. im not saying you are wrong and i am right – its really complex because we arent indigenous, and do have to find our landbases – they probably arent the large population centres most of up live in.


  2. Aftermath said,

    June 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    I agree with you for starters. While they didn’t move around far, they did move around, which makes them nomadic. I think that’s inherant in us. They had different places they would move to. Sort of a winter home and a summer home. The “calls” for wandering in me don’t call me to go far. They just call me to go far enough.

    – Miranda Vivian

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