A common desire among parents is to travel more and spend more time with family. If having those desires fulfilled meant selling most of your possessions, trading your house for a trailer, and becoming a modern nomadic family, would you do it? The Barfields did! Meet tuned in parents Mandy and Chase and their three sons Noah, Ethan, and Trevor. They share their nomadic family adventures and offer practical tips for working on the go while showing your kids the world!
Last summer, the Barfield family moved from their 4700-square-foot home to a 40-square-foot cargo trailer pulled by their family SUV, “Ebony.” However, that’s not how they view it. To them, they moved from a stationary structure to indulge their collective wanderlust, explore the world, and treat every day like the adventure that it is. For the time being, they are exploring the U.S. and staying in vacation rentals for six weeks to three months at a time. And when they are ready, the Barfields can ship their little cargo trailer to a country of their choosing, hook it up to a rental car, and continue the adventure.
Mandy Barfield Breaks It Down: What it means to be a nomad
When I think of a nomad, I think of someone who has made the choice not to have just one home, but to make the world their home. I think that when a nomad comes into an area, they have no intentions of staying. They are there to explore and/or experience what they want in that area, then move on to the next adventure. Whereas, when I think of a settler, I think of someone who is coming into an area wishing to stay and looking to set up their home. There’s more permanency that comes to mind when I think of a settler than when I think of a nomad.
There are different variations of nomads; the following are the most common:
- Backpacking nomads: commonly single or couples. They may meet up with others, but they run their own program and can stay in a tent, a hostel, apartment or on someone’s couch.
- RV’ing nomads: commonly more family oriented. They buy an RV, and the whole family lives in it as they drive from one place to another. They meet up with other RV’ing families, and groups from time to time for socializing.
- Nomads that fly from one country to another. They rent long-term places (houses, condos, apartments) and are there for six months to a year. The group composition can vary from single to family size. This group seems to not want a permanent home base, but seeks to have a more stationary place while they travel.
- Then you have us.
Your ultimate objectives and personal preferences will help dictate the type of nomad you want to be.
Constant Travel with Kids
Chase and Mandy don’t see their kids as a deterrent to a freer life full of travel, rather they see them as encouragement to seek out this lifestyle. Mandy home-schooled the boys before “going nomad,” and she continues to do so; but she and Chase wanted more for them. They wanted to show their boys the world and not just have them read about it. They wanted (and want) them to experience an expanded, living education. Which children would have a better understanding of geography, history, world culture . . . those that sit in classrooms and never leave their hometowns, or those that travel, frequent historical sites, familiarize themselves with other cultures? And the Barfield boys are eating it up! They even help “Mama and Daddy Nomad” blog about it!
Oh! The Adventure!
Looking at their photos and peeking at their blog, it’s hard not want a piece of this lifestyle! Here are some of the highlights of their adventures since they embarked on their journey last summer.
Climbing the third largest lighthouse in the United States was a treat for everyone and somewhat of childhood dream of Chase’s.
The boys thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, naturally.
Exploring the grand Biltmore Estates was fascinating, especially to Mandy.
However, with every adventure comes the risk of misadventure. Mandy tells us of a close call the family had earlier this month.
One that we recently went on was an exploration of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River called Mount Mitchell. We did it in freezing rain and got there on a rather treacherous road. It started out as such a beautiful drive with the creek and the rapids running along side us as we drove up the mountain. I remember thinking, “This is so beautiful, I could cry.” Then it got scary; our elevation was high, the road was narrow with only room for one car, there was no more pretty water, no guard rails of any kind, and the corners were so sharp that you couldn’t see the road in front of you. Then I started thinking, “This is so scary, I could die.” It was a pretty wicked adventure, but we made some awesome memories that day.
I don’t think any of our boys will forget the white of the clouds all around them, with the wind whipping freezing rain, as we hiked to the top.
Top Five Criteria a Family Needs to Meet Before Going Nomad
If you’re wondering how you can afford your family the opportunity to have its own intrepid trek across the country, The Barfields suggest you plan to meet the following five criteria to make the best of it:
- Ability to easily adapt to situations and solve problems.
- Ensure that you can support your family financially on the go.
- Identify what you rely on and need the most, and make sure you can fit it into your plans. If possible, combine functionality to reduce your cargo load.
- Define what type of nomad you desire to be as different variants require a different set of choices.
- Develop at least a one-year plan for destinations, a loose route of how to get there, and tentative spots to stop along the way.
Paying for Your Nomadic Lifestyle
How can you support your family in this lifestyle? Chase is an entrepreneurial businessman and investor. He reduced his workspace from a 500-square-foot office with a triple-monitor computer to a laptop and some gadgets.
He admits it has its drawbacks, but the freedom it allows him and his family is far more rewarding than the comfort of a plush office. And the work still gets done. As for the rest of us who may be interested (or curious) in how to make ends meet while enjoying constant travel, Mandy and Chase offer these tips.
Tips for Making Money While Living Nomad-Style
- See if current employer offers tele-commuting, or seek an employer that does.
- If you own your own business, consider delegating daily responsibilities to a manager and you oversee operations from a virtual space.
- Develop a geographically independent business or revenue source while you’re working your current job, and transition to nomadic life when it’s strong enough to support it.
- Being open to all possibilities, flexible, and willing to think outside the box, for there are plenty of other opportunities!
Tips for Kids from The Nomad Boys
I asked Noah (17), Ethan (14), and Trevor (10) if they had any tips for kids and teens who weren’t sure about leaving home to live nomad-style. And they had a bunch! Here are their top tips for kids:
- Bring plenty of entertainment because you’ll be spending a lot of time on the road: handheld gaming, mp3 player, audio books, flash cards, car games, etc.
- Set up ways to keep in touch with old and new friends.
- Go for it! Traveling with your family is a great way find out if you’ll like it as an adult. You also get a chance to do a lot of things most people only see on TV or read about; plus there’s nothing like learning through discovery and exploring new places!
Solid tips from solid kids — gotta love it! And it doesn’t stop there. You can follow this modern nomadic family’s adventures at Living Nomad Style!
Thank you for being tuned in parents, and a special thanks to The Barfield Family for sharing their amazing nomadic lifestyle and practical tips with us! I welcome your comments, suggestions, and more tips — let’s keep the knowledge flowing! There’s more for you, too, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!