You know you’ve been on the road for a while when…

Sophia Cheng / 5 min read / Digital Nomad Days
2 September 2018
A lighthearted look back on 2 years on the road.

There are wise lessons you have learned, widened perspectives that you will not be able to shrink back down again and some great experiences. But then there’s also the small stuff, the little signs that show you really have been away from home for a long time.

Here are 24 lighthearted but telling signs that you’ve been on the road for a while – how many are true for you? What is missing?

You’ve stopped counting the stamps in your passport
– You’ve lost count, you now work in number of free pages left.

You’ve slowed down, way way down
– You started out with a few weeks here, a few weeks there and gradually… down. Now you won’t stay anywhere less than a month.

You’re not trying to get a tan
– In fact most days you avoid the sun and relish a cloudy day.

You can pack everything you own in 20 minutes
– You know exactly where everything goes, what goes in the large dry back, what goes into the small one. You’re now an expert at folding or rolling all your materials and you’ve found hiding places in the most ingenious spaces.

You can no longer think why you’d need a 4th pair of shoes
– Walking boots, flip flops, town shoes (maybe)… what else can you need footwear for?? Seriously?

You can walk into a handicraft shop and come out empty handed
– This one might take a while to grapple with. You don’t just access aesthetics or cost (or ethics) – it’s now about size and weight and you can quickly assess if you’ll regret carrying it around for the next 6 months. (I still have a weakness for cushion covers)

You’ve got a finely tuned strategy for killing mosquitos
– You swear by your method, whether it’s the slow approach, the uplift clap or the wild flail – it works for you.

You go commando “sometimes”
– You tell yourself it’s because of the heat and that it saves on washing (Can you tell this was Jayme’s input?)

You’ve finally unsubscribed to TfL (Transport for London) regular weekly updates
– The detachment from your home country can be a slow one. Small signs show you’re unhinging – like deciding you don’t really need to know about the planned engineering works on London’s public transport anymore. The unsubscribe button can be an empowering one.

Your immigration trivia is shit hot
– 30 days here unless you apply for an extension, 90 days here, another country is definitely worth revisiting because they allow 6 months etc etc.

You include your timezone automatically
– You’ve gotten into all kinds of pickles over this one – never again – you now *always* include the time zone in your messages and planning.

You accept that attrition is inevitable
– Could be items in your luggage, could be friends. This one’s not that funny, I guess. *sad face*.

Your friends (and family) finally begin to accept your lifestyle and come out and visit you
– “Oh you’re really doing this for a while then? Oh right, well I better come out and see you.”

You relish the power of the accessory to a limited wardrobe
– You’ve attuned your eye to small items that contain great potential. The waist belt that will work with half of your wardrobe, transforming your outfit from day to night. The necklace which means you can now walk into that posh restaurant. Killing it.

You find half a kilo of luggage you can offload when a friend heads back to your home country
– Much of your resistance and/or principles to spending will go out the window when you know you can take advantage of someone else’s suitcase heading back to your home country. Your excuses that you used before now become redundant – but it’s ok because it’s for a …friend.. yeah right!

You can say ‘What’s the WiFi password?’ in more than 4 languages
– Standard really.

You can cross a road in Asia without hesitation
– takes real practice this one, empowering when you’ve mastered it though.

You don’t have to take out a small mortgage to buy a giant avocado
– You’re a tropical fruit and veg snob now and won’t take anything less than an avocado that’s as big as your face.

You know your Chilero from your Siracha
– And you can handle it like a boss.

You get the shits still – but that’s ok
– You have a very dynamic relationship with your stomach, sometimes you win, sometimes s/he does. But you’re still gonna try that street food…

Your brain is struggling to sort between the languages you speak, trying to learn or dipping your toe into
– You in fact now speak a hybrid of languages fluently, mine is “spa-indonesian”. What’s yours?

You have an absurd number of photos
– And no one you know really wants to see them anymore – so you turn to instagram and start hashtagging the hell out of them!

You look forward to wearing a jumper
– You even have a twinge of envy when you’re friends back home are donning knitwear.

You’ve realised travelling doesn’t make your problems disappear
– Doh! Despite what Instagram sold you, you still gotta work on them but you might be able to consider them in a new light. so *silver linings?!*

Today marks two years on the road, two years since we packed up our London life and fled the country. Who the hell knows what’s in store for us next?

Oh and if you’re still here – this little gem still cracks me up! Six seconds of comedy gold.

Avatar photo Sophia Cheng With a decade of communications experience across the for profit and nonprofit sectors, agency and in-house, Sophia has made a habit of making ‘the hard stuff’ more accessible. Since 2018, she has reorientated her life around the climate crisis. She has forged her decade of communications experience into offering workshops, mentoring, blogging, and more, on the biggest issues of our time. View all posts
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