Future of Vagabonding: Technomads

“In a relatively short period of time we’ve not only determined that the world isn’t flat, but that there are people just like us on the other side of it longing to connect.”

I find it such an exciting time to be alive.  We are just beginning to really experience a life of globalization as technology progresses to bring the world to our fingertips, no matter where we choose to rest our heads.  In a relatively short period of time we’ve not only determined that the world isn’t flat, but that there are people just like us on the other side of it longing to connect.

For someone who is a self-proclaimed computer nerd, I’m finding that keeping up on current trends is giving me the ability to maintain a lifestyle on the move while staying in touch with family, friends, and personal connections.  Just by plugging myself into the internet once in awhile, I can go to work, see my friends, and email my nana.  Despite her having Facebook, she isn’t plugged in much further than the SMTP port. We can use this communication infrustructure as a tool of connection while we trot around the world wherever we please.

Today with Skype it’s possible go beyond the simple forms of communication of the past.  I can not only hear the voice of distant friends, but look them in the eye, watch them play a newly written song,  show them the place I’m staying and introduce them to my current host, and allow them to see my smile when they make me laugh. The ability to travel to the far corners of the world is becoming more affordable, and the ability to stay in touch while doing so is becoming an easily managed feat.

Writing a blog is no longer the LiveJournal I had when I was 14 years old, read only by my high school friends. Today I have analytical tools to tell me that people are reading, email to tell me that people are listening, and a Facebook for people to give me a simple thumbs up.  I can understand how the internet works and how people are finding my websites.  I like the idea that when someone types in ‘chuck manley couchsurfing hitchhiker detroit’ they find me.  The internet can keep us in contact with each other if we use it as a tool to leverage ourselves and our social circles.  With learning search engine optimization, I can turn my name into a keyword and leave a permanent record of myself when I’m gone.

I remember wanting to set off to try my hand at a more nomadic lifestyle and incorporate constant travel into my life.  When I was younger I had this romantic idea of hitchhiking around the country.  Not knowing how to do that, I did what any remotely tech savvy person would do:  I Googled it.  I found the website digihitch.com and it opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed. Through that site I found a post asking for advice on where to sleep when traveling on the cheap.  The advice varied and included hostels/hotels, stealth camping, and hospitality exchange sites like couchsurfing.org.

Couchsurfing connected me with people far and wide that not only made me feel a little less alone in this world, but also became very important people in my life as I increase my social circle to be Earth’s first ring.
The internet has turned my highly portable electronic device into a tool that allows me to know there’s a world that exists out there far greater than any of my senses can perceive right now.  This trypewriter with a screen gives me an incomprehensible amount of volumes of information at my disposal and takes up the space of a single paperback novel.  Smartphones are getting smarter and capable devices continue to get smaller.  These devices are combining our ability to stay in touch with one another and store vast amounts of information, media, faces, and lives.  Is it far fetched to assume that one day we may be able to download our brains to a sim card and plug them into new bodies, and create a digital reincarnation?

This idea is bigger than just being able to stay on the move.  Technomads have the ability to incorporate this utilization of technology in a way to sustain themselves on the road.  As any traveler knows, sometimes it’s easier to go home and make some money before resuming travel.  With a laptop the writer can submit his new article from the exact spot it was written.  The DJ can take an entire library of music with greater ease than carrying a single vinyl.  A web designer can code MySQL databases from the comfort of a hammock in Thailand.  The working nomad no longer has to trade services for food and lodging.  We can make a real living that can be packed up smaller than a sleeping bag.

The world is changing quickly in a variety of ways, both good and bad.  This ability to share ideas around the planet in an instant is a part of this rapid change.  These capabilities allow the wanderer to always be close to home no matter how far away they feel.  With a bit of ingenuity the nomad can carry not only his house on his back, but also a home office.  I’m excited to see where things will go in the future and how they help make the planet my home.  Lastly, I look foward to the day that this technology makes the intergalactic nomad a real possibility.

  1. i have seen the internet change so much in my lifetime already. it is definitely interesting to know that for me personally, the internet has played a central role on how my life has unfolded. its exciting to see where it might be going next. EXCITING TIMES! now i know why i chose to be born at this time! 😉

  2. This is a great post, Chuck.

    I totally feel the same way about the opportunity to connect with people using the Internet. I’m excited too as people really learn to use the Internet in a balanced way as it seems that it totally consumes and eats up people. When used well, you can have friends all over the world and maintain contact with them.
    @Leslie, it was cool to hear your stories and relate to them. I hear you about wanting to keep in contact with all the people that you have met in your travels.
    I was fortunate enough to have done so and it feels AWESOME to hear what great people are doing around the world.
    Rock on!

  3. Hello!! This is the first blog I have read of yours…quite interesting. I am a self proclaimed “FREEDOM GIRL” who went about this lifestyle”Old School” at 18… I am now 29.. and reading your article reminds me of seeing my friends go off to college while I hit the highway in my 79′ Bonneville and a Map…Lucky You getting about with a back up plan!!
    IN ALL SERIOUSNESS_____Good Luck!! Enjoy the energy from your soul that is guiding you..let the skys bare your truths, and enjoy life to its fullest.
    One April I followed a river in AR looked like a good place to go canoeing…kept driving hit New Orleans, before I knew POW!! Fl. Keys enjoying fresh lobster w/ locals, on to San Antonio listening to street bands before retireing to my car parked at the beach……oddly enough Newport RI. learning Spanish and culture from Elsavadorians ( I met them at a grocery store), eventually hiking the Appalachian Trail…and on and on till I turned 26..mostly and mainly alone…
    One day, I decided it was time to have a child… settle down “live normal” so here I am…..living on my own little slice of heaven surrounded by nothing but trees and wildlife reading about how there’s a new cheat to living free…nothing wrong with this at all…use all resources available as long as it doesn’ t put you in danger or burden others (that comment wasn’t intended for you, just my philosophy) BUT NUMBER OOOONNNE TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! (THE INTERNET WILL NOT PROVIDE THIS)
    That my friend has saved my life…and coming from a very lucky Gal…..I would take this way of life over the “RITZ” anyday. ENJOY!!! -Leslie. P.S. Not to mention…I wish I had the names of a ton of people I met along the way to add to my FB. BUMMBER

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