Why I Quit Being A Digital Nomad (And Moved Back To The US)

Travel Tips for Cuba

I’m No Longer A Digital Nomad

Personal Stories

Last week I spent all day packing up a small U-haul trailer with my belongings, preparing to move to Los Angeles, California. It felt a bit surreal after 7 years living as a digital nomad.

A bed. A couch. A TV. A desk. Cat toys. A cat (no, he’s not going in the U-haul). Pulling it all behind a new Jeep. I haven’t owned this much stuff in years!

What the hell happened? When did I stop being a full-time vagabond, traveling the world while living out of a backpack?

Well, it’s a long story. And it’s about time I shared it with you.

Backpacking in Mexico

2010: My First Backpacking Trip in Mexico

Becoming A Digital Nomad

So if you’ve been following my journey for a while, you’ll know that back in 2010 I decided to save some money, quit my job, sold most of my belongings, and started backpacking around the world, blogging about it as I went.

It was a super scary decision at the time, and I had no idea what the future would bring. My guess was that I’d travel for a year, run out of money, then move back to the US and get a “real” job again.

What actually happened? I managed to build a successful business from my travel blog, and continued to travel almost non-stop for the next 7 years.

Working as a digital nomad from my computer anywhere there was a wifi connection. It was a relatively new kind of lifestyle at the time, and everyone thought I was crazy for attempting it.

During those 7 years without a home, I visited over 50 countries. I lived for months at a time in places like Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, Spain, Nicaragua, and South Africa.

Everything I owned fit into a pair of backpacks — I was completely nomadic. Working for myself. An expert vagabond (hence the name).

I was living the digital nomad dream!

But then my dreams began to change. As they often do over time.

Digital Nomad Burnout

The Downsides of Nomadic Living

Digital Nomad Burnout

I started noticing a change after about 5 years into my fully nomadic lifestyle. Constantly moving from place to place came with it’s own set of problems that became increasingly annoying as the years went by.

Traveling around the world and making money online sounds incredible, I know. And it is in many ways! I’m not complaining. This lifestyle has been very good to me.

However there are also downsides to being a digital nomad.

THIS LIFESTYLE IS EXHAUSTING

Many digital nomads hang out in a country or city for a few weeks before moving on to the next. But you can’t earn money if you’re not working, so now you’re trying to cram work & vacation into a short period of time.

Just when you get into a comfortable routine, it’s time to move and start all over again. Packing up, navigating your way around a new city, a new culture, and all the challenges that go along with those things. It gets tiring!

THIS LIFESTYLE IS LONELY

Yes, you get to meet all kinds of cool people around the world when you’re constantly traveling. But because everyone is always coming or going, it’s tough to form a meaningful connection with anyone.

I missed having a regular group of friends to hang out with. I missed being so far away from family. And unless you plan to date fellow digital nomads, relationships are complicated when only one of you can travel freely.

THIS LIFESTYLE IS UNPRODUCTIVE

Well, I should say less productive than it could be. Sure I managed to build a business while traveling, but it wasn’t easy, and I think I could have grown faster if I worked from a home-base instead of hostels & coffee shops.

Trying to juggle a normal work routine when you’re also trying to figure out where to sleep next week just isn’t ideal. Often, I never wrote much about the places I was living because I was too busy catching up with work after months of traveling.

Nothing Is Perfect

Basically, there is no perfect way to live. By becoming a digital nomad, you simply trade one set of problems for a completely different kind.

“Instead of an addiction to status and possessions, we are addicted to experience and novelty. And the end result is the same. Our relationships, our connections to what’s real, sometimes suffer.” ~ Mark Manson

Maybe, like me, you won’t be bothered by these things for a few years — it was still far more exciting than my previous life in the rat race! But eventually the problems amplify over time… and you’ll have a choice to make.

Los Angeles Skyline

View of Los Angeles, California

Moving Back To America

As the negatives piled up, I began renting apartments for 3 months at a time. Eventually I signed a year-long lease in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I was slowing down, taking trips that lasted 1-3 weeks, and enjoying them more.

It was nice having a base, a place to call “home” for a while.

However as much as I loved living in Mexico, I soon felt an urge to return to the United States. To spend more time with family & friends. To pursue more lucrative business opportunities there.

And, to participate more fully in my own country’s democratic process, no longer content watching from the sidelines as the United States seemed to spiral into a depressing (dangerous?) abyss of ignorance & hate.

But where to go? Moving from Mexico with my girlfriend Anna, we decided to try Boulder, Colorado for the summer. We’ve been living there with our new cat Poofy (yes, he’s on Instagram!) for the past 5 months.

Boulder was pretty, but not exactly what we were looking for. It was kinda small, very homogeneous, and full of families & students. With our unconventional lifestyles, we felt a bit out of place there.

So now we’re off to California to give Los Angeles a try.

Our Wedding Photo

Marriage: Our Next Adventure!

Plus We Got Married!

Surprise! It’s been a busy year. I first met Anna in 2015 at a travel blogging conference called TBEX in Florida, where travel personalities and companies come together to network.

She’s in the same line of work as I am, running a popular travel/fashion blog and Instagram account.

We hit it off right away, with a common love of travel, cats, and working online. The city girl and the adventure guy, both taking risks & working hard to pursue our dreams.

Anna is a remarkable woman. Originally from Poland, she’s been traveling the world for longer than I have. She holds degrees in International Law, Journalism, and Fashion Marketing from multiple universities (including Harvard). She’s fluent in 5 languages, and has lived in places like Mexico City, Cape Town, London, Miami, and LA.

Soon after we met in Florida, Anna came down to Mexico, where we began dating. Eventually we moved in together, using Mexico as a base to travel from. It was one of the happiest periods of my life, and I fell in love.

After a year and a half of dating, living, working, and traveling together, I proposed early one morning at a remote mountain cabin in Colorado. We eloped in Las Vegas a few weeks later at the famous Graceland Chapel!

It was spontaneous, non-traditional, and fun, just like our lives up to this point.

Vagabonding in Afghanistan

Hiking in Afghanistan

Are You Giving Up Vagabonding?

Yes and no. Yes, I’m giving up on the pipe-dream of constantly moving from place to place, living out of a bag for the rest of my life. What initially sounded romantic, adventurous, and free has become a burden over time.

My goal for this wild experiment has always been to experience as much of our large & diverse world as possible NOW, while I’m relatively young. Not stuck behind a desk working to make someone else rich.

Sharing my travel experiences to help and inspire others, while earning a living on my own terms.

The freedom to do as I please. No approval needed. No bosses to report to. Following my passion and making a living through adventure travel & photography.

Well, I’ve achieved these goals. I am completely location independent. I work for myself, setting my own hours, traveling when and where I want to. I’ve also been fortunate to make a great living doing what I love.

Am I just getting older and feeling a need to slow down? I’m 36 now. Have I simply become financially independent enough that I’m no longer forced to live in cheap backpacker destinations in order to get by?

I think these may have been factors in my decision too.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chilling In Morocco

Choosing Location Independence

I wouldn’t trade the last 7 years of my life working as a traveling digital nomad for anything else. It’s been a wild ride, and the experience has taught me so much about myself and the world in general.

However I now realize that I prefer location independence over fully nomadic living. Because there’s a difference.

Location independence simply means you are free to choose where you live, not stuck living somewhere you hate because of a particular job. Being a digital nomad means you’re always traveling, with no real home.

We spent the summer in Colorado. We’re planning to spend 2018 in Los Angeles. Maybe after that, we’ll decide to move somewhere else. Italy? Spain? Iceland? Kansas?

With location independence, all our options are open!

The important part, is the freedom to choose my location, and the ability to update that choice at any time.

For those of you who are interested in becoming digital nomads, I don’t want to completely discourage you. The lifestyle does have plenty of benefits, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t give it a shot.

However after 7 years living as a homeless digital nomad, I personally no longer think it’s sustainable (or healthy) on a long-term basis.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way either — it seems to be a common choice for many after a few years on the road:

Valley of Fire Highway

Life Is A Highway, And I Wanna Ride It

What’s Next?

Honestly, not much is changing. I’m still planning to travel a ton, about 6 months every year. The only difference is now I have a wife, a home, and a cat to come back to once my trips are over!

Sometimes Anna & I will travel together, sometimes I’ll be on my own. I’ll continue sharing my wild travel adventures with you from around the world through blog posts, YouTube videos, and travel photography.

Having a home-base simply means I’ll be more productive, creating useful travel guides, sharing fun travel stories, and teaching tips & tricks I’ve learned after 7 years working as a professional travel blogger & photographer.

To kick off the change, next spring I’m co-leading my first adventure travel & photography tour in a remote part of Russia (click here for details)!

After moving to Los Angeles this week, Anna & I are researching the possibility of TV and media appearances while continuing to build our businesses here in the United States.

Having LAX airport as our travel hub will keep flight costs low, allowing us both to travel often. We have friends here, and more pass through all the time.

There is a wide variety of epic coastline, mountains, deserts, canyons, and forests within a day’s driving distance from the city if I want to get outside into nature for a while.

I know some readers may be disappointed in this change. Those of you who romanticize living on the road out of a backpack. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been putting off publishing this blog post for so long… I was scared.

I built my brand as a vagabond, what happens once I have a home again?

Unfortunately there’s not much I can do about what other people think. I’ve lived as a vagabond for years, and don’t regret my choice, but my passion for constantly moving began to fade.

When you stop loving something completely, it’s time for a change.

I don’t spend my life trying to make everyone else happy with my choices, if I did that, I’d never be where I am now.

So onwards! To the next chapter of my life — I hope you’ll continue to follow along on my future travel adventures, wherever they may lead. ★

Have any questions about the digital nomad lifestyle? Could you live this way? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Any Questions Or Comments?

Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your feedback. However please use your real name only and treat everyone with respect. Lets have a meaningful conversation!

121 Comments

  1. Interesting read, the past few years for me have been a bit of a blur at times trying to fit in new travel and adventures and also finding time to write and create content while doing so! It has been such an amazing experience so far and always nice to hear how others have handled it! Thank you!!!

  2. Congrats guys!!!! You’re such a cute couple!
    Life changes and evolves, living on the road isnt (IMO anyway) an idea lifestyle. Its nice to have a place you can call home and travel around from there! Maybe we can see some more photos of Poofy (maybe in a backpack – the one with a window in it – travelling with you!)

  3. Hey Matt !! your blog is really very interesting and your experiences and guidelines are worth reading. Along with that ,your pics are great and serves as a treat to eyes.Just a question ,who clicks your pics when you are travelling alone ? hehehe !!
    Have a great time !!!!

  4. That is so awesome. Congratulations and thank you for your post. I understand your position on the nomadic lifestyle. I lived abroad last year and visited 3 other countries and I must tell you I felt a bit restless. I am settled now in my beloved home and I feel good cuz. Blessings. Good luck on yall’s journey!!!

  5. Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for sharing your experience of a digital nomad lifestyle !
    My husband and I decided to quit our 9 to 5 jobs and discover Asia by bike. The adventure begins at the end of this month and we are very very excited. We are also willing to become digital nomads. We have to give it a try and see how it’s going.
    Anyways, congrats on your mariage !

  6. It’s very nice of you to share your experiences with you readers in a very smooth way. It was pleasure to read and the post is inspiring for junior travellers and bloggers like me… Thanks.

  7. Good on you Matt,
    Doing what is best for you is what is important. I follow your blog regularly and it has captured me more than any other. Sadly I only found you near the end of the nomad stage, but I look forward to any adventure near or far.
    I am planning my own journey and adventure and I can understand all your thoughts so far. I am older and thinking of starting my Odyssey and it is scary, I have no idea how to last or if I will want to. So I figure I’ll start with a year and see what happens from there. In the mean time I am trying to learn from your experiences to prepare.
    Thanks for doing what you do. Congratulations on the wedding (I follow Anna too). Good luck for the future and all that it holds. I’m sure I will continue to ask you for advice and questions over my own journey lol.

  8. No doubt, living like a digital nomad for seven long years is really great Mathew. In fact, 7 years away from home(without home) and visiting more than 50 countries, what an experience, awesome. Your story is really inspirational and great. Of course, a home is required for all to get settle for a while. At last you have taken a proper decision. Congratulations to you and Anna for getting married. A perfect pair and expect to continue your travel with your cat Poofy. In the meantime, you please continue to share your travel experience with readers like us.
    Good luck and all the best for your decision.

  9. Matt, you and Anna are amazing, and we know NO MATTER WHAT you guys do going forward, you’ll be great and successful at it! Of course, we’re thrilled that you’ll be state-side (at least for a little while) and hopefully we’ll get to see you guys more often. It’s been an awesome ride along with you on your incredible adventures!!

  10. It´s great to see you happy, Matt. The nomadic life definitely does get exhausting, and in the end, we crave everything we tried to escape from! But it looks like you´ve got a good balance going on.

  11. Hi Matthew
    Thank you for sharing your story and the reasons to change your lifestyle. When I first discovered the possibility of being a digital nomad I thought to myself “HELL YES, that’s what I want to do!”. But then i thought again. It would mean being away from my friends and family most of the time. Our relationships would suffer – and would I be happy with that? I don’t think so. Still I want to build a business that would be location-independent but I definitely want to have a place called home at all times. I totally understand your decision.
    Good luck with your new lifestyle. Oh, and cheers to Anna, my fellow Pole… :)

  12. Very well said! My family has enjoyed the freedom of working online in blogging, plus we LOVE traveling. We have found it super important to have a home base just like you mentioned. Having a place to call home helps us to live unstoppable. Congrats on your marriage!!
    Cheers,
    Rhonda

  13. You’ve had a great 7 years and I think we all have stages in life when we need to do certain things. Location independence is what we aimed for as expats, the freedom to live the lifestyle we want where we want and if it doesn’t work out move on. We both wanted a base that would cater to our different needs and being location independent has really worked for us, hope it works for you too…

  14. Hi Matt,

    This is the first post I’m reading of you. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us! I have been location independent for about 2 years and am traveling since four months. Taking it one step at a time, seeing how it all develops. Since you base yourself in LA now and have a cat – let me know if you need a great and experienced house sitter!

    Best wishes to you and your wife,
    Anna

  15. I really identify myself with this post. You did it for 7 year, I did for 16 months. I needed a place to call home. However, going back has its own challenges and I tried to go back to the 9-5 jobs. It didn’t work. So now, I’m creating a location independent business (innovateasyougo.com), because I realise and want the freedom, but it doesn’t mean I need to travel all the time. Does that make sense? By the way, I loved the way you described Location Independent.

  16. Congratulations on making it to this milestone and for 7+ years as a digital nomad! Not an easy accomplishment at all. I’m in LA as well and hope to connect with you at some point! Safe travels :)

  17. Good luck with your new adventure! I will continue to follow you as you take this new journey. I love traveling and have always been a bit jealous (in a good way) about all your traveling but I can imagine that it must be exhausting… I live in South Africa and work full time so only get to travel about once a year for 2 to 3 weeks. Keep us posted on what you are getting up to in the world :)

  18. P.S. Congrats on your marriage. I enjoy Anna’s blog also. Your post is inspiring me to write about how being a teacher is HIGHLY conducive to a location-independent lifestyle, although not in the traditional way.

  19. I appreciate reading this post and it really resonated with me. Since I retired from the Army in 2013 I thought I wanted to travel full-time. My husband and I both quit our jobs in Virginia in 2016 and decided to go travel. However, it only took a few months to realize we sorely missed having a place to call home. I also really missed teaching and talking about history. My students love it when I relate personal travel experiences to twenty countries to what we’re studying. So we decided to move to Arizona (where it’s super cheap and the crime is nothing like it is on the East coast.) Now I’m teaching again and just travel during the summers, and we are both completely happy. I put a lot of time and money into my history and education degrees and quickly realized it was foolish to give that up completely.

  20. I totally relate to it! I began as well around 2009 on and off, and see this shift in interests and priorities, into the inner world and close relationships. Maybe it’s just a period of life, I just gave up going on my third nomadcruise, going to live in Spain for a while and form closer relationships with local friends there and in Italy. Making the base to come back to and build something for the future, even if won’t be forever, will be an important step which right now seems more valuable than exploring long term, in the end much of what I looked for in travel apart from the experiences and culture which end up shaping personality, were to find a good base before taking on commitment and responsibilities , community , peace and love ;)

  21. Keep Going! Do what pleases you, I know you will do fine. I just wonder will you change the “vagabond” name? ) (no doubt you deserve it) :-)

  22. Matt,

    I was in my mid 40’s when I figured out life was not a straight line. So you’re 10 years ahead of me. As long as you are conscious/controlling your direction, you’ll be OK. (Like you need advice from strangers!)
    Love your blogs and travel trips.
    Congrats and good luck!!

  23. Hi Matthew! I’ve been following you in the last two years and you really helped me when we decided to visit Iceland. I just want to say thank you for your hard work and I wish you to be happy with your beautiful Anna!

  24. I can appreciate this sentiment – everything comes to an end and begins anew. But the concept of “location independence” is a bit misleading, and doesn’t do the readers much of a service. The reason Matt is so tired of traveling is that he’s not legally allowed to stay in most of the countries he has visited in this blog. Anna is probably an EU citizen, and as an American Matt holds a US passport. When he writes, “Maybe after that, we’ll decide to move somewhere else. Italy? Spain? Iceland? Kansas?” these are all places they are legally allowed to be.

    Digital nomadism exists because it takes advantage of short term visas. Anything beyond that – well – you really do need to have skills or serious money or both. It would be more honest for Matt to acknowledge this instead of promoting this silly idea of “location independence” to an impression crowd of travelers at a time many countries are actually making it harder to become a long term or permanent resident.

    1. You are correct, there are laws about staying in many countries as a tourist for too long. However there are also ways around these laws. Like visa runs. Or work/student visas. Or, constantly moving like a nomad. Another option is actually becoming an official resident and starting on a path towards citizenship.

      This article isn’t about visa laws though, it’s about getting tired of constantly moving, and missing the comforts of a home, family, and friends that stick around. Would it be nice if I could stay in more countries for longer? Sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m simply tired of the lifestyle. I could certainly continue it if I wasn’t.

      1. Like I said Matt, change happens and god bless it. But the concept of location independence overly simplifies things, IMHO. Anyway, good luck to you!

    2. “Location independence” is not a silly idea. We are now temporary residents of Croatia and it didn’t take a lot of money or a lot of time (2 months). If you love a place and want to spend time there, there are ways. You just have to do a bit of research and fill out a lot of paperwork. For us it’s been worth it.

      The biggest obstacle to location independence is being able to make income without being at home. We’re not allowed to work in Croatia with our temporary residency. But we have income generated in Canada that takes care of that.

      1. OK. But while you are enjoying your income from Canada you are probably in violation of local laws in Croatia. Plus, eventually that temporary resident status will end and so will your location independence. Hey, I get it. There are plenty of other places to move to, but it’s still not true location independence. Better to have a real skill that is in demand in that country, in my opinion, and work in partnership with the local government and local people.

  25. This candid and authentic piece is every bit as intruiging as those your shared with us in your “Nomadic Era”. :-) In fact, even more so! Many travel bloggers and YouTubers idealize their on-the-road lifestyles and even leave out some of the more frustrating or mundane aspects. I know this because some – like you – later come around to telling the “other story”. The beautiful thing about both sides of the coin is that it can ALL be part of the human journey we are so privileged to be on. There of course is no one right way or even a wrong way. Just the path chosen, and the one not. I can also well imagine that now you and Anna (beautiful couple!) have found each other and decided to commit to sharing the journey of life together, a sort of “homing instinct” might be setting it, and this is also as it should be. And surely the two of you will be setting forth again and again, together or solo, thus feeding your souls with healthy doses of adventure and immersion so being together doesn’t get anything close to boring. :-) All the best to you – to both of you – for the less nomadic joys of life!

    1. Beautifuly said Scott. Just another chapter on your life Matthew Karsten. I’ll continue enjoying all you post. And you continue enjoying life now with your beautiful wife Anna.
      Congratulations!

  26. The first 7 years as a complete vagabond moving from place to place was inspiring to readers, but your new life with continued travel AND a home base is equally interesting. It’s really good to see a travel blogger who has managed to build a stable business/lifestyle out of their passion.

  27. I’ve been following your blog posts and videos for a while now. In one way it’s sad to see you settle, in another way, as long as you are doing what makes you happy, that’s what’s important. I’m sure you will still continue to be successful. And, congrats on the marriage.

    I know what you mean by the nomadic travel can wear on you. I decided to take 4 months to cycle my home country of Canada (9,200 kms (5,700 miles) from West to East), then travelled the country for 2 months, then took off to travel the world. I’ve been travelling the world for 8 months, and I must confess, after 25 countries over 4 continents I feel burnt out already, from only a total of 1 year and 2 months of travel!!

    So, best of luck, and safe and successful travels to you in the future!! I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.

  28. Loved reading this post. Firstly, it’s quite incredible that you managed to be a digital nomad for 7 years. We’ve done it for 3, travelling at a much slower pace than you, and at times have also felt burnt out. So much so that we now have a base as well (in Split, Croatia). We still want to travel 50%-60% of the time but 2017 has been a ‘timeout’ year for us setting ourselves up here.

    Your post is also a bit of a warning to young, want-to-be digital nomads. I see so many people wanting to ditch everything to travel the world, not knowing how they will actually do it. You’ve been incredibly successful, but let’s face it, there are a million bloggers now and it’s harder to be the next Nomadic Matt or Expert Vagabond. So what do they do after 7 years of travel, burnt out and without a penny to their name? Because there IS a life after travel and I think many people don’t look further down the line at how they might evolve as they get older. They might actually want to get married and buy a house (congratulations by the way!).

    “Location Independence” – fantastic! It’s how we see it as well with our new base. We might not be in Croatia the rest of our lives but we have the option of moving anywhere anytime we like. It’s great that you were able to achieve this through the blog.

    In the end, I think travellers always travel. You’ll just be doing it differently and it will be just as stimulating.

    Great read!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  29. Hi man, You are amazing and wild. how i guess life as usual as a high way. You did it. I wish if I……as you were…..

    Simple life, but racing championship. How could it be be possible with all expenses and travel regulations here and there? If these issues get solutions, I would have join you for better future.
    Selam (peace),
    Tesfaye from Ethiopia

  30. Good for you to share this article. It is one scary thing to tell people who you were proved wrong for the past seven years that you are settling down.

    There is going to be a lot of “I told you so,” “Finally,” and “Gotcha!” When in reality it doesn’t mean that you are going to have anything similar to their 9-5, standing in traffic 2 hours one way, lifestyle. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this is not life for me).

    I hope to settle down this upcoming spring and have my own everything. The idea of stopping being a guest and becoming a host is refreshing and empowering.

    Los Angeles would be a dream location for us as well. I am Canadian so maybe 6 months in a year or so.

    Thanks again for sharing. I sign under every paragraph. It is hard.

  31. Man this was a article I very much needed to read as I am feeling and experiencing the same thing as you. Living as a digital nomad the past year and a half wore me out. I as you, will continue traveling for 6 months throughout the year while making my current home my home base, Los Angeles! So happy to see your here, your such a big inspiration.If there is anyone you need to show you around or anything please send me a email and if your ever free for lunch or anything let me know. Congratulations on your marriage and your choice. I support both!

  32. I understand the feeling. I recently came back to california after about 4 years of travel. Saying goodbye to people i got close to over and over became too hard.
    I find that all the long term travellers are looking for a home base, or an exotic love. So congratulations on the marriage.
    Good luck in LA to both of you. Its an interesting place, just don’t let the traffic get to you.
    If you feel like swapping travel stories, hit me up, I’m just outside of LA. I’ll buy you a coffee. Its the least i can do, your travel tip on renting an airline ticket got me on the plane to New Zealand.

  33. I’ve been following your blog posts and videos for a while now. In one way it’s sad to see you settle, in another way, as long as you are doing what makes you happy, that’s what’s important. I’m sure you will still continue to be successful. And, congrats on the marriage.

    I know what you mean by the nomadic travel can wear on you. I decided to take 4 months to cycle my home country of Canada (5,000 miles from West to East), then travelled the country for 2 months, then took off to travel the world. I’ve been travelling the world for 8 months, and I must confess, after 25 countries over 4 continents I feel burnt out already, from only a total of 1 year and 2 months of travel!!

    So, best of luck, and safe and successful travels to you in the future!! I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.

  34. I’ve always considered myself to be location independent (been 3 years now), and not a digital nomad, precisely because of the same issues you face, so definitely can relate. It is easier when you travel together with a significant other, but you still end up missing deeper connections with friends, and whatnot routines. I’ve moved to Bangkok, Thailand for the past 2.5 years because it’s a great place with a lively culture, low cost of living (and yet, you can fancy it all out if you want), but the language challenges do pose a barrier in connecting with locals, and the foreigners here tend to also be always on the move, so there’s connections issues there.

    In the end, and I’m a little bit older than you*cough*, I’ve noticed that my desire to travel has faded a bit, and I think with age we tend to go for more comfort. I just came back from a trip to Indonesia and I found myself picking private drivers and upgraded rooms over taking 3 public busses and staying in budget hotels. I joked in my head that it won’t be long where I’ll just book a tour group and have everything planned out for me :) – but I think the point is that in the end we do crave more of the comforts of our lives, and as our time becomes more precious, we seek depth over breadth, quality over quantity.

  35. Constant travel is not easy, we’ve only been on the road a little over 900 days and it can be tiring and hard especially if you are constantly camping, living outside in all the climate zones that exists. I can totally understand that you wanted a “base of operations” We’ve talked about the same thing and will probably do it too at some point

  36. Hey matthew,

    Congrats to your marriage and your decission to stop being a digital nomad. Every time has its own meaning and the most important thing is, that you enjoy life and get the most out of it. And i guess you both know how to enjoy life.
    Please don’t stop blogging, i like to read everything :)
    Best regards and wish you all the best

  37. I’ve previously considered the digital nomad life and I know it’s not for me. I like having a “home base” for a few months, and I like the small routines that anchor down a life. My partner and I are working towards building a wealth base and income streams that will allow us to be location independent in the next few years. Meanwhile, we have a rescue dog, travel as much as we can while holding down full time jobs and love living by the water here in Australia. Congrats on the big change and on yours and Anna’s marriage! A new chapter begins!

  38. This was really interesting to read. I guess after 7 years in the road in can get a little frustrating to constantly having to move locations. And congrats on getting married! :)

  39. Hey mate ! It’s normal to be tired after 7 years. It seems it’s time to have a new experience. Has to be exciting no ?

    Have fun with this new and beautiful adventure ;)

  40. Your travels and life experiences over these past years have shaped your future…the stories have been awesome and I’m sure future stories will be just as much fun. Thanks for sharing, Matt!

  41. Having a balanced life is the key to everything. That ‘equation’ is not a constant, but it’s bound to evolve over time since the variables in your life also change.

    I sincerely believe your productivity will increase ten-fold with this change.

  42. All the best for your next exciting adventure! And congrats on the wedding! You two look adorable together.
    It’s not easy to settle back after being away for so long, but I hope LA is the place for you. All the best :)

  43. Hey Matt, thanks for your work over the years. Your posts encouraged me to take a six month trip of my own. And by the end of that trip, what I also wanted was more stability. I can imagine 7 years has the same impact even on the most adventurous person! Look forward to reading future posts. Best,
    Ian

  44. I became a nomad at the age of 54. Like you I travelled a lot, settled down for a year on a small island in the Philippines, got my driverslucense and now I’m back on the road. On a motorcycle, cruising throygh the Philippines. I guess I love the solitude….😊 some days I only stay a night, other days I stay longer, no plans, just roaming around.

    I wish you and your wife a lot of happiness. 😊

  45. Geez, I thought for a moment I was reading a digital eulogy. So, you bought a few things that won’t fit in an orange backpack; like a Rubicon Jeep. I wish I had one. May I drive yours someday? Go and find a poem. ‘The Road Not Taken’, it’s by some obscure poet. Next, head to New England and gorge yourself on steamers and corn. For dessert, Ben and Jerry’s is in Waterbury, VT. These things will give you perspective and make you look like the rest of us – chunky. You’ll learn to fit in.

  46. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ve always wondered why more digital nomad just don’t spend a longer time at one place to prevent burnout. Maybe like a year at a time or something or longer. Is there some rule that you have to always be moving every month or so to be considered one in the community?

    In the early retirement community, people frown upon you if you actually do some work on the side.

    Life is always changing, and seven years is a long enough time to change your preferences.

    Enjoy Los Angeles!

    Sam

  47. Welcome to LA!! My partner and I are just preparing to become vagabonds after years of living and working locally. We have been so inspired by you and Anna as we make plans to walk away for a bit and see the world. I love this article and I think it’s awesome that you have decided to land in LA for now – so much to explore in SoCal! There is plenty of natural beauty and it’s definitely a great hub. Thanks for the honest and vulnerable share. Thanks for taking us on the road with you theo FB your photos and blog! Wishing you so much happiness and success and travels in the year ahead ❤️

  48. I’m also in the process of trialling home based after 7 years of on and off travel.

    Not abandoning the life, but it’s definitely evolving.

    Hope your new life shift works well for you man!

  49. Beautifully written and so easy to relate to. Siya and I have taken a different approach to finding a happy medium by buying an Airstream to live in and call home. My favourite quote from this post is, “When you stop loving something, it’s time for a change”. I know it was scary to publish this but fro the looks of it, the supporters who truly support you will stick around. Congratulations on all your success and your strength to chase after your dreams!

  50. Lols cant believe it took you 7 years to come to this conclusion! Thats a longgggg time living out of a bag.

    Ive been doing it for over a year and came to the conclusion that its always better to have a home base for at least one month at a time.

    Also I think its a bit unfair to sell the idea of travel and then just dump all these negatives of this type of lifestyle you and nomadicmatt and other major travel bloggers have convinced so many people is the best choice ever for so many years… instead it would have been nice you add some of the amazing positives of your past 7 years and some of the lessons it taught you. :/

    In the end the moral is that it’s location independence thats important rather than traveling everywhere. More sustainable and efficient. Totally agreed.

    Good luck in your next endeavours!

  51. It is OK Matt, I will continue to follow both you and Anna just like before. It is actually adding a different twist to your story ;-) Enjoy everything that is yet to come and tell us about it!

  52. Hey Matt! I love this post. Actually I saw it in my FB feeds and clicked on it because I got curious. In fact, I didn’t realize that “Digital Nomad” and “Location Independent” have big differences, although most parts are similar. And I would like to thank you for writing out this article because you enlightened me as I am now redirecting my plans. I’m even writing a journal about it right at this moment.

    Well, just wanted to say that your points are really good and you’ve taught your readers and other travelers really well. Stay happy with Anna! Cheers to location independence! :)

  53. It’s a great idea that, I think, will only help bring fresh and new ideas and people into the industry of travel blogging. Especially since they have such huge travel celebrities to get their foundation for future adventures of their own. Either way, it’s great news that you’re still doing things that YOU want to do for the reason that YOU choose! Keep doing you and we’ll gladly learn from all you have done to keep the legacy going!

  54. You have lived your life and there’s no reason for you to think of what we, the others feel. I personally feel that travel is a privilege and everyone is free to choose a lifestyle that suits you. I have been following both Anna and your journeys and I am so happy to see you guys together! This is amazing time and I hope it gets better and more exciting from here onwards.. 😎

  55. I my self am a Travel Blogger. I quit my job but I never considered not even for a second to move constantly from one country to another. I love having a place I can call home and I can travel whenever I want without feeling stressed out. Good you finally realized this too.. ;)

  56. Personally, I love this, and I’ve enjoyed watching some of my favourite “old school” bloggers hit the same feelings I’ve had in the last year or two. I’ve come to realise that while I still like travelling for long stints as often as possible, I also really enjoy having somewhere to come home to, having my own mattress, having photos up, etc. Excited to continue reading about your adventures!

  57. I agree with so much of this post. I experienced much of what you share here inside of two years traveling and blogging. Love your honesty and willingness to change. Congrats on your marriage!

  58. Hi Matt, great article! I know your mom from jazzercise and years ago she would be pretty vague about where you were, or most likely, didn’t know exactly. But you followed your passion and found love along the way. I have a son who also traveled for 6 months after teaching in Japan for a year so I felt I had that connection with your mom. He loved Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and he also had the adventure bug. But you have made it into a business and I couldn’t be happier for you and Anna. I love her photos! They are so artistic so you guys are a great pair and will go far/Looking forward to seeing you guys on TV one of these days. Very interesting article-you’re not only smart, adventurous, caring and an excellent writer, but you are showing the world what a real American is with your understanding and compassion for other cultures and people. You are making your mark in this world. Great job and congratulations.

  59. Great post Matt!

    After 11 years of being on the road myself, I can relate to a lot of what you wrote and agree with the importance of setting roots and developing strong relationships (oft-reported as the key to happiness and longevity).

    It’s great you & Anna are trying different places to see what is the best fit. I think Sara and I are going to start doing the same in Spain.

  60. I’m glad you’re making a move that best suits you and keeps you happy! I’ve been following your blog for a long time and you inspired me to make my own blog and plan (slowly) my own nomadic existence. Thanks for all you’ve posted and I can’t wait to see your upcoming adventures. Cheers!

  61. I love this post, Matt!! Your readers get a glimpse into the man, the myth, the legend!! Congratulations to you and Anna and cheers to this newest adventure!!

  62. Awessome post, Matt! We can totally relate with you right now. Going through our own transitions as well and trying to figure out how the other side will look. So many congrats to you and Anna! Hope to see you somewhere in the world soon.

  63. I have followed your travels pretty much since you started and very much enjoyed seeing so much of the world thru your eyes, many places I had been able to visit..others I would not risk. I just knew that one day it would become just as controlling as a desk job and felt that love would lead you to your home! You will certainly get the itch to explore, will scratch it and then return to “home” which may or may not change occasionally. So glad you found the right one to share your experiences….but please continue to post your explorations!

  64. THIS. This is exactly why I stopped being a digital nomad as well. I loved traveling but as a result, I didn’t have any deep or meaningful connections and forget any relationships. It was starting to be SO lonely for me…or maybe I’m just getting old and boring? I decided I needed more stability, a nice home and pillow to come home to. I wanted to get a dog and while I rejected that lifestyle in my 20s, when I got into my 30s, I was like…ok, maybe I want it back now. So now, I’m here in Hawaii! Also getting married! Crazy eh?

    So nice to follow your adventures and be part of the travel blog & digital nomad community still but it feels nice to slow down a little too.

    1. Too much of anything can sometimes become a bad thing. All that freedom we get as digital nomads creates other problems, like isolation.

      I agree, feels like such a luxury to have a comfortable, familiar pillow now! It’s the little things… :-)

  65. I’ve been following you for a while and I can resonate with many of your points. I particularly relate to your statement ‘But then my dreams began to change. As they often do over time.’
    You seem to be choosing to live life on your own terms as opposed to what you are ‘supposed’ to be doing. Hats off to you for that. Most people struggle to do exactly this.
    Publishing this post doesn’t mean it is all over. It is the start of an exciting new chapter, one that the past 7 years of travelling will give you plenty of experience for.

    All the best for the future.

    1. Thanks Adam, I appreciate you reading. It was a big scary change to sell all my stuff and live out of a bag in foreign countries. I guess this is just the next big change in my life. Change is often good.