How I Determine Stopping Points on the Nomad Life

How do I decide where to go during #nomadlife? 

I’ve been traveling full-time since September 2020 and am completely location independent — and this is one of the top questions I get! My methods are really not that scientific, so the question always strikes me a little funny. To me, it’s really pretty simple.

I consider a combo of the below:

If I haven’t been there before, have I heard good things… if I have been there, did I like it?

When I left AZ, I set a goal for myself for my nomad life travels: I want to see all 50 states! Last year, when I started nomad life, my state count was 35. Now, in early July 2021, I’m at 43! By the end of 2021, I should have all 50 checked off (YAHOOOOOO!).

I’ve also made a special point to re-visit some of my favorite cities, Charleston and Nashville, while on this journey. The extended time I spent there (1 month each!) helps me weigh whether or not I might one day want to live there on a seasonal or semi-permanent basis — it really gives me a feel of the place.

Is there good weather this time of year?

I spent 11 years living in Arizona and 23 years living in Minnesota — two states with extreme weather! As I travel, I want to be able to spend as much time as possible outside with my 5-year-old super-energetic mini Aussie shepherd dog — so I like weather that’s not too cold, not too hot, and not too rainy. For example, I was definitely surprised in October in Bozeman, MT when the thermostat hit -8°F… I’m trying to stick to 55°-88°F, please!

Do I know anybody there?

Luckily, all my traveling has meant that I have a network of friends all around the U.S. And I love making new ones. (Check out my sidebar column of upcoming trips — if you know anybody, drop me a DM!). I travel solo, but that doesn’t mean I’m always alone — I appreciate a friendly happy hour, outing, or game night, and I’ve actually built and strengthened some pretty strong friendships as I’ve been touring. Shoutout to my people, you know who you are!

Are there sufficient sights and things to do?

What good is the good weather if there’s nothing outside worth seeing? Luckily, this isn’t usually a problem. I pull up my trusty Google Maps, search for “attractions” and other highly-rated activities, and I solicit recommendations as I get acquainted to a place. Then when I’m off work (I work remotely in social media), there’s always something new to do! I make a point to try to experience what makes a community tick and what its people are proud of and passionate about — both tourist sites and local gems.

Is it within ~8 hours driving distance of my previous spot?

It’s not the most efficient use of my time to criss-cross all over the states (even though here and there I have backtracked in order to make certain obligations work), so I try to follow a logical route that allows me to be certain places at certain times of year. For example, post-Kentucky, I’ll drive northeast. Typically, I try to spend no more than 8 hours a day driving (more than that and my butt is sore, my eyes glaze over, and I can’t say no to candy).

Are the accommodations reasonably-priced? 

If I don’t want to run out of money (an important thing to concern myself with!), I can’t be picking the most luxe locations in the thick of their tourist seasons… so I aim to visit the more high-falutin’ spots in shoulder or low-tourism season. If that’s not possible, I stay a little bit outside town, I house-share, or I bite the expense and vow to make the next month more affordable.

What does my gut tell me?

There have been a couple places I visited that I never originally planned to — but the universe gave me a sign, and I went with it. There are yet other places I have on my list that just didn’t work out timing and route-wise. The good news is… the nomad life continues, and I’ll have plenty of opportunities!

Wondering where the nomad life brings me today? I keep my city/state current on my Instagram profile, @juliebrose. Come say hi!

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