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A global nomad is a person who is living a mobile and international lifestyle. Global nomads aim to live location-independently, seeking detachment from particular geographical locations and the idea of territorial belonging.
Nomad originally referred to pastoral nomads who follow their herd according to the seasons. Unlike traditional nomads, global nomads travel alone or in pairs rather than with a family and livestock. They also travel worldwide and via various routes, whereas traditional nomads have a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movement. Although pastoralists are also professional travelers, they move relatively short distances, mostly walking or riding donkeys, horses, and camels. Air travel and the proliferation of information and communication technologies have afforded more opportunities for modern travelers and also engaged a wider range of people in itinerant lifestyles.
In addition to location-independent travelers, the term has also been used for backpackers, lifestyle migrants and third culture kids (highly mobile youth and expatriate children) for highlighting the range and frequency of their travels. The term is a neologism rarely encountered before the year 2000.
The global nomad lifestyle is characterized by high mobility. They travel from one country to another without a permanent home or job; their ties to their country of origin have also loosened. They might stay in any one location from a few days to several months, but at the end they will always move on. Many of them practice minimalism in order to support their frequent moving. Rather than on money and possessions, they focus on experiences, happiness, and well-being. Most of them work only when necessary. Many have location-independent vocations in fields such as IT, writing, teaching, and handicraft.
Most global nomads come from Western countries. They are privileged to have the financial resources to move (either through savings or by receiving a pension), or they have the skill needed to work on the road. Global nomads also hold passports that allow them, more or less, to move freely.
The global nomad lifestyle challenges many of the dominant norms and ideals in Western societies, including home ownership, accumulation of wealth, nationalism, and the idea of being rooted in one place. However, their lifestyle also depends on a state-issued passport that they need for their travels. Global nomads are, therefore, in a paradoxical situation: to practice extreme mobilities, they must retain a home territory.