“Ooh, look at us, we’re ‘Digital Nomads’ now”, we proclaimed so twattingly smuggishly, amid breathy gasps from friends and family; all of them I’m sure at once in awe and utterly perplexed as to what that actually means. Especially Grandad: not a clue. Mouth open; totally confused. Asleep, probably. But just look at us: wise, worldly sages camped under mosquito nets reading ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ aloud to each other; Tweeting trend-setters, North-Faced hostel-dwelling Instagram Craghoppers. Or, maybe, Periscoping pillocks.
Forget the digital bit - that’s another conversation. But about this ‘nomad’ business. It conjures images of The Sahara, of billowing tents and ancient wisdom. None of which is applicable. You see, in the current climate of everyone being fed up with governments and Shell and Brexit and plastic and other humans in general, the desire to get away and do your own thing (along with millions of others doing the exact same own thing), is way common - we’ve read loads about people who’ve thrown their towels in like petulant ants and escaped the mound. The thing is, when we decided to do the same, we actually kept our lovely Egyptian cotton towels, and packed them, with a couple of spares, in our smart-but-over-burdened new Osprey wheely-packs - along with all the rest of the useless nonsense we’ll never ever use but definitely can’t live without.
Is our foolishness is down to not having grasped the notion of being nomadic; of not actually being ready to ditch the material realm and just be free? I have packed gaffer tape. I have leads for electronic items that haven’t even been invented yet. I have a ‘Steripod’ covering the head of my battery powered electric toothbrush. I have a 4G wifi hub, a plugboard, stuff to spray on clothes to make mosquitoes not want to eat me, enough GoPro accessories to mount the flipping thing on absolutely any object, inanimate or living...(including Grandad’s earlobes). Not to mention the wife's stash: enough make-up to give the Statue of Liberty a makeover (just in case she can score a photoshoot job) and clothes enough to put on a catwalk show. We’ve overdone it. But here’s what I don’t understand: all those bloggers who wax lyrical about how they defied the material sin of packing like the zombies are coming...must STINK. Fine, they’ve got all they need to survive expertly squeezed into a fake Moschino handbag they bartered for on the Khao San Road, and great, they can concentrate on their yoga-mat-stenched breathing techniques and not pine for an Occulus Rift in their luggage so bad that it’s probably life or death. But really - these people say they live out of carry-on luggage just can’t have enough stuff to keep fresh enough to actually approach and engage with other humans. I’ve been though my 47 pound bag-of-dreams over and over, and not found a single item I’m not positive I’ll need. There are just 4 t-shirts, a smattering of sock, just a sprinkle of trouser, just a smudge of deodorant. If I shed anything at all from the dreamsack, my ability to interact with others on an equal basis would be wrecked. And that’s not to mention my hand luggage that’s twice the size of the real travel nomad’s actual life. I just don’t get it. But one thing is for sure, I’m not sure I can keep carrying this obelisk around and its fat friend without forcing my spinal scenario into a tortoise-necked nightmare. As it stands, we have too much stuff. Simple as. Maybe one day I’ll crawl to the pinnacle of Kilimanjaro with nothing but a toothbrush in my back pocket and a pair of boxers wedged into a pencil case. If you see video of me in dirty pants, burning GoPro accessories...then consider me converted. Only then will we be true ‘Digital Nomads’. Until then - pretenders. Nothing but fancy-packed, kitchen-sink frauds.