Global nomad

A global nomad, or glomad, 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.[1]

Origins and use of the termEdit

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.[2] 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.[3][4] The term is a neologism rarely encountered before the year 2000.[5]


The global nomad lifestyle is characterized by high mobility.[6] They travel from one country to another without a permanent home or job; their ties to their country of origin have also loosened.[7] 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 money and possessions, they focus on experiences, happiness, self discovery and well-being.[8] Most of them work only when necessary. Many have location-independent[9] vocations in fields such as IT, writing, teaching, and handicraft.[10]

Most global nomads come from Western countries. They are not always privileged to have the financial resources to move: it can be through savings or by receiving a pension but most of the time it's a passion to travel, 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.[11]

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 somewhat paradoxical situation: to practice extreme mobilities, they must hold association, in the form of citizenship, to very select travel privilege awarding territories. [12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Richards, G. & Wilson, J. 2004. The Global Nomad: Backpacker Travel in Theory and Practice. Clevedon: Channel View Publications.
  2. ^ Khazanov, A. M. 1994. Nomads and the Outside World (2nd edition) [1983], translated by J. Crookenden. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
  3. ^ Benjamin, S., & Dervin, F. (Eds.). 2014. Migration, Diversity, and Education: Beyond Third Culture Kids. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
  4. ^ D’Andrea, A. 2006. Global Nomads. Techno and New Age as Transnational Countercultures in Ibiza and Goa. London: Routledge.
  5. ^ an early reference to backpackers in Philip L. Pearce, The Backpacker Phenomenon: Preliminary Answers to Basic Questions, James Cook University of North Queensland, 1990.[page needed]
  6. ^ Elliott, A., Urry, J. (2011) Mobile Lives. Cambridge: Routledge
  7. ^ Kannisto, P. 2014. Global Nomads: Challenges of Mobility in the Sedentary World. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press. Available at
  8. ^ Kannisto, P. 2016. Global Nomads and Extreme Mobilities. Ashgate: Farnham.
  9. ^ Elgan, M. (1 August 2009), Is Digital Nomad Living Going Mainstream?, Computerworld
  10. ^ Kannisto, P. and Kannisto, S. 2012. Free as a Global Nomad: An Old Tradition with a Modern Twist. Phoenix, AZ: Drifting Sands Press.
  11. ^ Korpela, M. 2009. More Vibes in India: Westerners in Search of a Better Life in Varanasi. Tampere: Tampere University Press.
  12. ^ Kannisto, P. 2016. Extreme mobilities: Challenging the concept of ’travel’. Annals of Tourism Research, 57, 220–233.