Living the #vanlife is not an unusual decision these days. Many people decide to escape their occupations and mundane lives and head towards adventure. However, the nomadic lifestyle is not something new. Though we now think of the concept of a digital nomad as modern, the very notion of mobility is quite ancient. It dates back to the hunter and gatherer societies. Turns out modern nomadic philosophies have an ancient origin. How does their legacy come across today? Join me in this post, as I explore the ancient roots of the modern nomads.

What was the ancient nomadic life like?

Hunting animals and gathering plants were the main activities of hunter and gatherer societies around 11,00 to 12,000 years ago. They created a community of equals, where responsibilities were well-divided and everyone knew their role. Though there were not any modern means of organizing or researching the next best place to settle, people in this culture did a great job arranging all the travels. Quite amazing in terms of logistics, especially considering they mainly traveled by foot.

There were no fancy tools, no need for money, and no sense of individual ownership. The common property was what prevailed, as nature did not belong to anyone.

There seem to be no place for greed. The people hunted just enough to eat for a short period of time, without exceeding their limits. For a practical reason, this made sense, as they wanted to have less to carry with them.

There was no need for money either, as the barter economy allowed for simple transactions. Was it an isolating lifestyle? Maybe. But although we oftentimes think of it as primitive, we should keep in mind that we still cherish many of these lifestyle traits.

Nomadic lifestyle: the past and the present.

Regardless of the number of years that pass, the value system of a nomadic lifestyle has stayed unchanged for the most part. Connecting with nature, exploration, and adventure still remain at the center of it. Respect for nature is vital, and each nomad creates a special relationship with the trees, the woods, flowers, and all parts of the ecosystem.

What has changed with modern nomads is highly related to their additional motives for choosing the #vanlife and the logistics of it. Many modern nomads want to escape from a stressful life and to even get off the grid for some time. Restoring the energy while enjoying the feeling of independence, is oftentimes the best cure for stress. However, there are also those who are not escaping from anything. They just want to get back to their roots instead. Fascinated by their ancestral past, they try to keep their legacy alive.

Moreover, technological developments and social progress have equipped modern nomads with some of the best means of living sustainably and yet comfortably. People can choose this lifestyle. This was not always the case with ancient societies. Therefore, in modern days, being a nomad is not for everyone. Especially not for those who prefer comfort, indoor showers, or abundant wardrobes.

Are nomadic feelings innate in humans?

Although the word “migrant” is nowadays loaded with mixed meanings, which are not always pleasant, it seems that there is a common pattern across times and places. People have always liked moving and exploring, engaged in curiosity, and succumbed to wanderlust. Felix Marquardt calls these feelings “ancestral, essential and instinctive” in his book “The New Nomads: How the Migration Movement is Making the World a Better Place”.

The challenges of walking long distances, keeping social equality, or struggling to get food seem trivial to the modern convenient arrangements of renting or buying an RV, working remotely from a laptop, or buying food from local stores.

It is because of all these modern inventions that sometimes we forget that in essence, we still carry many of the inner traits of the ancient nomads. One of the most forgotten ones seems to be the drive to preserve nature without taking from it more than we can replace. Hopefully, modern nomads will bring this trait back to life as they explore different natural habitats and raise awareness.

How do you feel about modern nomads? What other common qualities with ancient nomads do you see? Let’s start a conversation – share your thoughts with us.


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