What it Takes to Travel the World Full Time, According to Two Nomadic Photographers
These tricks of the trade can help make your dream possible.
Living a completely mobile lifestyle opens up the opportunity to travel the world and see sights you might have never imagined, but for as good as it sounds, it can be tricky to maneuver.
Professional travel photographers, Elia and Naomi Locardi—whose work has appeared in publications like National Geographic and CNET—have been living a nomadic lifestyle since March of 2012 and simultaneously learning just what it takes to make the dream possible.
From what to pack to how to save, here are some of their suggestions.
What to Prepare Before You Leave
It took the Locardis six months to prepare for making the big nomadic leap, organization being a key factor.
To make organization clearer, the Locardis sectioned off their home into four portions: items they wanted to sell, items to donate, items to recycle, and items they wanted to keep. For things like family photographers and mementos, they purchased a small five-foot by five-foot storage unit, which can be an affordable option at under $50 a month.
Additionally, the Locardis recommend investing in long-lasting gear, whether it's luggage or camera equipment, to avoid having to deal with unexpected breakdowns while on the go.
How to Make the Most of Your Packing Space
Packing light is important, which is why the duo recommends the lightest luggage they could find, the 26-inch Rollaboard Suiter From Travel Pro’s Mask Light Series, which comes in at a weight of 9.8 pounds.
You'll want to avoid going for spinners for long term travel, since they break easily, and the Locardis recommend putting a collapsible duffel into your roller since the cost of checking a second bag is cheaper than paying for overweight luggage.
If you're planning to carry electronics or photography gear on your flight, what you put it in makes a difference, since destinations outside the US often limit the weight of carry-on bags to anywhere between 7 and 15 kilos, according to the Locardis.
"What we use to carry our gear has to look like it's not full," said Elia, which is why they use these Think Tank airport commuter and urban disguise bags and avoid using large backpacks since they are more likely to get weighed than bags that look compact.
Finally, the Locardis recommend that you never take a more than you can move together—if you happen to be traveling with another person—as living on the go means you often can't go back to grab items you're not able to move yourself.
What to Wear
Layering items that work for four seasons and can be kept in a small enough space is crucial, with the Locardis recommending travelers always ensure they have base layers, mid layers, and shell layers they can change and control.
Some of their favorites include an Arc’Teryx lightweight all weather shell jacket, an Arc’teryx hoodie that functions as a lightweight down middle layer, andArc’teryx zip-neck tops and bottoms as base layers for cold temperatures.
“My biggest challenge is to be in subzero temperatures and have to walk into a presentation while having to make sure the shoes I wore the day before work,” Elia told Travel + Leisure, which is why he recommends going for versatile shoe options.
These include hiking shoes from brands like Merrell, which include waterproof boots and mesh options for warmer temperatures or from Salomon, whose selection of hiking and backpacking boots are ideal for nature lovers.
Where to Stay
Being able to rent an apartment as opposed to a hotel can allow you to feel more at home and give you the ability to cook while traveling, but being on the road full time can often mean having to cancel or shift trips.
The Locaridis recommend going with Booking.com, since the website allows you to cancel within 24 hours, and also provide apartment options.
For photographers, Naomi recommends determining where you’ll shoot and even parking your car nearby to start shooting early on. The reason for this is because getting up to reach a destination early enough is trickier when staying at a further hotel, but being there already gives you the upper hand.
How to Save on Flights
Flying can get pricey, but knowing these tricks can help you spot the best prices.
The Locardis use Google Flights, not only because it lists all of the price points for your flights, but because it has a handy map that showcases the surrounding airports in the destination you're flying to, which can often be much cheaper to travel to and take a national train line from to your final stop.
They've also found that taking round trip flights, particularly from the US to Europe, is often significantly cheaper than one-way options, with one-way flights having sometimes cost double a round trip flight for the two.
How to Stay Connected
For Elia, one of the most challenging things about being on the road is staying connected. To make it easier, the pair have unlocked phones that they then will often get local SIM cards for.
The tourism SIMs can often be found at most airports now, and are usually unlocked so they can be shared as a hotspot, according to the Locardis.
For maintaining and sharing photography, the two go with SmugMug, since it seamlessly integrates content between devices to automatically ensure photos are up to date and gives users the ability to share their photographer portfolio straight through the mobile app.
How to Capture the Perfect Shot
One of the most important factors is arriving early to your location. Sunrise ensures you’ll be there without large crowds and won’t have to deal with high winds.
“If you really want to experience these places and have a personal connection to them, don’t go in the middle of the afternoon,” said Eli. “Wake up at the location and either be there by yourself or almost by yourself, and you’ll have the best experience.”
While seasonal events will bring crowds, you want to arrive before the large tour groups, which the Locardis say is typically around 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Sunsets also offer stunning lighting but are a big draw for crowds, which is why Naomi recommends arriving a few hours early to lock down a good position.
Patience is also key, as Eli says getting a perfect shot can take anywhere from days to years. This is one of the reasons why leading a nomadic lifestyle gives you the flexibility to do this, and while it may seem time consuming, it does have it rewards.
"I discover something different in a place each time, because I've invested the time to be there," said Eli. "You can't truly photograph a location without being able to fully understand it, and you can't fully understand a place without spending time in it."