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Neo-nomad trip planning

Trip length

Research indicates that multiple shorter trips provide most people with more happiness than one extended trip. So if you have a month of holidays, the best option may be to take four week-long adventures rather than one lasting the full month. But it depends. If travel to the destination by plane or car requires more than 5-6 hours, then more than a week away may be best.

Optimal travel seasons

Although some hardcore neo-nomads can handle any weather condition, most of us seek a destination when the weather is warm — even in the evening when the sun is down, but not blistering hot in the day. Rainfall must be minimal too.

Those criteria can limit the optimal travel time in any specific area to a couple months of the year, although some places have two such seasons. It is important to identify them prior to making your travel arrangement.

That job is relatively easy given the abundance of climatic info on the web. Find the closest destination for which there are historical records, and review the monthly statistics to identify the warm dry weeks. Often these coincide with the highest traffic in the area; school is often on break and camping places can get crowded. In such cases I try to time my trip to just before or after the holiday period. I might be slightly penalized in the weather department, but the lack of busyness more than compensates. The further you go into the backcountry, the less you have to worry about crowds, even during holiday seasons. Getting to the destination By road or air+road. The latter is more expensive but is the only option when you must travel long distances to find the comfortable weather not available where you live because the season is to cold, hot or wet. Most scenic areas are not serviced by bus or taxi so if you fly you will usually need a rental vehicle to get there from the airport.


Many neo-nomads must stay in touch with their world while away. One reason they can travel lots is because they can take care of business remotely. Others require electronic connection for safety reasons. If you run into trouble at the end of a road or beyond, the ability to contact the authorities can be a life saver.

Check your mobile provider’s coverage map to determine whether the area you are traveling to has a signal. If competitors offer better coverage, consider getting a SIM card from them. If there is no coverage, the only option is a satellite phone for which there are many relatively cheap choices. Sat phones and messenger beacons are used mainly as a safety device when your trip takes you to places without cell signal, and also are essential to coordinate floatplane, helicopter or boat trips in remote areas.

Destination accommodation Tent camping provides the richest contact with the natural world and is often free or cheap. But sometimes neo-nomads will favor a van, camper or RV or even rent a cottage or house close to the scenic area.

Gorgeous destinations are usually publicly owned, and controlled by government agencies which sometimes charge a fee for camping and require a permit which can often be obtained online. Many agencies restrict camping to designated areas, where they usually provide water, toilets, camp tables and sometimes showers.

But some agencies allow “boondocking” where without permits, fees and amenities you can park your vehicle and camp in or beside it along isolated dirt roads. Many of the expansive public lands in the United States and Canada are accessible in that way. Often this requires a high clearance 4WD vehicle, which few rental agencies have available. But most agencies rent “all-wheel drive” SUVs which can usually navigate all but the roughest backroads.

Some people favor wilderness camping – self-transporting their gear from their vehicle into the backcountry, away from roads and people. Even just a ten minute hike with your gear is often enough to find total privacy in nature. Where the wilderness is within a park or reserve, camping there often requires a permit.

Whether boondocking or wilderness camping, you must provide all amenities, including water, shade, and toilet – usually a hole you dig in the ground.

Scenic places in more built-up areas are often on private land. By tradition, law or generosity, the owners allow hikers and bikers to use trails through the property, like the Bruce Trail in southern Ontario or the vast trail networks in the U.K. and Europe. Camping is highly restricted in these areas, confined to mostly private campgrounds, usually an open field with lots of amenities. Indoor accommodation is also usually abundant, in the form of inns, bed and breakfasts, and cottages. Local bus service to trailheads is also usually available, so renting a car is not an absolute necessity like it is in more remote areas.

Take cash! Many sites that require a fee to camp or boondock don’t take credit or debit cards. You pay by inserting cash into an envelop and then depositing it into the secure container on site. You need to have the exact amount. The solution is to leave home with enough cash to pay such fees, and in small denominations so you don’t pay more or less than required.


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