Cate Brubaker: “I actually look forward to going home”

October 20, 2014 |

Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create your ideal life, no right or wrong approach. Many people just like you—or in even more complicated circumstances—have made it happen, or are working to get there. Hearing others’ stories keeps us all inspired, and reminds us to dream big!

Cate Brubaker helps global adventurers navigate re-entry at and the Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit. Follow Cate on Instagram for daily re-entry inspiration. You can also check out Cate’s interview on Nomadtopia Radio.

How would you describe your current Nomadtopia?

I’m a part-time nomad. I have a home base in North Carolina and travel frequently throughout the year for work, to visit family, and a vacation here and there with my husband.

I’ve been traveling and living abroad off and on since I was 16 and would love to be a full-time nomad again at some point. But because my husband has a location-dependent job that he loves, being a part-time nomad works great for us at this point in our lives.

What was the first inspiration/motivation that led to your current lifestyle?

I’ve been “between cultures” since I first lived abroad as a teen. Traveling and living abroad have always been top priorities in my life, so when my husband suggested that we buy a house seven years ago, I was hesitant. I was afraid my travel days were over.

Looking back now, I can’t help but laugh at how scared I was to buy a house because I actually started traveling more once we become home-owners. In fact, I missed moving day because I was working in Jamaica.

Once I became location-independent I suggested to my husband that we become full-time nomads for a couple years. While he was open to the idea, the timing just wasn’t right for my husband’s career. He’s lived abroad, and since he’s taken two career breaks to travel with me and has always supported my wanderlust, I wanted to support his career. And to be honest, even though I love traveling, I was starting to like having a home base.

At the end of 2012, when I looked at all of the travel I had lined up for 2013, I joked to my husband that I could be a part-time nomad. That’s when it hit me that I really could be a part-time nomad and enjoy both home and abroad. I started thinking… what if I added a few days or weeks to some of my international work trips? What if I worked more from the road?

How long did it take you to get from “here’s a crazy idea” to making it happen?

Things came together quickly after I realized I could easily combine working from my home base in North Carolina with workations around the US and abroad. In 2013 I traveled somewhere 11 out of the 12 months. This year I’ve traveled less frequently but for longer stretches of time. Next year…. who knows!

What is the most unexpectedly useful thing in your current Nomadtopia?

My home base. For me, nomading is comfortable, and I have no qualms about living out of a backpack for weeks or months on end. I love it! Putting down roots is what’s challenging for me. So I’ve been surprised by how much I actually look forward to going home, spending time in my community, and fixing up my house. Having a home base has helped me recognize the benefits of putting down roots, and I now appreciate my home as much as I appreciate the opportunity to see the world.

What do you miss most?

My husband. And cat. (I’m pretty sure the cat is happy to stay home, though.)

What is the most challenging aspect of this lifestyle?

Having to leave just when I’m settling in. Just when I’m comfortable speaking German again, it’s time to fly home. Just when I finally start to know my way around my Melbourne neighborhood, it’s time to leave. And, just when I’m getting into the groove of being home, it’s time to head to the airport.

It can also be a challenge to stay productive through travel, jet lag, and spotty internet connections. In the grand scheme of things, though, these are challenges I don’t mind having.

What’s the most satisfying?

The most satisfying aspect of my part-time nomad lifestyle is knowing that my husband and I are both doing what makes us happy, individually and as a couple. We’ve managed to satisfy our need for roots and wings.

What advice would you have for others who are hoping to do something similar?

I know a lot of people who have lived abroad and used to travel frequently until they got a full-time job, invested in a serious relationship, bought a house, had kids, started taking care of parents, etc. Sometimes it’s just not possible to nomad full-time, and that’s okay. My biggest advice is to think creatively and figure out what works for you at this particular point in your life.

Just for fun: Would you rather spend one month in a place you’ve been to before, or 24 hours somewhere new?

One month in a place I’ve been to before. I love going back to places I previously enjoyed so I can peel back more layers of the “cultural onion,” so to speak. There’s always more to discover.

Thanks for sharing your story, Cate!

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