Feeling Lost: My Fork in the Road

By Nomadic Matt | Published January 23rd, 2012

fork in the roadWith the end of my trip coming hard and fast, I’m at a crossroads. As I prepare to move on to the next stage of my life, two roads lay ahead of me and I’m not sure which one to take. I’ve always had this dream of living in Europe. I’ve traveled Europe a lot but I want to live in one place, learn the language, and experience European life as a local, not a tourist. I’ve always envisioned myself living in Paris, enjoying cheese, wine, smoke-filled cafes, and strolling down cobblestone streets at night with pretty French girls. But I think the life I imagine in Paris is the one I’ve seen overly romanticized in the movies I too often see. The Paris of the silver screen is different from the Paris of everyday life.

As I’ve come to that realization, the other city that most appeals to me in Europe is Stockholm. Paris pulls me with its mystique but really, Stockholm is a more realistic option. I have many friends there, the city is one of my favorite in the world, and I love and want to learn the language. (Plus, Swedish girls aren’t too bad on the eyes either!) The thought of living there over the spring and summer really excites me. Sweden in the summer is bursting with life and energy. After all, they don’t get a lot of nice weather up there so when they do, the Swedes take full advantage of it.

But the fork in my road is not between Paris and Stockholm. It’s between Stockholm and New York City. Or as my friend Jason has told me, it’s a choice between a veiled attempt at extending my trip and coming to terms with finally settling down.

And, in a way, he is right.

My soul burns for the Big Apple. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about it. When people ask me where I call home, New York bursts out of my mouth without thinking. There’s nothing I don’t love about New York City. Seeing status updates from my friends and events I’m unable to attend makes me homesick for it even more. As I write this now, I can’t help but feel sad not being there. I belong there and when all my journeys do end, it is there I will reside.

But you don’t get do-overs in life. Opportunity knocks once. Doors open and close all the time but when a door closes, it locks itself. As Robert Frost once wrote in The Road Not Taken, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” Once you go down a path, there is no turning back.

If I move to NYC and skip Stockholm, will I ever get another chance to live in Europe as a (semi) young, carefree guy? Will I end up settling down, finding a girlfriend, putting down roots and then missing my chance to, just for a bit, be wild and carefree in Europe? Will I regret the missed opportunity?

Or will I move to Stockholm and hate it? Will I long for New York while I am there? Will I resist putting down some roots because I know Stockholm wouldn’t be forever? And would that become a self-fulfilling prophecy where it’s not forever because I resist making it that way?

As the clock ticks down to zero, I wonder if I’m really just trying to prolong my trip. Maybe I just want to be Peter Pan forever. When I go out, I see young backpackers, wild and carefree, and I think to myself, “Can’t I just stay in this world a little longer? Just one more month won’t hurt.”

After all, when my book comes out next year, I’ll have to come back to America anyway. Stockholm would just be temporary. Is spending 6 months in Sweden just a way for me to spend another 6 months living out of my backpack, trying to be Peter Pan a little longer?

I know I want roots. I want to have a gym. I want friends to call. I want restaurants where I can become a regular. I want the local hangout.

But as the end nears, I’m afraid. Travel is all I know. It’s part of who I am. I haven’t settled in one place since I started traveling. Even when I stop for a while, I always know I’ll be moving on again. While I’ll never stop traveling, I’m worried I won’t deal well with being settled in one place and having roots.

Maybe Stockholm is my “bridge” from traveler to semi-nomadic.

I had hoped that as I wrote this article, I might come to some conclusion. I’ve agonized over this post for weeks but as I write this, I’ve realized I’m just as lost, unsure, and confused as ever. Writing out my thoughts and feelings didn’t help to decide which road I want to wander down.

As I weigh both options, I want them both. I wish I could create a clone!

But I know how way leads to way, there’s only one road I can take.

As January rolls into February and February rolls into my flight home, I’ll have to decide soon which road I want. I just haven’t figured out which road that is yet. I guess I’ll just stare out at the fork in the road a little longer, waiting for a sign.

comments 131 Comments

Ally

I have a suggestion: Why not just put your two choices in a hat and pick one randomly? From what I have learned, sometimes letting fate pick your path is the best way to go. You would not believe how many times I have used that hat trick and had the best outcomes.

I wish you the best of luck with whatever you do!

Ally

Totally true… I decided on my best man with a coin toss.

NomadicMatt

I always cheat at that stuff!

kim

exactly, then you’ve decided! if you pull out stockholm then your sad enough about it to wish you were in new york, then there you go, you’ve decided! :)

NomadicMatt

That never works out for me. I second guess to much. I need to pick the one that feels right and no hat can tell me that.

Hi Matt, I’ve been reading your blog for quite sometime now and you definitely are an inspiration. I also feel the need to get up and go very often and wish I had your courage. I have made bad financial decisions in the past and don’t have the finances to leave at this time….I say move to stockholm, try it out for 6months to a year…if you don’t like it, you can always come to nyc…we’ll always welcome you lol otherwise you have nothing to lose. You are out of the RatRace, stay out! you’re young and with no responsibilites other than yourself, go be free, enjoy travelling the world. You can settle down later in life, marriage, kids, local bars to become a regular etc can happen later in life

Oh, Matt. I was wondering when I was going to read a post like this one. I wish I had some advice for you, but all I can offer you is this: “When you have to make a hard decision, flip a coin. Why? Because when that coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you’re hoping for.”

Good luck :)

I love this quote… “But you don’t get do-overs in life. Opportunity knocks once. Doors open and close all the time but when a door closes, it locks itself.”

It definitely speaks to me at a time when I’m at a similar crossroad in life… to travel, or to build a more solid future?

Go to Stockholm, Matt. You’re still young. You have the rest of your life to build on those New York dreams, but once you stop and build a nest, it’s hard to take flight right away again. :)

Andy

You don’t have to decide what you’re going to do forever, just what you’re going to do next.

NomadicMatt

Those are some very wise words….but I have no idea what next is at the moment.

Make it easy, Matt! Why complicate your life? So many people wish to have just these problems than us about deciding on where to go. Go to Stockholm first and then to New York ;)

…have you by any chance just seen “Midnight in Paris” ? :) Good luck with your choice. I don’t think it’s of any help, but know that you’re not alone out there having trouble with making choices!

NomadicMatt

I have. Twice. Great movie.

This married 42-year-old with kids and a mortgage says go live it up in Stockholm for 6 months.

As you said, if you need to be in the U.S. for work in 2013, I’d say play Peter Pan a big longer.

NYC isn’t going anywhere!

It does sound like Stockholm would be more of a natural bridge to a settled life, but I think you’d have to be wary of prolonging your return. After you’re done promoting your book in America (not sure on the timeline of that) who’s to say you won’t want to head back out to Europe again? It seems like coming home to New York is like the band-aid treatment – rip it all off at once.

NomadicMatt

Sometimes it’s better to just rip off the band aid. Whenever you pull it off slowly, it hurts a lot more.

Franny

You need to view settling down the way you urge others to view travel – go out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you, break up the routine you’ve been in for the last five years. Change is good.

Sushi Ashley

ahahaha Franny is that what you did?? :)

NomadicMatt

What routine?

Sarah

I’m going to carry Andy’s words with me forever! Wise indeed. Good luck with your decision, Matt, but I agree with the Stockholm votes!

I don’t normally comment on your posts but I do throughly enjoy reading them! As a fellow traveler who took that leap of faith all I can say is that whatever you choose WILL be the right one.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for dropping by to comment and for the advice. Hope to see you around more.

Alex

Well, there’s always a lifetime to dedicate to settling down. It really doesn’t matter if you go now to NY or try Europe first. You can always decide on the spot, for instance in Stockholm, that you NEED to get home. If you really hate the time in said city, you’re a plane away from home.

Sushi Ashley

Matt, I think the world is so different now…. I look at my husband’s friends (because my friends generally aren’t married with kids yet) and they are all still traveling. For example, his best friends in Sri Lanka who have 2 boys, just moved to Hong Kong for a bit (their second stint there over the past 5 years). Another friend there with one son is temporarily living in Laos for work for a few years. Even though we own a condo, have a baby, etc. I don’t feel pinned down in the US. Given the flexibility of Thusith’s job we can really travel anywhere as we want. So anyway my point is live in Stockholm now, or live there later – I don’t think “settling down” has to mean being stuck in one place. Just choose flexible jobs, flexible partners, etc. and you never have to be stuck. Long live traveling Matt.

xo,
Ash

NomadicMatt

Maybe I’ll go to Boston so we can have sushi again.

P.S. – Love the name but I’d know who you were if you didn’t say “Sushi Ashley”

Ashley

:) and yes sushi soon!!!

Stockholm, and then NYC for home. Yes?

NomadicMatt

Maybe?

See you in NY Matt. :)

NomadicMatt

And a beer too?

Meretchi

Reading this, I was suddenly extremely glad to realize that this is what has been happening to me as well. you describe here a dilemma I have been living with for the last 2 years. I never really got down to the point of the problem, I just move to a different place every now and then, waiting for that magical moment in “that place I’m gonna live in next” where I put down my roots…I hope you find your decision, whatever it is, a good one.

I always make the mistake of thinking that every decision I make is do or die. I think you can always change your course even if you are on a certain path. You have the right to change your mind a thousand times and you still may change it when you think you have everything figured out. You never know what life has in store. And if opportunity doesn’t knock on your door go find him and poke him with a stick. I think you should go to Stockholm but I certainly don’t think you could go very wrong with NYC. I totally agree with Andy. You don’t have to sit down and plan out the rest of your life right now, just figure out what you are going to do tomorrow. Don’t spend to much time on what ifs just go on what is.

Hi Matt,
I’ve never commented and I have only found your website about 6 months ago. I’m a travel agent and when I read about you I thought “Man! this guy would blow all other travel agents out of the water”. I could only dream about travelling to all the places you have and not only that, I salivate at all the knowledge you have from those travels. Come home to NY and be a travel agent that escorts his own groups to anywhere you want to go at anytime. You don’t have to stop travelling. Take your groups and travel for free on the tour conductor credit. With your knowledge, youth and zest, you would be the best out there. You could also be your own independent working with a host agency rather than a chain. With your groups you’d set your own prices as well. Think about it. That may be one of the better options.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for commenting now! I love it when the lurkers come out of the wood work.

And thanks for the kind words on being a tour guide. It is a dream of mine. Maybe I’ll run some tours around Sweden!

Katie K

It sounds like you are favoring New York in this post. Because it’s both exciting and familiar since you have lived here before. And it’s pulling you back towards it despite your other dreams.

But maybe think back to that post you wrote — your ‘Greatest Regret’ of not traveling overseas during college. Well now you’ve done that as a growing adult, which is great too, but it sounds like you’re still curious and it’s not yet been enough for you.

I remember you told me about the Paris thing a long time ago. It’s good that you’ve at least figured out that Stockholm may be a better option.

Settling down in New York is a big commitment. If you go for it (with Stockholm), New York will always be here and then it will truly be worth the wait.

NomadicMatt

It may always be there but I’m not sure how long I can wait.

Katie K

Well then that is very telling, hence why it sounded like you were leaning more toward New York in the post.

NYC! I couldn’t agree with you more, it’s my city of choice to live in. It seems to me that you know where your home will be, it’s just a matter of deciding to extend your trip or not to Stockholm.

Rod

Europe will always be there. You are allowed to travel when you are older, you know. I’m 50 and my wife and I are are just 2 weeks into our year long life in France. We sold up, kicked the kids out, quit our jobs, got our long stay visas and a one way ticket to Paris. We travelled when we were young (not as much as you though). We settled down, lived our lives and dreamed of living in Europe. We knew we would one day. Sure, I’m not allowed to chase the girls, but living the life in France is good at any age. Have your life in New York. You can have your cake and eat it too (just not at the same time).

NomadicMatt

“Kicked the kids out.” <—Great

I guess it might never be too late.

The choice is obvious Matt. Take your breather, stay in Stockholm for a bit and consider it a means to transition back to a more settled down life. Plus you can work on your Swedish!

Lycka till!

Anthony

NomadicMatt

…and my Swedish does need some serious work!

Matt — I think at one time or other many of us look at life as you do and are worried we’ll make the wrong decision. I’ve been there several times. And you know what — you find later on you did the right thing no mater which you decided to do. Life isn’t just a choice of blacks and whites, it’s a choice of things that are always metamorphosing into something else. Whichever you choose it will work out, for nothing horrible is going to happen. You’re not going to go to prison or die because of your choice. And when you make that choice you find five years later you’ll be in a different place, perhaps in a different job than you originally were. Just take out a piece of paper, put a line down the middle and write down the pros and cons of each place. You’ll see it all there and you won’t regret the decision you made. And you can always live in the other place for a few weeks every year.

If I were in your shoes, I think I’d go the Stockholm route. Going from a life of constant travel for years, to suddenly having “roots” and a home would be a hugely difficult adjustment for me, and I think having a buffer to help the transition would benefit someone like me. Granted, that’s just me…do what your heart tells you, although it seems to be telling you two different things:)

Steve

Pick somewhere in Europe because you can always come back to New York while life is less complicated (without a spouse and/or kids and a possible office job). Enjoy whatever city to the fullest and do not limit your thoughts, relationships and actions by location.

NomadicMatt

I hope there is never an office job in my future!

Thanks for the advice.

Jeanine

Like the song says:

“Stop worrying where you’re going–Move on.
If you can know where you’re going–You’ve gone.
Just keep moving on.
I chose, and my world was shaken–So what?
The choice may have been mistaken–
The choosing was not.
You have to move on…”

Monica

Matt,
You can take the easy way and go to Stockholm. Or take the harder way and go to NY.
Maybe it is good to take the harder and more uncomfortable way every now and then.
It will make the next decision seem so much easier!

Alf

You should go to New York. Time to settle down.

Is it possible to go to NYC for a month or two to catch up with friends and family before then ‘settling’ in Stockholm for a bit? At the end of the day only you can make the decision but it seems to me like that might be the best of both worlds …

NomadicMatt

The more I read the comments, the more I think about it, the more I think that might be the answer.

Samantha P.

I have a best friend who travels all the time, everywhere, US and Europe. But KC is still her home. So, she saves her money and when she has free time she goes where she wants to go, like 3-5 times a year.

Since you want some permanence, I’d say live in NYC, but buy a little vacation home in Stockholm. That way you can just hop on a plane when you want and you’ll already have a place there to stay and people who are familiar. Hang out there in the summer or something.

1.

Wow. I’ve read a lot of your previous posts about Sweden, since it’s always fascinating to read someone else’s thoughts about the country I’ve lived in my entire life. I just never figured this – out of all the countries in Europe – is where you’d think about settling down. The cold itself is enough to repel any American. I live in the third largest city, right after Gothenburg, named Malmo. It’s in the south and it’s lovely here. It’s less than an hour away from Denmark and reading this, having never been to Stockholm, I wonder what it’s like. I’ll be there this April, for the first time ever (I’m seventeen) and get a chance to see the city with my own two eyes.

By the way, Swedish is an incredibly hard language to learn, from an American’s perspective. But take a shot at it – it wouldn’t really matter, since swedes love America and anyone from there. And by love, I mean adore.

NomadicMatt

Stockholm is a wonderful place. You’ll love it. I’ve been to Malmo once but I prefer Stockholm.

And, from what I’ve encountered in Sweden, I do know how much you love Americans!

Chris Coughlan

Matt, why not choose Stockholm? As you say, in a years time your book will be coming out, so you can cross that bridge when you come to it. A year in Europe could open up new opportunities and you might find you love it.

Remember NYC is only an 8ish hour flight from Stockholm.

Regret is only good for telling yourself where you made mistakes. Once you know which things you made mistakes with, regret turns into wisdom, and wisdom builds character.

Take the plunge and try out Stockholm, you can always move on if it doesn’t feel right.

Chris

Listen to your soul, Matt. If it burns for the Big Apple, it’s telling you something important.

Stockholm won’t be going anywhere. Even if you put down roots, you’ll still travel. It’s part of who you are. It won’t be a missed opportunity, but one you’re saving for later!

NomadicMatt

Later never happens. Life gets in the way too much. Tomorrow never comes.

nikki

I just found both you and your website recently and you have been such a source of inspiration to me – you have no idea. I am in a similar situation and your posts have helped me come to the difficult decision of giving my dream a go and moving to Thailand in April. Funny thing is I live in NY now…I am mid thirties and though I know it’s not “the norm” my heart is telling me to go and that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Listen to your heart – your burning desire to live in Stockholm is for a reason – something there is meant to happen. Whether you meet the love of your life or ultimately it pushes you to return in NY knowing that you gave it a chance. Maybe you need a little more time abroad to be certain you want to be home – one thing I’ve learned if you follow your heart and your gut, things will work out. I say go to Sweden – see what happens – NY will ALWAYS be here and I think you’ll be more settled here never thinking “what if I had gone?” NY is great for so many reasons but it’s full of a different type of people, self-contained, not as friendly and can be lonely. Yes, your own bar, local grocery store etc is great – but for people with the sense of adventure, the thirst for “more”, it’s going to be an adjustment. I came back from Thailand in December and after a month of smiling and saying hi and meeting new people, I took me some time to get my “NY” face back on…lest I get many weird looks. I am so sad to be leaving my family and friends but I am trusting my gut and my heart and taking a chance. NY will always be here for me too.

This is a tough one. I know how much you love NYC and getting some roots, yet I also know your desire to live in Europe for a bit and your love for Stockholm.

Since you know you have to be back in NYC for your book, I would test out living in Stockholm. Maybe start with a plan for 3 months instead of 6 months. If you feel the pull to NYC, then pack up after a few months and start your life there.

The comforting thing is that neither place is going away. Good luck with the decision!

NomadicMatt

As always, you offer good advice. I might do that.

Nothing is permanent. The only person who can “lock the door” is you. Do what you really want and if you change your mind, then do something else. Don’t over think it, just do what your heart says. From what you wrote, I think you really want to go home to NYC. Don’t be scared of going home. You can always leave again. Good luck with your decision and all the best to you with your book.

NomadicMatt

Thank you for such kind words.

I want both, too. Figure it out, write an eBook and then I’ll buy it and do whatever it says =)

Wow, crazy…I’ve at a similar cross roads between living abroad somewhere for awhile or hitting NYC. NYC has been calling me for way too long already, but I feel like I need to keep traveling while I’m relatively young.

But, like you, I don’t know which way I’ll end up going.

NomadicMatt

Flipping a coin seems to be the preferred method!

Lorrie kueffer

Wow, you are an inspiration. Wonderful blog.

NomadicMatt

Flattery will get you everywhere!

Looks like a classic case of FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out…All of us travelers have it at some point…

NomadicMatt

I have a huge case of FOMO!

Barb

Stay in Europe. When you get back to New York, to visit, you will see how plastic America is. My husband and I have chosen to stay in Germany after he retired from the military 20 years ago. No regrets. You can visit New York and will have had enough of it in about a week. Living in Europe is like being on an eternal vacation. Move to Stockholm, make friends, study the language, go native. You will never regret it.

NomadicMatt

But I love New York. I never get tired of it!

Dan

Hey Matt,
Great site! Keep it up,

Let us know if you ever feel like doing guest post. We’re always looking for new writers.

Thanks!
D

Yeah, Matt!!!

At least you have two options and you have them as opposed to many people who simply don’t know what to do with their life at all.

You can’t make a mistake if you choose. Simply do what your intuition says.

My recommedatioin is not to procrastinate. Better thake the decision now and in a few week you’ll see was is right or not. In 90% it will be right choice. But even if you’ll feel it’s not really what you wanted the time which you saved really pays off everyting.

So simply swith is a second one you’re sure…

Good luck in your decision…
Regards from Lviv, Ukraine

NomadicMatt

I’ll figure it out after my book. It’s too stressful to think about right now.

I’ve been waiting for this post…that sudden realisation of ‘what the hell am I going to do now’. Personally, I would choose Stockholm to get used to being semi-nomadic for a few months or a year – reverse culture shock is a hard thing to get over. Then when you feel ready, head to NYC once you’ve found a way to make roots =)

But Matt – you do get do overs!!! Move to Stockholm – if you miss NYC too much, you can always move back. There is nothing stopping you. After such a nomadic life – you have the advantage of being unencombered by things! The real costs of moving from country to country is stuff!!! Having started my life in Canada, moved to Australia (7 years) and moved back – the stuff is what become the biggest hinderance! Live light – live life to the fullest! You can always settle for a while, then move on! Conversely, move back to NYC – when you have itchy feet – pick up and settle again elsewhere!
I am sure what ever you decide – it will be great! Afterall, it is a decision only you can make! (and what we girls have known for centuries – you can always change your mind!!!! :) )

NomadicMatt

Luckily, I have no stuff so that isn’t a problem.

chezcaesar

Stockholm now, NYC later :)

Colleen

You will make the right decision. Nothing is permanent in this life. You can always change your mind, too. = )

NomadicMatt

I am notorious for changing my mind!

Hell, Matt, either way is gold. NYC will always be there. Stockholm too. Young is a silly term anyway. Many of my really satisfying “young” experiences happened in my late 30s and now in my 40s. I have a home base in the States in Madison, which I love dearly. We “settled” here again last June. Except for those couple Asia trips last fall. And the upcoming 4 months traveling. And next fall. And… And… Nothing’s permanent, particularly not our lives. You may find yourself wanting to live in Stockholm when you’re 50. The key is you have the nerve to just go do it. Many people do not and pine away their lives doing “the right thing” or “being responsible”. All of that is total crap and you figured that out long time ago. Settle in NYC for a book tour. Go to Stockholm later. Or just 3 months. Or a year. One doesn’t preclude the other.

I say go to Stockholm, check it out. If you don’t like it you can always come back to NYC in the states. Nothing is permanent, NYC and Stockholm aren’t going anywhere. And what does “young” mean anyways? Age is a state of mind. I also share a passion of travel with you and am planning on going abroad soon with the same thoughts. Should I go somewhere and live there, learn the language, and immerse myself in the culture? Or should I just pack a backpack and and experience a variety of different countries, cultures, etc.? I say follow your intuition because everything will work out in the end. Good luck on your decision!

Faaz

Flip a coin. While the coin is in the air, which ever side you wish for it to land is what you truly want to do.

NomadicMatt

Seems to be the prevailing opinion here..

Matt, great post! I love New York City with all my heart, and it seems that your affinity for it is just as great (I don’t think you can possibly love it more than me ;) ). That being said, I agree with Deej that settling down immediately in NYC after 5+ years of nonstop travel may be difficult, as the cold-turkey way usually is. However, settling anywhere would be hard after your nomadic lifestyle, and NYC is the easiest place to catch a flight to anywhere else in the world, should your heart long for it once more. Do the Stockholm thing, then come back here to NYC to be around for your book launching; see where you are after that – chances are, you may have a completely different course you’d like to follow by that time.

Whichever path you decide, I am sure that you won’t regret it; sure, you may have “regretted” not going abroad during your college years, but then maybe you wouldn’t have become Nomadic Matt now, having fulfilled that still-small desire to travel early on. Good luck on all your endeavors!

NomadicMatt

I don’t think I’m going to deal with either adjustment well. I’m always dreaming up too many new travel plans!

Coming from someone who’s lived in NYC off and on for over 15 years now…it will always be here Matt. Even if you come home now and leave again, New York will always be here. I’ve had this same dilemma as you numerous times over the course of my life in NYC. There have been times that I’ve left 6 months at a time unsure, and came back, other times I’ve left 1 month at a time and came back. And trust me, after living here for a while, no matter how many friends you have here, New York is all the more sweeter when you get to leave and then come back to appreciate it for all it’s worth. I am now a mom and I still leave to travel for a few months at a time (with my baby). You’ve so successfully carved out this kind of life for yourself, whatever you decide, it will for sure never be set in stone. The opportunity to travel again will always be there. Best of luck to you with your decision!

Brasilicana

Remember also that “roots” are not necessarily forever!

I came back from travels to “settle” in NYC… and I did, but after 3 years there I moved to Brazil. Now I’m “settled” here in Brazil, but probably after my husband finishes his degree a few years from now, we’ll move somewhere else (he too is enamored with Europe).

So try not to think of it as a choice between extending the traveling lifestyle and finally settling (as though settling was final and irreversible). Just think, “What’s the next step?”

NomadicMatt

That’s the great question to ask. I still don’t know though.

wiebke

hey matt, as andy said in one of the first posts it is all about taking the next step and not about life long decisions. go to stockholm and if after a couple of months you miss new york too much, just quit, say your goodbyes and go to new york (and the other way around). i think in the last six years you have shown over and over again that you are not a quitter and follow through with your life decisions. so just allow yourself to quit now if one or the other does not feel right after you’ve arrived. and it is all about something feeling right, right?

NomadicMatt

Eventually, I’ll figure out what to do. The answer will come to me sometime…I hope…

Definitely consider Stockholm for 3-6 months, and if you end up feeling the pull to NYC, you can always move there. Also, Sweden during the summer is wayyy different than Sweden during the winter so you may want to try living here during both seasons to truly test it out. You can always ping me as well via email if you need to chat about life in general here in Stockholm!

NomadicMatt

Well, if I come, we’re hanging out a lot more!

You might consider doing one of these: http://visionday.com/. I could not recommend it more highly for your “fork in the road”.

Matt — I have spent my whole life searching for a place to put down roots. I did everything by the book — went to college, then straight into graduate school trying to get ahead, then straight into the working world and my chosen profession. Not long after that, I met and married my husband. Now we’re both staring at 30 and wishing we could just drop everything and travel the world for awhile. We’re wondering why we were in such a rush to accomplish all of these things. We’re wondering why we let so many other people influence our decisions. We’re realizing that “roots” aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be (though we’re definitely grateful to have each other, don’t get me wrong). As you wrote in a post a few months back, you do this for you — not to please anyone else. It’s your decision, and whichever option you choose, it doesn’t have to be permanent. Even if you go to Stockholm in some sort of attempt to extend your trip a while longer, that’s ok — because it’s your life; it’s your trip. Good luck, dude. ~ Ellen & Justin

NomadicMatt

Thanks! Good luck on breaking free and traveling!

I think i’m starting where you are ending. I’m at that point in life, where I know that i’ll soon be this traveler of sorts. Uni graduation is quickly approaching and what I want to do is travel, and be a part of that culture. I can’t imagine myself settling down, and finding a “real” job, even while most of my friends, cannot imagine not doing that. I know how long i’ll be here, and I know that i’ll be leaving soon, but seeing my peers around me know what they’re doing, and where they’re going, leaves me feeling like Peter Pan’s lost boys…(and I haven’t even really started.) Where you are right now is a difficult place to be in when you’re a traveler, and I’m not sure I would have the slightest clue as to what to do. Good luck though.

NomadicMatt

Sleep? What’s that?

I’m never going back to school. I have 3 degrees and I’m stil paying off the MBA. No more school for me except the school of life.

Ok so I know I’ve already put in my two cents worth on this post but I’ve been going over some of your older posts and came across this from 8 Aug 2011 -
“There is no such thing as a mistake.
No matter what happens on the road, it’s never a mistake. As was once said, “your choices are half chance, and so are everybody else’s.” When you go with the flow and let the road just unfold ahead of you, there’s no reason to have regrets or think you made a mistake. You make the best decisions you can and, in the end, the journey is the adventure.”
Wise words …

NomadicMatt

Yeah, who ever wrote that was much smarter than I am!

As someone who’s been in the same position, I think you are just prolonging that Peter Pan period. The question is: do you want to keep doing this forever? From this post, it sounds like you’re longing for a little stability. It comes down to hard choices, and unfortunately, we can’t be eternal travelers and have a regular gym, a morning commute, a girlfriend who lives down the street, and a steady job. I think you’ve already chosen… you just want others to confirm it for you.

NomadGirl

I think I’ll be the only one who says go and live in Paris for 6 months. It is a *day*dream of yours, and it appears you’ll be going back to NYC within a years time anyways. Go and see how much the reality of Paris matches up with your fantasy. You have tons of friends in Stockholm, so you’ll be visiting there regardless. How about taking your chances in the city of love. Go hard, or go home. Literally. ;)

kareem

hi matt,
if i were you, i choose stockholm, for later in life, you will regret on things that you wish you did, but you didn’t. new york will always be there for you rite? So if you like Stockholm, stay longer, if you don’t, come home to nyc.
all the best for you matt.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for your input!

Matt,
Love your site, your books (I have bought a couple of them), and your honesty. The range of emotions experienced on the road are indeed intense… and none more intense than the prospect of returning to “home base”. Be in peace, peace is found by truly appreciating this very moment…and that is all realistically that we are guaranteed :)

Colleen

If you do decide to stop traveling, your contribution to backpackers will be sorely missed. Just this morning I was appreciating how well organized your site is, well-written, full of such good and interesting content. But this life is yours to live and I encourage you to follow your heart and dreams, whatever direction they take you. I’m an intrepid traveler, but one of the greatest joys I’ve known in this life is being a mom and wife. So, what I’m saying is, joy can be found in a variety of directions, sometimes somewhat mutually exclusive. Now that I’ll be an empty nester soon, I’m looking forward to hitting the road again, this time differently than ever before. I will go slowly and spend longer chunks of time in countries I love. Wishing you the best.

NomadicMatt

I doubt that many people are going to miss me! And I’m never going to stop traveling – just stop traveling all the time. I’ll have a home base instead of no home.

Alexander

Travel and enjoy this life as much as you can . Once you settle down , there is no turning back , just as you said .

I’ve learned to keep a keen eye out for signs, and realize opportunities, however small, can help with a decision. My entire trip in New Zealand, I let go of the reins and did no planning, and up until now the best adventures have come about.

You do have quite a hard decision to make. I would hate to see the traveler who inspired me to get off my ass settle down, but you make great points for both. I would say do whichever will make you happier. There is plenty of time to settle down, but not all the time in the world to travel. Maybe do that half settle down in Stockholm, if Hell, if you don’t like it then you can go back to New York anyways.

Hope you don’t rack your brain too much man, but I’m sure you are…good luck!

I think you should go to Stockholm. New York will always be there when you decide to move there eventually (and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New York). From the post, I get the impression that New York seems like the “right” thing to do, but Stockholm is what you’re secretly desiring the most…so go there! :)

Patrick

I’m in a similar situation and actually did the “move to NYC for a semi-nomadic life” thing. Here’s how my story turned out. I’m 28/male and had been traveling for a few years. About 2 years ago, I decided that traveling was over-rated and settled in NYC. Since I planned to live half-nomadically and still travel, I got a cheap apartment studio at just $1250/mo. It was great for a few months, but as the summer heat set in I found the apartment stuffy and the lack of a nice window view maddening. I sat in NYC for 4 months trying to make friends and date girls, but girls are especially fickle there. They’re more capricious it seems, always looking for the next guy. I guess I had imagined I’d meet someone, and that would be happily ever after – no, they want to date you for a few months. I wanted a commitment so we could go traveling together. I had begun to make a few friends as well, but in the end I had no real reason to be in NYC and the open road was calling again. I left soon after to visit family in California and backpack through SE Asia. About a year ago, I came back to the same dead-end of meaningless travel so I moved back to NYC and this time got a $2400/mo luxury apartment with air-conditioning and a skyline view. It’s amazing how much time I wasted decorating the apartment, furnishing it, and cleaning it. Once I set up a nice box for myself, I sat in it for about 4 months, and I’m not sure what else I did. Nothing happened, and before I knew it I had burned through nearly $10k just on rent. At $2400/month equating to $80/day, one could live anywhere in the world – that thought drove me insane as the monotony of daily routine dug in. Eventually, I sublet the apartment away and left for a 5 month world trip. 2 weeks ago, I came back to reclaim the apartment. I was excited to be settled again. NYC is a city full of people interested in traveling, pursuing their dreams. But I have no real reason to be here, and the prospects of sitting here for months aren’t that appealing. And, with my lease coming up, I’m not sure if I want to extend for another year…

Liz

I had this same dilemma when I was in Egypt last November. Go home, or continue down the road? It had been 2 years since I had seen family, yet I was so worried that this would be the end of the “travel road” if I did come home. I agree that when it comes down to it, you really know deep down what you should do, and you realize that when the coin is up in mid air what you really want it to land on :) The world is changing, but it’s not going anywhere my friend. And I am sure the success of your blog (and upcoming book) will continue, regardless of where-ever you are in the world. So follow your heart Peter….I mean Matt :)))

Ok, now you’re freaking me out… as I am sooooo depending on you after I make the purchase of your “How To Make Money Travel Blogging” that is over my budget but have convinced myself a must do/have as you consult a bit (two sessions) and offer 3 ads of companies you already network with, just what my growing site needs… to bring me to the next level with my travel website.

And now this (view tongue in cheek). He who I am counting on to bring me to the next level in travel blogging is thinking of throwing in the towel and “going home”. It can’t be! I’ve just come to know your site and ‘you’ – the travel you you put out there publicly – and like him lots, and now he’s going away? It can’t be true! :)

Seriously, home is where the heart is… what your heart is into at the moment, what feels like the right thing to do… maybe its NY (what a lucky guy) and maybe its Sweden but you of all people should know that whatever we do – travelers or stay at home type folks – its all temporary. And with the recession and depression predicted on its way in the next three years, I would think you are going to have many more adventures soon after you spend time back there!

Can’t wait to read your book, waiting for some cash, best with your decision, Molly

Ah, my heart aches just as much!! Want to know what I would do? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.

Head over to Stockholm, even if it’s just for a few months, say half a year. And when it’s your time to go home, go home.

I’m in similar shoes at the moment, where I can’t decide whether to remain in Spain or head back to California – it fluctuates from time to time, and with varying intensity. And the fact that I sometimes have dreams of heading back to California makes the idea of growing roots in Spain a bit suffocating. Other times, I’m all for it!! But when it comes down to it, I keep telling myself, “I LOVE Spain. I’ll stay just a bit longer if that’s okay.”

Remember that scene in “How to Make an American Quilt” when Maya Angelou says to Winona Ryder, who’s considering a pre-marital affair with a Latino strawberry farmer, “I’d rather wonder, than to go through life kicking myself.” And Winona says, “Well, I’d rather kick myself!”

If you go ahead and kick yourself in Stockholm, I might just go ahead and kick myself here in Spain. ;)

As someone who’s just left 2.5 years in Asia to move to Europe (you visited Singapore just after I left!) , I can tell you a) it’s worth it, the “local” European lifestyle is a wonderful change of pace and b) life in Paris actually is exactly what it sounds like — cheese, wine, coffee, chocolate, cafes, cobblestone streets and pretty French girls everywhere. My vote’s for Stockholm, and if you pop by Paris, please let me know!

NomadicMatt

Well, you just made me put Paris but up on my list!

Izy

Move to Espana and marry me!

But seriously, the coin trick is good. You flip a coin, heads for New York and tails for Sweden. You judge your response, not the actual coin’s response.

If it lands on Sweden and you let out a sigh of relief, well then, it’s what you always wanted. Or if it lands and you are yearning for New York, well… that’s it too.

Otherwise, I say go for Sweden. What’s another six months? Besides, a Swedish girlfriend sounds a little more appealing than a New Yorker. No offense intended, Americans, but those Swedes!

Good luck. The important thing to remember is there’s no wrong decision in this case.

Dear Son,

Ma and I were just talking the other night as we sat naked in the hot tub under a bright full moon while smoking a fat doobie how our young man is growing up. We always knew you would come back home to live one day.

Does this mean you expect us to start wearing clothes around the house and take the grow lights and “potted” plants out of your old bedroom?

Love, dad

P.S. Ah…did we ever happen to mention that we made another little Matt while you were on the road these past five years?

NomadicMatt

Frank, you slay me!

NomadicMatt

Sadly, my heart hasn’t decided which way to go yet! Hoping it decides soon!

Steff

Speaking of signs, I couldn’t sleep and wanted to search the web for an inspiration on where my life should take me. Good ol’ Google brought me to your blog. Thailand was the first image I saw, which is where my head has been. Thanks for validating my decision, being the inspiration I was looking for at 4 in the morning and GO TO EUROPE. :)

NomadicMatt

Glad I could help! Enjoy your trip! You’ll have a blast.

Good luck with making your decision, Matt! I know it’s a tough one. I would vote for Stockholm for six months to immerse yourself, learn some of the language, and get it out of your system. Then come back to the US for your book launch and make your home in NYC. As someone who does have my roots planted with a job and husband, I think you should take advantage of being carefree and see Stockholm. If you were possibly doing there indefinitely, I would say it probably is an excuse for continuing travel indefinitely. But if you go there with a finite time period, I think you will make the most of it, and not regret it later. And then going home to NYC will feel even better.

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can travel 5 years in a row! I’ve been impressed with your resilience and energy over the years. While I would like to take off some time in my life to travel, it would probably only be a few months at a time. I think full-time travel, especially for that long, wouldn’t give me the amount of stability I crave.

Anyway, good luck on this major life change!

Sharon

So, you’ve already decided – there isn’t really a choice at all. 6 months = Stockhold. NY’s not going anywhere, and really what are you missing that won’t happen again there???

Go to Stockholm! Real life is there waiting for you when you are ready, but this post shows you are not quite really, and still have an opportunity to do something else. It takes no time to settle back in at home, and suddenly you are in the rut you have been avoiding all this time, living life from a cubicle. There is plenty of time for that!
Carpe diem!
And like you’ve said, next year the States is where you’ll be.
Stockholm. Just do it!

NomadicMatt

I’m leaning towards it but I haven’t fully decided yet.

Thanks for this post! Hard to admit when we’re feeling lost, but you’re definitely not alone in it. I’ve struggled with choices like these in my own life and travels (see my post “Choices” here if you’re really curious! http://hesaidonlyyouknow.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/choices/).

For what it’s worth, I’ve come to think that maybe it’s less about making the absolute right choice for yourself and more about the honest choice. What decision calls to you most strongly? What can you hear yourself in? What’s just the noise of life and expectations? As a wide bus driver once told me, “only you know.” Good luck to you, Matt!

Haidang

you can totally have both. do sweden and then youll be home anyway for NYC in six months. dont know why youre stressing/agonizing…youre going to be in NYC no matter what. Do SWEDEN!

Go to Stockholm for a little while and then go to NYC. Nothing is permanent!

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