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I’m done with the labels. I’m a free spirit, and that’s part of my identity

A free-spirited couple standing on a balcony overlooking the water.

When you’re young it’s hard to identify as any one thing. I cringe every time someone asks me what I do for a living because my answer changes on a daily basis. I’m the type of person who has three separate resumes for different industries, and I rarely stay in one place longer than a few months at a time.

I made a goal for myself to live abroad for a year in my twenties. My window of opportunity opened when I was 24, so I took a leap of faith and left the United States, not knowing what the world had in store for me. I set this goal to challenge to myself to reach out of my comfort zone, learn something new and establish myself as an individual.

When I left America, I was excited not to have to answer the question “what do you do for a living?” It’s not something travellers ask each other when they first meet. It’s completely different to my old way of life, where I would introduce myself as my job title, rather than by my name. 

But as I began my journey, I realized that there are a different set of labels in the travel world that I didn’t quite understand. Labels that you might not introduce yourself as, but rather give others the assumption that this is who you are. Am I a free-spirited backpacker? A tech-savvy digital nomad? A fearless explorer? A not-so-lost wanderer? Or an envied Instagram influencer? Does it matter?

Now that I’m on the road, I wonder where I fit in among the current stereotypes of travellers. At times, I consider myself a backpacker because I travel from place to place, fairly quickly, with nothing but a backpack and an open mind. 


Other times, I consider myself a digital nomad because I’ll settle into one place and work online as a freelance writer. Yet, there’s a stereotype that digital nomads move to an island, drink from a coconut, sit in a hammock and work from their laptops all day. Personally, I haven’t found a hammock with good enough wifi to do that. So my version of being a digital nomad looks more like me sitting in a small room typing away while the sun shines in the foreign place outside my window. Not so glamorous.

Now that I’ve been travelling for almost a year, I’ve found that I’m not limited to a certain ‘travel style’ because travel is so much more fluid than that. You become the freest version of yourself when you travel. And that doesn’t come with a label.

So now, when people ask me what I do, I say, I’m just living. And that’s good enough for all of us.

Has travel helped shape your identity? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…