The location for 2015 gathering is going to be St. Laurent du Pape, Ardèche, South-east France.

The gathering shares deep connections with the nomad base community and is a great place to meet other long term travelers and then have a great summer of hitch hiking together.

More information can be found at http://hitchgathering.org

The travel club http://thetravelclub.org have been running a open house for travellers for a few months every summer for the last three years. The concept is similar to a nomad base except explicitly asks for donations from the community to fund it, but still is free to stay at. For 2015 the location will be in Athens which will be a fantastic place to visit over the coming summer months. It opens on the 1st of July. More details can be found here.

Unfortunately after beginning to host people here in Chiang Mai, our landlord realised there was the potential to make money off all the foreigners and so asked us to pay extra for people to stay the night even though they would be just sleeping on the floor in the tiny room we have. Feeling this is highly unfair seeing the amount being asked is more than the cost of a guesthouse where you would get a comfortable bed we have had to suspend nomad base operations at the moment 🙁

We are searching for an alternative, either moving places or coming up with some compromise in this place. But we have already paid for this months rent so can’t just leave straight away.

It is a pretty big blow to our philosophy of providing free space for travelers. But we will figure out a solution. So keep checking for updates.

The Local Market

Just around the corner from the Chiang Mai nomad base is a great market full of various food options for a pretty good price. As we are a pretty vegan orientated group we have quickly found the best way to discover if something contains animal products to as ask if it is ‘jay’ or เจ, which works pretty well as is a widely understood food concept that involves not eating animals and some other things.

We have been keeping an eye on the market at closing time to see if there is any good left over food thrown away, but they are pretty quick and tidy about it all so will have to learn some more thai so we can ask vendors directly if they have any food they are throwing away.

I just want to have mango sticky rice here every day…

For the next three months if you are passing through Chiang Mai then feel welcome to come stay with us. We have rented a small studio apartment of about 25sqm and converted it in to a beautiful home. There isn’t much space, but there is plenty of love. And we are surrounded by amazing places to eat and only a short stroll to the old city walls.

If you want to come stay the best way to get in touch is to send us a couch request on bewelcome or trustroots. I won’t give out my profile on this blog, but if you have an account with either of these systems then you will find us pretty easily.

So if you are hitchhiking or cycling or walking around these parts then we would love to host you.

chiangmai
Inside the house

Nomadbase Chiang Mai is temporary house for travellers to come and stop by on their travels around South East Asia. We will be renting an apartment in Chiang Mai for the period of mid-April 2015 – June 2015. During this time we will happily host people under the principles of a nomad base.

We wish to use our time in Chiang Mai to be inspired and to learn. The city provides many different aspects which one can learn from but we will concentrate on learning massage, cooking, and health related activities as well as the local language and customs.

The other aspect is doing, it is important that the house will be a place of activity and not idleness. It will be beneficial to all if guests come with the intention of skill sharing and moderate activism. Eg, if you can lead a workshop on street photography rather than just going off site seeing, that would be great.

We will maintain the right to decide on which guests will be suitable for the house as due to the small number of intentions we have there, it will fit certain individuals more than others.

Check back soon for more updates. We will post how to get in touch with us once we have finalised a home.

As you can see here, the first post, of the Nomad Base blog.

The blog will be a place you can find news and current information about Nomad Bases being set up and lived in around the world.

There will be a number of different functions being added to the nomadbase.info website soon too which will hopefully encourage more people to start their own nomad base up.

Keep an eye on this page

What is a nomad base?

A nomad base can be called many different things and generally they are all different from one to another. It is a place where travellers can call home for a non-fixed amount of time. Where there is no pressure to behave like a guest, but where you feel like it is your own place. The idea is that someone or a group of people who have the possibility of hosting a lot of travellers at their home open their doors and make all that unused space become useful again with sleeping areas for weary nomads. It could be compared to hosting guests through regular hospitality exchange networks like http://bewelcome.org, but with the difference that the people who come stay there aren’t just tourists who plan on visiting the city for the weekend, but instead become part of the house for as long as they determine is right for them.
 

When you enter a nomad base, at first glance it may can seem just like over the top hosting through Couchsurfing; a whole bunch of international travellers squeezed into one room.

In the long-run though, the vibe is very different. When people come stay they aren’t just a guest who is visiting the city for the weekend but instead becomes a part of the house for as long as they determine is right for them. And they can come anytime, freely. Everything is shared – not just space, the things within like food, but also all efforts to keep the space as it is – from household tasks through to hosting. Therefore there is the saying “everyone is a host”. Hosting is not occasional, but on a daily life kinda base and more taken care of by itself.

The focus usually is on hosting long term travellers who are on a small or zero budget as opposed to short vacationers on high budgets, or those who identify with being nomadic in nature. The longer people stay generally the better as that is when community is formed. A nomad base ecosystem grows over time and it takes people who are there for a longer period to help evolve that eco-system into something that is sustainable and attractive for others to join in on.

How do I start my own?

If you wanted to start your own nomad base all it really takes is a change in perspective and spreading the word out there.

First of all this is a big commitment to turn your private living space into one that is semi public. With other people who have no legal binding to the house to come in and basically let it be their own. This takes a small level of organisation, but nothing much more than regular hosting of travellers take. But if you have a lot of stuff in your house you really care about then forget about it, it is probably going to get knocked off its shelf and broken.

Next, all you need to do is to inform the world about the existence of your place with your nomad base intentions, and the rest is done by simply people coming and staying. There are different ways to do that.

A very good step is to make a post on http://nomadbase.org and tell the network directly about it. If you don’t want to be dependent or limited by a hospitality network, you might even start your own website or blog for your place. After all, if you happen to be already well-travelled and have a wide network of travelling friends, it might not even take more than just telling them and them telling their friends.

You could also start hosting through usual hospitality exchange networks (like BeWelcome), although this might only get people coming for a few days at a time. But make it known that you want people to stay for a longer time, that they aren’t required to do anything in return for your hospitality except treat your place like it is their own and the people will come.

Posting messages to hitch hiking groups, telling local dumpster divers, or organising a hitch gathering to happen at your place could potentially kick things off.

Sometimes nomad bases struggle to get people to come stay at them. Being aware of the cause of this is important. It could be that your town or city has no inherent calling to travellers, especially those that might want to stick around for more than three days. Maybe the hosting attitude still is that people are coming to stay are strictly guests rather than them believing it is their place as well. Maybe you are just kind of weird or smell bad or something.

In most western countries a lot of food is thrown away every day from supermarkets. An egg has cracked in a packet of 12, the supermarket has overstocked in potatoes and there is no shelf space left for them, the banana has a bruise on it, the best before date on the packet of chocolate is tomorrow. There are many reasons for disposing of perfectly edible food from supermarkets, primarily to keep up profit margins. Dumpster diving is a political act that defies this notion of making profit on food. Food should be a right for all people of all incomes. Wasting food by throwing out perfectly edible things is a result of today’s ridiculous capitalist agendas. By taking back this wasted food and eating it the dumpster diver is saying that waste is not acceptable in the modern environmental crisis of the planet, and that eating is not something just for those with sufficient incomes.

Dumpster diving is also a convenient way to feed a lot of hungry nomads without spending a cent. It is especially efficient when carried out by and for a group of people instead of just one to share efforts and dumpster finds, because more often than not there will be a whole lot of one certain type of food. For example one dumpster diving group once found about 80 spice boxes of thyme, or 35 cans of tropical fruit cocktail.

Of course dumpster diving doesn’t work everywhere, although it is surprising where it does, so some alternative ideas would be to grow your own, pool together in a magical hat of financial contributions to buy food preferably from a food cooperative, or set up food sharing in return for some volunteering at some farms.

Vist http://trashwiki.org for more details
 

Why hitchhiking?

Hitchhiking is primarily just another way to get from A to B. But the difference between hitchhiking and taking a train or plane is what happens in between. If you are exploring a new country you haven’t been to before and are wanting to meet local people or see different parts of the countryside along the way then hitchhiking is perfect. The hitcher gives up timetables and in flight services for adventure and spontaneity. When you are hitchhiking with a flexible mindset great things can happen. You could be invited back to someones place for dinner, they might take you to a beautiful secret beach only locals know of and of course have a great conversation while passing the time in the car.

One cool thing about hitchhiking is that you get a ride from someone, but usually both people – driver and hitcher – will take something positive from the experience. It is amazing to receive the trust and kindness of strangers, and to be able to pass that gift on by hosting people in a nomadbase.

The modern perception of hitchhiking has been dramatised by the media to be something dangerous and avoided, but in reality the risks of something bad happening are low if you are prepared and wise about your actions. Going with a friend is a great way to keep safe and have more fun. Plus taking up one of those thousands of spare seats of the nearly empty cars cruising down the highway is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Vist http://hitchwiki.org for more details

FreeBox

One of the biggest issues a traveller has to deal with is the weight of their bag. When you got stuck at that terrible hitching spot and had to walk 5km to the next highway entrance you realise how much you don’t need that extra pair of jeans down the bottom of your bag. The next problem comes along soon in that you have been wearing the same pair of jeans for the last two months every day and they are now ripped to shreds and won’t be much good for the upcoming winter.

Well the solution is the FREEBOX. A box in which people can put there unused goods in and a box in which people can take goods from. The box is free as in freedom. There is no need to give if you want to take something and there is no need to take if you give. It is completely free of all class/power/gender/race/environmental struggles and brings happiness to everyone.

How easy is it to organise a free box? Real easy. Just get a box and write ‘Freebox’ on the front of it! As learnt from experience people tend to accidentally leave behind many things at nomad bases and these are usually the first items which get put in the box (of course if they actually want those items again then they are welcome to them as it is a freebox..). Then the fun begins. People see the box and think about all that stuff lying at the bottom of their pack. They throw it all in. The next person comes along and sees that item they have needed for the last few weeks and the freebox provides.

Love hearts and rainbows are sometimes seen to come out of freeboxes at any given point in time.

Sleeping

Half the purpose of a nomad base is to provide a place for tired travellers to rest. So it is important for a nomad base to be well prepared to sleep people comfortably. Experienced road junkies are comfortable on nearly any surface and will be prepared with a small camping mat so that they only need a small empty floor space. Others might arrive unprepared. To accommodate those who haven’t got a mat and would also rather sleep on a proper mattress it is important to find as many comfortable sleeping surfaces as possible. In a nomad base that was in Berlin, there was one main sleeping room which could be covered in mattresses during the night and sleep up to fifteen or so people as long as they were lying in an efficient tetris pattern. Every evening at around the time when people started to uncontrollably yawn the pile of mattresses that were used as couches during the day were laid out covering the entire floor space. Lying three people to a double mattress gave enough comfort and space for all those on it.

It is important that nomad bases are safe zones for all people, this is achieved by giving everyone freedom with where they want to sleep. Of course no one is forced to stay at a nomad base so when one chooses to do so there is an degree of personal space lost. But by giving people the choice of where they want to sleep then they can choose whether or not they wish to sleep next to certain individuals. Or having a single sleeping spot that is slightly detached from other places can give the individual on that a little more personal space.

Ideas to accommodate more people could be to: have hammocks attached to the walls so people can sleep above those lying on mattresses, build bunk beds, have couches rather than individual chairs that can double as beds, doubling the use of certain spaces like using a balcony to sleep on, pitching tents in the backyard, treehouses!

Privacy

So opening your home to a lot of people comes with a few questions about privacy. How do you find a quiet space to do your homework? What happens when there are lots of travellers who want to have sex with each other? How do you stop people using your computer that has all those important documents on it?

In the end these issues have to be dealt with in a way that the people setting up the base feel comfortable with. Ideally a nomad base could have multiple rooms in which different activities can happen. The best layout of a nomad base opened so far was one with a large community room and then smaller bedrooms. This gave all the private space needed without any problems. But sometimes this isn’t possible. An example of one base was a 16th floor studio apartment which had only a bathroom as the only private space. Here private space became a social experiment in which life was tested to see whether individuals could live in a completely open way with others.

Possibly the saving answer to sanity was the fact that most nomads like to explore their surroundings. So everyday the house was generally empty during the afternoon. This became a time of relaxation for those left behind. Otherwise if someone staying needed a quiet space to do work then the library was used. Relationships could also bloom in the quiet hours or else they would need to go somewhere else to find privacy. This just became a fact of how the place worked. But along with this a new culture was created in where there was no need to hide how one lives. People can have weird habits such as needing to use the bathroom a lot. There was no reason to be ashamed of any such thing as everyone who stayed just became aware of everyone else as being a regular human being.

Unfortunately the close space meant at times colds and hangovers were shared by everyone. At such a time health concerns were first and foremost and so if someone was every highly contagious then they would be asked to move themselves to a safe place. And of course being in a close environment meant there was always helpful people to take care of one another and get that cup of tea ready for you after you wake up from your afternoon nap.