Read the Label- Traveler or Expat?

Read the Label- Traveler or Expat?
December 24, 2013 Lainie Liberti

Miro and I are often asked to define our journey through words such as “travelers”, “nomads”, “gypsies” or “expats”. Each seems to have qualifying meanings, and for many, it seems very important that we have committed to a single definition to one of those words.

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Likewise, as a participant in many online (or virtual) communities that form to support one another’s interests, this topic comes up time and time again. However over and over the question is asked  “how do you define your lives?”

Are we nomadic? Are we slow-travelers? Are we expats?

One answer:


I would say overall, we are NOT planners. We live by inspiration. When we are inspired to explore, we explore. When we are inspired to stay, we stay. And right now we have decided to stay in one place, Cusco, Peru. (We’ve decided to stay to produce our vision, Project World School.) And that’s ok with us. For now.

Our travel status is not intended to impress anyone, nor do we choose to acquiesce to one label for someone else’s convenience.

Are we nomadic? Are we slow-travelers? Are we expats? – Who cares, really, but this is what we really are:

We are inspired people, who have chosen freedom above all other labels.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
~Henry Miller


That’s a heavy concept. Nations fight over that word. People lay down their lives to preserve their concept of “freedom” or “liberty”.  (I even legally changed my name to “Liberti” for that reminder.)  There are legal freedoms. There are also emotional freedoms. And  there are social freedoms. 

The way we define our freedom is to allow the ideas surrounding a conventional life float away. We use it to disconnect from ideas that don’t feel right to us. We are not fighting for something, we are simply utilizing our freedoms to walk towards another option (for many,  the path less traveled). But in actuality, this choice also disconnects us from people that need to use terms to define themselves.  I suppose that’s part of the consequence of our lifestyle.

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.”
~Robert Frost

But we’ve found freedom in learning  to chose how we wish to spend our moments outside of the “should haves” or the “could haves”.  It’s a choice to be present.

We know there is a blessing in holding an American passport which allows us a greater freedom than others born under different flags and territories. For this we are grateful. Within that freedom, we have found our own liberty. Liberation from the labels we once adapted as Americans living in the States. Liberation from any preconceived notions of the proper way of living (or educating). Liberation from labels.

But most liberating, is the need to plan, over plan, measure our plans, and define the success of those very plans. Or by anyone else’s definition.

Miro and I are experiencing constant stimulation, inspiration and learning from our environment. And guess what? We really like it here. We’ve been in Peru now for over 2 years, but we can say we are nomads, travelers and expats all at the same time. We can proudly say we are these things and many more.

What do travelers think?

We’ve noticed, it seems the only people that find it necessary to label our movement are other travelers. These are the same ones that say “I’ve done 14 countries in 15 months”.  Why? Why is that even important? First of all, who “does” a country? Secondly, it appears to many that traveling has become a competitive sport. I frankly don’t understand the definition or competition it implies.

Traveling to me is stepping out of our comfort zone and digging in deep. I want to feel another culture through a deep immersion. I want to learn . I want to understand the world from their perspective. I want to know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. I want to connect.

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
~Cesare Pavese

My son and I are on this journey together. We are going to shift gears again sometime next year, seeking community. We are not sure yet where the road will lead us, but being a “traveler”  provides both Miro and I with the freedom to make choices based on inspiration.  (Who knows where the road will lead us or for how long we shall move, so don’t even ask.)

But since we are not out to prove anything to anyone, we have the freedom to make decisions based on what’s best for our lives, now, in the moment. We have the freedom to redefine our journey as it meets the needs of our family. And it’s not even a glimmer of thought  to prove to anyone we are “travelers” or  any other label,  any more than we have to prove we are human.

Freedom is our our right and we will continue to express it as fit.

Happy holidays and a blessed New Year to you all!


  1. Danny 10 years ago

    We have a very label-oriented society I guess. It’s why we ask kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The best answer I ever heard from a child was .. “I want to be happy like I am now.”

  2. Max neumegen 10 years ago

    “We are just human in a shared world.”

    “The overland travellers goes around the. corner to see who there is to meet around the next corner”

  3. Bhagwan 10 years ago

    I am inspired but not travelling for now as my godma 99 needs some care. Keep posting and I see some places with your eyes! Good luck and happy travels! Cheers

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