Unusual things we miss as nomads

We’ve been living as nomads for close to 1000 days! When you travel long term, it’s obvious there will be some things you miss. Tigger misses having local friends, sometimes a permanent base, and we both miss having a pet. A lot.

Then there are the small things that you don’t really think about until you’re on the road for awhile and can’t find them. Sometimes these cravings can be quite odd.


One of the items I find myself missing the most is a good bagel, or any bagel at all.

Bagels are one of those childhood memory comfort things. Growing up, my maternal grandfather always had a big bag of bagels in the large freezer in his den. He always bought them from a place called I ‘N Joy Bagels in California. My favorites were garlic, pumpernickel, and onion.

While traveling, I sometimes find it quite difficult to find ANY bagels, even those crappy frozen aisle ones. In Bangkok, I discovered a place, and both of us were in seventh heaven. I ended up spending quite a bit of money there.

Tigger was so impressed he was ready to consider Bangkok as a base.

Another weird thing I get cravings for are Red Vines (a type of red licorice). I don’t know what it is about them, but every so often I just need them. Asia doesn’t really do licorice, and it appears that Romania doesn’t either because I can’t find any in the stores. I was ecstatic when I found it in Australia and New Zealand!

My fingers are crossed for Vienna.

Some cravings make sense, like Thai food. I’ve really been jonesing for green curry, and since Romanians apparently aren’t into spicy foods, I can’t find any hot peppers so that I can make some. Actually, I can’t find a lot of the stuff I’d need to make a good curry here. Perhaps in Bucharest, but not anywhere else we’ve been.

Foods we miss as nomads

Mexican food is another one I miss, but that’s a little easier to substitute. Although the lack of spicy peppers and corn tortillas is a real bummer.

Tigger misses Nerds and Nerds Rope. These were some candies that we could find in Australia, but have had challenges elsewhere.

I don’t normally eat sushi except for a California or avocado roll or the ones containing cooked shrimp. I don’t really do raw fish thanks to an experience I had while working in the ER (the patient had a rather impressive parasite that had made a hole through the wall of their colon, and it was attributed to “improperly prepared sushi”). Yet recently I’ve been craving it like crazy!

I finally found a place in Brasov that has it so that was a relief. I still don’t know what that craving was about, but I’ll have to hit that restaurant again before we leave. I kind of doubt I’ll be able to afford sushi in Vienna.

And we both seriously miss Lucky Charms cereal! Never had it that much at home, but now that we can’t find it, of course we need it.


As you’ve probably noticed from any photo that I’m in, I am not what you would call a slave to fashion. However, in my previous life in the States, I had a bit of a watch fetish. I kept it under control simply because really nice watches are expensive. However, while we’ve traveled I’ve had to make do with an ugly, generic-looking watch we call the Utila Diver’s Special. It’s a super cheap watch that you’ll see adorning the wrist of many divers on Utila. Inexpensive and rated only as “water resistant,” this Casio watch has gone to depths beyond the recreational limits of scuba diving. I press the buttons while underwater all the time. It takes a beating but still works well.

Things we miss as nomads

But I am so bored with having only a homely watch. It’s been my only watch for over 2 years now. I finally decided enough was enough and bought myself two nicer watches as early Chrismakah presents.

It’s kind of funny how different it can make you feel to have a . . . more fashionable accessory on your wrist.

Holiday decor

In the States, I always hated when Christmas decorations came out before Thanksgiving. I think the overwhelming commercial way it is celebrated in the US was the big turn-off for me. As we’ve traveled, I’ve found myself really enjoying them more and more. Even if they show up before the end of November.

This year in particular I have probably driven poor Tigger crazy as I’ve elfed out at any sign of Christmas decoration, lighting, etc. He really couldn’t care less about all the pretty lights, the smells of the holiday markets, and so on.

I’m the kid in this family when it comes to things like this. At least he’s patient enough to go along and not distance himself when I threaten to grab his hand and break out skipping.

We’ll be in Vienna in one week. They really do the Christmas spirit thing well there. Poor Tigger just may end up skipping with me anyway.

Holidays as nomads


Life as nomads is rarely ever dull, and I love it. Even if I sometimes have to wait months to get my teeth into a bagel with schmear.

What are some unusual or silly things you find yourself missing?

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  1. Before departing on the big trip from Portland, Oregon, I expected to miss microbrews. So far I’ve been lucky to be able to try local products in almost every country we’ve visited, even Thailand. But I do miss me a good India Pale Ale! Other than that, from my home country Slovakia I miss the Horalky chocolate-and-peanut wafer and the occasional shot of borovička juniper-based spirit. Because I can’t have those anywhere but in Slovakia, I’ve come to think of such location-specific items as what makes the place special. I’m sure that after leaving Thailand I will miss some foods, too…

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  2. Funny, even in NYC, which I consider bagel-land, I sometimes crave a decent bagel. My ‘hood doesn’t have great ones, so we need to trek a bit. That said, we get them about every other week. Wish I could send some your way!

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  3. Interesting question. As much as I loved Japan, I missed certain foods, notably layer cake with icing. And I was rarely able to get a pair of shoes that fit. Missed that, too.

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    • I miss pies, sometimes, too. They don’t really do them here.

      I definitely hear you about the shoes! Shoes and clothes were such a challenge for me in SE Asia.

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  4. I know what you mean about Christmas decorations. I’ve never been big on them back home in NZ. I rarely even bother getting a tree. But I have enjoyed seeing Christmas decorations and traditions when travelling in Mexico and the States. I think it’s because travelling and Christmas combined make one nostalgic for family and home. I’d love to see you skipping 🙂

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    • That definitely could be part of it, although for me I always greatly disliked the holiday season in the US. Liked the lights and music, but that was about all I could handle. I like enjoying them more now.

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  5. It’s funny how you tend to miss things only when you can’t get them, even though you wouldn’t normally eat them at home. While in Budapest, I really really craved Kraft Mac & Cheese even though I normally wouldn’t touch the stuff. I guess its the whole, wanting what you can’t have mentality.

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    • Yeah, I think that’s a BIG part of it. When you get a little craving, and there’s no way to feed it, it just amplifies!

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  6. And then you go home and you miss the things you experienced in other places when you were traveling. Sigh. Such is the life of the nomad.

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  7. I think that old adage “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” has definitely proven true for us now that we’ve been on the road for 16 months. Some of it are the intangible things like being so excited it was Friday night and we had 2 full days of freedom in front of us (now every day is free!), to just getting to veg on the couch and watch movies or play video games and cuddling with our dogs.

    Foodwise I have been pretty happy in Asia, especially in certain countries like Thailand and Vietnam where the food is diverse enough that I never really get bored. But every so often I do get hit with a really powerful craving for something, and often it’s the one thing that is nearly impossible to get. Recently when we were in Nepal I desperately wanted sushi, but there was no way I’d be eating that in a land-locked country. I also really wanted hummus, which was actually pretty hard to find too. Now we’re back in Bangkok and I can easily get both, and of course now I want nothing to do with either! Isn’t that always the way…

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    • It’s so funny because when I see friends on Facebook cheering about it being Friday, I catch myself wondering why it’s such a big deal. Then I remember what that life was like. Ditto for dreading Mondays. It’s just another day of the week for me.

      That’s funny that now that you have access you don’t want it!

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  8. BKK Bagel Company! We visited that place a lot whilst living in Bangkok and we’re not even that keen on them so it must have been like heaven for a true bagel fan. Now if they’d been a Yorkshire tea and cornish pasty shop…

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    • YES! That place was SO good! I’m going to have to try this Yorkshire tea I keep hearing about.

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    • 8 a day! Wow! That’s a LOT of tea. I guess it gives you something to look forward to on your return to the UK, though.

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  9. I can see why you don’t eat raw fish after that experience: gross! The idea of you two holding hands, skipping through the streets of Vienna is just too cute! Hope you really enjoy the city.

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  10. People ask me all the time what I miss, “You know, besides your family and friends.” My answer is simple: FOOD. And little else. I’ve made peace with what I have and what I don’t. I am fortunate to have a great group of American girlfriends here, and they don’t care when I geek out over making them all Christmas cookies!

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    • I think food is a big one for most long-term travelers and expats. Esp if you live somewhere that it isn’t as easy to find some of those “back home” comforts.

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  11. Argh! It was bad enough when you had to go and mention the “B” word (Bagels). But then you went and committed the dirty-of-dirtiest deeds by spewing the worst: “Red Vines”. ;(

    Geez Talon, give a fellow nomad a break – reminding me of such dreamy eats is verily bordering on ABUSIVE!

    Sorry, but I’m not sure I can ever forgive you for tickling my salivary glands so.

    And watches? Funny you should mention such. I too have long donned the ubiquitous dreary black “Casio” (at least nobody of ANY socioeconomic strata would ever dream of stealing it, yes?) But (at long last) it finally bit-the-dust recently in Myanmar (strangely, given it’s alleged “water-resistant” claim – the face of it clouded up with condensation). So now I too, have the delicious excuse to buy a new one (though will likely opt again for a cheapo same ol’-same ol’).

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    • Another Red Vines enthusiast!

      I didn’t buy expensive watches, just ones that weren’t quite so boring as that black Casio. It’s still holding strong, though, so it will probably remain my diving watch, esp when I’m teaching and need a stopwatch functionality.

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      • Just a quick update on the watch scene here Talon. AIS, my own dreary Casio (remarkably similar – including the blue frame – to yours pictured above) recently bit-the-dust in Myanmar. So… thanks in part to your inspiration, I just yesterday went out to the (dizzying array of all-manner-of shops) department store in Chiang Mai and – I too bought myself an early Christmas present: my (first ever) halfway spiffy/stylish WATCH! Likewise not overly expensive – but at $30 – THREE TIMES what I’ve even spent before on my little black Casio.

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        • Merry Christmas to you! 😉 I liked the picture of it on Twitter. Very pretty and stylish.

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  12. OMG, I can’t believe you love Red Vines too! I adore them! When I was in the states 3 years ago, I got two 1 pound packages to bring home. The morning I left, I put them on the counter of my friend’s kitchen to put in my checked bag, and promptly forgot them there.

    I still haven’t gotten over that.

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  13. cheerios!!! i always miss cheerios. and cheese. and good chocolate. you’ve got a great topic going!

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    • Where have you been that didn’t have Cheerios? That’s one of the few things we’ve seen worldwide.

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  14. I remember when I stumbled on Christmas decorations when traveling in India and it made me so nostalgic! I can understand missing your favorite fashion accessories when you travel as well. I couldn’t deal with that, so when I went on my big trip I took my favorite pair of jeans and my favorite watch with me. I knew I’d want them with me so I just brought them.

    There were a few months where I stopped wearing the watch (mainly in India), not out of fear of theft but because I became so lazy, and sort of out-of-touch, (I never even shaved those three months!). But once I got away from the beaches and back into the big cities of Southeast Asia I was happy to have my nice watch with me — the nightlife was reason enough to have a bit of style with me! And having a watch was the easiest way to class up my outfit 🙂

    Oh, and bagels. Yeah, I’d miss those too! I always missed Mexican food, and I miss it now here living in Berlin, but I can make do every now and then with inferior options abroad…

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    • You are definitely right about how easily a watch can class up an outfit! I’ve noticed I feel differently just walking around when I’m wearing my new cool watch. LOL So funny.

      It’s especially hard finding REAL Mexican, and not the US version of it. But as you say, at least it’s a fair substitute.

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  15. Whenever I’m in Asia, I find myself seriously missing cheese and obsessing over it. I don’t know if that’s because I’m missing some sort of mineral in my diet or because cheese is awesome- probably just the latter, but it definitely gets to me.

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    • I think I’d go with cheese is awesome. And since it’s so hard to find there, and so dang expensive, we really miss it when we’re in Asia, too.

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