I see a dichotomy between the contemporary nomad’s need for solitude and the primitive need for tribal belonging.
I think in discussing this subject, there is a clear distinction between contemporary nomads and traditional cultural nomadic groups such as the Romany and Tinkers, in that contemporary nomads generally enter a nomadic lifestyle on an individual voluntary basis. In essence leaving their cultural background behind, or creating a new cultural identity; where as groups like Romany, Irish travelers etc, were not given the choice. They were whole cultural groups who happen to live nomadic lives through circumstance, which has evolved into cultural lifestyle.
From my own experiences of living on boats as a child, I recall that most of the time we traveled alone, though frequently we also either traveled with friends boats or met up with them at various points. Also meeting people traveling on boats that we didn’t know felt safe in the way that distant relations do upon meeting. We were also welcomed into groups of boats that we did not know, in the same way. This has, I believe, instilled a certain cultural and tribal identity in myself. When I see a boat that is a true liveaboard, as opposed to one of the multitudes of weekend boats; I feel a strong sense of connection. It doesn’t happen very often, because I don’t see many true liveaboard boats these days. Thats not to say that I don’t see boats with people living on them. It’s just that the vast majority of the ones I see are essentially tied to the same spot, rather than boats that are on the move.
This was recently brought back to me, strongly, when I saw a new boat in the local marina. With just a glance, I knew that it was a liveaboard, so I went and paid them a visit. Sure enough there was a family aboard and they had just arrived back in the country after a six year cruise. Sitting in the main cabin of their boat, with a cup of tea, I couldn’t have felt more comfortable if I was with my own family, even though I had only just met them.