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The Nomadic lifestyle is a learning process, and you may hear words or phrases that you don't understand. Words like drifter, wanderer, derelict, hobo, itinerant, nomad, rolling stone, tramp, transient, vagabond, vagrant and gypsy.

Given they may be part of a discussion, blogs and books, why not get a heads up by reading this glossary.


  • A-Camp - Traditionally, it been the one place at rainbow gathering where drinking is tolerated. Primarily, this camp is tolerated in the United States.
  • Ashram-Hindi (Sanskrit ashrama or ashramam) - a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions.
  • Anam Cara - Irish/Gaelic for Soul Friend. Linked to a book by John O'Donohue.
  • The Academy of Free Travel (Russian: Академия Вольных Путешествий), known by its Russian-language initials AVP, is a travel club based in Russia.
  • Abgefahren e.V. - is the German Hitchhiking association.
  • Asceticism - is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals.


  • Babylon - Often used to describe mainstream society. It is a term from the Christian New Testament. It connect with Rainbow participants widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet.
  • Burner - Someone who attends 'Burning Man' - a week-long annual event that takes place at the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September. It also may entail belief in the 10 Burner principles of Radical inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical self-reliance, Radical self-expression, Communal effort, Civic responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy.
  • Beachcomber - A nomad/hobo/vagrant who makes some money or a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them.
  • Bum - When a nomad looses / sells his gear, and takes to alcohol. When nothing is left, except the clothes on his/her back.
  • Burners without Borders - AKA BWB is a grassroots, socially innovative, community leadership program whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems.
  • Black Rock City Nevada is an ephemeral town that exists for only one week each year, during Burning Man.
  • Burnout - worn out by travel/work; it is often code for being wounded, depleted, and frayed: “I’m fucking burning.
  • Bugging In - Staying at your location until it is safer to bug out.
  • Bugging Out - Leaving your current position and moving to a safer location.
  • Bug Out Bag (Bob) - A bag that contains all the necessities needed to survive after a catastrophe.
  • Boondocking — nomad vernacular for free or low-cost camping (USA).
  • Black Bear Ranch is an 80-acre intentional community located in Siskiyou County, California, about 25 miles from Forks of Salmon.


  • C.A.L.M. - the Center for Alternative Living Medicine, is the primary group of doctors at Rainbow Gatherings who assist people with health and wellness and take responsibility for medical emergencies and sanitation of those who attend these large gatherings.
  • Chumps - Normal Prople United States.
  • Circular Economy - An alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Can be applied to nomad events rainwater, renewable energy and recycling could be used to create a small-scale circular economypic. See more from the Guardian.
  • Camps - There are many different types of 'nomadic' camps. From Protest Camp, Counterhegemonic spaces, No Border Camp, Peace Camp, Anarchist Camp, Wild Camp, Urban Camp and RV Camp, you might find a place for interaction, sleep, run, comradship and new knowledge.
  • Counter-Tourist - A phrase or approach to signify ways or a person who seeks to ompletely transform their experience of the tourism industry and its many sites. See also Countertourism.
  • Crusty - aka crustypunks. Crusies are part of the New Age Traveller Scene in the United Kingdom or can be fans of the genre of punk rock/hardcore music called crustcore, crust punk or simply crust. Some obvious looks link to crusties are black cloths, dread locks and punk rock hair styles, canine animal companions. Some popular crustpunk bands include Dystopia, Amebix, Antiscism, Mankind?, Doom, and Hiatus.
  • Crew Change Guide (CCG) - an underground document passed on from hobo to hobo with information about jumping freight trains in the United States.
  • Communal garden - often used in the plural as communal gardens) is a normally formal garden for shared use by a number of local residents, typically in an urban setting.
  • Cravanserai - a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa and Southeast Europe, especially along the Silk Road.


  • Dirty Kid’s Corner - Location, at Rainbow Gatherings, where alternative young people gather. They prefer heavy metal to psychedelic rock and reggae, and their tee shirts are almost always black.
  • Dumpster diving is the the act of retrieving food or other goods from a garbage dumpster.
  • Dirtbag - from Urban Dictionary: “A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Originated from US climbing to describe nomadic climbers, who gave their whole live to the activity by hitchiking to mouuntains etc, giving up their jobs. Also related to "Dirtbagging." The term is now used in the United States to describe anyone who gives themselves over to a particular lifestyle, and losing any conventional life elements (i.e. full time home, job), so as to pursue that activity i.e. rail hopping. Those in their teens are usuall ycalled Dirty Kids.
  • Drainbows — individuals who are perceived to not give sufficiently of their labor or other resources for the common good, but rather are only consuming the social benefits a Rainbow gathering offers.
  • Downcycling - a recycling practice that involves breaking an item down into its component elements or materials. Once the constituent elements or materials are recovered, they are reused if possible but usually as a lower-value product.
  • Doof or bush doof - a type of outdoor dance party generally held in a remote country area, or outside a large city in surrounding bush or rain forest. Used in a Australian context.
  • Deutsche Trampsport Gemeinschaft or DTSG is the German Sport Hitchhiking Association.


  • Expediting - A job which provides you with a vehicle to make deliveries. Can be used to make/save Money.


  • Fauxbeaux – A nomads who has a line of credit and a stable income, but travels in a nomadic way. However, they always have a safety net, and can always pay for a hot meal and a room, and then take a plane or bus home. Associated with phrases such as summer squatter, yuppie and weekend hippie. If you feel these labels might apply to you, do not worry. Wear it like a badge.
  • Focalizers - A focalizer is someone who takes on the job of focusing a group's energy on a certain task. For instance, you can focalize a kitchen, group decisions. In theory, focalizers do not direct others; they just help the process along. In a sense they are managers without decision-making power.
  • Flying a Sign - A fly-signer is someone who uses a sign to beg for money. They can hit traffic at traffic lights, or sit on a street. See Begging for for details.
  • The Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA) - a supposed group of Americans who move about by freight hopping ("Catching Out") in railroad cars, particularly in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. Active in the 80s, and pre 9/11, but probably defunct.
  • Frisco circle - AKA magic hat or "kicking down (or kicking in) on a Frisco." An American phrase from old tramp tradition and it comes from the generally communist, socialist or anarchist tramps from San Francisco who rode the old Frisco Line from West Oakland to Chicago in the 1930's who sough communal meals.
  • Freetekno - a cultural movement that is present in Europe, Australia and North America. Freetekno sound systems or tribes form in loose collectives, frequently with anarchist philosophies. These sound systems join together to hold parties wherever a viable space can be found.
  • A flogger is an online storyteller who chronicles the adventures of themselves and/or others. Floggers are not reporters or journalists, they are story tellers. Their work is to create a reality based storyline that is both more compelling than current soap operas and more interactive.


  • Gaia - The name of the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, and as a name it was recently revived to refer to the hypothesis formed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who postulate that the whole biosphere may be alive in that the Earth’s life forms are themselves responsible for regulating the conditions that make life on the planet possible.
  • Gutter Punks (aka Scum Fucks) - Facial tattoos, nihilistic, not caring about anything besides where their next beer is coming from.
  • Gurus - is a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a "teacher, guide, expert, or master" of certain knowledge or field.


  • Hare Krishnas or the "Hare Krishna movement, or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
  • Home Bum - a common term in the United States for a homeless person who, instead of travelling, typically sits in the same places every day and has a predictable routine.
  • Homeguard - A term used to describe someone who uses the resources provided by a city for it's homeless population, but who is not homeless and are not currently travelling. They could be an ex-hobo/tramp.
  • Hot-Rail - A phrase used to denote a train coming down the tracks.
  • Hobocore - describes a person who picks the nomad life (hitchhikes, rides freight trains, squats etc.).
  • Hipsters - If someone self-labels as a hipster, they probably think they are better than you!
  • Hermit - a person living in solitude as a spiritual/ religious discipline.
  • Hitchwiki - is a collaborative website for gathering information about hitchhiking and other ways of extremely cheap transport.


  • Jungle (- AKA Hobo Jungle) - the area where homeless/nomads people live and sleep
  • Jungle buzzard - a hobo who preys on their own by stealing possessions from other hobos (1930's slang, but some current usage). .


  • Kali - who embodies shakti - feminine energy, creativity and fertility - is an incarnation of Parvati, wife of the great Hindu god Shiva.


  • Leather Tramps - A leather tramp has no vehicle, and travels on foot, shoes often being made of leather. A rubber tramp is more able to decide destination than one who relies on hitchhiking -- and an unofficial status. Also see hitchiker.
  • Ligging - A 'ligger' (UK) is an individual who attends parties, openings, social gatherings and events such as launches and celebrity events with the sole intention of obtaining free food and drink. Sometimes called a blagger (US) or a 'pique-assiette'(France)or someone 'who picks from others,’ plates. Others on the scene prefer the term eventing'. Find detail on how to lig at Other Food.
  • Lightfoot Post & Mail / Nomad Letter / Hitch Post / Snail mail - letters/missives/verbal messages passed onto nomads or hitchhikers to deliever by hand/face to face. Very slow speed delivery. Might also refer to a letter given to a nomad to post in the country in which it will be delievered; wherein the letter is carried by conventional postal delivery services. This is because of lower cost.
  • Los Algodones - AKA Slab City, in California’s Badlands.
  • Liftershalte - official spots for hitchhikers in the Netherlands, also called Liftersplaats, exist in most university cities.


  • A magic hat, is a term that emerged from Rainbow Gatherings, and is the fund-raising in-strument for any Rainbow event. It is used in many nomadic eventsto fundraise for the supplies needed to keep everyone well-fed.
  • Mythogeography - A kind of walking without purpose. For more read this Starter Pack.
  • Monkeywrenching - nonviolent disobedience and sabotage carried out by environmental activists against those whom they perceive to be ecological exploiters. The term came into use after the publication of author Edward Abbey’s novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), which described the activities of a group of “environmental warriors” in Utah and Arizona.
  • Maker movement - social movement with an artisan spirit in which the methods of digital fabrication—previously the exclusive domain of institutions—have become accessible at a personal scale.


  • New Age Travellers are nomadic people in the United Kingdom. They also refer to themselves as 'travellers' or 'vehicle-dweller's', or 'new traveller's.' Some call them NATS.
  • Nerother Wandervogel - is one of the last existing German [1] migrant fraternities, which have their roots in the historical youth movement. Their travel is primarily by hitchhiking


  • Overnighter - bicyclists who drive out to nature and stay over night.
  • Oogles - A derogatory way to refer to someone who often acts like a fake or clearly has no idea what they are doing in a given situation. used in the USA.
  • Off-the-grid or (OTG) refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.


  • Peace Camps are a form of physical protest camp that is focused on anti-war activity. They are set up outside military bases by members of the peace movement who oppose either the existence of the military bases themselves, the armaments held there, or the politics of those who control the bases.
  • Psychogeography links to the Situationist International. Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals."
  • Platform cooperative, or platform co-op - a website, mobile app, or other kind of online platform that is structured as a cooperative, owned democratically by its employees, customers, users, or other key stakeholders.
  • Packrafting: travel with small, portable yet functional and tough backpacking boats.
  • Pandhandling - beg in the street or beg for something from (someone) in the street.
  • Preppers - from the "prepper" movement, which focuses on stockpiling weapons and resources in anticipation of the breakdown of society. Prepper - An individual who prepares for a catastrophic event.


  • Road Dog - A person going with you during your travels. Sometimes, it might be meant literally, as a actual Dog. A Road Dog is a person who is consistently "on the road", on the go.
  • Rail Tramp - Tramp, Hobo or Road Dog, who hops trains.
  • Rainbow gathering - The Rainbow Family Of Living Light is a group of people that organize Rainbow gatherings. They have their own Glossary.
  • Road Burn - A state of mind one slips into after being "on the road" too long, e.g., exhausted and wanting to settle down for a spell.
  • Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in America, and is central to Jack Kerouac's "On The Road."
  • Rubber Tramps - A rubber tramp has a car or other wheeled vehicle, and travels on the rubber tires. Rubber tramps are sometimes seen as "less valid" than leather tramps because their vehicle is viewed as a luxury item.
  • Right to Roam or Freedom to Roam. Also called "right to access" and /or "Every Man's Right" Basically, it means the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise. Based on allowing what is not forbidden, it does not give permission to break any laws or regulations.
  • Radical Samba - Often political in nature, radical samba often seams a collection of people with drums, engaging the public during political events.
  • Recreational Vehicle - A recreational vehicle (RV), often called a "caravan", "camper van" and "motorhome", is, in North America. A great Vehicle to get about.
  • Romany Gypsies - said to have their roots in India and came to Europe in the 13th century.
  • RTR- Rubber Tramp Rendezvous - is a event started in 2010 in the United States for Rubber Tramps.
  • Roadtrek's - s Class of Motorhome in North America.
  • Red Point Campaign - was founded in Germany in the late sixties because many cities had highly increased the ticket prices for public transport. A simple red point was predestined for the logo and was handed out to car drivers. They should put it on their windscreen to declare their solidarity with hitchhikers and to show willingness to give people a ride. Soon, the initiative got supported by wide ranges of the public. The campaign lives on.


  • Squatter or Squatting occupy houses, land etc. The yare called such as okupas in Spain, Chile or Argentina (from the verb ocupar meaning "to occupy"), or paracaidistas in Mexico (meaning "parachuters", because they "parachute" themselves at unoccupied land).
  • Squat candle is an improvised stove/lamp which is very simple and remarkably effective for cooking, lighting and heating.
  • Sal Paradise is a fictional narrator in the novel On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac.
  • Summer Squatter - inspired by an 1996 Ant-Flag song, which is critical of summer only punks/sqautters, who return to Mom/Dad when weather gets cold and money runs out etc.
  • Six-Up - A signal among modern day hippies (USA) that law enforcement was near. Named for the six lights that sat atop most old cop cars.
  • Snowbird - A person who moves from higher latitudes and colder climates of winter to warmer locales or elsewhere along the Sun Belt.
  • Slacklining - the activity or sport of balancing on a rope or strip of webbing that is fixed high above the ground but not stretched so as to be taut. Something you might learn at Circus Schools to earn on the road.
  • Skillsurfers - is (/was) a project in the context of the “travelling school of life” network. Name which was giving to a group of people, who were doing an experiment about self-organised learning while travelling in a group.
  • Safe Space- making an explicit political decision to prioritise the voices of people who are experiencing oppression at the hands of another person so that they feel empowered to participate and feel supported by a radical community.
  • Sadhu - also spelled saddhu, is a religious ascetic, mendicant (monk) or any holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life.
  • Spange - To ask for spare change from a stranger on the fly. "Spange" (spare+ change = spange). Another related term is "crack spange", which insinuates that it is being done spontaneous. Often done in the case of needing money for something immediately. "I am ten cents short for a bottle of beer, so Im gonna go crack spange on the way to the shop". used in USA and Australia. See Begging.
  • Scrilla - Money, Dosh, Bread, Dough, Cash.
  • Seasteading - the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by any government.
  • Streamliner - Someone who travels without their own gear, their own supplies and own food & water. They tend to borrow, steal the supplies of others.
  • Shanti Sena - AKA "Peace army." Used at Rainbow gatherings to solve issue and conflict. Non-Violent. Original used to describe Gandhi's non-violent followers in India.
  • Skipping, skip diving or skip salvage, is a popular for names (Europe) for Dumpster Diving.
  • Sojourner - a person who resides temporarily in a place.
  • Squat party - a party that takes place either in a disused building (broken into and secured for the party) or in an already existing squat. Also see Free Party.
  • Skoolies - school buses that have been turned into houses on wheels (USA). See also #vanlife.
  • Swami - an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into a religious monastic order (Hinduism).


  • Talking circles are a Rainbow gathering way that many decisions are made and information is passed along. Groups of people (from a handful to over a hundred) sit around in a circle. Typically, a focalizer calls the meeting (circle) to order. They are often used in gatherings of all types.
  • Thru-hiking - Hiking a long-distance trail end-to-end within one hiking season. United States.
  • Travel Hacking - Activating mechanisms of countering business and institutional forces who seek to control and nudge us into certain behaviour (where they can exploit our data; nudge us to spend money on resources that should be free to all). Travel hacking seeks to disrupt rules, systems and rhythms. Like hacking, can be seen as a form of resistance.
  • Travel House - Travel Club was/is an experiment in free housing, that moves from region t region/ country-to-country each year.
  • Technogypsy - combines arts and sciences in their lifestyle.
  • Traveller - Irish Traveller - are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group in Ireland, the UK and the US who maintain a set of traditions.
  • Tramp - The definition of a tramp is a homeless vagabond who wanders from place to place.
  • Teknival - large free parties which take place worldwide.
  • Turnkey (-aka - “plug and play”) camps - Basically, describe camps (Burning Man, but also outside the festival) where paid teams set up infrastructure before other camp members arrive. Usually that means, attendees pay and might expect a vacation-type experiences. There is no no expectation or commitment by campers to contribute to the larger community. Such camps/ experiences are frowned upon by nomads/burners, who like to contribute to the camp they attend.


  • Upcycling - known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other half of the recycling process.


  • Vanlife - A current trend, with the hashtag #vanlife increasingly visible. Vanlife means nomadic travel whilst living in a van. There might be some conflict between new #vanlife adherents and older RV people. RVers are often full time, and often forced onto the road (because of the economy etc), while #vanlife people often temporary, and accused of being hipsters (e.g. doing yoga, surfing and seeking sponsorship. while posting on instagram).
  • Vagabonding - wander about as or like a vagabond, a person with no fixed/settled home.


  • Waif - A waif (from the Old French guaif, "stray beast") is a living creature removed, by hardship, loss or other helpless circumstance, from its original surroundings. The most common usage of the word is to designate a homeless person or someone who looks homeless (used in UK).
  • Wing Nut - Ideological extremist from either side of the political spectrum who unquestioningly repeats any and all propaganda and/or conspiracy theories propagated by their side of the political spectrum (USA).