The Unexpected Nomad

In September 2018, Laura Frank left her blooming career as a live event technical producer to travel the world with her husband, Dan. With no final destination in sight they are discovering that, for arts entrepreneurs, occupation is where you find yourself.

In 1990, Kristin Anderson (’95) and I flew to Aruba for spring break to go camping. Kristin made it all sound so easy that I figured she must have a plan. It wasn’t until we could see the island from the plane window that I asked, “So, where are we staying tonight?” I’m not sure how loudly I shouted, “What do you mean you don’t know?” but I could tell by Kristin’s face it was quite embarrassing. Thus began my initiation into travel by wandering. I was a very slow learner.

Fast forward to 2005. My boyfriend Dan suggested we go on vacation together to Oaxaca. He had traveled through Mexico before, solo and without an itinerary, so we had to make a deal to travel in a way that suited us both. I wanted to know where I was sleeping the night we arrived and the night before we flew home, and he could leave everything in between unplanned. Baby steps, people.

Marlboro College is perfect for wanderers: an academic environment with no plan until you make one. You can carve your own path. Things may change along the way. There will be unexpected challenges. Yet at the core it’s your education by your design. It’s entrepreneurial in nature. At Marlboro I had a support system that would let me explore academically, take risks, and find my way, and through it all I always knew I had a home.

I took that entrepreneurial spirit with me in my career. Based on my Plan in theater and physics, I became a technical producer in the live event industry and worked in concerts, television, and theater. I built my career by following my interests and seeing where my skills fit and where they needed to grow. The confidence I gained from my experience at Marlboro allowed me to continue to explore and take risks in my work, eventually establishing a new discipline in technical theater.

I also found that I was traveling about half the year and getting quite good at some structured wandering. On the wrong side of immigration in Hong Kong? No problem. Looking for a ferry in Rio de Janeiro? I’m your girl. In time, planning for a full year of wandering became a goal for me and Dan, now my husband.

We thought we would fly to Alaska, buy a truck, and drive to Tierra del Fuego. Or maybe we’d pick 12 cities and live in each one for a month. It wasn’t long before we were talking about giving up our apartment, selling the car, and taking a break from our current jobs to become digital nomads long term. Wandering wouldn’t just be a goal with a time limit, it could be home if we figured out how to sustain it.

By now we are somewhere in Kenya or Tanzania and six months into this experiment. We’re not exactly sure how we will generate our future income, but we’re looking at various possibilities and hope that by mid-2020 we’ll have some new enterprise in place. I know from past experience there is always a way to land on your feet, even with no clear plan in place. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the happy accidents of wandering that come our way. Watch it unfold at