After 5 years of travel, what’s next?

Categories Long-Term Travel, Personal Musings

Soup

My father and I were on the phone a few days after I arrived in Vietnam, chatting about what I liked here and how it differed from elsewhere.

Jodi, I’m just trying to understand what you do every day? Is there a routine?

I eat soup.”

What?”

I eat a lot of soup, Dad. This country has a lot of soups to try, and I’m trying them all.”

Wait, what? You’re eating soup all day?

Here,” I said, sending him a photo of my favourite bun rieu near my apartment, “how delicious does this soup look? It looks delicious, right? It’s possibly the best soup in the universe.

I could hear my dad laughing and could almost visualize him shaking his head at me.

Jodi, I love you very much but sometimes your life confuses me.”

Join the club.

pho hanoi

Mmmm. Soup.

At the beginning of my travels, I didn’t obsess over food. Soup was just a meal, but I wasn’t traveling for it. (Ha! Silly past-tense Jodi…if only I knew.) Now, soup — or food generally — has become the focus, so much so that it’s off-putting to many people I meet.  The extreme fascination I have with what people eat and why has totally changed the way I see the world, has changed the direction of this site, and has changed the way I plan to live my life going forward.

In a strange circular fashion, I left to travel the world but now I want to stay longer and longer in each place. I want to scratch under the surface and hug the things I find tightly, so I can keep an imprint of them with me somehow. Food, the universality that it is, has become my tool to connect with people and learn everything I can. It could be a different tool, but principally it is the curiosity to learn through food  – and all the wonderful people I’ve met through it — that makes this life choice so rewarding.

* * *

Today, April 1, marks five years of having quit my job and taken off for a “one year” (whoops) RTW adventure. Five years! How did this happen?! In the strange time-space compression of soup-filled days I’m flabbergasted by this unfolding of years. I can still remember my first weeks on the road like they were yesterday. I’m thankful for this site for many reasons, but in part because it is a digital record of what I have trouble digesting: that somehow I took a love of living the world and I made it my day-to-day work.

I try to keep the blog about the travel and food stories, but for my yearly “State of the Union”- style anniversary piece, I get more Jodi-centric. The About page talks about the site and my livelihood, but the psychology behind it has been ignored. What I’m saying is: my dad’s question was a valid one, and I think a question many of you have as well if your emails are any indication.

(My days do involve soup, by the way, but generally I have a routine of mostly work and then time with friends in the evening.)

Given the many email questions from readers about what’s next, both professionally and personally, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about the goals I have for both in this year’s anniversary post.

pho hanoi

Mmmmm… more soup.

Work Goals

My goals are, understandably, different from when I set out in 2008. I thought I would take a year to see the world, and thereafter return to lawyering. Given that I was still traveling after two years, I then focused on supporting myself with freelance work – I did not want to eat into my savings, nor did I want to advertise or accept sponsorship on this site. Now, things are shifting once again. I want to take what I have learned and do more with it. It’s not that I’m bored with travel, it’s that I’m more excited by the idea of creating a business around the things I’ve learned, instead of just moving from A to B. Whereas I left New York because of a deep (some might say destructive) restlessness, I now want to refocus my energy into building something more stable. But I want to do it from places I love.

Last year’s goals included getting better at public speaking and writing my book. A big and exhausting year! But the book is done (yay!) and somehow I spoke at over 10 events (ahh!) without throwing up on myself with nervousness.

For the next few years, my work goals are:

  • Start a community and resources site for other celiacs who want to travel, since there is a need for it in the marketplace. There are some sites for travels without gluten but they are primarily domestic or European, and I would like to have a forum for people to ask and answer questions as well. This will not be my primary focus but it is something I want to get off the ground. 
  • Get more serious about social media consulting work. I’ve really enjoyed building out this aspect of what I do, and truly believe in the power of social when coupled with authenticity in branding. As I’ve said time and time again, no one should be putting anything out that they haven’t read and are willing to endorse. Brands – be they small brands or big brands – can use social media to create a real personality around a corporate entity, but also to engage their customers in an authentic way. Helping strategize and run their feeds has been an unexpected but rewarding line of work for me. I went from advertising lawyer to digital advertising consultant. Who knew?  (For more about my thoughts on social media, see my podcast with Dan from Tropical MBA.)
  • Start food tours. I’ve been testing this ad hoc in HCMC during the last few months, taking roving bands of readers and friends to places around town and asking for feedback. I want to do tours that are not structured around restaurants or general eats, but hyper-specific to a theme to learn from. Example: to take people on a chili tour of a city, from markets to restaurants to cooking techniques, culminating in a chili-based meal, talking about how chili even came to Asia and when it is used. Themes seem like a great way to teach people about the origins of the food, a big part of what I love to research. These will not be a thing to see / do in a particular city, but will instead be based around what cities I am living in at the time.
  • Continue with speaking. I’m getting less and less nervous about the speaking, but still want to throw up on myself when I take the stage – I’ve just gotten used to feeling like I want to throw up on myself. Hopefully more speaking will beget less nervousness. Career transitions, social media and food history are topics near and dear to my heart.
  • Continue to share stories on Legal Nomads. This site is not a basic chronology of my travels – it is more about stories, so I do not follow a linear timeline at all times.  I’ve loved sharing narrative here and meeting with readers as I’ve travelled. (For readers in Chicago, Toronto and Montreal, I’ll be posting reader meetups on my Facebook page during the summer months.) This site remains a joy and not an obligation. Regardless of other work, I have no plans to shut down Legal Nomads.
Jodi Ettenberg Cai Rang

Me on the floor of a kitchen in a local temple, in the middle of Cai Rang district.

That’s a lot to work with in a year or more, and I cannot get started right away as much of 2013 is mapped out. I’ll be heading to England first for my brother’s birthday, then Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Portland and more this summer.  I’ve also been working with G Adventures for several years as a Wanderer in Residence, writing for their site and occasionally hopping on a G tour. This fall I will be taking my mum to India with me on a G tour for her birthday. She has always wanted to go. I’m beyond excited about this trip as I have not travelled with my mum since I was 20. To say the least, It’s going to be quite the adventure.

My aim is to return to Vietnam again when I can, but stay here for 8 months or so to work on the above ideas. I’ll be working on them in part before, of course, but specifically for the food tours I’ll need to be in one place. The day after I got to Vietnam I was bowled over by my love for the quirks and daily surprises in this country. It seems like a great place to base myself for a while – more than the 4.5 months I will end up spending this year.

Happiness

A long time ago, I told a friend that I would never be happy in life. That my brain was too whirry and too busy thinking of all the things I could/should/will be doing and never able to focus on the present. How can someone be happy if they’re thinking of something else all the time? In the last few years, however, I came to accept the fact that this overarching, fuzzy idea of happiness couldn’t be my goal. It was unrealistic, and I felt that I was failing  - people were writing to say “oh, you’re living the dream!” — but internally I was struggling with what I was doing and why I was doing it.

What I was feeling made sense given that I got here by accident (as in, I didn’t quit my job to be a travel writer or seek happiness), but I still needed to parse through my thoughts and also take stock of who I had become after many years of travel.

* * *

I use the term “building a life” a lot lately. It’s become my preferred expression to discuss my choices because there is such weighted agency in it – I, Jodi Ettenberg, chose this path. It has been a fallback to say I got here by accident — factually accurate, no less — but relying on kismet or coincidence also lets me off the hook for the hard and very damaging decisions I made in leaving New York. I left a place and people I loved, and a career that was going well for me.  It’s true that I didn’t do this to “be” happy or because I was burned out. But regardless, I did it because I wanted to see the world, and the pull of that otherness – not just to see it on a short vacation, but to live it and get my hands dirty – it drew me in. It became bigger than me, a restlessness that corroded. It grew and it grew until I had to act on it; ignoring it was just hurting people around me and myself.

When I left for what I thought would be a year, I found that the restlessness dissipated. I wasn’t looking to travel around the world indefinitely. That’s never been an aim. However, the restlessness was replaced by an extraordinary curiosity for just about everything I saw. I wanted to build a life around that curiosity. All of the work I do – the consulting, the food writing, the blog – is to facilitate that, and to enable me to see and experience more of the little things in life. In acknowledging this shift away from restlessness and toward learning, I came a long way to accepting more of where I am today. I’m making choices only for me, which is not something everyone has available to them.

Life Goals

I’ve gotten angry emails from parents telling me that I’m contributing to their children’s irresponsible behaviour, and from people asking me why I am doing what I’m doing – what am I trying to avoid? The reality is that I’m not trying to avoid anything. Driven by curiosity, I’ve followed it to where it leads. Doing so has definitely damaged important relationships, but it has also created new and important ones. Unmoored from the normal anchors that stabilize, I’ve turned instead to think about exactly what I want my life to look like at this point in time. I can understand why outwardly it would seem like running, since it is certainly a strange life path. But if anything, I am moving toward the things that hold more and more value.

It has been calming to re-think happiness and dig around it to see what it means for me. Essentially, I stopped focusing on “happy” as a term of art and started thinking of practical, tangible things that I could institute and wanted to be a part of my daily life, in the hopes of being more mindful.

I’m sure you’re shocked…. but I made a list.  :) In no particular order:

  • Street food, and people who also loved street food and wanted to eat it with me.
  • Friends with whom I can have great, existential discussions about life and everything in it.
  • Working on projects that provide value to society and were not self-serving.
  • Learning something new every day.
  • Practicing gratitude daily and taking pleasure in the small things in life.
  • Time in Southeast Asia at least some part of the year.
  • Working on an acceptance of me, and being more comfortable in my own skin. (As the kid who won “most easily embarrassed” in high school, talking to people isn’t always easy, even if I pretend it is.)
Jodi Ettenberg

Enjoying the sunset over HCMC yesterday evening.

YMMV

We can only do what drives each of us to live our lives to the fullest.

For many that means a round-the-world trip then a return to what everyone else deems normal. For others, it means drifting and drifting and seeing and seeing, without a plan to stay put. For most people, it means finding a partner and a home and a family that fulfills life goals. For me, well, I’ve had a huge amount of time to think about this in the last years, and have some answers for myself for the first time in a long time.

My answers are not your answers, of course, nor are they a path for anyone else’s life choices. “Your mileage may vary” is what I always say. The aggregate of my years of lawyering, travel and more have made me into who I am , and led me to value the things I value. There’s a reason I never write posts saying “Stick it to the man and quit your job like me” and that’s because I don’t think it’s the “right” way to be. I just know what worked for me, and in the hopes of helping people parse through their own choices, I’m sharing that process. But I do not begrudge or think less of people who don’t want the things I want in life; those differences are what makes the world interesting.

Back to the Soup

Pho

Back to regularly-scheduled photographic programming – soup.

I was on the phone with my mother last month, breathless about my short trip to Vung Tau with friends. I regaled her with tales about banh khot and lessons I learned in the three days on the beach. (For example, do not, ever, get your grilled squid from a different lady from the lady you are renting chairs from unless you want to start a long protracted screaming match between them, resulting in a significant crowd of locals gathering at the edge of the fight, watching attentively.)

It sounds like you really love Vietnam” she said slowly.

Yes yes! I love it. I’m going to cry big tears of pho when I leave. I have to come back.”

Laughing gently she replied “Jodi, you say this about everywhere you live, without fail. Every place moulds to you, and you to it.”

She’s right, of course. Over the last five years of travel, you could make a supercut of phone calls like these.

Ma, Ma MA…. I LOVE Beijing! I want to stay there forever!” and then, a year later “Mum, I know I got tear-gassed and caught up in the riots in Bangkok, but I LOVE it here!

I suppose it’s just a testament to doing what I love that I’ve been so affectionate toward almost every place I’ve seen.

* * *

After five years of travel, what can I say? I think I like myself much more as a person now. Bit by bit, I am figuring out more about what brings me joy and what makes me sad, and I’m learning so much from the wonderful people I meet. I have worked at improving specific skills, and have others I want to improve on that scare me. But if they scare me, all the more reason to make sure I face them head-on.

Much of the things I am grateful for are not the travel per se. And really I am not truly a traveler any more, at least not in the way I was in 2008. Instead, I’ve focused on taking the time to fall for a new place by experiencing it firsthand, while at the same time doing work I find fulfilling.

bun mam

How good does this soup look?

If you’re still here after this sprawling post: thank you.  It’s been an incredible 5 years of ups and downs, of learning and sharing and eating. I keep talking about gratitude but I cannot emphasize that expanding-heart-feeling of being thankful for great friends, wonderful readers and a family who supports me, even if they think I’m nuts.

And of course, many many bowls of soup.

-Jodi

263 comments to After 5 years of travel, what’s next?

  1. On April 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm Lauren Burdick said:

    Can’t wait to see you in Chicago Jodi! I have a late-night hot dog stand that is a must do as well as some amazing mexican food and burgers. We can go bunless with the burgers or hot dogs to make it gluten free :) Also, World Domination Summit will be here before we know it. Can’t wait for that one either.

    Lauren

  2. “and from people asking me why I am doing what I’m doing – what am I trying to avoid?” Why does travel have to be about running away from something or avoiding something? I’ve got that line more than a few times and it irks me! Keep on doing what you love!

    • Indeed.

      It is about living a life..

      I don’t understand conformity. What is it in that make them feel others should live as they do or it is wrong or a some sort of failing?

      They seem to all fit into the category of ignorant or afraid.

      At the end of your life, what did you do?
      What did you experience?

      Amazing how I entered such a site and came across such an article..

      I (we) have been living abroad for 10yrs now..10yrs+ for heaven’s sake!

      I met my girl in art school, and we have remained in Italy. We live within a 18thC palace with ceilings in fresco paintings and I see genuine beauty daily.

      We have traveled over 31 countries.

      We live well and frankly have aged little. When I return to visit family (which is unfortunately not as often as I would like) wow, how old people my age look in the States!

      There is so much I could write now but it is very late.

      I suppose in part why I selected this article is the looming, “what next?” for us as well..

      We have said year after year, we need to return to the States, we need to return, etc..We are getting older, etc..

      But why? If you are not ready, if you must force yourself like someone within a relationship that does not feel they are ready to get married and try and force yourself to, it will not work.

      At any rate, funny the note about your father shaking his head and wondering what you are doing with your life, etc..

      Mine is not quite the same. He is envious. A former FBI agent and secret free spirit that found the world (and the laws he had to enforce) disappointing and mundane.

      But he knows my heart and we share the same restlessness.

      What does one do when they want more than the world has to offer.

      We all must follow our hearts…no matter what.

      And oh my, what a life I have had and experiences.

      You are an intelligent woman. Don’t second guess your heart, or think others know better.
      Living outside the box is not easy.

      One of the wonderful things of being here is finding others as “crazy” as myself..kindred spirits.

      Not dumb hippies and anarchist dopes, but the most well rounded and beautiful individuals one could know.

      Cliche, but life is for living. All one has to do is TAKE IT.
      Fear is a killer.

      • I suppose what I wished to say was:

        Everything happens EXACTLY when it needs to happen…

        Things don’t happen too early as you are not aware or wouldn’t understand them if they did, or too late because you were not ready for it either..

        Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to.
        …and never feel alone. You’re not..ever.

        There are always others exactly like you, going through exactly what you are going through.

        Just trust yourself and trust your heart.

        Kind regards and best wishes.

      • Paul, I agree entirely with what you said. I have lived overseas for almost four years and also sometimes have the nagging thought to start a “normal” life back in the U.S. but something about that doesn’t really appeal to me. Not that living in the U.S. means living the mundane, but really it is true you should not shape your life to please others or follow social norms. Life is too precious to be spent in that way. Thanks, you’ve given me a fresh look at how to see this “unnatural” lifestyle I love so much!

    • I’m sure no one asked Mark Twain what he was trying to avoid when he set off for his trip around the World. You inspire me!

  3. You should try Africa… a whole new source of soup! :-)

  4. Congratulations on 5 years of adventure … I’m planning my own adventure in South East Asia … I think the nomad life will suit me too! Have a great life!

  5. LOVE your site, and congratulations on the 5 year anniversary!! Work has allowed me to travel around Africa quite a bit over the past few years, which is how my own blog was born (though due to what I do, I keep work out of it and keep things strictly to cultural/social observations & stories). You’re an inspiration to a casual/amateur blogger like me! I look forward to many more posts from you! Thanks for writing!!!

  6. This is great! Stumbled upon your website a few days ago and I’ve been reading all your posts!! Fantastic coverage! You inspire me, as I to travel a lot! Thanks!

  7. Great post Jodi. I have been reading here for so long, and now writing from my hotel in Luang Prabang, living the adventure that you have helped inspire. Thank you for sharing these moments and for many to come! Looking forward to Vietnam next week and would also love to meet you for a bowl of soup when we get to Ho Chi Ming at the end of the month! Oh and I am all about the food too ;)

    • Hi Karinny! I’m actually no longer in Vietnam – I left a few weeks ago, though I’ll be writing about it still for quite some time, I’m sure. (As I write less frequently, the site is not a good indicator of where I am at any given moment, though Facebook Legal Nomads page is more updated). Enjoy your time in the Hoch, and thanks for reading!

  8. April Fools?! I thoroughly enjoyed your soup fetishes! You should definitely check out South Korea, known for their spicy soup delicacies! My parents tell me the same thing “why don’t you find a REAL job” (currently nominated for the Peace Corps) I just started my own personal website and searching for my “niche.”

    Just curious, before you went on this expedition, did you already have a high trafficked website? And I hope it’s safe to assume that you been lawyering for couple years and had a base income to start off this “1 year RTW trip?”

    • Hi Eugene! Thanks for the note. SK is definitely on my list and I enjoy a lot of the food I’ve tried, mostly from NYC’s K-Town.

      I’ve answered those questions elsewhere on the site (see the about page), but short answer is yes, I saved up to travel first, then I quit expecting to travel for a year. It led to all sorts of great opportunities so I just figured I’d see where they led me. I had saved enough for a few years of travel, but my lifestyle now is sustained via freelance writing and social media consulting work, among other things. I did not start this website until I left to travel, but also I didn’t even treat it as a business until mid-2010. It’s really been from 2010-now that I’ve been working on it – and the other related work – to get me where I am now.

  9. So interesting, I’m fascinated with just how much you love soup! Keep doing what you love, it seems as though you’re having a great time and seeing the world which is what everyone should do!

  10. Hey Jodi, Im glad to hear you stopped in VN. You were in Vung Tau, very close to where my parents grew up in Phuoc Tinh. I spent 4 months traveling up and down VN the last time I was there. Cheated and spent one week in Seoul and Japan before heading back to Hanoi.

    Were you able to go to Ha Long Bay and Sapa while up North in Hanoi? It is definitely a must if you didnt.

    • Hi Thuy, I didn’t make it to Ha Long or Sa Pa but I plan to return to Vietnam and will hopefully get more of a chance to see the country then. I focused on the South primarily for this trip. Safe travels to you too.

  11. On May 19, 2013 at 9:57 am KenNguyen1997 said:

    I’m very proud of my country when a friendly traveler enjoy our traditional food. I guess you’ve taste it all, haven’t you? So tell me, which one is the best?
    Personally, i like travelling, just like you. Although i’m 16, i really hope that some day we’ll meet and share our hobbies. Keep it up, girl :)

    -A vietnamese friend-ken Nguyen

    • Hi Ken! Thank you for the comment. Very hard to pick just one food as there were so many fabulous dishes. Definitely have not tasted them all, though – many more to try. Safe travels to you too.

  12. I know this question can be a little boring to hear from you, but how do you managed to make money to travel more than a year? Only by giving public speechs? Just pure curiosity, cause suddenly I’m inspired from this post to travel.

    Thanks :)

    • Hi Julia, please see the About page (www.legalnomads.com/about) as I talk about how I make money, why I don’t put advertising on this site & other work I do aside from Legal Nomads.

  13. Your enjoyment and fascination of food is one of the things I love about you, and the fact that you are the kindest, sweetest, funniest, goofiest, so easy to talk to travel friends I’ve ever met :) Hehe. If you start food tours in Vietnam, sign me up!!! and if you’re in Toronto this Summer let me know. I’m always more than happy to make a trip there and would love to see you darling!! So happy that you are pursuing your passions and looking forward to what comes next! xo

  14. Thank you for sharing your advanture. I’ve enjoyed very much on reading your web. If you like to experience one of the most ancient culture still exist–the Chinese culture and authentic Chinese food, then you should spend sometimes in Taiwan.

    God bless!

  15. Loved this…. I am the parent who ran off and joined the circus. Ignore those naysayers. I would be proud to have you as a daughter. Sounds like your mum is!

  16. Hi Jodi, have you been to Brasil? I am not celiac, but I avoid gluten and found it amazing how every item here is labeled “contem glutem” or “nao contem glutem”! I am from the west coast of Canada, so the gluten-free stuff is big there, but it has not reached a label worthy status in Canada like it has here. Cheers and safe travels.

  17. Man, that soup looks So. Good. I loved reading about your reflections and goals, happy to hear you are following your heart and deepening your relationship with the things in life you love. Sometimes I think it’s not about the travel anymore either, even though I still love it and always will, it’s that travel is the vehicle which allows us to spend time on things that inspire us and fill us with joy. Whether food, people, language, art, writing, or being creative, travel seems to be the necessary ingredient for some of us to create our own recipe for life. Excuse the corny metaphors! All the best for year six Jodie!

  18. You must know Mark from Migrationology already, I guess. You two could certainly talk for ages about food. …

  19. Hi Jodi,

    I love your blog! I am planning to quit my engineering job next year to see the world. You makes me feel more confident about doing so.
    Like you I will be quiting my job after 5 years. I am also a huge local/street foods person. I love eating at the street stalls! The list you made is very similar to what I am looking for.
    I hope to be able to meetup with you one day during my travel!
    So busy planning and saving for the trip, but really excited!

  20. So glad you enjoyed your time in Vietnam! Yes our soups ( with lots of noodle types thin to thick) are delicious, I hope you may get hands-on rather than just tasting them! Have you tried the rolls in Hanoi as well? Beef rolls and Cuon rolls are recommended!

    I was born in Hanoi and now living in Singapore. It’s funny I came here to dig up your Myanmar articles ( going there in 2 weeks!!!) and find lots of Vietnam entries. Thanks for all the thoughtful sharing!

    Have fun ;)

  21. We gave up listening to the imaginary others and thinking what is normal and acceptable and what is not. That made us happier. Generally speaking it is your own life and you are the only one who knows what makes you happy and how you should live your life. Happy travels!

  22. First of all, thank you for such a comprehensive post about your own personal plans in life.
    What stuck out with me the most is the idea that people are taking time out of their day to send you e-mails because you are somehow to blame for their children’s dreams. I would like to ask those people what they’re afraid of. It must be a very difficult part of your work day.

    Lastly, Please say Hi to Montreal for me.

    • I think they’re afraid their kids will choose this path or a similar one, but not find it fulfilling and then the opportunity cost would still be there. Of course in practice life is more maleable than that, but I can see where their fears are coming from. Still happy to answer them, though! If it helps them understand more, then it’s worth it. Thanks for reading!

      • Very true. You’re in a great position to be bridging the gap between the “conventional” and “bizarre” I guess it becomes a form of peacemaking.

  23. Try to visit Malaysia Jodi! The food there are awesome!

  24. You should be very proud, Jodi. What an incredible adventurer, foodie, writer, speaker, and person you are. I treasure each of your posts and hope to become half of what you are today. Keep going, girl!

  25. Soup day in, day out, What must your bowel movement be like…
    Pretty speedy I would say.

  26. Just wanted to say that I loved this post and it resonated with me. And I’m not even that big a fan of soup!

  27. Jodi – thank you for continuing to be such an inspiration. Your words consistently make magic hum in your reader’s hearts. By opening up the world to us in such lovely ways, you give us a truly beautiful perspective of live. Thank you for all that you do and continue to do for us. I look forward to many more years of this!

  28. Jodi, after five years of travel (wow), I say great going girl! From eating street food to discussing the ‘existential questions about life”… to “Working on an acceptance of me, and being more comfortable in my own skin. (As the kid who won “most easily embarrassed” in high school, talking to people isn’t always easy, even if I pretend it is.)” — travel surely changes you like nothing else.

  29. On July 29, 2013 at 4:35 am Ed Russell said:

    Go you!!
    Thanks for posting this. Very inspiring.
    I’d love to visit Vietnam and the area and try great soups, but it always seems so infused with meat. Could you do a post on your thoughts on vegetarian soups? Or other good meatless options? Thank you!

    • Hi Ed! Do you eat fish sauce? Many of the foods here have it, though there are restaurants for vegetarians around town. Some Vietnamese take an oath to eat vegetarian during certain lunar calendar days so the restaurants are aimed for them, meaning it’s not Western-style food, and it’s delicious. Otherwise, HappyCow.net might help best. I don’t plan to write on vegetarian foods as many of them have seitan, which will get me quite sick (it’s made from wheat gluten). But HappyCow is a good resource.

  30. On August 6, 2013 at 9:55 am Nico Faller said:

    Hi Jodi,

    I do not know how exactly i got to this link, but its probably because of the picture of the soup. :) Anyways, travelling besides slurping on soup is something i always wanted to do. I read your article and i can’t help but end up smiling on how your travelling has shaped your appreciation and gratitude towards life. I am there myself. Let’s just say that I have my own story of seeing life as something that is so beautiful and that should be greatly appreciated and SHARED to others.

    It would be awesome if you could come visit the Philippines again. In my province there are 2 soups that you must try, we call them “Lomi” and “Goto”.

    Life is beautiful. It saddens me that not very many young people like us sees that our life is a blessing and a wonderful gift. I hope that in your travels and conversations w/ different people, they see that living life by the moment the way we do is not only healthy but worth every while.

    Finding true happiness is never an object that is to be searched, true happiness is in living every second and appreciating ones life, since we only have ONE.

    Nico Faller
    Batangas, Philippines

  31. Hi Jodi,

    I chanced upon this link during a dreary day at work. It amazing how you have managed to do all these incredible things at such beautiful places. Your articles are truly refreshing, personal and inspiring.

    Hope you get a chance to visit India sometime.

    Cheers,
    Simi

  32. This is my first post i’m reading, so i can’t say a lot now. My first impression: I like it, espacially the way you are writing. Your thoughts are deep and selfreflekted. By the way, i’m learning english in a funny way. I’m wiriting you, because i was looking in your beautiful eyes (damn, you look so young), without looking at the rest of your face. I know it’s just a picture of one moment, but budhismn people say, our eyes are the mirror of our soul. Your eyes are searching. It’s the way you looking with your eyes (urghh, bad english, i’m sorry).
    I wish you the best for your future.
    Much Love
    Sina

  33. Funny to chance at your article twice, but have no regrets reading it again. It helped me self-reflect too on what my own pursuits of happiness are. Like most people, I dreamt about travelling to exotic places fuelled by my love of epic movies. And when i had the chance, I did travel solo. Ive met kind,wonderful people but got tired of short time friendships. It got lonely and depressing. ai guess for ne, i realize i want to share my experiences with someone.Now I decided to postpone travelling til such time i found someone who shares the same passion of travelling and culture.

  34. Hi Jodi, just stumbled upon your site and have spent the past few hours reading about your experiences. I love it!

    This is probably off topic, but what is that noodle soup with the shrimp called? (The last picture)
    It looks delicious!

  35. 5 years of un planned travel also myself, good to know its not just me ;)

  36. Soup is a simply perfect basis for a lifestyle, if you ask me!

  37. “A long time ago, I told a friend that I would never be happy in life. That my brain was too whirry and too busy thinking of all the things I could/should/will be doing and never able to focus on the present. How can someone be happy if they’re thinking of something else all the time?”

    This is EXACTLY how I have felt often. I don’t think it detracts from my happiness – per se – but the thought is definitely a constant companion in the back of my brain. Your blog is incredible, and you write so honestly and with such purpose. Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. So glad to have found your blog. I find it interesting though how much you seem to need to “justify” or explain yourself. Not to me though, I get it, and appreciate that you are bringing something back to us all. I just hope to get to a few of the places you’ve been.

    • Heh, I only do these “State of the Union” posts once a year, so it’s less justification and more a summary of what my brain has been doing since the last one ;) I try to answer the questions I receive during the year too, many of which do tend to ask about why I do what I do. Thanks for reading!

  39. Jodi, thanks for sharing your experience and inspiration. I found your web just now, while reading my friend’s personal blog (Ginger Kern)..
    I wish you to make your plans real. Warm greetings to you :)

  40. I appreciate the honesty and it’s very easy to relate with. That seafood soup… my god!

  41. Hi Jodi, I’m writing from Medellin, Colombia…I too left NYC in 2008, though I didn’t muster the nerve to quit my very lucrative but unfulfilling career until 2011. I am obsessed with food almost 24/7 and have been inspired by your and your readers commentaries. I now live full-time in Medellin and, despite sacrificing the financial security and now facing potential serious financial challenges brought on by my over generosity and some highly risky investments I’ve made, I have never felt more alive and more impassioned with my life. Applying common sense to life decisions is extremely important but throwing caution to the wind while pursuing one’s dreams is even more essential to maximizing this fleeting visit on planet Earth. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

  42. I am truly fascinated about your story, and about the things you have done. It is amazing to find out about people like you. It would be great honor for me to arrange an interview with you, Jodi. I am from Uzbekistan, and would love to see you here. I am guessing you haven’t visited Uzbekistan yet, I am sure your trip here would be the most amazing and unforgettable one.
    I wish you to succeed in everything you do.

    Warm wishes from Uzbekistan

    Abdukadir Bakhriev

  43. Dear Jodi, Glad to hear your amazing plans, especial Food Trip. I am VietNamese and I am so proud of our VietNam cuisine. Hope to see your someday to share about the ideas. I wish I could be like you,traveling and enjoying the food. Godbless you!

  44. This is actually the first time I comment a blog! :) I don’t even know how I ended in this web page…! Anyway, I wanted to say how I saw myself in every word… I also have to make public speaches and to try so hard not throwing up! I have this dream of travelling the world for so long now, taking one year of my life to do it (that will probably end up being 2 or 3…) but I never have the courage to just do it. I experience this feelings of guilt and how will I explain to my parents and everybody else leaving everything behind to go on the longest vacation ever?! Reading your blog and seeing my self in your words made me want it more then ever. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself if I give up on this dream… what to do? The thing I’m most scared of is coming back home (or to somewhere else I will call home) and having no clue of what to do next with my life… Thank you for being so honest and for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the world. I hope some day I’ll have something similar to share with everybody too. I wish you all the best! Joana (Lisbon, Portugal… oh yeah! And you’re welcome to visit Lisbon if you feel like it! Just email me! My couch is your couch! :))

  45. Hi Jodi,

    I accidentally tripped over your blog today while looking for a recipe for lasagne!! And, I’ve spent almost two hours reading your amazing blog. I think I can relate to your feeling of ‘restlessness’ and of trying to find more meaning into life. I’ve recently quit my job of ten years, and moved to the Middle East with my husband, first Dubai for four months, and last week to Sulaymaniyah (Kurdistan, Iraq). One week here, and I already love this city. I have no idea what I’m going to do with my time and life from here on, but I have to say this phase of just ‘drifting’ has an oddly calming effect on me.
    Your blog is really inspiring, and I hope that I would be able to explore this city and its food and it’s people, and who knows, churn out a few blogs of my own?
    Motivated by this blog, I hope I can use this opportunity to really travel around this area, hopefully by road, into Turkey and Iran and other neighboring countries.
    Looking forward to more of your amazing stories of travel and food!

  46. On April 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm Fredricka Remza said:

    You ought to meet my son…pretty much a male version of you! His job of guiding people up high altitude mountains (and then staying a little longer) has been the vehicle that’s taken him to every continent. We can relate to your mom and dad and have accepted his life-style. He’s unmarried and so holds no responsibilities than that to himself. If ever you’re in Seattle, swing over. He’ll show you where the good soup is served.

  47. Hi Jodi! The recent BBC article brought me here. I’m a food lover originally from Tokyo, now lucky enough to spend much of my time travelling for the last ten years experiencing amazing food from different parts of the world. I feel as if I found a friend with whom I can share craziest ideas – My passion towards food has always confused people around me and I usually hide my interest and feelings for food in order not to embarrass people and myself.

    You are so brave to have shared your thoughts and feelings and how they evolved!

    I wish you keep enjoying your food, meeting people and immersing yourself in different cultures and lives.

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