FAQs after 6 years of travel

Saigon tree

Well, everyone. We’re still here. Six years after I said, “hey why don’t I quit my job as a lawyer and travel for a year and write long, rambling posts about bus rides from hell so my parents can be even more worried that I am not safely in North America?”, I’m still writing.

And many more of you are reading.

The posts are just as long, though hopefully less rambling. And in the intervening years since April 1, 2008, I have tried to weave a history and culture component that the original writing did not contain. I’ve also focused far more on the visual — photoessays and design — than when I set out.

It’s been a really fun ride.

I say this every time I do a yearly roundup, and it’s no less true 6 years out: I’m extremely grateful to be here. I get many emails from readers asking how they can find their passion in life, since I appear to have found mine.  But I don’t think it’s ever “found”.  As I said in the first speech I ever gave, it’s far more realistic to point yourself toward a path using skills you’ve gained (and don’t hate deploying), combined with things you enjoy — and then see where it takes you. Provided you are positioned to even think about “finding passion” then this approach might give more comfort than a giant search for Purpose. I write back to those reader emails suggesting that bite size morsels of enjoyment and skill are more digestible. That is, keeping an aggregate list of ever-changing things that bring joy, and a separate list of skills that can be leveraged to build the life you want. If work and those joyful things overlap, the more the better. But just as there is no one path to success, there is no one path to happiness. And of course this discussion requires you to have the luxury of seeking happiness in the first place. Not all of us have that privilege, which is a perspective we are reminded of quickly when we travel.

In my case, yes, I do love what I do. I love the writing, the sharing, the meeting readers in far-flung places and hearing the stories of their lives too. And I’m grateful for the multitude of meals shared with friends and strangers who trust me to feed them, or who love food and want to share a connection over soup.  It wasn’t my plan to “be” a travel and food writer, but here I am six years later. I still don’t know if I’ve found “my” passion; it seems strange that passion should be singular. What I do know is that long ago I stopped looking for what my passion might be. I ignored the posts and sites that urged me to find it, and instead focused on learning more, on gratefulness and on hopefully making a difference in the lives of those who cross my path.

And, you know. On soup.

jodi ettenberg ho chi minh city
mmm…. souuuuuup.

Given that I recently wrote about my year of being down for the count with dengue (which does, in fact, suck donkey balls), I’m forgoing the usual State of the Union style anniversary post. Instead, I’ve compiled the frequently asked questions from reader emails and from a thread on my Facebook page, listing out the main inquiries from readers.

Questions about how I pay for my travels

Every time the site gets new press (which is great!), I am sent a slew of “how do you pay for this” questions. The first time this happened, I changed my about page to disclose the ways I make money, and how I continue traveling the way I do. Understandably, I still get the question via email, so I am going to answer it here.

How do I make money?

1. Consulting work in social media. Quietly working with smaller businesses who want to build a community of engaged users and followers online, not simply spike engagement.

2. Merchandise and products relating to the Legal Nomads brand. Part of the benefit of having kept up this site for so many years is that there is a great community of people who seem to be excited about the things I love.  And willing to argue about the things they think I should love that I don’t (*cough* olives *cough*).

The first in this category was my Food Traveler’s Handbook, which was well-received and supported by many of you. The second — which I will build upon further this year — was the hand-drawn typographic maps of Vietnam’s foods, a collaboration between me and an artist I love (Ella Sanders). There will be more of these in the same style, with Thailand up next. And other fun merchandise in the form of posters and notecards, highlighting photography and maps from my travels, as I set up an online store to house these endeavours.

I’ve funnelled my enthusiasm for food and maps and photography into products that you would love as much as I do, built out of creativity and excitement.

3. Brand partnerships with companies I respect such as my longstanding partnership with G Adventures to travel with them, document those travels and other adventures, and work with them to promote sustainable travel and community.

4. Food walks. These have been a pleasure to run, but not something I want to scale. The goal was spend time with readers, and hopefully run 10 tours this season. I’ve now met over 100 (!) of you who have come through Saigon, and you have been enthused and excited participants in eating your way around town. Unlike some of the other tours that are more general, these aren’t meant to be perfect snapshots of Saigon’s food. Instead, they are places I love to frequent, and each dish tells a story about the history of the ingredients and how they came to the Vietnamese table. (With bonus interim mealtimes acted out in Frogger style, weaving through traffic.)

While I don’t plan to make this a full prong of my business anytime soon,  I am grateful for a platform where I can run these small food walks in places I love. Saigon high among those places, of course.

making money from travel
One of the first food walks included an impromptu afternoon tofu snack from my favourite warm tofu lady (called tàu hũ nước đường, silken tofu with ginger and tapioca and topped with coconut milk, served warm). After the pho of course!

5. Freelance writing. I still do take freelance writing projects and have written longer pieces about food, travel and history for magazines in Asia and the USA.

Given that this new career happened by accident, how did I plan financially when I left? 

I researched other people who had done a longer trip, and also had friends who were nearing the end of their one year around the world. Based on those conversations, I aimed for approximately $15,000 in savings for the year. (For what it’s worth my budget came in at less because I ended up spending so much time in Asia and not including Japan in the process.)

So my goal was to not quit until I had a buffer of two years (total $30,000) and then an additional amount that I would put aside as an investment and not touch.

When I realized that I would not be returning after a year (or two), I decided I wouldn’t eat into that investment money.  Instead, if I came close to the end of the 30k then I would commit to going back to work as a lawyer or seek a full-time position to make up for the loss. I managed to transition from hobby blogger to a more business-based endeavour before the clock ran out on my savings, and have since been saving money as I’ve lived abroad and travelled. The transition from spending savings to actually saving small amounts happened in the summer of 2011, with a variety of freelance writing work and smaller jobs.  In 2012, with the book and other contracts, writing and projects, I began to feel more comfortable with this path.

It’s important to note that I was able to save this much in part because I had no lingering school debt (my law school tuition was $1600 a year at the time that I attended as a Quebec resident) and I was working with good salary in New York as a lawyer. It was and remains scary to not have a secure paycheck as income, and to rely upon a slow build to a bigger and more stable place. That said, I wouldn’t trade in — it’s been exhilarating.

I don’t keep detailed spreadsheets like many others, but for budget you can also see my resources page with a long budget section that I update twice a year. It lists out budgets by round-the-world trip, or by specific continents or countries.

Do I plan to return to the law?

You know, I do miss parts of it. The negotiations, the pressure, the adrenaline highs once a deal closed. But I don’t miss the closed environment of an office or the long hours toward someone else’s goals.

I don’t plan to return to the law, but I have maintained my NY bar admission because you never know what comes next. And holy hell, I never, ever want to have to take the NY State Bar exam again.

Why don’t I take advertising?

Or, you know GUEST POSTS? (Sorry, had to. The amount of guest post requests circulating to all corners of the internet is mind-boggling.)

I decided to treat readers here like I would want to be treated. So that means no pop-up boxes (I don’t care if they convert readers — I hate them), no on-site advertising, no sponsored guest posts (hidden or otherwise). I do monetize in ways that build on the existing brand (as I set out above), and had hoped that readers would appreciate that I declined the more invasive opportunities. Based on the emails I’ve received from readers, you do.

In terms of the site, there are affiliate links with Amazon or Eagle Creek for products I use in the course of my travels, both on the resources page and below in the bags section. Not monetizing at all is not an option unless I want to go back to lawyering on the side. But creating income streams ethically and in an incremental way has meant that I can continue to write without compromising what I want to see as a reader.

Other general questions

The money ones are the most frequently asked questions, but here are others I have received!

How creepy are people on the internet?

Allow me to illustrate with a screenshot of Google autocomplete for my name. I type only Jodi Ett and the following appears:

Yup, people’s searches be creepy.

I laugh at the screenshot, but my friend James also has a morbidly-named folder where I forward any creepy emails or send screenshots of tweets that are problematic or threatening. Someone ought to have a copy other than me. What I get in my inbox is much milder than the vitriol for many female journalists, especially in the tech or science world. I realize that this is a byproduct of putting myself on the interwebs, but it doesn’t make it enjoyable (or ok).

Why is it Legal Nomads and not The Legal Nomad?

I originally co-authored this blog with Jess, another lawyer who quit at the same time. We were planning to travel the world together but I got really sick and had to head back to NY, and she continued on with her plans. I ended up picking up again in Russia but by that time Jess was in India, and had decided she didn’t enjoy the writing component to her travels. So I kept Legal Nomads as my own blog, and she completed her travels and returned to work as a lawyer once again. She’s doing well!

What should I eat for dinner?

Soup. What’s wrong with you people?!

bun rieu
Mmmmm… soup.

How do I handle need for addresses while I am perpetually on the road and where do you I mail?

I use my parents’ address in Canada as my resident address for the purposes of travel, as it’s the only address I have that is stable. It’s quite difficult to explain that I live nowhere in particular but that my parents are stuck receiving my mail, but regardless I still do try to explain.

Other travelers use PO boxes, or set up a mail scanning account (e.g. Mailbox Forwarding), or temporarily forward mail to a friend. I went paperless for as much as I could, opting for e-statements and the like, which are more and more common. For communication that requires a response or address, however, my mum has been a lifesaver and helped manage the few notices I do get.

What’s with all the olive hate?

#saynotoolives (they suck)

I never intended my hatred of olives to become a thing, but I was sufficiently vociferous in my derision to rankle the pro-olive crowd, and now here we are. I just happen to think they are disgusting. I will always try a new olive and in countries known for them I have acquiesced to sampling the local harvest, though what inevitably happens is that I choke it up into a napkin while trying not to fling the rest of them across the room. I’ve eaten olives in the Middle East, in Toronto (“these are the best olives you’ll ever eat” — nope), in Europe…it doesn’t matter, they’re all repulsive.

A friend said that I could get over my olive hate by eating seven in one sitting. I think this is just a ploy to try and get me to eat seven olives.

My next t-shirt will be a say no to olives t-shirt, and that’s because there are many of my brethren out there, ready to commit to their passionate disavowal of this evil ‘treat’.

Do you feel like you are missing out on a more stable community by traveling or living abroad in roving chunks of time?

I actually misunderstood this question initially. Always interesting to see how your worldview differs from others, and in this case the reader was asking about the opportunity cost of pursuing adventure or experiences, instead of staying put with a more normal life and having a thriving community.

The reason for this disconnect in my mind is that there is a huge group doing interesting things unconventionally, many making a living by working in different places around the world. I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with friends I’ve kept in touch with via technology, and reunited again over and over in different countries. And in the places where I stay put just a little longer, it is very easy to create the rough outlines of a community and even simpler to darken those lines.  With time spent together at a much faster pace than if you were in a ‘normal’ life (“hey, we just had lunch together but let’s all grab dinner too!”), you deepen friendships more quickly, fast-tracking conversation toward interestingness.

When I’ve been sick in the past, friends in Vietnam or Bangkok or wherever I was based have quickly offered to bring supplies or meals, and we’ve celebrated birthdays and other fun occasions together. When tragedy strikes one of us, the group pulls together. It’s very much as it would be in a more stable setting, it’s just a more transient tranche of time together. And same goes for returning to places I’ve been. Reunions in Bangkok with my friends who were my community there are as rewarding as they were when I was living in town.

So I don’t think it’s community vs. adventure/experience. They’re not mutually exclusive at home, nor abroad.

What is the meaning of life?

This was an actual question.

The answer is 42.

(With apologies to the reader who genuinely wanted an answer — not sure I’m qualified just yet.)

What bag do you use?

The reader who asked this wanted to know about having more stuff than she thought she should for a trip, and how I fared as a frequent traveler. With several places that are bases around the world, I’ve benefitted from leaving things in them (and having an Evernote list of what is left where). I then swap out clothes or items as I move around. What I didn’t sell when I left NY is at my mum’s place, but I have a small stash of things in New York (thanks Cheryl!), some winter clothes in the UK (thanks Cale!) and when not in Vietnam, books and skirts left in Saigon (thanks Brooke!)

In terms of bag, it depends on the travel type.

– For technical climbs / longer hikes, I use a I use a Gregory Jade 60 (in XS torso size it’s 54L) as a larger bag. It’s the only bag that seems to fit my mini-sized torso well, and allows me comfortable to carry weight while camping. I’ve yet to find a bag that fits as snugly for climbing or hiking.

– For the trips where I know I am basing myself somewhere for longer term, I’ll use a lightweight duffel like the Eagle Creek Load Warrior 25. (Note: this is an Eagle Creek affiliate link.)

How do you notify your bank of your travels?

I call them every quarter to let them know where I will be. Pretty boring, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to avoid unnecessary card freezes.

Update: a few more questions that have been asked a few times since this went up.  

How do you travel with celiac disease?

It’s not easy in many places. I’d love to eat my way through the many different cuisines of China but so much wheat is used (in the soy sauce and in sauces to thicken them) that I have not returned in years. I’m heading to Singapore and am curious about how I will fare. Soy sauce here in Vietnam has no wheat in it but elsehwere that’s almost always not the case.

What gets me by is researching local sauces and ingredients that might have hidden wheat, getting a gluten-free card in the local language (there are many sites that offer these, such as Select Wisely or Allergy Translation) and making sure I have some snacks on me if I get hungry and am unable to find anything I need. Usually this involves nuts and dried fruit, but instant gluten-free oats was a lifesaver in transit many a time, since hot water is readily available.

Many countries don’t have the same concept or cultural understanding of autoimmune diseases like celiac or allergies, so I’ve had to be extra careful to ensure I don’t get sick. And sometimes I do get sick, but in the end it’s still not worth staying home for. Also, sometimes I do stupid things like, say, get REALLY jealous of everyone’s banh mi sandwiches in Saigon and then ask my friend Dan if I can eat some of his and then eat most of it because it’s so delicious…and then get sick for days.

I learn my lesson never, apparently. Though this was the first time since the Great Poutine Incident of 2011 that I purposely glutened myself. Usually I am careful, and in Vietnam that’s quite easy because of the rice-based meals.

What’s the readership of the site, as asked by Dan below in the comments?

Last year the site topped 1 million views (my annual report is here), which surprised me! Traffic climbs slowly each month, but I don’t post frequently and rarely check statistics against prior months. About 40,000-60,000 uniques a month, depending on the month.

What about olive oil?

You can all breath easy — I love olive oil BECAUSE IT DOESN’T TASTE LIKE OLIVES.



* * *

I may have started out with no laptop or inkling of an impending career change, but it just made all of the interim steps (from “no laptop” to “glued to laptop” to a nice in-between) more fun. I hope these answer your questions, and I look forward to sharing more from Vietnam, New Zealand and other destinations in the coming year.


128 thoughts on “FAQs after 6 years of travel”

  1. Great way of modern being. But let’s face it: There is no way you make any half-decent money, neither from consulting in social media nor from food walks or freelance writing. Nobody can make a living from that, but many pretend.

    It’s not actual travelling, it’s rather spending your times of unemployment in third world countries where life is cheap. Quite exciting, though, as you are of industrial, western origin and always have a ticket back to wealthy Canada.

    However, I remember sitting on the beach in Krabi/Thailand in my mid-twenties, having fun with other backpackers, when I overheard an elderly german couple behind us saying: “Look, this was impossible for us when we were young.”

    1. Hey JM,

      If you’ve read the site, you’ll know that I talk about how I couldn’t live my former NYC life with the amount I make. So, no pretending here. None from many of my peers either. Sure, I can’t live in Manhattan and live like I used to, but who cares? I am saving up, I am enjoying what I do, I’ve met people I love around the world and when writing about it, I always reiterate that it’s not for everyone, it just works for me.

      Not sure I get your begrudging tone.

  2. Hey Jodi,

    As always, it’s really well written. Savi and I laughed out loud on seeing the google search screenshot. You are one of the very few bloggers/writers out there who weave such a beautiful story of whatever the write – that’s what we love about you.

    Trust me, I have the attention span of a two year old (you must have noticed that when we met in Saigon ;)) and tend to be very restless, so reading long articles is not my cup of tea. But if it’s your article, I don’t move until I am done. And usually, I come back to it within an hour since I loved it so much.

    Love the fact that there are no banner ads / popups on your site. We hate them too :)

    Hugs from London

  3. Heyo Jodi! Thanks for writing and up-keeping this blog :) Haven’t met you in real life, but i’ve got the longyi you recommended while in Myanmar last year and had a couple of funny encounters with the locals trying to teach me how to tie it properly. Many friends of mine also envy this “constant travelling” but not all of them understand what it’s like to be a traveller and not tourist. And i do still feel scared before every big trip even though i’ve been around solo quite a bit, so it’s reassuring having you and so many other talented bloggers sharing about their travel experiences!

    -Jolyn (Singapore)

  4. I read your article on the beeb with anticipation but it turned out that you are another one of those quiet people at hostels who are more worried about what to do tomorrow than what to do tonight. I travelled as well, quit my job, and had a great time, but insisted on meeting people rather than writing blogs; taking pics and spending time on the internet… no, I didnt make a liviblng out of it, but I focussed on having the best time of my life rather than figuring out how I cab use this experience to my own benefit. I know this must be down to personality but please stop pretending you are the typical travellers profile. Just admit you are one if those people who sat quietly in the corner while other people were having fun. I have never known a true traveller who writes about his experiences. He/she rather likes to experience it than write about it. Go out and have fun. And dont write or talk about it. Just enjoy it.

    1. Hi Koen,

      Every time this site gets mainstream press coverage, I get emails or comments like yours from people who obviously did not take the time to read the blog. A cursory glance doesn’t give you context, and many of my readers have been around since 2010 when I moved from Blogger to WordPress. If you did sniff around, you’d see that I didn’t carry a laptop with me for the first long while, and I focussed on enjoying the travels — and updating this site occasionally from random internet cafes so my mother could see what I was up to. Which is why I started it, of course.

      And as I built up a great community of readers, I picked up a laptop and thought I would delve deeper into the places and their stories and keep sharing and writing. If you scroll down a little bit, you’ll read that I live in Saigon for part of the year, renting a small studio apt and eating my way around town. It’s quite hard to stop pretending I’m a typical traveler when I … haven’t pretended I’m a typical traveler, you know? ;) I’m a little confused about the opportunism implied in your comment, but not everyone enjoys stories about food. To each their own.

      Thanks for clicking through from the Beeb.

    2. Wow, bitter or jealous much? People take pleasure in travelling how they wish, and if thet blog about it and give pleasure to others, then so much the better.

    3. Woo, drinking the haterade man. I bet he wouldn’t say that to Hemmingway”s face. Great article Jodi, who doesn’t want to make a living doing what they love, right?

  5. Keep up the good work I really love your passion for travel. Your definitely living a lot of peoples dreams! Shows it is possible to do what you love and to get paid for it.

  6. I would like to purchase one of these olive hating shirts. There’s money burning a hole in my pocket, damn it, and either I set it on fire or buy said t-shirt.!

    Also, if the back of the shirt could say “I have 99 problems, but olives ain’t one”, I will purchase 5. And wear them all at once.


  7. Hmmmm, read the article on BBC, having just gone back into an office after 25 years working for myself…salary is decent, but the whole office/institution thing is hard to deal with! And what’s the first sentence I read in your article?!? about being inspired by the trans-siberian railway! My Mum had that dream and I inherited it from her – but never did it and still think about it – and traveling South America, Asia and beyond…I do a lot of things here at home (Saint Lucia) that inspire me and I am really pleased to be able to do, but I am inspired by your story and your frank and useful advice … and I know without a doubt that an office in an institution life are just not for me.
    I think it’s time I start planning how to save for a big trip a few years from now.

  8. Hi,

    I have been a reader of your site for years. Your posts on visiting Myanmar inspired me to spend 28 days there from Dec 2012-Jan 2013. It was hands down one of the best travel experiences I have ever had. I like the nuts and bolts approach you use to help travelers with useful tips on how they can have a better experience and navigate the minefields.

    I had intended to replicate your trip to Myitkyina but it was closed to travelers. Instead I took the 36 hour government ferry from Bagan to Mandalay. It was probably the highlight of my 28 day trip.

    Thank you for your contributions to the travel blogosphere. You not only helped me but inspired me…..Phil

    1. Thank you for the note and kind words, Phil! That boat ride was one of my fonder memories of my time in the country, and was when there was a solar eclipse (that’s why I took it) — still makes me smile. Safe travels to you!

  9. I’ve been reading your blog since 2010 and have enjoyed every minute of it. I stay in constant awe of your verve for life and your willingness to plunge into the unknown (particularly as a fellow vertically challenged person). You have made me want go the Philippines (sans ferries),left me in awe of Burma and encouraged me to somehow get invited to a wedding by a taxi-cab driver at least once. I have also begun a long-distant, passionate love affair with Thailand inspired by your blog. One day soon we will meet. You opened up the world to me, and I thank you tremendously for that. I do have one question for you that pops in my head whenever I read your anniversary post every year…..whatever happened to your friend who originally traveled with you, Jenn maybe (I’m to lazy to go back to look)? I often wondered where she ended up. Thanks again and keep on writing!

    1. Thanks for the comment and kind words Krystal! Jess was her name, and she didn’t enjoy writing much so she kept on for the year of her trip without documenting it here, went back to NY and took a great job as in-house counsel at a small digital ad agency that was then acquired by Google. She said, too, that during interviews for her return to the workforce people kept asking about travels excitedly — so to those who are worried that travels won’t be good for your CV, she reported otherwise ;) We parted ways because I got sick and she kept traveling, then we didn’t end up in the same place after — except in NY, where we meet up for a catch up when I’m back in town. Glad you’ve enjoyed the site over the years and hope we cross paths one day!

  10. Lovely to read and very inspiring Jodi as we now are just over a month away from heading out into Asia to try to achieve the same as you have.

    I am wondering if I will ever return to the law….!

  11. Hi there, I just stumbled on your blog via blogstomp and love how you’ve been able to make a living out of travelling. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do..but haven’t quite mustered up the courage yet to quit my full time, lucrative finance job in NYC.

    Anyway, love the blog and the food photos! Will continue to pop by :)


  12. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your very honest assessment and answering the questions that many of us like to know and that help us to grow. I am however quite appalled at some of the comments to you here on this post. I enjoy reading your blogs and being a little food and Asia obsessed anyhow doesn’t hurt. I like your writing style I am really pleased you like olive oil but I am not buying one of those t-shirts. Have you noticed there seems to be a number of travel writers who don’t like olives, and successful one’s at that. I wonder if there is something in that for all of us. Take care :)

  13. Hey Jodi, love your blog, and love this post! Funny, honest, and informative. I hope you keep enjoying what you’re doing, and keep sharing your experiences. (You’re great at it!) Happy travels!

  14. I love your answer to the question “what is the meaning of life!” Brilliant! As a blogger I have met a lot of people who try to discourage me with a lot of reasons, and when they fail, this is the last weapon in their arsenal!! I am going to shamelessly steal your answer and use it now! :P

  15. I love what you wrote about “the luxury of seeking happiness.” Before I started traveling, I had a decidedly American (North American?) mindset regarding work, success and happiness – if you worked hard, you’d be rewarded with a chance at happiness. Simple.

    And then I went to Nepal.

    Many, perhaps most people in the world work 10x harder than the average American, and that hard work is rewarded with survival at best. Being able to seek your life’s purpose, as opposed to struggling to feed your family each day, is truly a privilege indeed.

  16. Jodi, I’ve written to you before to express my admiration for your work and travel philosophy. Nothing new to add except keep up the great work (and yes, olives are revolting).


  17. Hi Jodi,

    I stumbled upon your blog back in 2011 after feeling “homesick” for the road after returning from a trip to Thailand. It was love at first read and I have been following ever since. Thank you for all the work you put into sharing your experiences and advice. Anyone reading your blog can see the time and dedication you put into each post.

    You are an inspiration! :)


  18. This is a very honest assessment which answered most of my questions about the life of a “full-time traveller”. The part about finding a community is quite a surprise but well, I have never spent such a long time on the road. Is it really that easy to deepen friendships? Maybe that also differs but I cannot imagine myself in a situation like that, to find someone I can have deeper conversations with is pretty hard for me.

    And there is one more thing I’m curious about: is there anything you are missing on the road?

    1. I miss the smell of pine trees (this is nothing new, though, since my 2010 roundup said the same), and I miss my family. I am grateful that the summers in N America allow me to get quality time with them — weeks, instead of days — and that technology let us keep in touch easily.

      Yes, I do find it incredibly easy to make and keep terrific friends on the road. I’m really honoured by the people I’ve crossed paths with who have become a family of sorts, where without being in the same place we make sure to have scheduled Skype chats, and send each other photos from afar. There’s an ease of communication and an intensity of time whilst traveling, which I’ve talked about prior. You spend more time with each other because it’s normal to take a full day to eat and explore; as the hours add up, your friendship strengthens. It remains to be seen whether the friendship stays on after you’re each in different places, but for many people I’ve found that it has, and then you have the beautiful reunion somewhere down the line. :)

      I definitely find myself more open to talking and voicing thoughts about long-term travel and life than I would be were I not on the road; perhaps it’s that openness that contributes to these new friendships? There is a different of course between temporary travel buddies and new lifelong friends, but several have made the leap from the former to the latter.

      1. I sometimes think of travel like summer camp for adults when it comes to relationships. You’re all away from home, spending lots of time in the same places and you go in knowing whoever you meet has at least ONE thing in common with you- your desire to open your mind to other places in the world and you’re willingness to make sacrifices to make that happen. That’s a more interesting start than a stranger in a bar, methinks.

  19. Congrats, Jodi! Your blog, travels and writing are inspiring. Love reading your perspectives about places and food and people! Thanks for sharing with us. Aloha!

  20. Great to hear from someone who has been successful at traveling for a living and how you cope with everything and simple things like snail mail! Thanks for sharing.

  21. OMG. I may have to buy that say no to olives shirt. My hate for olives was even noted on my bio page for the longest time. Capers suck too.

  22. Great post, but your extreme dislike of olives (I love them, actually) left me pondering this: is an olive a fruit or a vegetable… hmm lol.

    Congrats on the 1 million views. It takes a lot of passion to get to that number.

  23. I laughed so hard at the answer to “What’s the meaning of life?”

    I haven’t travelled as much as you have but the part about “living a normal” life struck me the most. It gets really challenging when people (friends/family) ask me when I’m getting a “normal job” again. I always end up telling them I will get a “job” back really soon just to end the discussion because I fear that they might not understand me!

  24. Holla Jodi!
    I am excited to have found your site. It seems like the nomadic living/ lifestyle business blog niche is male dominated. It is nice to get a female perspective. I wish I had an evernote list of where I left my winter clothes and other odds and ends. After living in Central America for a couple months I realized I do not remember what I left with whom- oops. Congrats on 6 years!

  25. Karoline Nielsen

    Hi Jodi
    I’ve really come to like your blog. I only stumbled upon it recently, and am currently working my wat trough it, but I just love how funny and real it is.
    A thing I have been wondering about is, how do you meet people. It seems you have a pretty good “network” of friendships (If that’s an apropriate way to put it?), and this is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve been wanting to travel the world for a long time, but the part that scares me the most is if I might become lonely. For someone who find it really hard to meet new people, do you have any tips or stories or, well, anything?

    By the way, I am gonna take a stand for the poor olives. Nothing deserves to be bullied by hungry olive haters :D

    1. Hi Karoline, I’ve found it easier to have this network within the travel blogging world, which helps in terms of connecting. If you have hobbies you enjoy or skills that you’ve used, there are often meetup groups on meetup.com or expat groups on Facebook that focus on them. I’ve also found going to pub quiz nights a fun way to meet interesting people, as it brings out many of the colourful locals and travelers in town. Also, staying in hostels — even in private rooms — means that there is a shared common area, and people are usually extremely friendly in this circumstance. Even prior to getting involved in travel blogging, that’s how I tended to meet and travel with people along the way.

  26. We are couple bloggers really new to the scene. This post has helped us in quite a few ways to stay the least. Its always tough to be new and small in an already saturated domain but we do believe what you offer actually helps in the long run. I was reading another blog where the author mentions how travel blogging has lost its soul because of blatant advertising in their posts. We are inclined to agree because we’ve just started and we’ve already started receiving offers for reviews and paid trips. But there are quite a few people who will not sell their soul reviews that are unbiased, disclaimers et al.

    Its always nice to come across blogs like yours which re-establishes the faith.

    One question we wanted to ask was if there is a community or blog or website where we could look for help and feedback for our travel blog. All we can possibly offer in return is a promise to pass on the help.

    1. Thanks Rishabh — appreciate the kind note, and happy you like the site.

      For community/feedback:
      – there’s a group on Facebook (I’m one of the admins) about travel blogging. It’s for business questions / issues specifically, but searching through the archives might be helpful https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelbloggers/
      – see Liz Carlson’s post about how she became a travel blogger and what she’s learned: http://www.youngadventuress.com/2014/05/make-money-travel-blogging.html. In that post she links to Travel Blog Success, which was started by Dave Lee. That might be of interest too.
      Hope this helps!

  27. Reading through your blog I get a few nostalgic tears. I spent more than 7 years in Saigon living a fairly local life. I left due to health and financial reasons with the thought I might never return. But when I read your wide~eyed posts I can’t shake the feeling that,although, I’m a white Jew, Saigon touched my soul as much as any place I’ve ever lived. So thanks for your blog, I’m enjoying the very familiar memories.

  28. Hi Jodi,
    I just started checking out your blog after Pauline was telling me about it recently. I really like it! Congratulations on one million views and congratulations on being brave enough to pursue happiness instead of money and status. You set an amazing example for being true to yourself and if more people did that the world would be a better place!

  29. Thanks for answer few common question that all have while reading this blog.

    You know Jodi, Life is just as sweet as you want it or as sour as you taste it. Often things changes with time. Like your careers of Law to World Traveler. But the taste to delicious food and travel world is endless. So keep doing this.

    I admire this blog more and more as its ads free, no guest post and everything written by you own. Great work and Keep up things you do here. Would surely check your amazon products, books and other..

  30. Wooooow, this is one of about two articles I’ve read by you (I just stumbled across your site), but it doesn’t take much to get inspired! You are really wonderful for being so open to new experiences, and I especially admire that you started this path of your life alone and in an unconventional manner. Your blog evokes within me a strong desire to travel the world, but also a feeling of reassurance that it is tangible. Thank you for that.

    I wish you health and happiness where ever you go. ^_^

  31. The meaning of life! :D Have read all the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series and also use no. 42 as an answer to that! Hilarious books, love them! Thanks for all the inspiration and great work that you do by the way!

  32. Jodi, THANK YOU for the bag recommendations.

    I just got back from my first trip outside of North America, which also just so happened to be my month-long honeymoon. We trekked in Nepal and then ended our trip in Bali, so we had to pack for two different climates and trips. The hitch was that we were limited to 25 pounds as we had a porter on our trek.

    It proved to be quite challenging and I’m now convinced that I need a new bag for my trip to Europe in February. I’ll have to look at the ones you mentioned.


    Ha! “Guest Posts” ie please let us pay to post a “unique and original” article on your site, which will inevitably be terribly written and have numerous “authority links” in it to apparently throw Google off of the fact that it’s just a spammy attempt to leach off of your “link juice”.

  33. We are just about to set off on our travel journey through South East Asia starting in Hanoi, and then making our way down through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia. Taking the plunge with leaving the job and everything behind to live the dream is nervewracking, but your tips are golden! Thank you. Who knows, we may cross paths whilst in Asia :)

  34. Freek Van Ootegem

    From now on Jodi, I humbly promise you and the almighty traveler gods that I’ll enjoy life to the fullest, get the most out of every day, be an inspiration to others! Oh and eat soup…

    I’ve been reading your blog from the sidelines for a few years now. Personally food and female travel blogs (don’t judge me please) are often not my favorite. Well you prove me wrong time and time again!

    Now after a few years of traveling myself, I’m trying to write my own travelblog (no food). And I just can’t face the fact, that I’m ever returning to your blog and comparing it to mine. You’re writing style is great, the content is extremely interesting and the blog just looks amazing!!!

    Keep on doing the good works and I hope to be a member of your food walks some day.

    You’re happy reader

    1. hi Freek, thank you for the kind words. I don’t tend to focus much on the fact that I’m female since that’s incidental to why I travel, so perhaps that’s why you’re fine with reading my site. ;) But I am glad you enjoy it, and best of luck with your own writing and travels!

  35. Hi Jodi. Thank you for sharing such a wealth of knowledge. Christina and I are eager to meet other traveling bloggers out on the road to learn more, add more destinations to our list, and share memories with great people. Where are you now and where are you heading next?

    1. Thanks AJ. I update Instagram far more frequently than the site, and this site isn’t usually chronological. If you’re looking to see where I am, Instagram is best. I’m in Saigon now, heading to NZ next.

  36. Hi Jodi,
    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask this, but I was referred to your site by one of your readers. I am trying to get into housesitting and the obstacle that I keep on hitting is that they do not want a single female (even though I am 46 years old) house sitting due to safety concerns. Have you heard anyone else having this problem?

    1. Hi Sandy, I asked a friend because I’ve never done house-sitting and she confirmed it is quite possible that people have a hard time as a single — though age I don’t think factors in! She said to read GlobeTrotter Girls because Dani from there now housesits alone and has made it work for her. She also said “There are some sits that actually ask for singles, but because many houses its are often in remote areas, they prefer a couple.

      Never mind that it is also getting super competitive.

      Persistence is key.”

  37. Hi Jodi,

    I stumbled on your website from following a link from a couple who is traveling the world (#I’m jealous), by the way that was my first ever hashtag and hopefully my last. My wife and I are heading out for Turkey in April for 2 weeks. It is going to my first international trip (not counting Canada), but hopefully not my last. I definitely need to be doing what you are doing and not what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. Working at a desk. All in good time. That was a joke. I have lots of reading to do and will be back.

  38. Haha. Loved your reply to “What is the meaning of life?”. Seriously, can’t get over it!
    Love our blog, especially your honest voice. When one visits Legalnomads and read a few bits they SHOULD certainly get to know that it’s a professional blog. Was fun reading this FAQ. I’ll catch up with the rest of the posts soon ;)
    Hope you are having a great time! :)

    Cheers & Good luck!

  39. Hi Jodi,

    I came across your site via a tagged photo of you and Drew (if I’m being honest here). I just want to express how thrilled I am to know there are other olive haters out there. I spent a while traveling/studying in Greece and it was an “outrage” that I didn’t think they had the best olives. There are no ‘best’ olives because all olives are filthy disgusting.
    Anyway, I recently got married and Drew encouraged my husband and I to try Oaxaca for our honeymoon, but we’re going to spend some time in Europe next fall, so I super appreciate all of your travel tips! I just ordered that whistle because reading your stories about being stranded on the boat, chased by monkeys and locked in a bathroom all gave me panic sweats.

    Your Fellow Forever Olive Hater,

    1. Hi Lee! Drew has told me about you – great to see you here. Congrats on the new marriage! I am thrilled to have another olive-hater in my ranks, and I’ll soon be offering the ‘say no to olives’ graphic on tote bags. I’ve told Drew he needs to get you one ;) Safe (monkey-free) travels to you, and enjoy your honeymoon.


  40. Great FAQ, thanks for giving us a greater insight in to your world, and the nosey side of me gets to see what you’ve been asked in the past as you’ve travelled the world. I love olives but I also love that you hate those blasted pop-up type ads too. They drive me nuts!

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