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:

screenshot
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.

Seriously.

 

* * *

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.

-Jodi

128 thoughts on “FAQs after 6 years of travel”

  1. Thats amazing how you’ve done so much. I don’t understand the olive thing but I’m in china and I really don’t think the tea is great no matter how many times people have me try “this amazing tea”. Its always just like a less good version of coffee to me. We all have our olives I guess.

    How do you make friends when traveling? Just find expats and introduce yourself? I’m not terrible extroverted so its always a slow process for me.

    1. I’m not an extrovert either, though I’ve figured out how to be a friendly introvert :) If you’re more on the move (unlike me with an apartment here for a few months) then hostels are easy places to meet people, as are Couchsurfing meetups (you can go to them even if you’re not currently couchsurfing). For the more lengthy stays, you can look at meetup.com for groups of people clustered around common interests, or forums on Facebook. I also joined a group for international entrepreneurs and that has provided me with an instant network of people in most of the places I’ve visited recently.

  2. Congrats on 6 years of writing and travel Jodi! I’ve been reading you blog for many of those. And thanks for making me crave soup every.single.time I come to your website! :-)

  3. Congratulations on six years. My soon to be wife and I are planning for a trip for the start of 2016 (student loan debt is unfortunately a burden for me). I am a merchant mariner though which gives me large swathes of free time even while working and we are going to spend much of the summer on our honeymoon wandering Nicaragua and central America. Your blog has been an inspiration to us and we both read it regularly! Any idea what this next year has in store?

    1. Definitely an interesting way to get time to travel. Where do you usually work? On my end, not sure of where summer will take me. Likely back to USA and Canada for parts of it, and probably back to Asia in the fall — but after that, who knows :) Safe travels and congrats on the wedding! Enjoy your honeymoon.

      1. Jodi, I’ve ended up working all over the world. As of now, I’ve been in a shipyard in Portland Oregon for the last 5 months. This place is a foodie heaven. I’m really hoping that my next ship though will be based out of S.E. Asia, the outfit I work for has quite a few ships based out of Singapore.

        Any suggestions for Nicaragua? We’re planning on heading to the Corn Islands and Ometepe and then exploring Leon, Managua and Granada as of now.

  4. I loved this post, thank you so much for sharing! As a total blogging noob it is fascinating and exciting to read what might potentially lie ahead…I also studied law but decided that it wasn’t for me :)

  5. Happy Anniversary… six years and counting. I read all your posts, sometimes not in order but I manage to steal time away from the craziness that is life to escape in your travels.

    A pleasure knowing you Jodi, thank you for sharing all of this with so many.

    Love,

    c.

    PS I can make you change your mind about olives, we’ll just need a few weeks in Spain and Greece!

  6. Hi Jodi! Congrats on six years. I’m coming up on my six months in May (it’s gone so fast!) but I can’t begin to imagine what lies ahead. All I know is that it’s not an office. Props on the Hitchhiker’s Guide reference, too.

    P.S. I can’t say I understand your distaste for olives, but as pro-olive as I am I don’t believe in forcing olives on anyone. Though olives are awesome. Just for the record.

  7. Tilda (Xin Jie)

    I’m leaving on my own journey from Singapore to the other side of the world (South America :) ) in a week’s time, with no return ticket. The idea of having a road wide open is exhilarating and scary enough, and I can’t wait to actually live it! By the way i got myself a safety whistle after reading one of your posts. Happy 6 years and see you in Singapore this weekend!

  8. Congrats on your six year anniversary and thank a million for this post! It happened to come at a perfect time for me and was just what I needed to read. I am seven months in to a similar journey and have given myself 2-3 years to make an online income (living on saving in the meantime) and this past week I’ve been feeling very down and disheartened about my ability to make it happen. This is mostly due to how much I have to learn and how much the travel blogging industry is changing. Your post give me the inspiration and the boost I needed to stop being so hard on myself for not having “made it” further in seven months. I will now proceed to pick myself up and carry on towards my dream.
    Thank you!!

  9. Happy blog-aversary, Jodi! I love that I have been travelling vicariously through you for 6 whole years! It makes me feel so accomplished. Thank you for 6 years of great stories, photos, food and guano.

  10. I’m in my sixth month as a career breaker turned traveler so it’s encouraging to see someone making it work six years later. The decision to stop working was absolutely terrifying (my family & friends still have nightmares!) but it’s been an amazing ride. Hope to can keep it going. Thanks for setting the example to follow!

  11. 6 years – awesome!

    I took a one year trip through Europe and Asia in 2012. I also saved up $15,000… but ran out of money a bit earlier than anticipated. Mostly because of Europe. It was well worth it though.

    I’m hoping to one day live on the road, too. When I came back from my trip I was forced to come to accept that as long as I had my gargantuan American school debt, that would never happen. So now I’m a year in to a 2 year stint living with family in order to pay it off (and sacrificing a bit of my self-confidence by it as well). I’ve already paid down 21k from the principal in under a year – I’m almost half way there! I’m also using the time to try to build an online copywriting business. I read that blogging and article writing doesn’t pay much, but commercial writing can, so that’s where I’m headed. I’ve just started with the biz – I hope it works!

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been reading your blog since before my long trip. :)

    Oh! I used to be on the Olive Hater bandwagon.. but something changed when I was in Albania and now I just can’t get enough of them. Viva la Olives!

    1. I lived at home for while to pay down my student debt! It is completely worth it, and best of luck on paying it all off as soon as possible! Then you can travel and go anywhere you want without having to think about it ever again.

  12. Great roundup and inspiration for other people! I’m hoping that I can blog for fun while doing research and traveling over the next few years. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done with this PhD program (which has me going between New York, Singapore, and London) that I’ll be able to set myself up with something like you have where I can spend some months in different parts of the world! If only I could convince my future employer that it will work…

  13. Thanks Jodi,

    That entire read was very worthwhile, interesting and eye opening!

    I am very envious of you, and happy that you are living a life you love.

    I’ll be using some of these hints and tips for myself!

    Take care,
    Jack

  14. Congrats on six years, Jodi. I started reading your blog back in early 2009 when backpacking in Central America, I met another former lawyer turned travel blogger who highly recommended it. I think he was traveling around the world without taking an airline flight. For a long time I would read your posts and think “that’s exactly what I’ll do when I quit my job and travel the world – very soon.” But then I found a better job, then an even better one, and became quite happily settled in life (for now anyway). Now I use every last drop of vacation time traveling to interesting places and whenever my mind turns to long-term travel I live vicariously through your blog. So thanks for that!

    Out of curiosity, and only if you don’t mind sharing, what do your readership numbers look like these days? Cheers.

  15. I was with you all the way until the olive-hatred, but in a way I support it, because everyone is allowed to hold their own opinion, however horrifically blinkered and wrong that opinion may be. I support your right to be wrong. I even find it inspiring, because it shows that even the smartest, bravest and most talented of us can have a brain fart that echoes around the world. GO JODI.

    Beyond jocular abuse, I have an actual question, and it’s related to banks. Presumably you use PayPal to get paid here and there? I’ve heard of regular travellers getting locked out of their PP accounts because they move around enough to make the company suspicious. Do you inform them of your travels in advance, the same way as with your banks?

  16. Hello Jodi, Congratulation on your 6 years. As I have mentioned few times, I love your writing style. Being a man, I have little idea what women-who-blog go thru, and it is annoying to see how creepy many men are. Hopefully you have come to adapt to it, and it is great to see you have not turned into another maureen dowd.

    It is also refreshing to see (in the world of greed) that you were able to be content with funds under $50k, and still refuse to site ads. Keep up the good work, and I wish you the very best.

  17. Bonjour de Québec.

    Just read your article with lots of interest. I was sort of hoping someone would have asked the question that I’ve wondered about on several occasions. How do you refuse to eat something in a strange country when you know it would be insulting to the person offering you the meal. Let’s say, you just don’t like pigs feet or something’s guts. Sometimes these people have put all their heart into preparing you a – what they think is a nice meal- and it just looks and/or smells disgusting. How do you handle that?
    thanks for your input.

    p.s. I have the same aversion towards potatoes as you do olives.
    p.s.s I used to hate olives also until I had a real black Kalamata olive.

    Joanne

  18. On returning to your old career, I have the same feelings. I, too miss “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.”

    There’s nothing like a deal high, but when you close one 100% on your own, even if it’s small and just one small step towards remaining your own boss, it’s that much sweeter, isn’t it?

    Also, anyone googling “Jodi Ettenberg boyfriend” should be aware that one of the first images that comes up is you stroking a giant tiger. So, creepers should be forewarned, one must first get through a ferocious tiger to get to Jodi ;)

    Love that you included our soup photo eating together! That was such a great day with friends old and new.

    1. Ha, well Pancake the tiger WAS a tiger I loved ;)

      It was a great day and nice to chat as well since you came from a similar work environment. Have thoroughly enjoyed following your adventures from China!

  19. Jodi,

    Thank you for the vibrant and invigorating experience of life I have learned this past year from you (and a few others).

    In January 2013 while wandering the interwebs I found your blog. I was searching for my passion, how to find my passion or maybe hoping someone else’s passion would fit my life. Instead, I found you and Chris G. and Shannon O. and a hand full of others who rocketed me into a new dimension of thought thus changing my life trajectory forever.

    Born a wanderer and fully convinced my world travels were on the horizon, I began taking initial steps towards reducing my “life”. Slashing expenditures and pairing down the closet were ongoing self-bargains. Leaving my career, telling my family of nomadic plans and feeling isolated in a world of people who thought I “had lost it” were certainly THE most challenging aspects of the past 15 months.

    It was during those lonely times I turned to your blog to normalize my thought patterns. Your writing showed me how to exhibit patience with family and to love the doubters. You showed me how to relate in a new and different way to my community. Your stories taught me to set healthy boundaries around heart and mind while opening my arms to those I care for and love. Thank you, Jodi.

    About 9 months ago, I began sharing my story of how “some girl (you) I follow on the internet has changed the way I treat people and helped me to become a better woman”. Friends were interested. I began to share more about your life and more about the lives of others who believe in the new community facilitated by social media and similar platforms. More people were interested. At the same time, I began to identify myself as a bit of a story teller. Not my stories but those of others. And so it happened…convergence! I found a sweet spot somewhere between a passion and a practical skill. Converging Media Production!

    I am not running off to distant lands quite yet. First, returning to school to gain technical knowledge in film making. I want to tell your story and the story of many like you. Some day when the paths are forged just right, I’ll join you for a soup tour expecting to talk about a lot more than soup:)

    Until then, keep on keepin’ on and thank you for making a world of difference in our slice of the pie! You started it all for me, Jodi, and I am forever indebted to you.

    ~Kimber

  20. First Nomadic Matt and then you! Some of these questions have answered a lot of my questions. Posts like these are slowly pushing me towards my first trip! Thanks!

  21. Hi Jodi,

    Congratulations on 6 years! What an achievement! I’ve been following your blog for the past year. It started when I decided it was time for me to plan a career break and came across your blog. Your writing has inspired me, motivated me and amused me all at once! You’re one of the reasons why I was able to get off my feet in planning my around the world trip!

    Keep chasing that dream!

    P.S. Thanks for answering my question in this post!

  22. Jodi, Love your words. All so practical and helpful. I have to say, I love the olive hate. That was me until my birthday at age 47. I was having a birthday meal with a Turkish man who made me try the ones his wife had made herself. I did, and to my shock, liked them. Now I’m making up for lost time. So, the moral. You’ve got plenty of years of olive hate ahead so enjoy it while you can!

  23. What about Olive Oil? Tapenade? Pizza olives? The colour olive :D

    I’m with you on the advertising, more because I don’t see it as sustainable in the long run, and even if ‘white’ they rarely create value for the reader. I’ve taken a couple at times of desperation and feel like I sold out. Affiliates I prefer, they are more challenging to create incomes and you can link in with your experiences and recommendations e.g. hotels bookings.

    Congrats on 6 years.

  24. Congratulations on the 6 years – I know I’m not the only one who has spent time reading your blog with an equal mix of excitement at the next post and jealousy that you ‘made it out’.

    I too work as a lawyer, in the City in London. I’ve struggled with restlessness for years, being told it was just stress or mild depression. I actually gave up my job 2 years ago to travel but ended up staying for a relationship. That ended painfully last month and I think I’m finally ready to accept the inevitable – I’m good at my job but it makes me miserable.

    I think too many people are taught as long as you get the high flying career and live the ‘Friends’ style lifestyle you’ll be happy, but restlessness just gets stronger and stronger until you can’t ignore it!

    My biggest shame though – I’m 32 and scared witless about doing this alone, about being lonely and not coping….it’s such a big step I’m scared to fail!

    So congratulations on having the nerve to do what felt right – I hope I get even half of that bravado and book my ticket to Vietnam.

  25. Congrats not just on the six years but on understanding that you weren’t trapped within the “close environment” of a law office that you mentioned. Your blog is a great example to those who feel that one with a law degree can only practice law. Kudos!

  26. We just had lunch but let’s have dinner, was that me? Or hi, I’ve never met you in my life but how about we spend all day eating jamón? Has been a pleasure to be a reader for 4 of those 6 years and thanks for not irking me with advertising because I would run for the hills (of the Internet). I could get on board with some pop-ups if they are random photos of soup and cats.
    Hope this year is healthful!

  27. Congrats! I really admire you and your lifestyle. While it’s not in the cards for me to do full-time (any time soon), I think it’s incredible. I enjoy the site and jealously follow your soup adventures on Instagram.

  28. Congrats Jodi on 6 years of travel from one Canadian to another! Thank you for laying this all out and being so transparent about it. I really admire that you’ve been able to sustain the blog in your own way (e.g. no advertising). I’ve been thinking a lot about taking the RTW plunge, and this post is the kick-in-the pants I needed to realize it is possible to take a career break and to do it with a certain budget. Definitely a tipping point post – thank you!

  29. I’m a newer reader but congratulations on your 6th year, Jodi! I would love to be able to make a living out of traveling and blogging – that is the dream! Thanks for this post and for giving some insight into what your life is like in the background, behind the blog.

    I HATE olives too. I don’t get why something so salty and blah is considered so tasty by so many. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever understand.

  30. Lucky me that German bar exam results never expire. I waived my bar admission license because I didn’t want to pay membership fees and insurance (and fall under the weird rules for attorneys’ advertising while I am writing my blog), but if I ever need it again, I can just re-apply with my old bar exam and I’ll be an attorney again after a week or two.

  31. I just discovered your blog, and find it truly admirable that you have been traveling for as long as you have. I lived in Korea last year and am now living in Malaysia. Most people think I’m crazy for wandering like this, but I hope to do it for a long time. Thank you for the inspiration!

  32. Jodi, I’ve discovered your blog a while ago and just couldn’t stop reading it for a few hours :) It’s just fantastic how you’ve managed to discover your passion and turn it into your permanent lifestyle. I’m planning a to visit Vietnam and would love to get to your food walk.

    P.S. Was so glad to know you’ve recovered from dengue.

  33. Congrats Jodi on your sixth year. Incredible, isn’t it? I came across your blog last year and have been following religiously since. You’re an amazing travel writer. I was born and bred here in Vietnam and then lived in States for a long time and then relocated to Saigon and now in Hanoi. Just like you once mentioned, re-entry is always a shock to the system, but your positivity and fondness for Saigon (and Vietnam) have kind of helped me see everything in a more positive light :) You mentioned somewhere above that you’re going back to North America this summer and then maybe back to Asia. Are you leaving Vietnam for real? Saigon would be so sad to not have you anymore.

    1. Hi Khoa, thank you for the lovely comment. I was only in Vietnam once before — last year — and have returned this winter because I missed it. I’ll likely be back in the fall again but not sure for how long. I’m glad you have enjoyed the posts!

  34. Props to you, Jodi, for six years of excellent writing. Like many other commenters, I too got hooked on your site last year and have been reading it regularly ever since. Yours is the first site to which I refer anyone who says to me, “You’re traveling internationally for ten months BY YOURSELF??? Isn’t that REALLY DANGEROUS for a woman?” Again, I consider myself a traveler, not just a “solo female traveler,” but it was really nice while planning this trip to read your posts and realize that this kind of travel isn’t as far out as many people made me think it is. I hope that we end up in the same part of the world this year: would be great to take one of your tours and not eat olives :).

  35. 42. Guffaw! Just another prop for your successes. Like many others above I live vicariously through you and other blogging nomads until I can get out on my own. Thanks for inspiring me. Never really contemplated olives much until now but I like them so no t-shirt I guess.

  36. I am curious but how much did it cost you to travel your first year on the road? While I haven’t travaled like you, I do plan on hitting the road again next year.

    I am learning about how to creating a location independent type of income stream like freelance gigs, etc… which obviously helps lower the cost. It just makes me wonder what the first year really cost because that’s when we seem to buy the most junk before finally settling into the bare minimum.

  37. Someone once told me you were “local” to Los Angeles once you’d lived there 3 years. I think 6 traveling qualifies you as a Citizen of the World. Congrats. :)

  38. Howdy there,
    I found your website while googling around about Longyi (Since coming back from Myanmar, I love wearing my longyi around the house!) Quick Question: In your Q&A you mention there isn’t wheat in Vietnamese Soy, but would you know if most Thai Soy Sauces have wheat in them? I have a friend flying in in a month who’s Gluten-intolerant and want to do my best to help her out.

    Thanks for the info, and if you ever get to the west side of Bangkok (Salaya) drop me a note. You’ll always have a place to stay here in our four-bedroom house!

    1. Hi Cooper. Yes the longyis are super comfy. For Thailand, there are often people who say their soy sauce has no gluten, but in my exploration and ingredient hunting, it does actually have wheat in it. I’ve avoided dishes like pad siew noodles or dark broths, and have stuck to Isaan food (som tam, grilled pork, fish, nam tok moo, etc) and sticky rice. Tom yum soup usually fine as well. Also have your friend check out – http://glutenfreethailand.wordpress.com/guide-to-thai-street-food/ – some good advice there. Though I haven’t ever brought my own soy for vendors to use as I just stick to the dishes I know I can eat :)

      Appreciate the housing offer and hope you enjoy your week!

  39. Thank you for the lack of popups and forced advertisements. There are sites that I have stopped visiting because of how annoying all that can be.

  40. Congratulations on 6 years! Such an awesome milestone! It’s really a shame about the creepy internet stalkers but I like how you handle it. Here’s to 6 more years!

  41. This is refreshing compared to many of the repetitive nostalgic/reflective anniversary posts circulating travel blogs at the moment! Have you ever felt that you have ran out of places to explore considering you’ve been in Saigon/HCM for so long? I’m an absolute lover of food (hence, the name of my blog) but probably can’t see myself exploring the food within one city for anything more than three months to be honest!

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