I see people’s faces light up as if I’ve just offered them free ice cream for life when I tell them what I do for a living and describe how I got to this point. Sometimes there’s even an audible gasp because I probably have the most enviable job in the world. I introduce myself as a travel writer – and it has taken nearly 10 years to hear myself say it and believe it myself. I’ve been living out of a suitcase with no home base for 10 years now. Yes – a whole decade has gone by since I left my corporate IT career in 2006 and set out with a one-way ticket to Kenya with the simple intention to be gone for a year – and I got a bit sidetracked. I’m now living out most people’s dream job – traveling the world writing about it, sharing it on social media and photographing it.
Ask Me Anything & I’ll Answer Your Questions Live
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I’ve been living this nomadic lifestyle longer than I’ve ever lived in any one apartment or stayed in any one job. So this life of perpetual motion is now pretty normal and ho-hum to me, yet I know it is baffling, and strangely exciting to others. I’m addicted to the challenge of constant change and experiencing new things. I often have no idea where I will be staying or sleeping more than a few weeks out. I have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing next year.
There is nothing predictable about my life. In fact – the only certainty is uncertainty.
The only thing that is fairly predictable in my life is the top 10 questions I get asked every time I meet someone and tell them about my nomadic ways and my career as a travel writer. So I will just cut to the chase and let you know all the answers to your predictable burning questions.
The Same 10 Questions Asked of a Travel Writer
How many countries have you been to?
I got my first passport at 30 years old (16 years ago) and now have traveled to aprox. 65 countries and all 7 continents. I rarely even count countries any longer, it seems pointless, but I do like to see it visually on a map occasionally!
What is your favorite country you’ve been to?
This is like asking someone to pick their favorite child in a family – it’s never a good question. However I realize it’s something everyone wants to know – so instead of one I’ll give you my top 3 favorites in no particular order – Mongolia, Nepal, and Antarctica. I have a love of wide open spaces and mountains and cultures that are vastly different than mine. Plus, I really enjoy traveling in countries that are vastly different than my own culture. I’m going to give honorable mention to Vietnam (where I lived for a year), and Jordan where I encountered the nicest people in the world.
As a side note – I just recently had someone on the plane sitting next to me ask me this question in a way that made me smile – “What are your top 5 countries?” I looked at her, smiled, and knew that we were immediately going to be friends.
What is your least favorite country?
Once again – I’m not good with giving a single answer – so you’ll get two. Aruba and Egypt. I know people love Aruba – but it’s just not my travel style at all. It felt more like Miami than a foreign country. You paid in US dollars, there were a bunch of chain restaurants, and the beaches were crowded with Americans. I had to work REALLY hard to find some local experiences there. As for Egypt, I’m not sure if it was just a timing thing or what – but I have no reason to ever go to Egypt again. Strangely I love the Middle East and it’s culture, but I just wasn’t nuts about Egypt.
How do you make money to continue traveling?
Very honestly – you don’t make much money travel blogging – at least I don’t. However, it one piece of income in an overall freelancing puzzle that is crucial to me. Blogging itself makes money if you sell advertising on your site, but because of my blogging background and following I also get hired to do freelance writing for other online publications, I sell photography, and I get hired to participate in social media marketing campaigns as a travel influencer. You want details – then here they are in a whole post – How I make money traveling.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve eaten?
I believe in at least trying anything people offer you – it’s the polite thing to do after all. So that means I’ve eaten many things that would make most people cringe. The most cringe-worthy thing I have been offered and ate was hot vit lon – a baby duck fetus in Vietnam. At only about 18 days, eating this duck fetus is considered a delicacy and yes – it’s crunchy, but it was also really delicious! However lamb brain, silk worms, fish testicles and rat are also on that list.
Luckily – I didn’t have to eat these cow eyeballs in Colombia though…
You say you don’t have a home, but where’s your home base?
I wasn’t lying – I don’t have a home, which means no real home base and lots of sleeping around. However, I do have an address – I’ve learned that you need an address to survive in this world – taxes, documents, forms, voting, etc. I use my parent’s address in South Dakota, however I’m there only a few weeks a year to visit. Other than that I stay with friends and family whenever I’m back in the US. And some continue to welcome me over and over again and for that I’m eternally thankful!
What’s the strangest place you’ve ever stayed?
To my surprise, I booked an Airbnb room once that turned out to be a Dentist Office. So I did what anyone would do – I stayed in a dentist office in Istanbul for a week. It was a functioning dentist office by day – and by night my own little apartment – I had the whole place to myself at night. During the day I would often sit in the living room/waiting room and talk to patients. At night I worked in the dentist exam room as it was the only room with AC! Yes, it was weird, but heck – you might as well embrace the strange when you travel.
How do you do laundry?
This is one of my favorite questions – mainly because it weirdly predictable that people are concerned about my laundry. The answer is, I do it where everyone else does it – in laundromats, hostels, hotel sinks, Airbnb apartments, with women by the side of the road, and guest houses. The key is – never pass it up, when you can find laundry – do it! I know it seems strange – but you always seem to find laundry when you need it – the universe is pretty kind in that regard.
Do you get tired of constantly traveling?
YES. If I look at the 10 years as a whole, around year 7 I started to get tired – which means that now I’m really tired. I used to think that you could never get travel out of your system – but now I’m no so sure. As wonderful, enviable, and great as it may seem to you, the truth is – traveling like this in constant motion isn’t easy. In fact I’d go so far as saying I don’t recommend it to people. At times I feel like I have been conducting this giant science experiment and in the beginning there was a ton of great results, travel changed me in positive ways, it opened up my mind and my world. But then there were repercussions that I didn’t really expect, things that I wasn’t ready for – like my deteriorating relationships, and lack of ability to know how to sit still any longer. The mental drain it takes to constantly have to figure out where I’m going to sleep next. It’s wonderful having a life of freedom and flexibility but it’s also challenging to be in a constant state of motion and always being a guest somewhere. You are never settled…ever. There are times where I just want to not make my bed, or leave my stuff lying out, but if you are a guest, this is not something I get to ever do. I love having minimal stuff in my life, but I also miss the little things that most people don’t even think about – like hangers. Oh, how I miss hangers!
Don’t get me wrong – I have no regrets at all. It’s all been a crazy life experiment to see what does happen – and each year I learn something new that is good and bad.
If travel is your job – then how do you take a vacation?
I really don’t ever have a true vacation any longer. The closest I get to a vacation is going on a trip that is off the grid – where I’m forced to not take my laptop and work in my bed at night regardless of internet. But – I will say that even after 10 years I still deep down love traveling – seeing new things finding new experiences. But it gets harder and harder to find those things that ‘wow’ me all the time. On a positive note, I’ve become really adept at finding more unique experiences beyond the tourist trail in order to keep me excited about travel.
In my 10 years on the road, I’ve been called many things, homeless, nomadic, global citizen, crazy, hippy, location independent, brave, restless, financially poor but experience rich, and hobo to name a few of my favorites. But the truth is I’m just a person who has a passion for travel and loves to share it with others, and apparently I have a pretty high tolerance for living out of a suitcase with a lot of uncertainty. I do this all in the hopes of giving people a different view of the world than what they see in the news. And hopefully it will ultimately get more people escape their routines and get out and explore the world. The more we understand and experience this world we live in, I believe the happier we will be.
Curious for more? Read the Next 10 Questions