Where are you from?
I was born in Washington D.C., raised in Minnesota, lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin for many years, and had stints in San Francisco and New York City. Now Tucson, Arizona is home. I’m excited to experience my first monsoon season!
What do you do?
I am a writer and public relations consultant. I do a lot of content marketing for corporate blogs, executive speechwriting, naming and branding, and travel blogging as a hobby. I partner with a few agencies but also work directly with my own clients. Being a traveler is not only a benefit of the work I do, it’s a necessity. I find that getting out into the world, experiencing the richness of life, and testing my beliefs makes me more creative when it’s time to put pen to paper. It gives me a chance to ponder the profound, the bigger issues in life, and even the seemingly little stuff. When you see that things can be done differently and effectively in other countries than they are in your home country, you can’t help but question the status quo. Why do toilets in other countries use no water, while we in the U.S. flush clean drinking water down ours? Why do we buy eggs by the dozen in the U.S. rather than in groups of 10 as they are sold in some countries? And more importantly, what lessons can we take from these encounters that can help us innovate a better future? People often ask me how I come up with my ideas, and honestly, I think living a full, rich, challenging life is essential to having the brain elasticity to think about things differently. I try to share these insights, these bigger lessons of the travel experience, through my blog.
How are you nomadic?
I tried to shoehorn myself into the corporate world for quite some time, but it was never a great fit for me. I always felt strangely trapped, like I was a square peg, and that I didn’t speak the same language. I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder, or manage people. The world was always calling to me, but two weeks of vacation a year just isn’t enough to experience the world in the way that I want to. So after years in a traditional work environment I started my own business, and as a writer, I’m free to work from wherever I want to in the world, as long as I have wifi and my laptop. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s a freedom I never take for granted. In addition, I realized I’d been trying to set goals within the parameters of what the default world says we “should” do. So at last I set a goal that I really wanted to do, and that is to travel to 100 countries. It was so energizing, and a huge eye-opening moment for me.
There have been times when I’ve been location independent, when I’ve carried all I owned on my back or in my rollerbag, but now I actually have a post box and zip code, and can buy full-sized bottles of shampoo! Luckily I found a partner who supports me in my quest to see 100 countries before I’m dust. (I’m currently at 34 countries, 5 continents and 42 states, but only started seriously traveling about 15 years ago.) He’s always encouraging me to scratch my wanderlust itch and go see the world, while he holds down the fort. Sometimes I get to bring him along, but for the most part I travel solo. He thrives on stability, while I feel most alive when my feet are planted on new soils.
As an introvert, and a wife, I like to travel for a month or two, then recharge at home and luxuriate in that time I have with my beautiful dog and my husband. I miss them when I’m away. So I have struck a balance between being nomadic at heart and having a somewhat traditional home life. To achieve my goal of 100 countries, I’ll have to go to three countries or so per year at a minimum. It’s my assumption I’m better off going to the more challenging countries while I’m still able, so that I can coast in my later years. I want to live my life in a way that inspires other people who dream of travel to see that it can be done, that you don’t have to live your life based on other people’s “shoulds.”
What’s your favorite part of being a nomad?
It’s the most beautiful way to learn. Immersive travel is a rather unforgiving teacher, if you do it right. It will test you and your assumptions, and push you to the limit. The trick is to welcome the transformation, and to look forward to the person you will be on the other side. That’s my favorite part.
What’s your least favorite part?
I have a strong sense of justice, and I’m extremely empathetic, so seeing injustice in the world is painful for me. But while seeing the injustice itself is my least favorite part of the travel experience, I know in my core that experiencing the imbalances in the world, or my perception of them, is all a part of that transformational experience. It makes me want to be the kind of person who makes right choices, who lives with integrity, and who stands for something. If you never hear the stories of those who have suffered, if you never see the consequences of the choices your nation makes or that you make personally, you might never realize you are living outside your personal value system. Changing the way you live your life because you’ve learned it’s for the greater good or rights an injustice has to be one of the most powerful and selfless evolutionary outcomes that are rooted in the travel experience.
What’s your craziest story?
Sometimes I feel like my whole life is a crazy story, particularly when you weigh and measure it against my upbringing in the upper midwest. There are a lot of people back home who can’t believe I live my life the way I do! I’ve worked in a convent, lived in a commune, attended a pagan spring ceremony, watched water pour from a Central American well in a village that hadn’t had drinkable water in 40 years, delivered weather forecasts on television, had a sacred ceremony with a shaman who changed my life, found long-lost relatives in Sweden, listened to the personal stories of victims of torture, flown in an open-cockpit biplane, hitchhiked, worked from Uluru, rode on a private jet, slept on strangers’ couches and train station floors, lived off popcorn for three weeks, white water rafted in category five rapids, feasted in five-star restaurants, hiked the Inca Trail, driven 216 kph on the autobahn, and I’ve gotten lost in every country I’ve ever visited. Somehow I always find my way home. Somehow I always crave new adventures. Life is meant to be one long, crazy story you write yourself.