I’m a former lawyer currently traveling (and eating!) my way around the world, one country at a time.
Who is Jodi?
A frequent question, one that transcends borders or language, is “what do you do?” Be it in San Francisco or New York, Saigon or Bangkok, the basic introductory queries always include a version or another. These days, I’m able to give an answer I love:
“I eat soup for a living.”
I used to have a much more straightforward answer. Once a lawyer in New York City, I merely said, “I’m a corporate attorney” … and then watched the person’s eyes glaze over with total and absolute disinterest. After six years of lawyering, however, I quit my job to travel the world for what I thought would be a year. And then my answer became “Oh, I’m just traveling for a year before I go back to being a lawyer.” And then, as a new career took form, “I write about travel, but I suspect I’ll go back to being a lawyer soon enough.”
Today, from lawyer to blogger to author and soup eater, I can synthesize what I do – writing about the stories behind our foods, emphasizing the interconnectedness between people and places and sharing narrative as a way to bridge cultures – in one short sentence about eating soup.
How did I get here?
When I quit my job in 2008, I started my site, Legal Nomads, to keep friends and family apprised of where I was headed. As you can ascertain from my intro, making this blog a platform into a new business was never the plan. The plan, as I saw it, was to travel for a year or two then head back to lawyering, hopefully in the public sector.
However, April will mark my 6th year of travel and writing, and will be the first time that I can say “I’ve been traveling and eating soup for longer than I was a lawyer.” Had you told me when I left NY that I’d be doing this still, excited to wake up and learn about a new place through its food, I’d have laughed. Had you told me that I’d have written a book about it and was preparing to launch food tours for my readers…well, I’d have laughed even harder. But by sticking to the things I believed in, by following the sparks that ignited as I explored the world, I find myself here.
One of the most common questions I receive is “why do you keep doing this”? My life of travel isn’t meant to run from what other people see as “normal”. While it seems quite destabilizing from the outside, I’ve actually managed to create a routine within these travels, spending most of the winters in Southeast Asia and the summers in North America. I’ve truly enjoyed chasing opportunities as they’ve arisen and learning as much as I can in the process.
I have celiac disease, so for me Southeast Asia provides a great opportunity to learn through food without getting sick – wheat is easier to avoid there than in many other places. And in the summer months, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at conferences and seminars about career transitions, social media strategy and community-building, all the while visiting friends and family in North America.
Where have I been?
I started my travels in a traditional round-the-world context, beginning in South America (at the far reaches, down in Patagonia) and planning to loop around the world and back to New York. While I began Chile and spend time in South America, then moving to South Africa and Siberia and Mongolia, much of my time in the last several years has been centered in Southeast Asia.
In between those longer stretches, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting parts of Europe and the Middle East, but my heart – and my stomach – leads me back to soup and street stalls soon enough. It is in Southeast Asia that the chaos of markets and tiny plastic chairs provide a backdrop to explore the reasons we eat what we do, following a specific condiment or spice with the movement of people and seeing how our eating patterns change as we move from place to place. Legal Nomads is ad-free, so the cost of living doesn’t hurt either – by renting a place in Vietnam or Thailand and eating there, I’ve managed to support my lifestyle and only work with companies I love.
My Best Travel Story
Why G Adventures?
Speaking of companies I love: partnering with G Adventures was a perfect fit on a variety of levels. They’re Canadian; I’m Canadian. Their social media manager hates olives; I hate olives (#saynotoolives, everyone). They champion embracing the bizarre and exciting people about a common community cause. They value entrepreneurial, creative spirit. They also care deeply about changing people’s lives through travel, and have shown time and time again that they follow through on that promise.
I joined the Wanderers In Residence programme in 2010, and have been on one trip thus far, a fabulous trek through Morocco. In documenting it for The Looptail and for my own site (my Morocco posts are here) — I found myself enthralled with the country and the people I met on the tour. Alexandra, a fellow attendee on that trip, has remained a great friend, our bus ride chats blooming into a cross-continental friendship. Yacine, my guide for those few weeks, corresponds with me regularly. And I loved his introduction to Morocco so much that I stayed put for an additional few weeks, renting a car and driving on their crazy roads all the way to the Algerian border, sleeping under the stars in the Sahara. I looped back to Marrakesh and continued upwards, to the Rif mountains, climbing up to the summit of the dizzying medina in Chefchaouen, my eyes soaked in blue and gold.
This year, I’ll take my second trip with G under this WIR programme, one that is very special to me. My mum, who did not grow up with a life of travel, has always wanted to see India and the Taj Mahal. I’ll be taking her with G Adventures for a two-week trip into the North of India, to Jaipur and Udaipur and Agra. She’s beyond excited to see a part of the world she has dreamed of for so long, and I am thrilled to provide her with an opportunity to do so through G, while also being there to watch her experience India. The structure of a small group provides her with comfort she needed to agree to let me drag her around India for a few weeks. And it will be the first time we travel together in over ten years. We leave on September 27th. It’s going to be a blast.
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With one life to live, we might as well do something we find personally meaningful. In partnering with G, I’ve found in them a company that believes exactly that and affords me new ways to get that message out to potential travelers. In intertwining my passion for travel and food, I have tried to convey to others that doing what is unconventional might not be as unstable as others perceive. It might be what stabilizes you. It might be what moves you to drill down on a topic you find fascinating, to teach the world about what you discover, and to help others in a way that resonates with the values that you embody and love.
Like the other wanderers in this WiR programme, I’m inspired by G’s mission, its values and its dedication to making life – and all of us living it – more fun, more connected and more exciting.
Plus, what other company would let me take over its social media channels for a day?