Live Inspired mailbag: all things food

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

If you know anything about me, you know that food (and drink!) is a big part of my life. After growing up in my parent’s kitchen — entering cooking contests from the age of 9 — then coming of age in restaurants, then working as a food writer, I’ve always been very motivated by food.

For me, travel is no exception — in fact, food is one of the major inspirations in why I travel. I’m never happier than when wandering through a local market, discovering new produce and new prepared dishes. I believe that the raw origins of a place’s food culture is always evident in its markets; there’s no better venue to get a grasp of the climate and terrain, to understand what and how people eat, to see the various crude ingredients — animal parts, produce, fresh cheese, just-made tortillas — come together skillfully in entire meals at a vendor’s stand around the corner.

While traveling, I’ve also found food to be one of the greatest connectors, which is why cooking and eating will be such a big part of my docu-series project. When we make food for others, we are caring for them in the most primal and fundamental sense. To accept that gift is an intimate exchange; to respect someone’s food is to respect them. And oh the satisfaction of savoring a meal together; do so and you’ll be closer than you were when you sat down.

There is incredible wonder and joy in newness, of experiencing something you never have before. There is incredible comfort and fulfillment in familiarity, in being reminded of our commonality and shared experiences. In food, we have an opportunity to find both: newness and familiarity. We have the chance to feed ourselves physically and mentally, in two wildly different but equally nourishing ways.

With those sentiments in mind, I thought I would focus this latest mailbag on all things edible (and drinkable!). Judging from your responses, food is something you all are passionate about and interested in, too!

By the way, if you’ve missed them, you can find past mailbags about who I am and what I do, about the logistics of my travel and about all things health-and-wellness on the road through the above links.

How to fly: a very serious guide to surviving the organized torture of the skies

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I’ve spent a lot of time on planes and in airports in the last 15 years or so — from working in newspaper jobs covering first sports and then travel, to my own enthusiastic journeys, to this nomad lifestyle I’ve adopted now.

It occurs to me often that the Sky World, which commences once one enters a building designed to usher people into that universe, is totally different from Land World, and that in many cases, airport culture is almost entirely estranged from the culture of the city that built it. Accents suddenly disappear. Time slows to a halt. Shoe shining is back in vogue. It’s more unusual to *not* get a beer or bloody at 9 a.m. on a weekday than it is to drink three.

Necessarily, then, the rules and customs that govern these Sky World places are unique, too, even if most of them aren’t written or even widely spoken of in the streets (concourses). These rules aren’t arbitrary; they’re here to keep life vaguely decent and vaguely efficient in an experience that has become akin to organized torture.

A traveler’s gift guide

As a full-time nomad, I understand that travelers can be difficult to shop for, especially if they don’t have a permanent residence.

But finding the ideal gift for the holidays is just a matter of perspective.

It’s important to give travelers something that serves a valuable purpose, and is small enough to tote around the world.

Live Inspired mailbag: health & wellness

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Welcome to my monthly mailbag!

Here, I take your questions about a particular topic of my nomadic life and give you all the secrets about how I make this crazy existence work.

The theme this month? Health and wellness. Let’s be real, even when we’re stationery it can be hard to juggle all of our physical and mental needs along with work and social activities. Let me tell you, when you’re on the move, it can be even harder.

It took me a full year just to figure out how I could scrap together a daily routine in the midst of travel, even when my apartments, my cities and my work flow are constantly changing. (You can read more about that here.)

Live Inspired: 7 reasons why I feel safer in El Salvador than anywhere

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Before moving (temporarily) to El Salvador, there was one phrase I heard over and over, from strangers and friends alike:

Be careful.

El Salvador, after all, has a gritty, dangerous reputation, especially in the U.S. where you can hardly Google the country without breaking out in hives. Sample headlines describe it as “murder capital of the world,” and lament “life under gang rule.” The majority of U.S. media coverage of El Salvador centers on migration and thus focuses on the country as a place of poverty, crime and desperation.

Several people, this summer, actually urged me not to come — for my safety.

Now, after living here more than three months, I still hear that phrase from people back home all the time, despite trying to show so many wonderful aspects of the country.

Usually, I just shrug.

I know they mean well. But besides not especially caring for the remark, it almost just feels silly.

And that’s because, believe it or not, I feel safer here than I have …maybe anywhere.

Live Inspired mailbag: how I get around, meet people, decide where to go

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Buenos días!

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that my name is Amelia, that I am a solo nomad and that I have been exploring Central America for more than a year.

What you might *not* know are some of the specifics — the behind-the-scenes details that make this whole thing go. I started a mailbag series precisely to answer those questions.

In my last mailbag, I touched on the basics: my background, what I do now, why I’m doing it and how I make money.

For this mailbag, I asked you to send questions about logistics: getting from a to b and functioning in every place, almost as soon as I hit the ground.

If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can leave it in the comments or reach out to me through my website email or on my social channels.

Live Inspired: I was a model for a day; this is what it was like

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I twisted from behind to face the camera.

Sadly, my vision for this pose was lacking. Already, I had been instructed to move a leg, stretch an elbow, lift my chin.

I shoved my hands in my back pockets for effect, pushing my hips toward the shot and twisting my face and body into a position not even a yoga instructor would suggest. There were a couple loud pops. I wondered how many massages it would take me to reset — surely more than the $50 I was earning from this 4.5-hour session could redeem.

The photographer eyed me.

“Si,” he said. “Muy natural.”

Against all odds and likelihood, I was … a model.

Live Inspired mailbag: who I am, what I do, how I make money

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Hello!

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that my name is Amelia, that I am a solo female traveler and that I have been exploring Central America for more than a year.

What you might not know is some of the specifics — how I began my journey, what exactly I do for work and how I make a living in this crazy life.

Recently, I asked you all to send me questions, and send you did!

In fact, I received so many queries that I plan to make this mailbag a series — upcoming mailbags will be focused more specifically around the logistics of my travel, how I address health and safety, and what I love about where I am now.

But for now, let’s begin with some of the basics: who I am and what I do.

Here are some of those questions I receive most often:

Live Inspired: in the lack of normalcy, this is my routine

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I remember my first several months as a nomad, viscerally. I use the word “viscerally” because I can almost, now, feel the caustic taste of the anxiety that took over on most days. Honestly, most days.

At the time, I was so confused. That feeling took me by complete surprise. I had traveled solo a lot, and I was finally doing what I had long dreamt of doing.

But what I was feeling, I now realize, was the result of the systematic demolishment of every normalcy in my life — from how I showered and got dressed in the morning, to how my days progressed to where my food came from at night. My job had changed, my house had changed, my network had changed, my belongings had changed, my whole life had changed.

I had almost zero routine.

I had gone from a person who set the alarm before 5 a.m., hit the gym almost every day and scheduled life around a series of meetings, deadlines, happy hours and events to someone who had nowhere to be, no one to be with and was suddenly working in a job without any outside framework or direction.

Live Inspired: 10 things I learned after one year as a nomad

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

In many ways, it feels like my journey as a nomad has only just begun. But that day in late June when I packed up my backpack and left my old house in Minneapolis? That feels like CENTURIES ago, some black-and-white movie I once watched.

The last 14 months have been an exercise in almost complete change — I sold everything, left all that I knew and charged into an indefinite journey of solo travel. To do that, I had to unlearn how to live, how to think, how to operate, and then calculate and build a new normal in a totally new existence.

After more than a year as a nomad traveling mostly through Central America, here’s what I learned: