TRAVELER PROFILE: JODI (FROM LEGAL NOMADS)
When I announced to the world last December that I would be setting out on yearlong travel project, I received the blessing of many friends and family. The warm wishes became fuel for these adventure jetpacks.
But out of the woodwork came an unfamiliar voice. It came from a friendly, supportive traveler with no ulterior motive but to encourage my big (and somewhat daunting) life choice to hit the road.
It turned about to be a fine woman named Jodi, a ‘veteran’ travel blogger originally from Montreal (one of my hometowns). Here’s what she wrote to me back in December:
“When I started my blog, it was for my mum to keep tabs on where I was headed, and for my former lawyer colleagues to see what I was up to. But I had no idea it’d be something I would keep up with going forward, and I never wrote or reached out to other travel bloggers for advice. So when I saw your post about leaving, I wanted to help since it would have made a huge difference for me when I initially set off. I also think you’ve done great stuff at Tourisme Montreal and I’m looking forward to seeing what funsies you manage to come up with on the road.”
It was entirely sweet to be on the receiving end of such sentiments. And although Jodi and I have yet to cross paths on our respective adventures, her kindness and support have most definitely impacted this travel project.
I’d like you to meet her.
Who are you?
I’m Jodi, though over the years I’ve been called Half Pint, Bite Size (I’m not a giant), Jodifer and a bird-crap magnet.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, eating a steady diet of maple syrup, smoked meat and poutine.
What do you do?
I’m trained as a lawyer – I studied at McGill in Montreal, then worked for over 5 years in New York in corporate law – but since April 2008 I’ve been travelling around the world and writing about it on my site, Legal Nomads. Nowadays, instead of contracts I tend to focus on street food, culture and photography – it’s a lot more fun.
To where shall your compass lead you next?
At the moment, it’s up in the air. I tend not to plan too far in advance! It’s been a great summer back in North America with family and friends (and a bunch of weddings to attend), and I finally had a chance to explore Newfoundland, which was incredibly beautiful.
I’ll likely head back to Asia come late fall or early 2012, as I can’t stay away from sticky rice for too long…
LET’S GO DEEPER
You’ve been to basically everywhere now. What place most reflects the uncaged beauty of your soul?
Well, there are plenty of places I’ve yet to visit, and ones that I think will affect me deeply. With my food and spices obsession, a sojourn in India and Sri Lanka is a must, but I fell in love with the history and foods from Southeast Asia and have yet to make it there. Of the places that moved me the most, Mongolia, Burma and the Philippines stand out – each with their own very different people and customs but a deeply ingrained sense of history that permeates everything. And Thailand is a place I keep returning to, having fallen for the dizzying variety of tastes and spices when I first set foot in the country back in 2008.
What type of dish best represents your hometown?
Poutine, of course. Comprising ingredients that, taken alone, are already extremely compelling but put together are even more delicious. Like Montreal and its many disparate ethnic groups all sharing each other’s foods and attending our city’s many festivals, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, elevating the city (and in this case the bowl of cheesy awesomeness) to something on another level entirely.
Or maybe I just love French Fries too much?
Do unicorns really exist? If so, have you seen them, and where can I find one?
Obviously. Though if you really want ‘em, you can find some here.
You’re a single gal in a big world. Many gals might be intimidated by venturing out alone. How do you navigate gender-related sensitivities whist traveling?
This is a question I get often and I think it`s important to separate safety from sensitivities. On the safety front, most stuff would apply to men as well – consider carrying a mugger’s wallet in certain destinations, don’t leave a drink unattended, bring a doorstop if you’re in a solo room and want to make sure you can hear the door if someone’s trying to get in.
But when it comes to cultural sensitivities, it’s important to read up about a place and customs before you go and use your common sense when you arrive. In places such as Malaysia or Indonesia, well more conservative than elsewhere in Southeast Asia, I made sure to cover up despite the heat – long sleeved, loose tops, no short shorts and leggings under a dress. In Myanmar (Burma) I found that dressing in a traditional longyi was a great way to slide into the culture sideways, and an excellent icebreaker throughout my weeks in the country.
There are no set rules, but obviously in many countries being headstrong or independent isn’t as customary as in Montreal, and I’ve made sure to bite my tongue or not take things personally. If you’re heading to a far flung place, the best advice I can give is to stay patient when things go awry and make sure you do some research ahead of time. It’s also easy to meet fellow travelers, be it in hostels or over street eats, and seamless to start heading out in a group when you arrived as one.
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Have you met Chip & Natalie yet? They’re the bomb-diggity, yo.