Welcome to Weekend Travel Inspiration and another traveler interview on our Rendezvous with Rovers series. This week we interview Nathan from Foodie Flashpacker. You may remember Nathan from a guest post he did on our site on the food of the Azores. Read on and find out all about Nathan’s travels.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Nathan Aguilera and I’m from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I’ve been solo traveling for four years now. When I initially began my trip I planned to spend six-months traveling around SE Asia. I had no idea that I would still be traveling four years later with no plans to stop anytime soon!
I’m currently based in Merida, Mexico. I’ll spend the winter here before returning to Europe for the summer.
As I mentioned, I’m from Oklahoma which isn’t hugely popular as a tourist destination. Lately, there has been a focus on bringing more tourists to Oklahoma City and whereas I wouldn’t have recommended it for tourists when I was younger now I gladly would! We now have lots to see and do, some amazing restaurants and some really interesting neighborhoods to explore.
What inspires you to travel?
I know it sounds cheesy but what inspires me to travel are the people I meet along the way. In this four years I’ve met so many really incredible people who are doing some amazing and interesting things. I’ve met people from all walks of life with crazy different background stories.
The places that call to me most are anywhere with a beach, destinations where the dollar is strong so my money goes farther, or anywhere with an amazing food/wine scene. If you’re able to combine all of these, in places like Costa Brava, Spain or the Azores of Portugal — even better!
Even though I currently have a home base, I still consider myself as traveling continuously as I’m outside of my home country. I’m based in Merida and I’ll take long weekend trips to explore other areas of Mexico and hopefully some surrounding countries as well.
Describe your travel philosophy.
My travel philosophy is to try (nearly) everything once, because you never know – it could be your new favorite. If you hate it at least you know and there’s no need to ever do it/eat it/go there again. That being said- some things I have refused, such as trying balut in the Philippines. I feel confident saying without having ever tried fertilized duck embryo that I won’t like it, thank you very much.
As far as my style – it’s right there in the name of my site: a flashpacker. For anyone not familiar with the term, it describes a style of travel that’s between budget and luxury. I don’t sleep in dorms and I don’t book the Four Seasons either.
When I’m traveling, I tend to stay in mid-range hotels or most often I book an apartment to myself using Airbnb. If I were to stay in a hostel I would book a private room.
I love street food and I’m happy to eat it all the time but if there’s a restaurant with a tasting menu I’ll likely find it as well.
What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling?
I love to explore a destination through food – I’m always looking for what the locals are eating. I love to find out the history behind the dishes so I’ll usually try to book a walking food tour of wherever I’m visiting. Not just what the locals are eating but why – I find it very fascinating.
Other than that, I love beaches. If i have a good book or a bunch of podcasts I can spend weeks laying around on the beach doing nothing.
What is one funny, embarrassing, cute, or even frustrating anecdote from your travels?
There was the time I ended up at a vagina doctor for bug bites in Morocco.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
I’m currently shopping flights to Oaxaca, Mexico. As amazing as the food here in Merida is I hear Oaxaca is the foodie capital of all of Mexico! I’m excited to visit and try the dishes to see how they compare to the cuisine of the rest of the country.
What is one travel book or movie that you can recommend to folks?
If you’re a budget backpacker definitely watch ‘A Map for Saturday’ before you go – it should be required viewing. For me, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ really inspired me to visit Italy. Gorgeous people laying around Italian beaches, living off trust funds– what’s not to like?
What is one thing you take with you traveling, no matter what? What would you say is your favorite piece of travel gear that you take with you?
I know this is such a generic answer but the most used, most helpful, can’t leave home without it gadget is my iPhone. It does everything! I would literally be lost without it.
Other than that, I would say I always travel with an extension cord/surge protector. If you’re traveling alone, it’s good to be able to charge all of your electronics at once. You can lay in bed working, edit photos, post to social media — all while charging all your devices up at once.
If you’re traveling with someone it’s handy for both of you to be able to charge devices at the same time rather than fighting over the best/closest outlet.
How did you get started travel blogging, and what would be one piece of advice you can offer newbie bloggers?
I started blogging at the two year point of my trip. I was a bit burnt out from traveling so much, moving cities all the time, always packing up and moving around. But, I wasn’t burnt out enough to go home. So, I started staying in places longer, having a home base and exploring the area from my base. When I found myself with more time on my hands I started the blog and decided to give it a year and see how I liked it. Now I’ve been blogging for two years and I (mostly) love it! It’s a job like any other- there are some great perks and some huge frustrations but I really love the community and blogging has presented me with some really great opportunities that I’m grateful for.
If I had only one piece of advice to give to a new blogger it would be to network like crazy! All of my first opportunities came from networking with other bloggers. Attend happy hours, meet ups, conferences, apply for press trips, join all the blogging Facebook groups. The community is (mostly) really supportive. Give support when you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Thanks to Nathan for his inspiring traveler interview. If you’d like to revisit it, just pin this.