Nomadic Matt

The Inspiring Blogger Series: Passport and Plates

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Our Inspiring Blogger series continues this week with Sally from Passport and Plates. An Arab-American foodie (who speaks three languages!) Sally has a passion for good food and slow travels. Read her story below! If you want to be featured in our Inspiring Blogger Series, just email our Community Forum Manager Chris at [email protected]

 

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, I’m Sally, the Arab-American Muslim foodie traveler behind Passport & Plates. I was born in Ireland and grew up in the U.S., but I’m ethnically Arab, so I consider myself of a bit of a “multicultural mutt.” I speak three languages, and when I’m not traveling or blogging, you’ll find me whipping up some random concoction in the kitchen, clumsily dancing salsa and tango, or curled up with my cat and favorite book.

 

How did you get started traveling? What inspired your wanderlust?

When I was ten days old, my parents boarded a plane with me to attend my first wedding…and I’ve been traveling (and attending weddings!) ever since. Well, sort of. We traveled a lot when I was really young, but I didn’t start traveling again until I was 14. My first trip was to Egypt for the summer to visit my extended family. I was intrigued by how drastically different life could be in other places and since then, I’ve been addicted to learning more about other cultures!

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How did you get started blogging? How did you go about deciding your niche?

After spending 6 months traveling post college grad, I remember stumbling upon this concept of “digital nomads.” I found Nomadic Matt, amongst others, and vowed that one day I’d figure out how to be location independent. A couple of years later, my quarter-life crisis was in full swing and my lack of success in finding my dream job led to me creating it! I took my first solo trip in August 2015 and have been blogging ever since. I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection between culture and food and want to share that knowledge with others – especially those that are under budget constraints like me! Additionally, I’m the only Arab-American Muslim solo female travel blogger out there. My goal is to inspire young Muslim women to get out there and explore!

 

Has blogging changed how you travel? How do you stay focused/effective?

Since I blog and work remotely as a social media manager, I spend a lot of time working on the road now. It means I embrace slow travel, spending long periods of times in places so I can have time to both work and explore. I’m still a one-woman show, and easily spend 40 hours per week on the blog. I’m trying to be better about spending less time behind the screen and “manage” my time with project management tools.

 

What sort of destinations are you attracted to? 

Although I’ve done most of my travels in Western Europe and Southeast Asia, my favorite destinations have been some of the less popular ones like South America and Africa. I prefer to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations and plan on traveling in the Middle East in 2017. That region does not get enough love from tourists!

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What kinds of experiences do you find the most rewarding/enjoyable?

I LOVE opportunities to connect with locals, above all else. It’s one of the hardest things to do on the road, but I find it so rewarding to be able to sit down and just talk to people. I’m a firm believer that the best education comes from traveling and connecting with people with a completely different viewpoint on life. Last year I volunteered as an English conversationalist in Spain and made so many great friends I still keep in touch with today.

 

What destinations are on your bucket list? Where do you plan on going in 2017?

The better question to ask is which destinations AREN’T on my bucket list? I’m going to focus on the Middle East in 2017 (which countries exactly are still TBD), but I’d also like to spend more time in Central and South America, central Asia, and East Africa. Antarctica is definitely on the bucket list too.

 

What are some of your favorite countries for food? Any particularly memorable meals?

It’s no secret that I love food, and have an entire section dedicated to food on my website. I’m particularly partial to Southeast Asian and South American cuisine – hello Singapore and Argentina! However, San Sebastian, Spain is easily my favorite foodie destination. Every meal I ate there was better than the last, and I spent most of the time there bouncing between pintxo bars and sampling everything I could get my hands on.

 

What is your travel style like?

Once upon a time, I was a fast-paced traveler. I got a few weeks off of work during the year and made sure that each day counted. Now, I travel slowly and don’t focus as much on just seeing the tourist sites. I try to find locally hosted events or regional influencers I connect with so I can also get a glimpse of what local life is like. Since I’m an introverted nerd posing as an extrovert, being able to connect with people in deep and meaningful ways (and one on one) is how I’ve made some of my best friends abroad.

 

Tell us about your most memorable trip!

Two weeks after I graduated college, I set off to do a summer internship in Jakarta, Indonesia. Between language barrier struggles, a roach-infested apartment, and living far from all five people I knew, I cried on the third day. I told myself that if I made it to the end of the summer, I’d end up loving Indonesia and feeling incredibly proud of myself for staying. I did indeed end up loving it and I got (or so I thought at the time) a little dose of adulting 101. There were plenty of mishaps that summer, but I left feeling like I could conquer any travel challenge that came my way.

 

Have you had any misadventures?

When I was on said trip in Indonesia, a friend’s coworker offered to be in charge of booking some friends and I a weekend stay at one of the nearby Thousand islands near Jakarta. Somehow, we ended up being transported on a cargo ship, stayed in an apartment with no running water, and had to share three people to a bed! Needless to say, our little island getaway wasn’t quite so relaxing, although we all laugh about it now.

 

How do you stay on budget when you travel? Do you use any websites or apps? Can you share any money-saving tips?

I’m pretty old-school when it comes to tracking my budget and use Evernote and Excel to write everything down. I also love Mint.com, which automatically categorizes everything based on your credit card and bank account. Research is key to helping me save money – I never book the first thing I see, but instead use social media, travel blogs, and Google to get a gauge on costs and activities. When it comes to flights, I always keep an eye out for error fares too.

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Why do you continue to travel?

I think it’s important to continually educate yourself, whether or not you choose to travel. To me, travel is the best education I can give myself. I’m always learning about different foods, lifestyles, and cultural beliefs, and have realize that there truly is no “right” way to live. Travel reminds me that despite our differences, people all essentially want the same thing: love, safety, shelter, and happiness.

 

Do you have any travel regrets? Things you did or didn't do?

After traveling for six months after college, I was worried about “falling behind” in getting a job and rushed back to Los Angeles to job hunt after two weeks in Chile. I wish I’d taken the opportunity to stay longer because it’s one of the few places I feel like I didn't have enough time. Luckily I can always go back and visit, although I know it won’t be the same.

 

Do your family and friends support your travels? Did they always?

Yes, for the most part! My friends are really supportive (and if they aren’t, they’re really good at pretending). My parents were really strict when I was younger, but fortunately by the time I finished university, they were a lot better. Now they’re mostly supportive, although they do question my country choices sometimes. I’m positive my mom is really eager for me to “settle down” though.

 

What advice would you give to new travelers?

I would say don’t rush to finish all the monuments and all the cities and all the countries on one trip. Traveling isn’t just about seeing all the monuments of a city. Take a day where you go and do something totally random. Find a cool event and meet up with locals and learn from them. Trust me, four cities in one week is not the way to go!

 

Tell us about your blog and where we can find you on social media!

I’m a millennial foodie traveling the world in search of good food and local experiences on a budget, which is exactly what Passport  focuses on. I sprinkle in some occasional ponderings about life, including my experiences traveling while Muslim and keep it real that travel isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. You can follow me in all the ways below: FacebookInstagramSnapchatTwitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

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I already follow your blog, but it was nice to read a bit more about you. Looks like we have similar slow travel styles :-)  Oh and I still feel that I'm in the quarter-life crisis, although I am 40, I refuse to call it midlife crisis :-)

christopherko likes this

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