Conclusion- In Defense of Strangers


E25- Home is Where You Recharge for the World

I met Doron at the beginning of his journey and in my last days of traveling. Although we were at the opposite ends of travel, we still shared one striking commonality: home. Where he had been walking around just hours earlier, was a place I hadn’t stood on in months and while he was ready to jump out into the big wide world, I was ready to cozy up in a familiar bed.

Doron is a social and geographical mountain climber. He sets large goals and aspires to reach a physical or metaphorical apex, but knows how to pace himself and enjoy the ride- something that travel has taught him. His travels have grounded him from the insanity and often superficial aspects of his home city and have helped him focus on self-care and how to not waste the rare opportunity of being alive.

Our conversation happens when we are back in New York and we discuss the relationship between home and the world and how leaving home can help you discover who you are when it isn’t coddling you. In this episode, we reflect on the benefits of long-term backpacking, why he feels connected when he is alone in nature, and why home tastes sweeter when you have been gone for a while.


E24-I Find Home in Weird Places

Blanca, from Spain, and I met at the top of a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. I know how that sounds. As we walked around the town of Machu Picchu, I was immediately captivated not only by her reenactments of the ancient man-made feat we were walking through together but all of the stories about her adventures around the world. At the time, her and her partner, Heiko, from Germany were traveling for a year, dividing their time between Latin America and Asia. She tells us all the countries that surprised her, how traveling long distance has influenced her relationship with her partner, and how the world still has lessons to teach her.


E23.5- The Lost City and The Last Soul 

On the morning of my father’s 58th birthday, I woke up next to a man I had met 16 hours before in the middle of the Andes.

We were going to hike Machu Picchu.

Here is our story.

E23-Be Like Water

Matt and I met under extreme circumstances one evening when we were trapped inside of the chocolate shop due to aggressive protests in the streets of Arequipa, Peru. We were stuck in the cafe for a few hours, and being the only Americans, it was an opportunity for Matt and me to reflect upon our culture and country. We continued the conversation once it was safe to leave the cafe, and Matt and I found a restaurant still open and our conversation floated between our country, traveling to less developed countries, and why he was in Peru in the first place. He was doing a motorcycle trip around the “Gringo trail”, which is a path in Peru in the shape of a triangle from Arequipa, Cusco, and Lima, which hits all the big tourist attractions of the country but allows him to ride along the often unseen corners of the country. Matt uses motorcycling, not as a way to see all of the landscape quickly but to explore the topography of himself.


E22- Teach the Heart to Inspire the Mind

Cindy was my Spanish tutor whom I met through Thomas ( from the previous episode) who worked with him through HOOP- the non-for-profit that provides lower-income students with opportunities for higher learning. Cindy’s primary job was to teach English to children living in lower socioeconomic areas and provide them with the tools to learn English and other languages.

I needed a teacher who wouldn’t judge me for the eclectic Spanish I had learned over my months of traveling throughout different Spanish speaking countries and inconsistent studying.

Cindy embraced my enthusiasm and created a soft landing pad for me to fall and make mistakes on without embarrassment. Like the one time I was trying to describe how beautiful the volcanos were and instead of saying “ Los volcans de Ariquipa son moi hermosa” I said “Lost volcans de Arquipa son moi hermano”- which means brother. She could never stop herself from laughing but never made me feel like she was laughing at me- it would become an inside joke between the two of us. Together, we were able to be reflective of our our languages and criticize them together- the difference between scary and horrifying or avoiding the mistake of mejor, major, and mujer. She was someone I was able to play and nerd out within the land of languages.

As my Spanish improved, Cindy’s story became clearer and I she taught me more than just her language- the history and problems of her country, the gender inequality, and the day to day musings of living in Peru, which is what we discuss here in this episode. Forgive the screeching of cars and the shouts of Spanish in the background- you are getting the live action soundtrack to Arequipa Peru. Here is her story.

E21-You Mountain is Waiting 

Thomas, from England, and I met at my first “hangover ceviche” which was always the Sunday morning after a late night of dancing and drinking around Arequipa. He mentioned to the table that a wonderful coworker was teaching him Spanish, and it was refreshing to hear another English speaker find it important to learn the countries language, while so many refuse to put in the effort.  Shouting over clinking plates, in between bites of octopus in chimichurri and lime-soaked fish, I asked what he was doing in Arequipa and he mentioned that he was working for a non-for profit called HOOP that focused on afterschool programs for underprivileged children in the outskirts of the city. I loved his straight-forward sensibility about social justice as if it should be a logical default for everyone to practice. Together, we discuss why he chose to leave his corporate job to work for an NGO Abroad, how living in Peru had changed him, and how he had translated his privilege in the world and chooses to use it for the benefit of others.


E20- Oh the Places You’ll Go 

Rodrigo was a local Peruvian teen who worked at Chaq Chau. While working together, we would do our own twist on language exchange: he helped me with my Spanish slang and I helped him create clever DJ names in English. He was always wonderful to talk to about Peruvian culture, identity, and history. But as much as he loves his home country, working in a community of travelers has fed a growing desire to go out and travel around the world. In this episode, we discuss what it is like to grow up in Peru, how working in an expat community has influenced his identity, perception of his own culture, and future goals to explore the world. We get the chance to talk to someone who is still untouched from the changes of travel, but I admire Rodrigo’s ambitions to see what lies beyond his homeland and hope his desire to learn never leaves him.

E19- The Heart is a Lonely Traveler 

I was a little overwhelmed with I first met Michelle from Montreal. 

I think one of the reasons I was threatened by Michelle, in the beginning, was because I saw parts of who I had been when I was her age: filled with optimism, babyfaced, and thrust out the nurturing warm womb of my homeland. So, towards the end of my second backpacking journey, with Latin America being a bit rougher around the edges, I was getting a little tired and a little jaded. But, I think the universe put Michelle and me together so I was reminded to not lose sight of travel’s splendor and why I choose to dedicate my youth to it. So, once I got over my own insecurities and began connecting with Michelle- we became a powerhouse.

Which is why we both thrive off of travel. It gives us a direction and each turn holds unlimited possibilities, and every choice is ours to make that knocks down the domino paved path of new people, foods, and ideas around the corner. We are our truest selves when we are traveling because it satisfies the goats that we are.



E18- Will Travel for Chocolate 

I have never met someone who has such an intrinsic understanding of food until I met Rachel, kind of like how children just pick up languages; they don’t question the mechanics of it, it just becomes part of their being.  

Like most Italians, food goes beyond the gastronomic basics and is a deeper experience, Rachel doesn’t just make food, it is the essence of her being. And like most Italians, family has also shaped who she is, being raised by a mother who didn’t like to cook and a father whose blood is wine, she told me how at a young age she gained independence in the kitchen, while able to question the traditional roles of women in Italian society.


E17- When I Travel, I Can Breath Again

Jen was one of the few I was able to become very close with, we woke each other up, baked together, inspired each other, brought food to the other when they were working late, exchanged small gifts, and helped each other get out of sticky situations.

Since we last spoke, Jen has docked onto land and continued the chocolate path, currently killin’ it at one of the top chocolate shops in Toronto- but still has some plane tickets burning in her pocket.

Bonus Episode

This is an excerpt of our conversation with Graham Hughes where we both get kind of ranty and I wanted to give it its own space now at a time when our thoughts about the world have been challenged. We recorded this conversation pre-Trump and pre-Brexit- so neither of us had the knowledge to know the outcomes of those elections but as you can here we do have the foresight to feel that something was happening. In this mini-episode, we discuss the elements that have made the world seem more dangerous than ever and the hysteria people have against traveling due to these skewed perceptions.

As someone who was prepared to go out and travel to every country, Graham knew that it wasn’t always going to be drinks on the beach and clubbing, but that he would be experiencing some severe social and economic disparities right at his feet and seeing that throughout the world. But there were things that not even he was prepared to expect, which is where we left off.

Here is his story.


E16- Graham Hughes and the Four Year Odyssey 

This episode touched upon EVERY country in the world with the man who has been to EVERY country in the world WITHOUT FLYING. We talk to GH who has crossed every border, tasted every cuisine, and said hello in every language without ever getting on a plane.

Like the Mansa Musa, Marko Polo, or Zheng He, who only had their feet, a boat, or a few camels to further them on their explorations, Graham’s trips emulate the wonders and lessons of ancient travelers whose slow journeys had them span thousands of miles away from their homes and forced them to engage in other cultures’ ways of life. Graham has seen a lot for someone his age and for someone who has traveled to ALL of the allegedly dangerous countries in the world, he has come out unscathed and with both of his kidneys intact.

In our conversation, Graham and I bypass the superficial aspects of travel and dig right into the deeper questions: is the world as dangerous as it seems, how did it shift his world perspective, and what has travel taught him that stay at home in Liverpool couldn’t? We get a good taste of his historical expertise, political mindfulness, and well-honed storytelling skills.  

E15- Life Made of Good Mistakes 

What would you do if everything you worked for- successful company, healthy body, living in a great city-was suddenly taken away from you? Many survive the setbacks of unpredictable chaos and unpleasant events and are able to return to a normal life. But what about those who not only get back to where they were at but grow even more? Who sees life for the fleeting opportunity that it is and take these setbacks as a challenge to grow? We call those people antifragile. Deano’s story is the quintessential example of being antifragile- living in LA, having a budding tech company, being at physical peak and then all of that was taken away when he got into a horrible accident.

After a year of physical therapy, instead of returning to the grind, he packed his bags and took full advantage of his newfound strength and the opportunity to do what he was never able to before. Deano bought a one-way ticket to Central America, lived abroad, learned Spanish, hiked erupting volcanos, jumped over waterfalls and experienced the robustness life has to offer.


E14- “Beyond Language” 

San Jose, Costa Rica

I met Gaby while I was volunteering in a hostel in Costa Rica.  Born and raised in San Jose, Gaby thought she was going to go down the traditional path of education right into a career. However, her choice to work in a hostel, just to get some dinero on the side, has unintentionally challenged the way she thinks about her future.

She has formed a new perspective on homeland by seeing it through the eyes of people who are experiencing it for the first time. She has become endlessly inspired by the travelers who wander in and out of her hostel who are far from home and perceive her normal to be vastly different. She strikes up a conversation with everyone, whether it is asking them questions about their explorations or native soil, guiding them to the bus station to their next destination, or cluing them in on where to get the best cup of coffee in San Jose. We would spend hours during the quiet afternoons of the hostel having little music jams while doing the daily chores. She would create a warm and welcoming space for every weary traveler who walked through the doors of Hostel Beku.

This seemingly innocuous job choice has forced her to question everything about what she was doing with her life. She has been given a hidden perspective of the ways travelers live and move on a day to day basis and has inspired her to get out of her comfort zone.   And with the help of her American beau, whom she met through pure random and romantic chance, she now has the motivation and ability to go and reach some of the places that once seemed untouchable.


E13-“What’s Meant for You Won’t Pass You By”

San Jose, Costa Rica

Sara and I also met at the hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica where she was working at a program that teaches English to locals. Sara says exactly what’s on her mind and has a specific pep about her that is emulated by the bounce in her curly red hair.

Although far from Scotland, Costa Rica was not her first rodeo. As a well-traveled woman, she is attuned to the complexities and subtleties of new places and is thrilled by how vastly different locations in the world can share so many similarities, exposing the elegant simplicity of our earth.

This love of learning combined with a travel competition she has with her brothers keeps her on the move. She strives for a genuine travel experience and is not interested in seeing a new terrain through a window, she wants to get her feet on the ground, breath the air, and chat up anyone that comes her way.

Here is her story.

E12- “The Dive Master”

San Jose, Costa Rica

Sarah and I met in Costa Rica while I was working at hostel Beku. From the moment we met, we immediately broke into a long conversation, as if it was unfinished from years ago. Like a hummingbird, flying from one flower to the next Sarah gave a scattered synopsis of what brought her to Costa Rica and how she was leaving in a few weeks. Keeping my feelings to myself, I selfishly got upset at that news because we had just met and there was already too much to talk about.

Since we parted in Costa Rica she has continued to bounce around the world, going from teaching in New Zealand to being a Divemaster on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where she was residing when we had this conversation. It reminds me of the planet the Little Prince lives on, taking only 15 minutes to walk around the entire floating piece of land, gently bobbing in the middle of the sea. She has become enamored with the discoveries of the underwater world, one that mirrors the great depth she finding within herself. Here’s her story.


Episode 11 “A Life Without Laughter Is Not Worth Living”

San Jose, Costa Rica

Caryn and I bumped paths while still working in a hostel in Costa Rica. She is hard to miss between her immeasurable height, voice, and personality to match. As boisterous as her presence is, she is attracted to the relaxed, Caribbean sway that is hard to come by in frigid Minnesota. I bring her on initially to tell a regional American joke that I had never heard before. This is a little snapshot of the energy and playfulness that is bouncing out of her and I will let it speak for itself.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

Episode 10 “A World Filled with Sun” 

San Jose, Costa Rica

Tina, from Finland, needed to find a place that was a 180 from her 9 months of snow, before becoming complacent with her beautifully simplistic life above the arctic circle.

She decided to go and explore a climate and people on the other end of the world away from her reindeer eating folks men. Flying in with a come what may attitude, Tina has not been disappointed with the challenges she has faced and exposure to new perspectives that have blossomed within her in a warmer world without snow.

This trip has generated great reflection and better understanding about who she is fundamentally, and how she wants to construct the scaffolding of her future. Here’s her story.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

Episode 9 ” Searching for Self”

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala 

This interview chose to stay nameless so we will call him David. I met David while visiting Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. He was working as a yoga instructor at a beautiful hostel overlooking the edge of the lake.

I think the part that made me feel so comfortable so quickly with David was the fact that he also didn’t really know what he was doing, and I felt comfortable enough to speak very openly about my lack of direction with him.

In our interview, he talks about how he has always had an aversion to office jobs, like entering the conventional work force would be his modern day Sisyphus, it being a means to an end. To push up the proverbial rock would have crushed the creativity inside of him.

He searched for different forms of creativity and expression but began to take a toll on his body

So he said fuck it.

I participated in a few of his outside classes, his lesson seemed to absorb the sceneries elements, through motion, we channeled the energy of the volcanos around us, while he simultaneously pushed us to find inner stillness as calm and deep as the lake. As a socially silly person, he takes his yoga classes very seriously.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

Episode 8 “Hoogly” 

Lake Atitlan: Guatemala
Are you about to finish university and have a future that is unsettlingly open? Are you afraid you don’t have a clear direction and are nervous about leaving the structure of school? Are you uncertain on whether you should take a little time to go find yourself and journey to someplace new? These were all questions that were plaguing Lisa from Germany, who I met on a tiny boat late at night in Lake Atitlan Guatemala. We talk about her research, her decision to travel and be out of her comfort zone. Hear her story and reflection about choosing to travel a distance corner of the world instead of jumping right into a career- and the rewards she would have never received had she stayed in her homeland. Hear her story on Strangers Abroad!

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Episode 7 ” No Kids till 50 Countries” 

Tulum: Mexico
Have you ever felt that all the gadgets and things you have bought for yourself still leaves you emotionally unsatisfied? Have you ever thought of selling everything you have to hit the open road?Ed and V Noriega were having those same feelings too. They realized that they were running out of time to see the world before committing to the biggest responsibility of all:children. So they sold all they had ( profitable companies and all their tech toys) to go and explore other corners of the world. They have made a vow to not have children until they have been to 50 countries together. Listen to “ 50 Countries before Kids” and see whether the choice to abandon their stable lives to explore for a few years has paid off. Hear their story on Strangers Abroad!

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Episode 6 ” We Only Know Tomorrow” 

Palenque: Mexico 

We now journey north through Mexico, through Chiapas to Palenque, which is where we meet Georgia and Martin. There are often times when I meet people who I have to tear away from in order to stop talking to them and I am often curious about other people’s travels. Travel is the truest test of any relationship and can make it or break it ( I ended a year long relationship after a week in Mexico with my now ex-boyfriend). Travel provides new and vastly different experiences or challenges, forcing you both out of your comfort zone and exposing different sides of each other. These two are a great example of how travel can strengthen the bond between two people. They move to an invisible rhythm that they both can only hear and dance to together, created by spending so many hours beside each other. They have spent six months of exploring the expansive continent of South America, absorbing all of its beauty and pain, and are finally ready to settle in at home with a nice cup of English tea. Here is their story.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Episode 5 “Wedding Ring Tattoos” 

Puerto Escondido: Mexico

The Texans are the last group of people I interviewed at our surfer hostel community in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. They were the mom and dad of our volunteer community and in charge of the organic garden, always tending to both people and plants. They had decided to abandon the American dream long ago- filled with too many catches and contradictions-and aspired for a new life where they can propagate their own food and philosophies. We talk about the ways they are living their aspired alternative lifestyle: engineering their car to run on biofuel, cultivating their own superfoods, and living as DIY as possible in their sunny spot by the sea in southern Mexico.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.


Episode 4 “Curiosity is a Traveler” 

Puerto Escondido: Mexico

Nidhi was also working at the surfer hostel in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Though she be but little- she is fierce! and is challenging how people perceive solo female travelers in her homeland of India and around the world. We discuss the benevolent sexism we as women experience when traveling on owr own, and how frustrating it is when people question your ability to explore the world solo. We talk about what she has learned about people from leaving her home in India to receiving an education in the United States and traveling around on her own in Latin America. This girl has big plans and isn’t letting her gender or size get in the way of her aspirations.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.




Episode 3 ” Living My Retirement Now” 

Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Jay and I met while working at a hostel in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I would often watch him shimmy up the surrounding coconut trees, shading our little volunteer village, and together we would make coconut milk and attempt to make oil. Jay decided to pause his college career, which many people protested with the exception of an unlikely figure: his father. Jay’s father ( who also backpacked in his youth)encouraged Jay to go and explore as much of the world while he is young and able to take more risks and wreck his body. We hear about how exploration runs in the family and how Jay has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. He is guided by the adventure in his blood, busting out of the conventional path, ready to see what the world can teach him.

Download and subscribe to Strangers Abroad on iTunes!
This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Episode 2

Puerto Escondido: Mexico 

This episode is an interview with a German couple I met while volunteering at a surfer hostel in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Being together for five years and fed up with the city life, they booked one-way tickets to Canada to see what life was like on the opposite end of the world. They let their journey take hold of them as they slowly made their way down the west coast of the United States down to Mexico. We would stay up late around a bonfire they meticulously created and nurtured, passing around coffee mescal, travel stories, advice, hand rolled cigarettes and encouragement for future travels. They have asked to remain anonymous. Here is their story.

Download and Subscribe to Strangers Abroad on Itunes! 

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Episode 1 “Que Mas Cabrona, Que Bonita”

Mexico City: Mexico 

This is the first episode with the moi bonita Adrianna from Mexico City. She was my couchsurfing host during he first week of the journey and helped me fall in love with North America’s largest metropolis. It was a bit of a chance because she had never hosted anyone before and had no references, but we both decided to risk it. From the moment we met each other we couldn’t stop talking. We spent hours wandering around the city, late into the night, discussing conflicting facets of our experiences as women in our respective countries. We bonded over the stark similarities: the corruption, the oppression against women, but the comfortness of home and embracing the ugly and beauty of it all (especially after a few shots of mescal). A fellow history nerd and feminist, she gives us a glimpse of what it is like living in Mexico City as a woman. She explains the female experience from a personal and historical lens from the inception of feminism into Mexican culture to modern times. Adrianna is a beautiful soul and a friend I would have never met if we both didn’t risk meeting a stranger.

The audio was done via Skype and on weak wifi, so some of this episode is me reinterpreting over her. It is nonetheless interesting and informative. Disfrutar!

Download and Subscribe to Strangers Abroad on Itunes! 

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.

Introductory Episode ” Down this Road” 

This track is a brief description of the inspiration and philosophy behind this podcast. If you are looking to take a break from the conventional life and want to find insights and how-to travel cheaply, while meeting incredible people along the way, then this is the podcast for you! This is a podcast that attempts to illustrate the importance of what we can learn from those around us or on other corners of the earth-especially in a time when the world feels stranger than ever. Throughout this podcast, we come to realize that, although some of us grow up thousands of miles away from each other, we aren’t so different from one other, especially once we give ourselves the chance to learn about ourselves and the ways that the world works by interacting with strangers.

Download and Subscribe Strangers Abroad on Itunes! 

This episode was edited by Jay Dixit, sound engineered by Sean Sullivan, and music was provided by Josh Brechner.