Jeff's blog

Who’s Out There Now: Jeannie

Written By: jeff

Posted On: May 3rd, 2011


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Jeannie at the Taj Majal on her birthday. Copyright

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Jeannie, better known online as the Nomadic Chick. I first became aware of her site through the magic of Twitter at a tough time in her life. While she had already been planning her breakaway and had started blogging, she had just found out that she was getting laid off. Her planned career break became a forced career break.  But, once you check out her site, you can see that she’s not only rebounded, but thriving out in the world.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

Delhi, India.

2. I want to start with the day you got laid off. How did you deal with the fact that your break was going to be forced rather than by choice? How did it change your planning?

I wanted to kiss the ground. I told friends my departure date was delayed because I needed X number of dollars saved.  During my severance meeting, they pushed across a piece of paper that had the exact number I needed!  It was a blessing.  And honestly, a bonk to the head.  I half wonder if leaving it up to me was the best idea.  In the lay off scenario, the universe was boldly telling me – do it.  You are ready.  I’m not going to lie, I was in mild shock, but a few days in, knew an opportunity was before me.  I had a purpose and started mobilizing to depart.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Eating poutine at La Banquise in Montreal. Copyright

3. I got a kick out of your post ¨10 Ways North America Prevents You From Traveling.¨ Be honest, hyperbole or fact?

Haha.. fact might be stretching it.  I took a look at people’s priorities.  I had friends sinking into mortgages, mired in debt, and I was one of them.  Well, the debt part for sure.  People ask me all the time, how do you do this?? It’s so hard to fulfill my goals!  That post broke down ideas that many of us are taught at an early age, and that maybe those lifestyle choices are contrary to what we want most.  Not hyperbole, but definitely real struggles.

4. You once wrote that there were 15 things you were looking forward to when left to travel. Have you gotten to all 15?

Oh man, you really do your research, don’t you?  I’ve been pretty successful at most of them, except #5 has been hard without space or a yoga mat. And I suck at #6. Need to step up on that.  My fave so far is asking myself what I want to do each day.  How precious is that?

5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your travels?

Not career break.  More like career break-out.  I’m wandering around with all my possessions and hope to end somewhere.  So, I pick nomadic.

6. You recently finished up volunteering with children in India. What did you learn about yourself from the experience? We want the good, bad and the ugly!

Do not leave me alone with your kids!  I worked at a daycare in my teens and some days it reminded me of that 17 year old alone with 30 kids!   In this case, it was 42. I can be impatient.  While I learned to be more patient, I have to admit at times I was frustrated.  I treated volunteering with a saintly point-of-view and you realize that kids are kids everywhere.  I’d invent games and they would cheat in order to win a pencil, for instance.  And the attention you receive is intense.  I’d usually have 7 kids at once jockeying for my time.  The other adjustment was the environment itself.  I was intimate with rats more than I ever want to be again (they lived on my roof) and now know how to deal with scorpion bites.  The days were blistering hot; the nights were so cold I was wearing a wool hat in bed.  Mostly though, I tried to have fun with the kids and help where I could. You swoop in, hoping to change everything, and that’s not realistic.  I had to concentrate on what truly mattered.  If I made a child smile or had an intimate moment, those are the things that count.   The lesson to volunteering: you are human, the people you’re there to help are human, so show forgiveness and be more tolerant than you ever thought possible.


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Jeannie escorting the kids to school in India. Copyright

7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?

Travel for the sake of travel only lasts so long.  My trip was a platform to jump start dormant passions and curiosity, explore the things that matter to me.  Travel experiences are vital, but in the end, we all need goals to accomplish.  Don’t get me wrong; travel is magical.  I saw things that make you pause, mouth agape, eyes popping… some pure moments.  Alongside that, try to shape what kind of life you want and how to get it.

8. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?

The first 30 minutes driving from the Mumbai airport on route to the village of my volunteer work.  I saw mounds of burning garbage, an entire community of homeless families living under a freeway, animal dung, and to top it off, a skinny man squatting over the sidewalk.  Yeah, Canada was far, far away.

9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

I was on train to Agra thinking I’d spend Holi with other tourists when by happenstance my berth mates were a really nice couple from Bangalore.  The wife, Nupur, was from Agra and going home to spend Holi with her family.  We talked non-stop for three hours, which is the entire train ride.  By the end, they had invited me over for Holi.  She gave me directions to her father’s house and the next day I came by rickshaw, got lost for a bit, but found it.  I stood outside a fence, only hearing silence.  Whoops, had I come to the wrong house?  I called out, she scrambled to open the fence and let me in.  I expected some streamers or banners, but it was just a normal backyard.  We hosed people, threw buckets of water and smeared color on each other. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a while.  Afterwards, they insisted I stay for lunch.  My Holi meal consisted of homemade chutney, aloo ghobi and fermented beet juice.  I felt lucky to catch a snapshot of how a regular Indian family celebrates a holiday.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Jeannie with her friend Nupur getting soaked during the Holi Festival in India. Copyright

10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I was staying with Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless in Goa and unceremoniously crashed a scooter that she lent me by misjudging the distance to a fence.  Way to impress.  That whole Goa period was nasty.  I lost her husband’s broadband stick, forgot to leave keys in hiding spots.  My brain was mush from sickness and drugs.  Not the fun kind of drugs either.  When I’m around, ensure there’s insurance and plenty of gauze.

11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

I really enjoy meeting other travelers, talk to them all the time, but I also hanker for moments with locals.  My fave thing to do is sit down with a native resident and dig in.  I ask what their name is, what city/town they are from and make them laugh or smile.  Those unexpected encounters are the best.  I pay attention to them, and doing that can enrich your entire experience.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Pretending to be Vanna White of minerals at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum)- Toronto. Copyright

12. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far: coconut uttapam
  • Most exotic food eaten:  chikoo, fruit that tastes like caramel!
  • Most breathtaking moment: Walking towards the Taj Mahal on my birthday.
  • Biggest disappointment: fighting a staph infection for 2 months, which interfered with travel plans in India.
  • Most memorable place: Many to come, but to date: Lodhi Gardens.  The visual reference for peaceful.
  • Most memorable person: Sanghvi, a 10 year old girl at the volunteer home who was always sad. (She was new & her mother lied about her circumstances).
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride: ear plugs
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: loose bowels.
  • Best thing you packed:  $7.99 pants from Value Village.
  • Dumbest thing you packed: Lush massage bar.
  • Funniest travel habit you have: I never let anyone borrow my clothes brush (for washing clothes) I’m territorially weird.
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Copenhagen.  It’s like stepping back in time!

You can follow Jeannie online at NomadicChick, on Facebook and on Twitter @Nomadicchick

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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3 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now: Jeannie”

  1. Thanks Jeff! Nice to see this up and running! It was a fun interview. :)
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..When You Bleed- You Think About Life

  2. Connie says:

    Great interview! Jeannie has so captured the spirit of what I hoped and am still hoping to catch with my own career-breakout (GREAT term!). It’s been two years since I’ve been on the road, but I feel like Jeannie’s already done and grown so much in the short time that she’s been traveling and THAT is so inspiring!

  3. @Connie – I am so sorry! Meant to reply to this like ahh long time ago. Thank you for the kind words. Maybe it’s because I’m older than most career-breakers, but my quest has always been to figure out all four corners of my life. So far, so good. ;)
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..UTC: Where Should I Stop in Spain?

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