Ashlea has traveled to nearly 20 countries and been on 5 of the 7 continents. This is what she has to say about founding Nomadik Nation and how ‘alcohol’ can make you a better traveler.
So it’s obvious you consider yourself a die-hard traveler. What does ‘travel’ mean to you and when did you first know that you had the ‘nomadik disease’?
I was born with a love for all things foreign. I love language, culture, geography- pretty much anything that has to do with the world. I remember my 5th or 6th birthday party and nearly all of friends were born in another country. As kids, you really don’t have to communicate verbally so although there were probably language barriers amongst us, it didn’t affect us playing with dolls and games. But the parents at the party, however, had a hard time communicating with my mom, haha. As far as what travel means to me, I think travel is just as much about self-discovery as it is about discovering the culture of your chosen destination. Many times you think you are learning about another culture’s, let’s say, food or religion, but in actuality you are learning so much about how your own culture has influenced you and your lifestyle. Being confronted with anything foreign, always, or should, force you to think about how you define yourself. I hope that makes sense!
Why did you start NomadikNation.com?
I wanted to start a website that appealed to people who were like myself. I feel that the web is lacking a ‘hip or cool’ lifestyle blog for young people who love travel and foreign culture . I believe that these type of self-described global citizens make up a niche group that is growing in numbers. Young people want to see the world and when they aren’t traveling they are eating out at different ethnic restaurants or hanging out with their multicultural friends, or listening to music from all over the globe. Nomadik Nation is for young people who are leading a multicultural lifestyles everyday.
What country have you found the most interesting?
That’s hard. Every country always has something strikingly interesting about the culture that makes it interesting. The most interesting to me was Senegal. I only spent 7 days there, but we traveled around the entire time visiting different cites and villages. It is a predominantly Muslim country on one hand and on the other, being an ex-French colony, it is very much still French. You can see a topless French woman on the beach and at the same moment catch a man in traditional Muslim attire walk right by. But it works somehow. With all the influences from France and Islam added to the many, many African ethnicities you find there, its hard to pinpoint its identity. But I guess its like that in most places.
You always emphasize how important it is to get to know the local culture. What would you say is the best way to get to know the local culture if you have only a few days or weeks in a country?
The best way is to find someone there who can take you to a great party. At parties, people tend to be looser and friendlier. So even if you are visiting a place where the culture can to be more reserved, add alcohol and almost everyone is willing to at least talk to you. It may sound bad, but a few beers and party music can go a long way in learning more about the local culture!
How do you find the dough to go so many places?!
In a single word- sacrifice. There are some things I live without. I don’t have a car and I don’t go shopping as much as I would like! You have to cut out some things if you want to see the world. And there are ways of going places for less than you think it might cost, such as with airline buddy passes or using couchsurfing.org to find a person to stay with for free. Everybody should try couchsurfing!
What are your top three places that you have to see before you die? Or on your Nomadik agenda for next year?
India, for some spiritual cleansing (or just to detox, haha). Japan, because I love sushi. Cuba, before it becomes just another tourist trap in the Caribbean.
What is your favorite city and why?
Call it cliche, but I love Amsterdam. I really love the Dutch. It’s so multi-cultural. They live by the ‘live and let live’ philosophy. To sum up the Dutch, they simply don’t give a s***. Plus they have some awesome……coffee!
What one thing that every Nomadik traveler must have?
A talent. If you get stuck and run out of money you can always perform on the street! I just started to learn how to hoop dance with a hula hoop. I plan to hula hoop on the street in case I ever get stuck somewhere and run out of money.
What is your favorite food?
Anything Indian or Ethiopian or Sushi
You speak German and Spanish What other languages would you like to learn?
Arabic because it’s sexy. Don’t know why, but I find it very masculine! And French, even though I am probably the only person on earth who thinks it sounds rather nasty, so many people in the world speak it.
Tell us your craziest travel moment.
I have so many! I hitchhiked in Germany because I was so drunk (German beer, go figure, haha) I couldn’t read the bus or train schedule- twice. Believe me, I don’t endorse getting trashed and hitchhiking with strangers by any means. It was just one of those things that happened, you know? I know people who have done so much more crazy things, but you could say I am adventurous. I also am a girl who really loves a good beer.
What does it mean to be ‘Nomadik’ ?
To be ‘nomadik’ means that you live to travel. But beyond that, it means that you understand that variety is the spice of life. And traveling is like going grocery shopping for more spices. If you are grocery shopping in the same place every time you cook, then your food starts to get boring. Yeah, that was kinda corny, but its true!