Nathan Aguilera is the author of the popular food focused travel site www.foodieflashpacker.com. Four years ago, he left his home in Oklahoma City to set out on what he thought at the time was a six-month tour of Southeast Asia. Since then, he’s traveled to more than fifty countries across four continents seeking the best local dishes everywhere he goes.
In an interview with ROOSTERGNN, Nathan tells us about his foodie travels and career tips.
You are the author of the Foodie Flashpacker blog. How and why did you decide to leave your career at a law firm to embark on a journey around the world?
I officially decided I wanted to quit my job and travel the world about a year and a half before I actually left on the trip. I was on a volunteer trip to Kenya and we had several days of downtime. My friend and I decided to visit the beach town of Mombasa, where I stayed in a hostel for the first time, albeit a private room — I’ve been a flashpacker from the very beginning! There I met long-term travelers for the first time- people who had been traveling for 6 months or even a year. I had never heard of the concept. I was so intrigued and decided then that I wanted to do it for myself.
I spent the next 18 months saving money and researching long-term travel and deciding on destinations. I initially planned on leaving on a six-month trip around Southeast Asia. Now, four years later, I’m still going with no plans to stop any time soon!
In what ways has your life changed since you made the decision?
My life doesn’t look anything like it used to. In the beginning of the trip, before I was blogging, I was moving very fast, trying to see as much as possible. Now that I’ve decided I’m not returning home anytime soon and I’ve begun working on the road as I travel, I travel much slower. Now, I’m more likely to rent an apartment somewhere for several months at a time using that location as a home base to further explore not only that country but also surrounding countries.
What are some things you wish you had known before embarking on your journey?
I wish I had known that it’s not that scary. Before I left I was very nervous about being away from home and my friends and family. And while I do miss being able to see them in person, I talk to them all the time. Technology is great for that. Also, I didn’t start blogging until two years into my trip. If I had known that I was going to still be traveling four years after I left home, I would have started blogging immediately.
How did you decide to focus on food blogging? How can aspiring bloggers find their own niche?
Everything I read said you can’t just have a general travel blog, that’s too broad. I was advised to find a niche, something I could passionately write about. When I looked at my travels I knew it had to be food. That’s how I always explore destinations- trying to find out what the locals are eating, what’s special or unique to that area, and the best hidden gems. That’s also how I would advise others to discover their own niche- think about what you could passionately write about even if you weren’t getting paid for it.
You’ve collaborated with Ministry of Tourism for Nepal, Costa Brava Tourism, Orange Beach Tourism, Azores Islands Tourism Board, Philippines Tourism Board, many hotels and tour companies, etc. What exactly do these collabs involve?
These collaborations, while they look like free or paid vacations, actually involve a lot of work. When a brand is sponsoring your visit, they generally try to pack as much in as they can which often means very early mornings and long days. Usually it’s fun things that you’re happy to be doing but it is tiring. And after a long day spent seeing and doing as much as possible you still have to return to your hotel room, organize your notes, edit photos, post to social media, return emails, start drafting your posts for the experience, etc. etc.
What tips do you have for aspiring bloggers who want to start working with brands?
Start working on building a solid audience on at least on platform, whether it be a social media channel or even better to your own site. You don’t have to master every avenue but if you’re strong on at least one brands will start to pay attention.