Marianna Jamadi’s job is to be a dreamer. She is also one of the most mindblowing photographers we have come across in a while, a passionate entrepreneur at El Camino (more on that later!) and always on the hunt for unique stories for her blog Nomadic Habit.

We spoke to her about the challenges of living one’s dream, the practicalities of traveling 17 countries in one year and what cultures inspire her – all while she was hanging out at El Salvador airport preparing for her next trip: photographing fellow travelers discover Colombia. As you do.

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Hey Marianna. You’re having quite the exciting life today. Can you tell us a bit about your journey?

I moved to NYC right out of college and landed my first corporate job. I lasted two months before I quit to become a waitress because I felt like I moved to an amazing city that I couldn’t even experience because I was chained to a desk. After I quit my one and only full-time corporate job, I freelanced or juggled part-time work in other areas like fashion styling, teaching swim lessons, and photography. The different jobs kept me engaged and interested.

When do you think you’ve become a ‘nomad’? 

When I left New York City in 2013 to embark on a 1+ year trip I really embraced the nomadic spirit that I always felt. I’ve always had a sort of restlessness and desire for freedom over security.

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How did the idea for your round-the-world trip come about?

After seven years in NYC, I was seeking something more. I had always dreamed of doing a long backpacking trip and it felt like it was the right time. The trip was planned around visiting my entire family around the world to take pictures of them. My mother is from Finland and my father from Indonesia and I have family scattered around the world.

What have been the most memorable stops?

Mongolia always sticks with me. The landscape is from a different world. I often think and dream about it.

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“Making a plan and budget is easy if you know what your priorities are.”

How tough were organizing the practicalities like funding and security? 

Making a plan and budget is easy if you know what your priorities are. The fewer frills, the longer you can travel. Saving for what you need plus a little extra is best. Plotting your financial goals a year prior is ideal depending on your situation.

If there was one single place on earth where you had to stay the rest of your life, where would that be?

This is an impossible question! If I could live in a place where I can eat Italian food, swim in the beaches of Thailand, and gaze at the Mongolian landscape, I’m moving in.

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What’s your philosophy?

Live big.

Ha, bold and simple, just how we like it! Your photography is bloomin’ incredible. How has it evolved during your trip?

I had the freedom to shoot whatever I wanted since it was all personal work. I found this incredibly interesting just as an exercise. I found that I love shooting people and anything that tells a story about a culture.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Canon 5d Mark II / III and a few lenses: 24-105mm, 40mm, 50mm.

What are your tips in telling a unique story through your photographs? Do you have a routine?

Shoot what interests you. Your unique point of view will tell a unique story. My routine is to solely shoot what I like.

Today, Marianna accompanies travelers at El Camino on off-beat locations like Nicaragua or Colombia. The team organises curated trips of a lifetime, takes photos of the ladies and gentlemen that could easily graze the editorial pages of just about any magazine – and part of the profits go to local social entrepreneurs of the country they’re visiting. Sounds like a great deal.

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Can you tell me a bit about the idea of El Camino Travel? How did you guys come up with the idea?

My now co-founder Katalina Mayorga had been following my blog and reached out because she was interested in my photography for a travel company idea she had. At this point, I was in LA and she was in Washington DC and as we chatted on a few Google hangouts, we really hit it off. We launched the company in July of 2014 without ever meeting and it’s been magic ever since.

Do you have a favourite moment of capturing someone’s trip? Is there are favourite photograph maybe?

I couldn’t say I have a favourite moment or photograph because it’s too hard to pin one down. But photographing at Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua on a hazy day with near still water was incredible.

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What are typical destinations for you?

I love to visit cultures that are very different from the environment I grew up in. I like engaging in radically different cultures because you learn so much in these situations.

Where are you going next with El Camino?

I’m answering these questions from the airport in El Salvador en route to Cartagena, Colombia for the next El Camino trip…

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All photographs taken by Marianna Jamadi and El Camino. ♥