Welcome to Caravanserai! Start Here.

People don’t take trips, trips take people. —John Steinbeck

Hello, wanderer!

This is Caravanserai, a travel and culture newsletter for thinkers, adventurers, and daydreamers.  If you’re curious about our big, beautiful world and want to understand what makes it tick; if you believe in the transformative power of new experiences; if you’ve ever lived as a stranger in a strange land, feeling the highest highs and the lowest lows; then this newsletter is for you. Caravanserai is not only about the places we go, but where those places take us as people, and the things we pick up along the way.

So come for the recipes, stay for the stories. Stoke your wanderlust, feed your soul, and leave feeling a kinship with new cultures.

Each month, I publish 1-2 free essays. Most of these are short memoirs about my experiences living and traveling abroad, and they are some of my readers’ favorite pieces. My most popular essay ever is about loving and leaving Cairo amid growing regional tensions. Some of the writing I’m most proud of is about dealing with grief while scuba diving in the Maldives, and then again while road tripping through Cyprus.

I also post one virtual “salon dinner” per month, where I interview an interesting guest about a corner of the globe that’s near and dear to their heart, complete with a food menu and recipe links, plus book and movie recommendations from that place. What’s extra special about these posts is they give you a template to interact with new-to-you cultures in the form of fun meals to cook, interesting films to watch, and great reads to dive into. Think of this as a template for getting offline—because why spend Friday night doom scrolling on your couch when you could explore a new culture right from home?

Paid subscribers get access to exclusive salon afterparties each month, which include recipes, recommendations, and personal stories from around the world. If you’d like full access, subscribe here.

What is a caravanserai?

The courtyard of a caravanserai in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

A caravanserai (pronounced “care-uh-VAN-sur-eye”) is a type of roadside inn, historically found along the Silk Road in its heyday. Caravanserais served as respites where trade caravans and other travelers could stop to rest overnight, away from the dangers of the road. While the outer walls of a caravanserai would resemble a fortress, the inside would be much cozier, with small guest rooms, stables, and sometimes even prayer rooms and bath houses.

The Silk Road spanned 4,000 miles from the Near East to China’s coast, and as travelers from all over Eurasia flocked to caravanserais, they became hubs for the exchange of culture, goods, food, religion, art, and, of course, stories. When you read this newsletter, I want you to feel as though you are stepping into a caravanserai—a haven where you can listen to fellow travelers’ stories from the road and sample bits of far away places.

A bit about me

Hi, I’m Sam Childress. I’m an American expat living in Amman, Jordan as the “supporting spouse” of my husband, Nick, a State Department employee. When I’m not writing this newsletter, you’ll probably find me curled up on my couch with a Studio Ghibli movie (knitting project and cappuccino in hand!) or playing outside with my rescue puppy, Boo.

Before this, Nick and I spent two years living in Egypt, where we took in as many ancient temples as humanly possible and learned to weave in and out of Cairo traffic like stunt drivers. I’ve also lived and studied in Lyon, France, and have visited dozens of countries in addition to those I’ve lived in. All that to say, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life abroad, and traveling the world is my passion. But I’m not satisfied with merely seeing places. I want to understand the essence of a place—to feel its energy, to experience it for myself—and I want to share that with you. I hope you’ll join me.

Subscribe to Caravanserai with Samantha Childress

FKA The Cairo Dispatch. Travel writing for thinkers, daydreamers, and adventurers. Come for the recipes, stay for the stories. Stoke your wanderlust, feed your soul, and leave feeling a kinship with new cultures.


Samantha Childress is an American essayist who writes about travel and expat life in the Middle East. She lives in Amman, Jordan.