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Quitting your job to travel the world is a dream for many—but Lisa Lubin actually took the leap and did it.
Working as a travel blogger and freelancer, Lisa left her job to travel and write about her experiences around the world on her blog, LL World Tour. We talked with her to find out about what life is really like as a writing nomad.
Here & Beyond: What originally made you want to become a travel blogger?
Lisa Lubin: Originally it was my passion for travel. I got the travel bug early on and when I was working full time in television, I had a great job, but every time I went on a trip I came back wanting more. I wanted to make traveling my life and my job.
H&B: How did you make that leap?
LL: In hindsight it’s easy to say I just did it. It was really years in the making, subconsciously. I was always thinking about how I could work abroad. I asked my boss for a sabbatical (she said ‘no.’ I said ‘okay’ and slumped back to my desk). Thinking about teaching overseas…it was a dream of mine. I thought it would be so awesome, but … I would have a list of reasons why it was impossible.
I started reading more books about people who had done it. One Year Off [by David Elliot Cohen] really inspired me. I thought I would like to still do the responsible thing and get a job somewhere else. I never thought I would quit and just wander aimlessly, and then I realized I could just do it. I was ready for a change. I came to a tipping point and I just made the decision. That was the hardest part. The planning—I’m a big planner—was easy and fun and exciting. I wasn’t the first person to do it, even though it seems crazy. I still meet people who are like, ‘that’s crazy!’
H&B: What was that like, making such a drastic change?
LL: I had traveled alone once before, and I honestly hated it. I was lonely, it was so weird and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Just like anything else, I learned how to deal with it [by doing it].
The biggest thing is that getting out your comfort zone is absolutely uncomfortable—that’s the definition!—but on the other side of that, it’s amazing. You grow and feel stronger and meet people. I learned how to put myself in situations, like a bicycle tour and a Spanish immersion class, where I would meet people. I didn’t want to be a tourist, I wanted to meet people.
The other part of it was that I wasn’t on vacation—it was my life. I didn’t have to plan it all out before I left. It was life. I just continued finding new ways online, on social media and through my blog to meet people. Someone might say, ‘Oh you’re coming to Spain, let’s meet!’ and I would do it. I was very open to that.
H&B: What is the craziest experience you’ve had/most exciting thing you’ve done while traveling?
LL: I guess I’ve done some crazy or exciting things like hiking on a volcano or ziplining in the jungle. But the most memorable things were experiences that involved other people.
Once, I was in London at Christmastime. To be somewhere at a holiday and you’re really alone [is strange]…but I was never really alone.
Another Christmas, I was in Australia and I met a gay couple at a bar one night, and they invited me over for Christmas dinner. I went to their apartment and had oysters, one of their moms came. We were strangers one day and family the next.
In London, I was thinking of volunteering during the holidays, and I met a guy who worked at a homeless shelter network to take over abandoned places at Christmas. They would do karaoke, painting, resume help…they weren’t just there to feed people, but to help people. It was incredible; such a great experience. That was so cool.
When you’re traveling long term, you have the time to just be like, I’m going to try this thing! I volunteered there for a week and wished I could do it longer. It was an amazing insight into this world who were regular people that I knew by name and came to be friends with. Those things happen when you’re traveling and have time to get involved.
H&B: What place is at the top of your “must visit” list right now, that you haven’t been to yet?
LL: Antarctica. It’s my last continent to visit, but mostly because it’s so otherworldly. I’ve seen so much – I hate to say it but when I’ve been on the road for 2 years, the awe starts to wear off. Places like Antarctica are like nothing I’ve never seen. Same with Alaska. I like places that the landscape kind of stuns you.
H&B: Do you still travel for “vacation?”
LL: Not really, partly because I’m a blogger but I’m also a freelancer. It’s really hard for me to unplug. I’m always sort of working. I’m very lucky—I can’t complain because my work is travel. I try to take some time off here and there, but if I’m traveling I’m generally writing about it.
Sometimes I do try to do things where I’m like, I’m not going to write about this for my blog. But it usually ends up being so cool that I want to write about it anyway!
H&B: Where is your favorite place in the world?
LL: I love Berlin. It’s a great city, it’s progressive. It’s changing fast because it’s young, as a unified city. I got an apartment there with a friend and we lived there for a month. You can just explore, it’s really diverse with international food and I’m a foodie. It’s very bike-friendly, so get a bike and check out the neighborhoods. I always recommend to get out of the center a little bit.
I love Istanbul, I lived there for three months. They are some of the most warm, hospitable people I’ve met. I ended up cat-sitting for someone I didn’t know before—I was eating alone at a restaurant and a local host was talking to me about teaching English abroad. He said, ‘I have a friend named Steve who teaches English here—let me call him,” and an hour later we were having a beer with Steve. He connected me with so many people and through one of those connections I found Bridget, who needed a cat-sitter for the summer.
If you talk and are open with people, great things happen.
H&B: Favorite local food?
LL: I love everything. I love sushi, I love Japanese. But actually, when I was traveling my passion for Mexican food grew because it’s one that’s not really available all over the world yet. It’s a little harder to get authentic Mexican food.
Food is such a fun, integral part of travel. It wasn’t until I was traveling that I realized how passionate I was about food—it’s such a huge part of every culture, sitting around a table enjoying a meal with family.
H&B: What is one thing you absolutely will not travel without?
LL: My laptop and camera. I’m a photographer as well so I have my DSLR camera with me all the time. My laptop is my work now, too, but it connects you to people. People say the opposite that you’re not seeing the world when you’re on the computer, but I use it to learn things, then close it and go meet people.
Follow Lisa’s adventures on her blog, LL World Tour.
This interview has been edited and condensed.