Q & A With Lisa Lubin
[editor's note: In August of 2006 Lisa Lubin resigned her job as a producer with Chicago's ABC7 to travel the world. Along the way she has found time to write numerous articles for GoNOMAD, BootsnAll and Travel Net, as well as a very entertaining and informative travel blog, LLWorldTour. The entries are so delightul it's hard to imagine they won't find their way into a book some day. GoNOMAD caught up with her on her travels to ask a few questions about her world tour.]
GN: They say that travel broadens one. Do you find this to be so?
LL: Absolutely! I think there is no better 'real life' education than seeing the
world and meeting its people firsthand. I remember learning in school about
Vietnam or the old Kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) and having no clue where
these places were and nothing to really allow me to 'connect' to them.
now, being able to visit these places myself just makes the world smaller
and allows me to embrace our differences, but at the same time learn how
very much we are all alike.
GN: Was there a theme or a fixed itinerary to your journey, and if so, did it
change as you went along?
LL: I've always been quite the "planner" so I did make a rough plan before I
left of the route I would take and the places I wanted to go. I have been
able to stick to most of my original plan, but have also been able to veer
off of it time to time.
I didn't buy airline tickets for the whole year.
Instead I've just been buying them in chunks. For example, I had them
through South American and into Australia. Then once I got to Australia, I
was able to stay there and work for awhile while I figured out my next
I also just on a whim returned to Vietnam just weeks after I'd left
in order to meet up with a friend I'd made. That kind of spontaneity does
not come along too often in life, so I love grabbing the opportunity to
enjoy it and 'just do it!'
Lisa with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands
GN: What were your expectations when you began? What did you encounter that was
LL: Wow-expectations of the world...that's a tough one. I had traveled a bit in
the past and have always loved it, but the longest I'd ever been away was
three weeks! This is unfortunately, very typical for the American to not be
able to get away very long.
I had never really planned on taking a year off before. The trip just kind
of revealed itself to me and evolved over time. I've always come back from
previous trips a bit sad and always wanting more. And I've also always
dreamed of moving abroad.
This year certain things in my life just fell into
place and I realized I was 'free' in a way. My boyfriend and I had broken
up, I was bored at work, and my cat had died.
Then I read a book called "One
Year Off," by David Cohen. He and his wife took their three (!) kids around
the world for a year. Then I realized if they could do it, I could do it! I
was a little nervous about doing it solo, but I'm pretty independent at home
and I realized I couldn't let that stop me. The opportunity was there and I
needed to grab it!
Biking in Vietnam
When I began I didn't know what to expect as far as if my life would really
change or not. On one hand, I thought I could go learn and see a lot, but
return and maybe nothing would change. But on the other hand, I had no idea
who I would encounter and how these new friends would impact my life.
learn that in some ways, a year is a long time (and also in some ways a very
short time) and although most of the time it's wonderful, you still have ups
and downs and good days and bad days just like you would normally.
had to keep any frustrations in check and always realize that these "little"
things, like navigating new towns or having to keep dealing with packing and
unpacking my bag, were nothing compared to the stresses I'd endured back
home in my TV producing job and other crazy over-achiever responsibilities I
There were times that were so blissful, I had to take a moment to really
soak it in and try to just marinate in the moment and not take it for
granted. Then inevitably there were sad moments when I had to say goodbye to
new friends or times when I was just lonely and maybe not getting all out of
a place that I hoped.
I learned that I had these transitional days where I'd
be missing the last place I was and getting used to my new home. But then
around the bend was always another new adventure and new friends to meet.
GN: What have been some of the highlights of your trip so far?
Riding a camel in Dubai
LL: I've really enjoyed the fact that I tried to plan different and varied ways
of getting to know a place. I didn't want to be just 'walking around' new
cities for a year. That could get old and I'd burn out very quickly.
to plan some different things that would keep me from getting bored and also
allow me to always be looking forward to something. For example at the very
start of my trip, I did a Spanish Immersion program in Costa Rica where I
lived with a family and went to a school to learn Spanish and also took
Then in Ecuador I did the Galapagos Boat cruise for a week.
In Southern Chile I took a ferry boat for a few days down through the
Fjords. In Buenos Aires a friend from home met me. In Australia I decided to
get a job. I worked in a café and was able to meet locals and get a feel for
everyday life in Melbourne.
In Vietnam, I did a two-week cycle trip that was
the most amazing way to see a country close up. All these different
activities also ensured that I would meet new people -- other travelers and
GN: Is there anything you would do differently next time?
First of all, let me say that I am SO hoping there is a next time. I'm only
halfway into this year (or longer!) trip and I already know I want to do it
again or just keep going.
With friends in Turkey
I am not homesick at all and right now don't want
it to end. I don't really think I would change too much-I've been able to
alter this trip as I go. I've allowed myself extra time in some places to
really get a feel for the city and also to give myself days off to do"errands" (laundry, PO, etc) and catch up on writing.
Having my laptop has
been one of the best decisions I've made. I got rid of my cell phone and
don't miss it at all, but having the laptop allows me to write and always be
in touch with everyone. The internet truly does make the world a small place
and I certainly feel that firsthand.
And I have to say, that although it's
sometimes lonely, traveling alone is really the best way to do it. I meet
WAY more people when I'm alone than when I'm actually traveling with
GN: What advice would you give to someone planning a round-the-world trip?
LL: Just do it! If you are already planning a trip then good for you! Because
the hardest part is over -- deciding to do it and figuring out how to make it
work. I would definitely say it is not that hard. If you have the
opportunity and the freedom to just go -- grab the chance now when you
can... Don't put it off for tomorrow, because something will always come up
to get in your way.
Lisa with her friend Mona in Roumania
If you are organized, everything kind of falls into place. I love the
logistics, but it's just a matter of making a 'to do' list and prioritizing.
What are you going to do with your home? Car? Stuff? Find storage. Get a
mover. Notify your friends, family.
One of the best things I did was put a
'call' out to everyone I knew and ask for their friends or contacts anywhere
around the world. I met some really cool people this way and had more local
experiences by hooking up with friends of friends.
Quit your job -- a very fun
thing to do! Or be lucky and get a sabbatical!
Pack. Shop for travel gear.
Buy some tickets and plan out some major things and at least a place to stay
in your first country. Figuring out the dates is often hardest as you just
don't know how long you might want to stay in one place...
But just get out
your calendar and try to estimate and then just go with it! And just soak in
the fact that you are doing something so many others "dream" of but never
really have the balls to do!!!!
||Lisa Lubin is an Emmy-award winning TV Writer/Producer from ABC Chicago who gave it all up (at least for now!) to travel the world. You can read more about her travels on her website: LLworldtour.com.
Read Lisa Lubin's features on GoNOMAD:
Galapagos A-Go-Go: "Sea Lions and Turtles and Boobies, Oh My!"
Petal Power: A Women-Only Bike Trip in Vietnam
Habla Ingles? Language Immersion at 'Englishtown'