Lisa Lubin is foodie. She’s a lover of love, friends and our gorgeous city of Chicago. She started her own company and writes her own super cool blog. She also happens to be a three-time Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer. Oh yeah, she’s also a world traveler. That’s right, a legit world traveler who dropped her high-salaried job, dumped her boyfriend and rented out her condo to jet-set across the globe for three-plus years. Alone. She’s also a testament to the fact that (if you really wanted) you could do it, too. Read our one-on-one with Lisa to find out why she’s really a “Cheeky Chick You Should Know.”
Cheeky: Before you left to travel the world, what were you doing professionally?
Lisa Lubin: Before I chucked it all, I had a nice life and a job as a full-time TV producer with ABC7 Chicago. For nearly ten years, I wrote and produced TV specials including 190 North. I won a few Emmys and I was very lucky in that it was my job to go out and cover the great city of Chicago.
Cheeky: What prompted you to jump (the Chicago) ship and hop on a plane across the globe?
LL: I was at a time in my life where I realized I was free. My boyfriend and I had broken up after a long relationship, my 11-year-old cat had gotten sick and died (as an animal lover, I never would have abandoned him to travel) and after being in the same job for nearly a decade, I was ready for a change. All these things happened over about a six month period and the idea slowly started to creep into my brain. I’d always loved traveling. Like many, I never really thought about doing a trip like this, or if I heard about someone else doing it, I just thought, ‘Wow, they are lucky.’ But they weren’t lucky. They made a decision and went after it. That takes a lot of courage. I slowly started to realize I could do it, too.
Cheeky: Tell us about your journey.
LL: I lived out of a bag for four years. I went around the world for 15 months, then came back and traveled the U.S. and stayed with friends for eight months. Then I left again for another six months. I literally went around the world – from East to West. I’ve now been to about 45 countries and six continents. See my full itinerary here.
I wasn’t a ‘tourist.’ I wanted to immerse myself in society and meet people. My philosophy was: I wasn’t on a “vacation.” I was living my life.
Cheeky: If you had to pick just one or two places that rank as your favorite, where are they and why?
Besides ‘How could you afford it,’ this is the question I am asked most. The world is so diverse and amazing, that I like nearly every place. Two favorites:
- Berlin – The hype was right. Literally every single other traveler I met who had been to Berlin said it was awesome. Modern. Progressive. Fresh ideas and design. This city is going places… fast. And it’s the one place I have said ‘I could live here in a second.’ Maybe I still will.
- Buenos Aires – A very European city in the Southern Hemisphere that has a lot going on. It’s sexy. It’s sophisticated. It’s cosmopolitan. And there are hot men running around playing lots of futbol. There are cute neighborhoods where you can hang out at a café all day without a care in the world. Viva Buenos Aires!
Cheeky: What was your favorite part of the trip?
LL: My favorite part of my whole trip – and life really in general – is meeting interesting people and building new friendships all over the world. I was elated by the discovery of how easy it is to basically build my own community wherever I am. It gives me such a rush and a renewed sense of trust in the overall goodness of man.
Cheeky: Which culture/place did you find the most surprising?
LL: Some countries in the Middle East. I was in town just for a few days and before I knew it, I had some friends who were helping me find a job as an English tutor. In about a week, I had about 20 names in my phone’s address book – all new friends that I never knew just a week earlier. Overall, I found the people to be some of the most warm, welcoming, hospitable people in the world.
Cheeky: You used a lot of online resources to navigate your way throughout your trip efficiently and frugally. Tell us about some of those?
LL: My laptop was one of the best things I packed! I was able to work and write, but also book nearly everything and find unique experiences, new friends, and meet-ups.
Skype.com – I did NOT travel with a cell phone. You can make free calls anywhere in the world using Skype to others that are also on Skype. Or you can call landlines for as low as 1-2 cents per minute.
Couchsurfing.com – A great way to meet locals and get to see and do things you wouldn’t normally get to.
Bing – This has now become my top site to go to when booking airline tickets. They use “Farecast Technology.” Bing searches multiple sites simultaneously for the best fares. The best part is their airfare predictions. They tell you whether to “buy now” because the price is only likely to go up or to wait because it’s very likely that the price will drop.
Cheeky: What did you learn most about yourself all those years abroad?
LL: I will eat nearly anything (except insects). I can do anything. I can talk to anyone. I am completely self sufficient and self reliant. I always need a day or two to adjust and transition to a new place and environment. I often felt lonely or odd, but learned it was normal and would pass in a day. Traveling can be way cheaper than you realize.
Cheeky: What was your biggest lesson when returning home?
LL: We live in a great country, but when I returned I realized how much we take for granted… and waste. We have an abundance of everything: food, cars, garbage, wealth, choices, freedom. I was overwhelmed just in the supermarket by all the choices and marketing messages. No wonder our heads are so full… we take in so much every day.
Cheeky: What are you up to now?
LL: I just launched my own video consulting business, LLmedia. I coach small businesses and entrepreneurs on how to create better video and bring it up to the level of quality it needs to be to compete in today’s market.
I also host the second annual Meet Plan Go event in Chicago. It’s a national event, held in nearly 20 cities around North America, encouraging and inspiring others to go after their travel dreams. We give people tangible tips and info on how to take a sabbatical or career break of their own. Visit the Meet Plan Go website for more info or to buy tickets.
Cheeky: If you had to do it all again, what would you change?
LL: Absolutely nothing.