On the eve of my first overseas adventure, I thought I’d share a story I wrote on former Columbia teacher and current world traveler extraordinaire Lisa Lubin. You can follow Lisa on LLWorldTour.com.
Lisa Lubin refers to the future as L.A.W.T., life after the world tour. “As the months tick by I do think about what the heck I will do,” she says. But after a life like Lubin’s how much more exciting could it get?
Lubin is a former Columbia College television professor and was a specials producer in the programming department for ABC7 in Chicago for 9 years. She produced several weekly shows, most notably “190 North” a program focusing on Chicago entertainment, trends, and style. During her time at ABC, she was nominated for an Emmy 10 times, winning three of them.
Then she left it all to travel the world.
Lubin has visited 312 cities in 45 countries, that’s 22% of the world. Starting in October of 2006 Lubin traveled to South America, then to New Zealand and Australia, then up through Asia and over to Europe and the Middle East. She documented it all on her website, LLWorldtour.com.
“I have always loved traveling. Since I was little I loved exploring new towns and places. I would ride my bike down new streets mesmerized by something I’d never seen before,” said Lubin.
Lubin’s passion for travel was just as clear to her coworkers.
“No one was really surprised when she decided to travel. She talked about it for a long time,” said Cathy Vlahgiannis, who worked with Lubin at ABC.
“She is one of the most secure people I know and I thought it was a terrific idea,” said Frank Bianco, who hired Lubin to teach the “Creating the News Package Class” at Columbia College.
The travel bug bit Lubin after she backpacked through Europe after college. Since then, she’s made a promise to herself that she would travel “somewhere far away” every year. She stuck to her promise, but the longest she’d ever been away was three weeks. So how did she make the jump from occasional vacationer to yearlong world traveler?
In 2006, everything just fell into place.
“I broke up with my boyfriend of five years, I was bored at work, and my sweet cat had died,” said Lubin. She also read a book called One Year Off by David Cohen. In it, Cohen documents his trip around the world with his wife and three kids. Lubin figured if they could do it she could do it, and her mind was set.
One of the most common questions Lubin encounters is how does she pay for it all? For one, she often stays in hostels or CouchSurfs when possible, cutting down on her lodging expenses. She also got rid of the things that cost her money while living the normal life. She sold her Lakeview apartment and ditched her cell phone.
It also depends on where you go. In cheaper regions like Southeast Asia and South America, she could stretch her funds further or save up for the more expensive Europe and Australia. She got odd jobs where she could, serving coffee in Australia and teaching English in Istanbul.
Some of Lubin’s favorite places on the trip were The Galapagos Islands off Ecuador, Melbourne, Australia, Hong Kong, Turkey, and Berlin. One place she didn’t rave about was Dubai.
“It’s very interesting to see, but to me was a bit like Vegas and had an air of greed and a lack of real culture that I didn’t find appealing,” said Lubin.
Lubin credits her “Chicago street smarts” with helping her stay safe while overseas.
“I missed the city of Chicago. No matter where I went, I was still lucky to call it home and I truly do love it. It’s my adopted home and I have been singing its praises all over the world, encouraging everyone I meet to visit it one day. I think the Chicago Tourism office needs to hire me as an ambassador,” said Lubin.
Lubin also sings the praises for Columbia College students.
“I loved my time at Columbia. I mostly loved working with students who I could tell, “wanted to make it.” They were motivated and excited about Television news and ready to go after their dreams,” said Lubin.
So what advice does she offer for young travelers? Just do it. The hardest part is deciding to go.
“If you have the opportunity and the freedom to just go—grab the chance now when you can…don’t put if off for tomorrow, because something will always come up to get in your way,” said Lubin.
“I think there is no better ‘real life’ education than seeing the world and meeting its people firsthand… But 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.”