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Hello. My name is Lisa Lubin and I am a Blogger. Eek.
The SHORT of it (who am I now?):
When I first left Chicago to travel back in 2006, I started a blog just as a way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Originally, I didn’t even want to do a ‘blog’ as I thought they were kind of lame and I even hated the word ‘blahg.’ I still don’t actually like the word, but yes, I have come to accept it’s another part of who I am and another label I have been given. I am a former TV producer who chucked the cushy job, the boyfriend, the condo, the car to travel solo around the world for a year or three. Today, I am a freelance travel and food writer + photographer + speaker + video consultant + project manager. Oh, and blogger.
Let’s get the important stats out of the way:
- I’m a Virgo.
- I love cheese.
- I love cats.
- I live to travel.
(But I also semi-permanently live in Chicago, a city I’m in love with)
Where am I now?
After three and a half years of travel, going around the world twice (sort of), visiting 50+ countries, and vagabonding around the United States staying with friends and family, I returned to Chicago in 2009 and actually unpacked my bag. Now I travel about every month or so and enjoy our amazing world!
The more official bio:
I am an established travel/food writer and three-time Emmy-award winning TV producer and video consultant. As a travel industry expert, I’ve appeared on WGN-TV and Good Morning America. After more than a decade in broadcast television I took a sabbatical, which turned into three years traveling and working my way around the world. I document my (mis)adventures on my blog, LLworldtour.com. My writing and photography has been published by American Way Magazine, West Jet Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, the Malibu Times, Encyclopedia Britannica, Orbitz, Urbanful, theLatinKitchen.com, Jetsetter.com and Huffington Post. I host and organize the Meet Plan GO Chicago conference. And I’ve spoken about video and journalism at several conferences including the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), the World Travel Market in London (WTM), the New York Travel Fest, the Women in Travel Summit, Green Festival Chicago, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), SheSays Chicago, and “Visit Russia” in Yaroslavl. I recently published The Ultimate Travel Tips: Essential Advice for Your Adventures available on Amazon.
During three years traveling non-stop, I took Spanish and surfing lessons in Costa Rica, rode through the narrow fjords and icy glaciers of the Chilean Patagonia, hiked up a snowy volcano in Ecuador, swam with dolphins off the coast of New Zealand, climbed high atop the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, sand-boarded the dunes of Dubai, kayaked between pristine islands of Belize, climbed like Moses to the top of Mt. Sinai, and successfully accomplished a two-week bicycle tour through the rice fields Vietnam. I also found work in many places—I served up coffee and sandwiches in a café in Melbourne, taught private business English lessons in Istanbul, performed proofreading work for a Turkish media conglomerate, worked as a research assistant at the University of Cologne, was a pet sitter and an ‘extra’ in Los Angeles, did public relations for a company in Madrid and did some English voice recording for a publishing company in Berlin. All the while I’ve been documenting my travels with photographs and articles from the road/train tracks/rickshaw/camel.
The LONG of it (who was I then?):
Here’s the headline:
I quit my TV producing job of 9 years at ABC7 in Chicago to travel around the world for a year. for fifteen months. for about two and a half years. But I digress…it all began long ago…
I grew up in Randolph, New Jersey. Besides the bad rap, NJ is mostly a very beautiful place–lots of big, old trees, rolling hills, curvy wooded roads and colonial architecture. I defend it early and often. Where I’m from looks nothing like a scene in the Sopranos. In fact, I entered the state slogan contest recently. And NO, it’s not “what exit?” Mine was “NJ, the best kept secret.” But alas, I guess it’s still a secret because it wasn’t picked. Okay, on with my life. My parents divorced when I was about six and after a not-so-fun custody battle my brother, David, and I remained at my dad’s house until college. We did the standard ‘visit my mom every Wednesday night and every other weekend’ thing for years.
My favorite times growing up were our annual summer trips down to our grandparents house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They were the most loving, fun people I knew. Plus they gave us all the junk food we wanted…and it showed. There were a few too many summers I returned to NJ much plumper than when I had left. My mom and her boyfriend eventually moved out to Colorado to build and run a motel (Canyon View Motel) and live in a log cabin home in the mountains. Pretty adventurous for a gal who grew up in Brooklyn. My best friend, besides Holly Zimmerman down the street, was my cat, Pookie.
I always loved animals. At one time or another we had a total of 8 cats growing up. Plus my mom had 2 dogs, a horse, and a bunny. Quite the menagerie.
My first job in High School? Nagel’s Candy Barn—an-honest-to-goodness chocolate factory a la the famous “I Love Lucy” chocolate conveyor belt episode. At 16, I already was growing into my Virgo ways. I wanted to be ‘goal oriented’ so I thought I should be working somewhere more in line with my interests (even though Chocolate is a huge interest). I quit the mindless conveyor belt job and got a real job at Image Photo & Video renting out the latest hot releases like “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” or my personal fav, “Back to the Future.” Okay, it was just about as mindless as the last job, but I did get to sell cameras and photo equipment, which is why I took the job. Very cool or very dorky, you be the judge. Here, I also met my first love–the son of the Italian-American owners and my ‘first.’
After years of teasing my hair and going to fun Bon Jovi and Motley Crue concerts, I went on to Journalism School at the University of South Carolina. I did not love the south. Too hot and not diverse enough. The most ethnic restaurant in town was the “Olive Garden.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
But I did have fun–did all the big university things–joined a sorority, did a keg stand (once!), went to Daytona for Spring Break (where I did a lot of other ‘college things’ that we won’t get into here). I also met a lot of cool friends—and especially had fun with my Journalism friends. It was nice to finally have friends with something in common—not just being friends with the drunk whore in my dorm just because she was my roommate. (Oops! Did I write that outloud?)
While in college I started my TV career–I landed two internships back up north in NYC. The first was at CBS2 news. Here I met my next love. But even more than him, I think I fell in love with the idea of ‘being in love in New York City.’ Thus began my love affair with the greatest city on the planet (or so I thought until I met Chicago). The second internship was at “Late Night with David Letterman.” Yes, I met Dave. But hardly knew him. I also met tons of celebs on the show which began my jaded view and ‘who cares’ attitude about meeting celebs. Both internships look great on a resume, but a monkey could do the work they let you do. While in Manhattan, I lived with Esta, my grandmother. She was amazing–lived by herself in Chelsea and was still going strong. She used to be an actress in the Yiddish Theater. She even dated Milton Berle once. And yes, she tells me, it’s true.
(Need a coffee or snack break yet?)
So…after college I worked in Columbia, SC as director at the local NBC station (WIS-TV). Made a lot of great friends here. Your first TV job is fun because everyone’s young and no one is really from there so you all just go out after work and talk ‘shop.’
From there I went on to the local FOX station (WACH-TV) to produce promos or commercials. Then finally I escaped the south, dumped the boyfriend of 4 years, and moved my cat, Sneakers (aka the Beast), and I to Chicago on New Years Day 1998. It was a very Mary Tyler Moore moment. Okay, that was Minneapolis, but you get the idea!
From the beginning, I loved Chicago. What a great, clean, user-friendly city. It was hard for me to admit, but I liked it more than NYC. Don’t get me wrong, I love New York and miss the east coast, but the city itself rocks, hands down. I totally immersed myself in all things Chicago and kept busy. In the first nine years I lived here I: played in a summer tennis program every summer, bought two condos and became a landlord, taught a TV production class at Columbia College, volunteered for PAWS Chicago, took improv classes, took guitar classes, took acting classes, tutored English as a Second Language, and volunteered as a “Chicago Greeter.” Okay, I’m a bit of an overacheiver. Thanks to my job at ABC 7 I was able to learn more about the city than most locals. I helped start the show “190 North” which is a weekly entertainment/lifestyles show. Every week I had the fun assignment of producing a story at the latest sushi spot, the hot new nightclub, or, my favorite, some of the coolest travel destinations (Aspen, Cabo, Montreal, etc.) around and have since won two Emmys for my work on it.
So that brings us back to the reason I started this blog—the travel. I love traveling — especially abroad — and am ready to go anywhere, anytime. Before I started this Blog, I’d visited 17 countries (if you count the Vatican City and Monaco) and 33 of the U.S. states (okay, now make that 40…). And I’m also somewhat of a savant in matters of maps, geography, & photography.
I was finally at a place in my life where I could take off for a year. It was real this time…not just some pipe dream. I was actually going to do it! My cat, who stuck by my side (and yes, bit my side) for 11 years, got very sick and had to be put to sleep. It was thanks in large part to the ‘Sneaker Beast’ that my RTW trip was even possible. Thanks Beast.
So, I left to see the world, wrote a little, took lots of photos, and met the great people of this earth. Plus I ate some really tasty food.
Some Obscure LL Facts:
- I played drums in 6th grade.
- I have never broken any bones, but did fracture a toe once when part of a TV studio set fell on my foot.
- I have only owned one car my entire life: a red 1989 Honda Prelude (with sunroof!). I no longer have a car…just a bicycle.
- I have an awesome sense of direction and am great with maps.
- I am horrible at remembering peoples’ names after first introduction
- I had laser eye surgery in 2000.
- I have interviewed Matt Damon, Michael Jordan, Pete Townsend, Jamie Foxx, THE Danny Bonaduce, and the nutty former IL Governor, Rod Blagojevich
- While in high school, I worked part time at a chocolate factory
- I love lists and am extremely organized and detail-oriented.
- When I was growing up we had 8 cats at various times (not at once).
- Also when I was little, my mom had a horse named Dobie and once she picked me up at the school bus stop on horseback…in the suburbs of New Jersey!
- My brother and I spent every summer near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at our grandparent’s house. I loved our days with them in the sun and at the pool and usually started counting down the days months before.
- I interned at the former NBC talk show, “Late Night with David Letterman” and was once on the show in a “viewer mail” segment.
- When I was an intern, I spoke to Jerry Seinfeld on the phone. Helloooo Jerry.
- I love meeting new people and make new friends all the time…but I also love being alone and sometimes think people can be big jerks.
- I have won three Emmy Awards as a TV Producer, but only have two statuettes.
- I like to keep learning new things. I have taken acting, improv, tennis, guitar, and rock climbing classes.
- I love animals and hate animal cruelty.
- I am a landlord.
- My mom lives in a log cabin house and owns her own motel in Colorado.
- My grandmother was an actress in the Yiddish Theater in New York City.
- I am a bit of a foodie and love the Chicago ethnic food scene. My favs are sushi, Greek, Middle Eastern, cheese, chocolate and a great onion bagel with cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon)! The only things I don’t like are
peas, beets, and grapefruit.
- I was an extra in the show “24.” I was standing behind the new president during her inauguration in one season’s movie premiere. I have never watched this show.
- I go running sometimes, but hate running.
- I have now been to 6 continents, about 45 countries, and 43 states in the US.
Q: Why Travel for so long?
A: Why not? Life is short. It is cheaper to travel longer. A lot to learn.
Q: Why Blog?
A: I wanted to share my adventures. I wanted to document my travels. And I wanted to have some semblance of structure while traveling
Q: How did you plan your route?
A: I followed warm weather and traveled with the seasons. I picked places I always wanted to go and places that friends highly recommended.
Q: Are you rich? How can you afford this?
A: No. I worked and saved for years. I also sold a condo I owned in Chicago before leaving. And I traveled cheaply. Found budget airlines, had a flexible schedule so could choose cheapest flights, stayed in hostels, with friends of friends, used Couchsurfing.com, and worked while I traveled.
Q: What about your life? Your stuff?
A: Life is good. Stuff is just stuff. I got rid of a lot of it. It ‘weighed’ me down mentally & physically. I like having less. Less to worry about. I love Craigslist.
Q: What are your favorite places?
A: I’ve been to 45 countries and counting. And I have amazing experiences everywhere. It is more about the experience than the place. That being said…I’m still in love with Europe, especially like Eastern Europe. Some faves: Berlin, Stockholm, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Melbourne, Romania…
Things I Love:
- The smell of fresh cut grass
- Kittens (and all animals!)
- Ethnic Foods of all kinds (Lebanese, Ethiopian, Japanese, Indian, Greek…)
- Warm Hands
- Sharing smiles and laughs
- Cuddling in clean sheets
- Um, bulleted lists
(notice nearly all these things are natural and free)
Books that Inspired Me:
- A Trip to the Beach and Live What You Love by Bob & Melinda Blanchard
- One Year Off by David Cohen
- Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman
- Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner
- Shutterbabe by Deborah Copaken Kogan