If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that one of my favorite travel buddies is Lauren DiMarco of Lola’s Travels. We met through Twitter, as you do these days, and developed a friendship after finally meeting in person at the New York Times Travel Show a few years ago. But, our adventures together have taken us to Montreal, Miami, New Orleans, and around our home bases in New York City and Boston. I always have the best time with her, and since we are heading to the Dominican Republic together this Sunday, I thought it was the perfect time for you all to get to know her a little bit better.
Lauren is the founder and content creator of Lola’s Travels, an independent travel blog that features original city guides, travel tips, hotel and restaurant reviews and off-the-beaten-path finds delivered with a sense of humor. If you don’t already know Lauren, you’ve been missing out, she lives life to the fullest, isn’t afraid of adventure, and her laugh and smile are infectious. I know you’ll love following her as much as I do.
Do you have a funny story about a travel mishap that you’d like to share?
The first time I went to Europe I was traveling alone for two months with one of those impractical, back-breaking backpacks filled to the gills. I never knew where I was going to stay, so as I arrived to my next destination I would always search out a pay phone and call up various accommodations to see if there was availability. When I arrived in Munich, I repeated these same steps as always, I found a pay phone. However, my backpack was so stuffed from my travels that I lost my balance and fell backwards like a turtle turned upside down. All I could do was laugh at myself. To this day, that story still cracks me up!
Who is your favorite person to travel with? Why?
My favorite travel companion is none other than The World Wanderer, Erin!! Why, because I find Erin and my interests often to be aligned and our travel speed to be similar. It doesn’t hurt that she makes me laugh all the time and has wisdom that she shares beyond her years. She’s willing to explore outside of her comfort zone and I love how open she is.
What’s your favorite way to keep busy on the plane?
I love to listen to music most of all while traveling on a plane. It is a great distraction for me and keeps me calm. Plus, I don’t have to hear anyone else around me.
Tell us about your most memorable trip.
I think my most memorable trip is still my house build in Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity. I really put myself out there – traveling alone to Asia for the first time, meeting a group of strangers for the build and then traveling with them afterward. It was a huge growing experience for me and the beginning of realizing how much impact travel means to me.
Do you have a favorite website for booking and planning travel?
My favorite for booking hotels, investigating and trip planning is still Jetsetter. I have found over the years the hotels and suggestions of things to do are very much in line with my travel style. It’s a great resource.
How do you make friends while traveling?
By being friendly, open and conversational. If I’m traveling solo, I look for things to do in a group so that perhaps I meet other travelers with similar interests. That could be a tour of some kind or class, for example.
What is your favorite kind of day tour?
Lately my favorite day tour is food tours or cooking classes. You learn so much about a culture and even often good places to go back to while you are still visiting.
What’s the best road trip you’ve ever been on?
Hands down, the Mongol Rally. Driving 10,000 miles in a piece of junk car across a third of the world’s surface is pretty freaking awesome. The mishaps were the very best part. I learned a lot about myself on this challenging road trip like how to be alone with yourself when you’re not alone. Oh, and that I actually really like camping!
Do you overplan before you arrive, just show up at a destination, or have a mixture of both?
I’d say a mixture of both. I’m definitely NOT a believer in over-planning. You need downtime to enjoy where you are in the moment and the freedom to go off course if you want.
The media tells of a world that is scary and dangerous, what’s a travel moment that has proved to you that this isn’t true?
There are so many!! But one that sticks out right now is from my Mongol Rally adventure. Our team was traveling through Turkey and mostly camping the entire time. Most of the time in some random spot that wasn’t officially a camping spot. One night we set up camp not knowing where we were exactly only to be woken up the next morning with a man passing through on a sheep drive. We were terrified we were breaking some kind of trespassing law, but the man stopped over to us and started asking us questions. He had traveled to the States before and was curious about our trip. All in all, I find that people are just as interested and curious in you as you are in them.
To follow the rest of Lauren’s travels, especially our adventure together next week, follow along with her here: