By Contikivacations | June 29, 2012
Meet Lisa Niver Rajna of We Said Go Travel, teacher by day and travel writer year-round!
Lisa, who Contiki has gotten to know at many Los Angeles Consortium of Online Travel (LACOT) meet-ups, is an inspiring travel writer and we're so excited to share answers for this week's 10 Contiki Questions!
Check out how her love for Burma and getting engaged underwater led her to document her travel journeys with her husband George!
When did you decide to become a travel writer and how did you decide to create We Said Go Travel?
I have always loved books. Reading was my favorite pastime as a child; I used to get lost in the stories. As I grew up, I wrote in a journal. After meandering from Indonesia to Mongolia and losing weight and getting engaged underwater, my husband George suggested we write a book about our journey. We starting blogging about our trips and after a year built We Said Go Travel.
When and where did you first travel by yourself, and why did you choose that particular destination?
When I was a kid I flew to Arizona for summer camp, one of my best childhood memories. I have always loved to go places. Summer camp led me to a teen tour of Israel which inspired a semester in Jerusalem. I was totally hooked!
Was there a particular trip or travel moment in your life that changed your life?
While working on a cruise ship, I sailed from Athens to Bangkok with Renaissance Cruises on a fifty-day itinerary. In Yangon, Myanmar I went to the Schwedagon Pagoda. It is the most impressive place I have ever been. I was able to go there on two different trips once at sunset and I will never forget that day. I met George online and charmed him by talking about the Schwedagon Pagoda so you could say my happy marriage is directly related to that day in Burma!
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a travel partner? What would you say the benefits of either travel style would be?
I travel with George; he is my best friend and an incredible travel partner. Having someone to share the highs and lows of travel is great for simple things like leaving your backpack while you go to the bathroom at the airport, and for making you take medicine when you are sick in Jakarta for New Years Eve. I know the difference between having a partner and not - while working on ships I traveled by myself and while I always enjoyed it and met lots of interesting people, I really enjoy being with George and would always choose to travel with him.
Which destinations are you consistently drawn to, and why?
I love Thailand. I think I could live there. The people, sights, sounds, culture and food just draw me in. I find it colorful, spiritual and it fills all my senses. Koh Lipe has a special place in my heart since we got engaged underwater there! I also love Kao Yai (Big Park) where we saw our first wild elephant.
What are 5 destinations that you recommend the 18-35 year old Contiki travelers MUST see?
Travel opens your mind and your heart. I would say learning about our place in the world is important and seeing the ancient civilizations is one way to start: Great Wall of China, Pyramids of Egypt, Western Wall in Jerusalem, Angkor Wat Cambodia, and of course Schwedagon Pagoda, Burma.
The most important thing to do while traveling is to remember the “F” word – FLEXIBLE. You left home to learn something, to see different places and to experience new sensations. Please do not compare every food, location, and site to home. Planes will be delayed, you will get sick, something will get lost or break, but that is all part of the journey. Try to really ask questions of people you meet, connect with the place, do something new. Take a risk and you will be rewarded!
What are the must-have items that you pack with you every time you take a trip?
I don't leave home without a journal and a camera to record my thoughts and impressions. My Chacos are important so my feet are happy. A copy of my passport and an extra credit card in my backpack mean I do not have to worry if stuff gets lost. But really as long as I am with George, I am good.
Before we leave on a trip, George will read in the Lonely Planet and online to think about where we might stay and what we might see. I usually find books to read about the culture and history of a place. I love to fill up my Kindle with new books and get ready to enjoy them in a new spot!
We leave July 1st for two months in Indonesia. On August 31 we land in Phuket and we will see where our whims lead. Our idea is to wander in Southeast Asia for a year.
Follow us at www.wesaidgotravel.com to follow our progress. And enjoy your own journeys!
About Lisa Niver Rajna:
Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. is an accomplished travel agent, blogger, speaker, science teacher and member of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries. She traveled across six continents with Club Med, Princess Cruises, Renaissance Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Look for her underwater as a PADI divemaster, in the science lab at the Brawerman Elementary School, or on the road traveling to an exotic location. Lisa’s monthly column, “Science and Your Child,” can be found at LA Mom Magazine. She also writes for the travel section at Technorati.com and blogs on the Jewish Journal, WeSaidGoTravel and ScienceIsntScary. Lisa and George Rajna spent eleven months wandering Southeast Asia from Indonesia to Mongolia where they fell in love, got engaged, and now as a married couple are writing a book about their journey. More at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/