It’s Jetsetters Day, nerds! Meet the newest addition to our little club, Lance from Travel Addicts. Lance and his partner, Laura, have roamed five continents and thirty countries. They also have ties to two of the places we hold closest to our hearts, New York City and Philadelphia, so they’re a-ok in our books. Without further ado:
Favorite Place: Definitely Rome. We’ve been three times and we could go back every year and not get tired of it. Rome is a great place to just be and relax. The food and wine are amazing, and Laura’s a little bit obsessed with the history.
More importantly, favorite meal: Our greatest meal ever was at a local place in the salt flats leading up to Mont Saint-Michel. The servers didn’t speak English and while Laura isn’t exactly fluent in French, she had a personal triumph translating the menu and speaking with the servers in French. The wine was plentiful and cheap. But the highlight was the lamb—they graze in the tidal basin, absorbing the salt of the land. Yum! After dinner, we visited Mont Saint-Michel, which was completely deserted at night (none of the day-trippers or crowds). Could not have been more perfect.
The moment you caught the travel bug: The travel bug has always been a part of us. Individually, we’ve both traveled since we were young, although mostly in the U.S. But the moment we became a traveling couple was a trip to San Francisco to celebrate Laura’s college graduation.
First experience traveling alone: My first trip alone was at the age of 13 – going from Colorado all the way to South Korea to attend a conference. Talk about being way outside the comfort zone! At 17, Laura spent a month studying at Oxford. She’s still friends with some of the people she met there 15 years later.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: I went to Prague in the early 90s with my parents. We arrived on the train after midnight and didn’t have a hotel for the night. We were approached by a man in the station offering a place to stay and agreed to go with him on the subway (I know…). Very quickly we realized it wasn’t a smart idea. The guy was behaving erratically, and we were convinced we were going to be robbed. My parents and I coordinated and jumped off the subway at the same time leaving the guy still on the train. In retrospect, we probably weren’t in any actual danger, but it felt that way at the time.
Worst hotel/hostel experience: Our worst experience was at a little B&B in Dingle, Ireland. It was the off-season (March) and the B&B didn’t have any heat. Nor did it have any hot water. We have never been so cold!
Best hotel/hostel experience: Last year, we stayed on the club level at the Grand Hyatt in Istanbul thanks to a lot of accumulated Hyatt points from business trips. The rooms could not have been more comfortable and the concierge service along with the nightly happy hour were first rate. The whole experience was complete luxury!
Favorite family vacation: For both us, we’d say Egypt. In 2011, we took Laura’s mother to Egypt for her 60th birthday and her sister joined us too. It was a life-changing trip for all of us because it was unlike any place we had been before and just a few short months after the Egyptian revolution there was electricity in the air. Our tour guide had been one of the occupiers in Tahrir Square, so talking with her about her experiences and seeing the aftermath of the revolution was thought-provoking. While the tourism industry had taken a huge hit, the upside for us was that many of the places we visited were nearly empty, so we got to experience the sites without hordes of people.
Must-have packing item: For Lance, it’s earplugs. For Laura, it’s the camera.
Most unbelievable travel experience: On our Egypt 2011 trip, we had some remarkable experiences. The highlight was being completely alone at Abu Simbel. Being immediately after the revolution, we had most of the sites to ourselves. But Abu Simbel was special.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: Our “I can’t believe it” moment was visiting Greenland – and not in a good way either. Lance had decided that doing a daytrip to Kulusuk, Greenland from Iceland was a good idea. And it was. In theory. It just happens that Kulusuk, the easiest town to visit from Reykjavik, is kind of a sad little town. The local population has more than 80% unemployment. Most of the small town was out and about during our visit – and completely drunk. Alcoholism is extremely prevalent there, even in children as young as 10 years old. But the worst part of it were these little midge flies that are attracted to CO2 and fly up your nose and mouth so that you constantly feel like you’re eating bugs. It was not fun.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Laura says Morocco – our trip was extremely brief and we didn’t get a chance to really explore the country. I say France – you can never have enough French wine!
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Drogheda, Ireland. We ended up here in 2008 after visiting Newgrange and thought it would be a good place for dinner. Unfortunately, it’s a real work-a-day town that didn’t seem to have much going for it. I’m sure Drogheda is a good place to live, but there’s not much there.
Any exciting trips coming up?: In October, we’re going to Ireland for the TBEX conference and extending our trip to visit Northern Ireland. After that, we’re planning a trip to South Africa.
Dream vacation: Laura’s dream trip is Ecuador and the Galapagos. Mine is to go to India and then return to Nepal, where I studied briefly in college.
Favorite tourist attraction: I think it would have to be Machu Picchu. There’s a reason why it’s on the top of so many bucket lists – it’s magical. It looks in person exactly like it does in photos, but a photo could never give you the idea of what it feels like to actually stand there.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: In Vienna, it would be visiting a local heuriger and eating and drinking with the locals. And at heurigers, they are all locals. These are vineyards in the city limits that, by law, are not taxed on new wine. It’s basically a refined version of the German beer garden.
Favorite travel photo: How do you choose just one photo? This photo of the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum hangs in our family room. The Forum is probably Laura’s favorite place on the planet. We just love it.
If YOU want to be our next jetsetter, let a girl know, ok?
the romantic & the wino