In this week’s installment of “Meet an Indie Traveller“, I’ve called upon Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, a teacher from Boston who happens to know a thing or two about independent travel. Find out how Lillie plans her trips and balances her love of travel with teaching, travel blogging, volunteering, family life and everything in between…
1. How would you define independent travel and how do you feel it differs from how most people view travel?
I define independent travel in the words of Eric Cartman from South Park: “I do what I want!” In independent travel, you are unencumbered by constraints of other people or obligations, and can stay in a place as long or short as you want, switching your plans on a whim.
2. Could you tell us a little about your first independent travel experience?
Through my late teens and early 20s, I traveled alone for 1-7 weeks over summers. I traveled mostly in Latin America, with the base of a language class or volunteer opportunity to start, followed by weeks of exploration on my own once I got oriented in the country. In 2009-10, I set off on a fabulous 9 month solo journey around the world, during which time I launched my two sites, www.AroundTheWorldL.com (about my own crazy travels) and www.TeachingTraveling.com (profiling other Teacher-Travelers, in every sense of the word).
3. How has your trip planning changed since you first started travelling?
Now that I’m married, my travel planning now takes into account how to make things comfortable and smooth for my husband, so I tend towards more pre-planned trips and structured tours, especially for more difficult destinations like our recent trip to India. Since I’ve also returned to teaching full time, I have shorter amounts of time in which to travel (though we still have plenty of great vacation slots!), so I travel “faster” than during my 9-month solo saunter around the world.
4. What do you feel is the number one travel planning pitfall for first-time travellers to avoid?
Not going! I hate when people obsess so long about a trip that it never actually happens. That’s silly! Your trip will never be perfectly planned, nor is there ever a perfect time to go, but what you gain from it will be immeasurably life-changing. Just take that initial flight!
5. What is the number one lesson you’ve learned through your travels? How has travel changed the way you view the world?
The number one lesson I’ve learned through my travels is that travel is always worth it. It’s worth any expense, fear, uncertainty, planning, effort, and time. Travel has changed the way I view the world by making me far more in love with it. There is so much to learn and see! It has also been a huge benefit to my career.
6. From reading your articles, it’s easy to see that you as passionate about your teaching career as you are about travel. What advice would you have for other young professionals hoping to strike a balance between their careers and fulfilling their travel dreams?
Know that travel is a brilliant investment in any career, even if it appears to be “running away” or “taking a break.” I am SUCH a better teacher after taking 9 months to see the world.
7. During your teaching summers, you’ve managed to volunteer in many interesting places like Africa and Latin America. Do you have any tips to offer travellers interested in volunteering? Are there any organizations or resources you would recommend?
My main tip is that once you have narrowed down some possible volunteer positions through web searches and word-of-mouth, ask the organizations to send you contact information of at least 3 people who have previously volunteered there. That way you can get first-hand information about the character and quality of the programs. Any volunteer gig that is legitimate should be able to provide you with that information. Because this tip works so well, I feel no need to recommend specific places, as there are so many good ones!
8. All your readers know that your family is about to get a tiny bit bigger very soon (congratulations, by the way!). How do you see your travel planning changing in the coming years with your new addition? Will we be seeing “Around the World ‘L’ and Family” soon?
Hehe… Well, with my developing pregnancy and our little boy’s upcoming grand entrance, I suspect things may shift, but have no clear idea how. I do know, however, that I will continue to explore the world and run my websites with great joy! :) Do be in touch via my websites and on Twitter at @WorldLillie!