Lisa Niver Rajna has, to date, traveled to well over 100 countries. She has journeyed by land across vast portions of Asia covering Indonesia to Mongolia, toured Israel as a teen, taken the highest zipline on the planet while visiting Puerto Rico, and lived solely off vegetarian food while in India (a great way to avoid food poisoning she tells us!). She quotes the adventure which gave her the most satisfaction during her initial trip around the world as her weight loss journey, and she is continually inspiring others to travel the world and work towards achieving their goals.
Though these experiences don’t even start to scratch the surface of this amazing woman’s journey to date. And honestly, neither does this interview!
But, if you’re feeling inspired after reading the below, be sure to check out her travel memoir “Traveling in Sin“, and live vicariously through the adventures of Lisa and her husband George, as they fell in love while traveling overland throughout Asia.
What inspired you to start travelling?
I have always been a traveller. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Georgia when I was two-years-old on an army base and when I was three we moved to California. My parents love to travel and took us many places.
I have always enjoyed seeing new places and meeting interesting people!
How has travel enriched your life?
Travel has shaped my life. I went on a teen tour to Israel, which inspired me to study in Israel in college. The memories of living in Israel inspired my choice to work for Club Med and on cruise ships for seven years.
I think travel has been one of my main forms of education!
What advice would you give to those hesitant to take the plunge into the world of travel?
I have to admit there have been many times I have been hesitant about travel. One piece of advice is to shift your focus. Going to the same place with a new attitude can feel like an adventure.
Start with something that feels manageable—go for a weekend or go with a friend. Find a way that works for you.
You’ve now travelled to over 100 countries! What is your most memorable travel experience?
Recently I travelled to Puerto Rico with Richard Bangs and Orbtiz. They asked me to ride the BEAST which is the highest zipline on the planet. I had only been once before in Palau on a small family friendly zipline. I was so scared. I tried to convince them I would do the first smaller line so they could film for the video.
The cameraman and Robert from Toro Verde said the big one was best! I did it and it was incredible! I cannot wait to share all the video from that adventure! Check out the tag #RBQuests or our Tagboard!
Which is the single country which stands out the most in your mind?
Mongolia is a place that exceeded my expectations.
I loved the vast expanse of nothingness. I loved the animals and the incredible scenery. Walking the dunes in the Gobi Desert was magical. It was the first time I saw moon rise. I really want to go back.
Which destinations are at the top of your travel bucket list?
You were quoted as saying that the adventure which gave you the most satisfaction during your initial trip around the world was your weight loss journey. Can you tell us a little about that?
After Sept 11, my cruise line went bankrupt in two weeks. I found myself without a job and was not sure what to do or where to live. I thought I might never travel again.
During my time teaching, I gained weight and had some conversations with my doctor about my health. While I was on sabbatical in Asia, I lost weight, I walked every day, I ate smaller portions and I felt great!
What are some tips or tricks you’ve learnt for staying healthy on the road?
One of the biggest tips is to eat vegetarian in India. So many people have complained to me about being ill in India. During three months there, I was never ill from the food!
Eating local food is generally cheaper and safer.
Biggest culture shock while travelling?
Interesting question. Normally I think about culture shock on returning! I sometimes am surprised at how hard it is to communicate. I try to learn words in the language of the country I am in.
In China, I said “Frey Chan How” (Very good). A man looked at me and said, “I don’t speak English.” I realized, “Houston, We have a problem!” More about that in Traveling in Sin!
What is we said go travel all about?
We Said Go Travel is a global community. There are articles from every continent. During the last year, I have run four travel-writing contests with cash prizes (1st prize: $1,000usd cash). Over 1000 people from 74 countries have shared their stories!
It has been so exciting to read articles from so many perspectives from all over our planet. I hope your readers will join in our next Independence Travel Writing Contest starting September 11! They can check our site or join my newsletter to find out when it will begin and for the start date of the brand new travel video contest with AMAZING prizes!
I cannot wait to be able to announce them all!
Most practical piece of travel advice?
The best advice I ever got was pack everything and then take out half. I realized when I only had two pair of shorts and six t-shirts that I no longer wanted to take out half of everything!
I have learned that if you go somewhere and it is cold, they sell sweaters!