Welcome to the Roamers Corner! An interview series that spotlights how travelers, experts, and eco travel advocates we admire incorporate travel into their lives, to live more fulfilling and mindful lives.
In this edition of Roamers Corner, we met up with our friend, Stephanie Lê. Steph is passionate about a lot of things, from helping small businesses become large businesses, to teaching writing and critical thinking for the non-profit Minds Matter, to crafting beautiful jewelry.
And of course, Stephanie loves traveling. She is a pro at finding and planning trips on a budget and has recently traveled across the world on the cheap.
We're delighted that she's agreed to share with us some of her most memorable travel moments.
RW: Hi Steph! Tell us, what do you currently do and where is home for you?
SL: What I do is so complicated! I'm basically a jack of all trades in that I know a little about a lot. I'm currently a cannabis consultant with a background in operations, finance, and branding/creative marketing. I have 15 years of experience in tech, entertainment, non-profit, and cannabis from large international corporations to small startups, with 7+ years at the director and C suite level. With all that experience, my real goal is to help creatives monetize on their talent by providing the business support they need, no matter the industry. I'm originally from Tampa, Florida but Los Angeles, California is home.
RW: Generally, how often do you travel and why do you travel?
SL: Typically, I take two international trips a year, a long and a short trip, and two or three weekend domestic trips.
I spent so much of my life working hard and not taking any vacation time. When I went to renew my passport, I realized I hadn't gone anywhere in 10 years. TEN YEARS! I kept putting it off as something I would do when I had time but when I had time, I didn't have money.
When I finally booked a trip, I got laid off just before I was supposed to go. I thought about canceling but then I just went for it! I went to Iceland, London, Paris, and Madrid in one trip on the cheap.
After that, I realized that no matter the circumstance in life, if you make something a priority, you can make it happen. For me, traveling was worth any hardship I might incur -- that trip changed my life!
I didn't think I was culturally shallow before I started traveling so much, but I also didn't realize how much I didn't know or how I would feel soaking in the world around me. I didn't realize how impactful it would be to stand next to a piece of history, something I had only read about and seen pictures of, in person with my own eyes. Now, I want to see everything!
RW: We agree, travel can literally change one's life!
RW: So, what’s your favorite destination/trip so far and why?
SL: Ooooh that's so hard because I love both nature and city trips. I've done my ideal trip more than once actually. In fact, I've done it five times now! I pair a trip to Iceland with a trip to Paris. It's the perfect combination of nature and urban exploration.
I love to be in nature like really be in it and see the weather and landscape change so quickly in a short drive, and feel like you're a part of nature.
Then I fly to Paris, where I get to bask in history, walk along cobblestones and imagine all the feet that have traversed that same path, look at historic architecture interspersed with modern conveniences, and eat delicious food everywhere from the street to a fine dining establishment. It's the exact opposite of what I do in Iceland and is an amazing way to transition back to my own city life in LA.
RW: What’s your craziest traveling experience so far?
SL: I have so many stories, I don't know how to define which one was the craziest!
I think the craziest for me in terms of my comfort level was a 2-week camping trip in the North Island of New Zealand. It was one of my longest trips ever and we spent the majority of that time in tents and in nature. It was magical and beautiful and rough.
But maybe my craziest story to tell is fairly recent. I lack the enzymes to break down alcohol so I don't drink much -- I get too sick. I know the signs very well and I've been having small portions of alcohol for about 17 years without any issues.
Well, until my trip to Barcelona... I was eating tapas and had a quarter glass of Champagne with our meal. As I walked out, I suddenly didn't feel good, I sat down on a ledge and went a little black around the edges. I leaned over to throw up and amid projectile vomiting, blacked out, fell over into my own vomit, and hit my head on the cobblestones. It was horrifying and I gave myself a black eye. I then went to Italy and from there took an overnight train to Paris. On the way there, my fellow travelers and I contracted the norovirus. I'd never been so sick in my life! We arrived at our hotel room in Paris and did not leave nor eat practically for two whole days and then we had to fly back to the States.
Needless to say, that was a pretty rough international flight. I felt so weak from having barely had any food or water, even standing in line felt awful. I was sick for an additional week after I got home. But the worst part is, I didn't get to eat anything in Paris. My favorite city to eat in!
RW: Oh dear, that sounds like an absolute nightmare!
RW: Flashforward to today. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your travels? And, what did you decide to do about it?
SL: I have no current plans for travel but as soon as it's safe to travel again, I'm going to slowly start planning small trips to ease back into the world: a weekend trip to a rental in the desert, a camping trip, a nature trip, and then a city trip.
RW: Is the pandemic also impacting your income and if so are there any ways our readers can support you in this time of hardship?
SL: Unfortunately, yes. A lot of my work is in experiential, planning for marketing or networking events for brands or projects that require investors in the event space, but all of those projects have either been canceled or are on hold.
This is a lovely and generous question, thank you for asking. I don't have anything to sell right now but I can offer my skills. I'm currently working on projects with clients for investment opportunities. If anyone is in need of business advice, infrastructure set up, marketing advice, sales analysis, or projection for investor decks, I'd be happy to help! Here is my website for my freelance services: www.slestrategies.com
RW: What impact do you think the current crisis will have on the future of travel and sustainable travel?
SL: I actually think that once it's safe to do so, the travel industry will pick back up -- I think people in general in all spaces will be a little more aware of their surroundings, more prepared for their travel, and will need the right gear and functionality to travel safely. In that regard, it might open a space for more businesses around travel prep, planning, gear, and creating curated experiences instead of winging it on a whim.
RW: If you could travel now, what would be your number 1 destination?
SL: If I could go anywhere right now, it would be Paris, so I can make up for all the things I couldn't eat last time I was there. And after not being able to eat out here due to the pandemic, I would really bask in some decadently gluttonous meals full of butter and hope. And pastries! All of the pastries! One of my favorite things to do in Paris is to sit at a terrasse de café, have a coffee and a croissant, breathing in the city, plumes of cigarette smoke wafting through the air, the chatter of a language I'm intimately familiar with but cannot comprehend, the hustle and bustle of a city that is alive and vibrant, surrounding me, cocooning me like a warm embrace.
RW: How poetic!...
Thank you, Stephanie.
Follow Stephanie on Instagram @iheartcreeps