- Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from?
We are Lance and Laura Longwell. Lance is originally from Colorado. Laura is originally from Dallas. We met almost twenty years ago while living in New York City. Lance had just graduated college and moved to the big city for work, and Laura had just started college. We both share a passion for music and met at a concert.
We recognized our shared passion for travel pretty early in our relationship. When we met, Lance had already visited all 50 of the United States and lived abroad in Asia. Laura had recently returned from a study abroad program in England. Many of our early dates were spent hatching plans to see the world.
- What is your blog about and how did you start blogging?
Travel Addicts was born in January 2008. Initially, it was essentially an online journal to keep friends and family updated on our travels. After several years, we were startled to realize that thousands of people were reading it. At that point, we shifted the focus to really make the blog a more professional website. Several years ago, Laura quit her demanding job as an advertising executive to focus on growing and developing the blog into a business.
The focus of Travel Addicts is to show busy working professionals how to maximize their vacation time. While Europeans are used to month-long holidays, most North Americans get about 10-15 days of vacation per year, so it’s important to make the most of it.
- Do you travel for work or for pleasure?
We do a bit of both. We obviously love our vacations and have been all over the world, from exploring the Galapagos Islands to experiencing the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Our vacations together are precious. And, like most North Americans, since we don’t get a lot of vacation time, we try to make the most of it.
One thing we’ve really focused on with our blog is showing how you can leverage business travel into personal benefit. We’ve both had business trips around the world. We take those opportunities to extend the time we’re in a destination to have a mini-vacation. Whether we extend for a long-weekend or a full week, it’s a chance to see more of the world.
- What is the most stunning place that you have ever visited?
Probably Abu Simbel. This impressive monument to Ramses II actually gave birth to the UNESCO World Heritage Site program. The Aswan damn threatened the temple. The world community banded together to save it and moved it to high ground on Lake Nasser along the Egypt/Sudan border. As a result, the United Nations and the world community stepped into to protect other world treasures.
We visited Egypt and Abu Simbel in the middle of June. It was beastly hot (over 120 degrees Fahrenheit). And we were there just weeks after the Egyptian Revolution. All of the sites in Egypt had almost no visitors and many tourists were staying home. When we visited Abu Simbel, we had the site almost completely to ourselves.
- Do you feel that blogging takes time away from your social or family life?
Unfortunately, yes. Right now we’ve been focused on growing the blog and that has taken time away from our real lives. Our goal for this year is to restore a work-life balance. Many people don’t realize that running a blog like this is running a real business with all of the demands that entails.
- What is the one thing that is too large or impractical to travel with that you wish you could take with you when you travel?
Does a portable espresso machine count? We both love our coffee and sometimes it can be a real challenge to find a good cup on the go. On the other hand, we have had some amazing coffees in coffee shops around the world. So I guess there’s a tradeoff to the convenience.
- Are there any countries that you would not consider visiting and why?
Eventually, we’d like to visit everywhere. We’d probably say Yemen given the political and security situation there right now (and for the last 20 years). While we’d like to visit in a theoretical sense, it’s on our do not travel list right now and it’s unlikely the situation there will change for a very long time.
There are also some countries we’ve passed on visiting in the short term, whether it is because of security/terrorism concerns or geopolitical (supporting problematic governments) or just apathy. Zimbabwe was probably at the top of that list. We’ve passed up two opportunities to go, however, the situation there is more likely to change.
- Do you have any funny travel stories?
Most of our most humorous travel stories usually revolve around appliances in foreign countries. In France, we encountered a stove and range top without any buttons or nobs that we could see. We literally spent over an hour trying to figure out how it would work.
And then there was that time in Norway when we tried to do laundry in our apartment rental. We couldn’t read the soap instructions and ended up with more soap than we knew what to do with. Literally we had bubbles come out the front and the back of the laundry machine.
- What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
We’ve had so many great adventures, it’s tough to pick one. We’ve been scuba diving with sharks in Cozumel, took a bus across the Arabian Peninsula and broke down in the desert, or even going on a walking safari through the African bush.
But perhaps our favorite adventure was chasing the Northern Lights in Norway. Since the first time we saw the pictures of the dancing green lines in the sky, we knew this was experience we wanted to have. However, we were unprepared for the frigid temperatures and the hours spent waiting. However, were ultimately successful in our quest.
- What is your favorite mean of transportation (plane, train, car, ship)?
We love the automobile. Our favorite thing is to take road trips in various parts of the world. From Iceland’s Ring Road to South Africa’s Cape Peninsula, we’ve had a number of amazing road trips. After hearing from blog readers that they thought the trips sounded cool, but they would be too nervous to do it themselves, we wanted to demystify the process and ease people’s anxiety. Our book, The Essential Guide to Driving Abroad: Everything You Need to Know To Simplify Your Journey and Reduce Stress, was born out of the need to help other travelers.