Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education. is a passionate writer, educator, social media ninja, speaker and global citizen who has traveled to over one hundred and one countries on six continents. You might find her underwater, talking travel on KTLA TV, exploring an exotic location, at her art studio or writing about issues for Ms. Magazine, Smithsonian, AARP, Saturday Evening Post or one of the airline magazines including American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Sky. Her latest project is a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 New Adventures Before 50,” about her 50 challenges before she turned 50. She sailed on the high seas for seven years and founded We Said Go Travel which is read in more than 200 countries. Her travel videos have over 850,000 views on YouTube, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook and run 15 travel awards publishing over 2300 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been nominated for five Southern California Journalism Awards in the past two years and received 2nd place for her Jewish Journal article.
Lisa was kind enough to spend time answering our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Lisa: I have been traveling since I was a little girl. My parents took us skiing and then on a cruise to the Mediterranean. I felt like my history books came to life when we saw the pyramids and the parthenon. I knew I wanted to travel and discover more, but I did not realize it would be so many places!
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Lisa: Lately I have been focused on Adventure Travel with my 50 things before 50 project as well as Luxury with my association with Virtuoso. I also film and edit all my videos.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Lisa: I had always wanted to dive in Bonaire. I was concerned it would not live up to the years of hype but it was better than I imagined!
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Lisa: I want to visit Antarctica and see my 7th continent!
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Lisa: I always bring my passport, LG V40 which takes photo and video and my laptop to store all the content.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Lisa: My advice to travelers is to remember the “F” word–FLEXIBLE! Many of my adventures have not gone exactly the way I planned or hoped but they have always been memorable. Be open to the experience as it is.
TA: Where was the most unusual place you’ve ever stayed?
Lisa: I loved staying in gers during an eleven day van adventure in Mongolia. My favorite thing was one night when we saw the moon rise. Walking in the sand dunes in the Gobi Desert was incredible. I was surprised by the flowers we found.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Lisa: I know that people worry if they can do things. Are they too old to travel? too young to travel alone? strong enough for trekking in Nepal (yes you are! I did 2 8 day treks and you can too!)
Once I was scared to go on the Bobsled in Park City Utah, but that day I had skied with someone who is blind. I decided if Jennifer could ski, I could sit in the bobsled! It was very fun and very fast! (Learn more about National Ability Center and skiing with Jennifer).
I also skied with Matthew who is a wounded warrior in a wheelchair.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Lisa: On a group trip, we spent an evening in Venice on the water. I loved being in the gondola with friends. There was music and the lights on the water were beautiful. I have traveled with a partner, with friends and by myself. I am so glad we went even though we were not coupled up! Videos from Italy 2016.
TA: What’s one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Lisa: I lived on ships for nearly seven years! I recommend that you book your shore excursions in advance so you see everything you want. In Alaska, Europe or the Caribbean, there are so many choices for your days. Do some research and find the activities that you will enjoy best.
I also tell groups to have their cocktail party at the beginning of the week when everyone is excited to see each other!
TA: Have you ever taken a class while visiting a foreign city? If so, can you tell us a bit about the experience? And would you recommend people take that class?
Lisa: I took a Thai massage class for two days in Chang Mai, Thailand. It was a very intense learning experience. I absolutely loved it and would do it again. I also took a nearly full day cooking class also in Chang Mai. We ate and ate and ate and cooked as well. I have also taken cooking classes in Vietnam and Tuscany. Taking a class is a great way to learn more about the culture and often you can meet many other travelers.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Lisa: I skied for three days in May 2018 in Banff, Alberta, Canada. I highly recommend visiting Banff by train on Rocky Mountaineer and staying to go skiing! I loved the mountains and learning about the continental divide. I loved the gondola as well as staying at Lake Louise. The Canadian mountains are gorgeous!
TA: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to travelers your age?
Lisa: Before my 50th birthday, I did 50 new and adventurous things. Basically I scared myself for one year. The absolute scariest thing for me was going mountain biking. I did not think I could do it but my friend, Marcie, said she would do it with me. Remember you do not have to go alone in this world. Take a buddy and try something new! It is amazing!