Lauren Locke's love for culture and travel sparked from her parents transformative international experiences at a young age. When she was in college, they encouraged her to seek similar opportunities, but she sought out a few more countries than they intended. In the past five years, Lauren has lived in six different countries spanning four continents. (She currently calls Malawi home.)
Lauren's goal is to empower a better understanding of the world, its environment, and its confusion of cultures throughout her career. She believes this can be done through open and international travel. This quote by Helen Keller,"Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature...life is either a daring adventure or nothing." embodies Lauren's spirit for life, travel, and culture.
Lauren in 60 Seconds
Current Location: Lilongwe, Malawi
Favorite Place to Travel: South Africa
Travel Motto: Pack light, smile bright and do right by all.
Favorite Activity: Swimming
1) What do you love most about traveling?
I love most how traveling forces me to reflect...on myself, on others, on life and love... I've discovered who I am through seeing the light in others across the world - I am so incredibly grateful for the people I've met and the beauty I've witnessed. Traveling is a bit like a drug in this way...its a constant search for that next transformative experience which takes one closer to global understanding.
2) What does your ultimate trip look like?
My ultimate trip would include all sorts of varied elements - a night out dancing with new friends drinking local brews, an outdoor adventure - hike up a mountain or a sunrise kayak and lastly a volunteer community experience/chance to give back. For example, spending a day with the homeless, doing a beach clean-up or a wildlife count...The best way to understand a place and its people is to reach out and help them. I believe that its important to always place others before yourself...which can be difficult when traveling as it is really is an inherently selfish experience.
3) What is your perfect day in your city?
I really love "Kumbali Village" for Sunday brunch. This ex-pat hangout is just past a small village in town. They do all sorts of activities on the weekends including sports, soccer and volleyball. Once a month they also have a small market of their own with local goods. A very nice relaxed spot with live music and good vibes. I love a bar called "the living room." Right in the center of town you can find a nice mix of both expats and locals. They serve brunch of the weekends but this spot really gets going at night. Its the sort of place you go for one drink and end up staying until 4am. The local market sells the most incredible fabrics called "chitenge's" - these can be made into anything by the local tailor. This is a full-on experience that isn't to be missed. The colors, crowd and bartering is mildly overwhelming and exhilarating. Lake Malawi is THE place in Malawi to seek inspiration. The lake is HUGE (nearly the size of Belgium) so there are many areas where you can enjoy the tropical sunshine, scuba diving and water sports. My personal favorite is a little area called Cape Maclear. This chilled area is friendly, safe and a dreamy spot to reflect on any African adventure!
4) What culture has surprised you the most and why?
I spent about six months in Buenos Aires and was surprised to see how different the city was from the "South American" stereotype. This experience was my introduction into big city living and I have a much clearer understanding of people in large cities all over the world after this experience. This multi-cultural/European/Latin mix was a fabulous introduction into how truly multi-faceted a place and its people can be.
5) What's the biggest lesson you have learned from all of your travels?
Holy moly - I've learned to read people and assess a situation. I've become a quick judge of character, but I think (or I hope) that I've learned not to be 'judgemental'. I deeply understand that people and places are complicated and ever changing. I've learned to appreciate the perspective and experience of others more than even my own.
6) What immediately connects you to a new place?
I think I feel connected when I find commonality in experience. This can happen in all sorts of ways - discovering a new song by a local artist that I wouldn't have otherwise. New food that I LOVE - could even be a simple thing like a new brand of local tea or coffee that is especially delicious!
7) What are your 5 must have travel-related items that you don't leave home without?
1. Camera - for me this has turned into a smart phone. I love being able to Snapchat friends and family as well!
2. Travel Journal - instead of long-winded memories I try to write one or two sentences every night. This condensed version is all I need to process, reflect and laugh at all the funny things that have happened.
3. Neon Face Paint - if you are on an extended stay...this is a fabulous small addition to make friends at any festival!
4. First Aid Kid - rehydration salts, liquid band-aids and anti-diarrheal medicine.
5. Thank You Note Cards - I love being able to leave notes to thank people for their generosity. Its the little things that are often most appreciated by others. :)
8) What is your next travel-related purchase?
Welp – my good DSLR camera has just broken and I’m unable to repair it here in Malawi. Looks like next time I’m in the USA its time to make a new investment.
9) What is your favorite season to travel and why?
I love to travel in endless summer – bring on the sunshine in every season!