Inspiration for Travel (and Life!) with Around the World L

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Around the world travel – it brings certain images to mind, doesn’t it? But in talking with people who have actually DONE it, it is quite different in reality. This is when, if you want to be inspired, you reach for resources that are joyful explorations of the world. Around the World L is one such site – created by a teacher who traveled the world – and brought it home. Her passion for exploring deeply – whether at home or abroad – is contagious. It’s one of my favorite sites (read about one of her students in Egypt – you’ll see why she’s such a great teacher and inspiration). It's more than travel - it's about giving back, looking around, and living joyfully, wherever you are.  Without further ado, here’s our conversation with Lillie Marshall, of Around the World L…


Around the World L In Vang Vieng, Laos

Around the World L In Vang Vieng, Laos



WE:  Please tell us about your site, Around the World L…

LM: My name is Lillie Marshall and I am a 6-foot-tall Boston native who started teaching in Boston Public Schools directly out of college.  After five years teaching English in one of the most intense and challenging schools in the city, I had saved enough money to take an unpaid leave of absence to travel around the world for a year.  Like many English teachers, I have been longing for years to WRITE, myself... and starting a travel blog gave that opportunity!



WE:  What was the genesis of your site?

LM:  In July of 2009, while I was still teaching summer school in Boston, I launched to begin discussing the trip planning process and the varied reactions that an around-the-world-for-a-year journey evokes.  At first my readers were just friends and family, but quite rapidly the wonders of Google and word-of-mouth connected fresh eyes across the world with my site.  What a thrill!


A temple in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A temple in Angkor Wat, Cambodia



WE:  What inspired your travels?

LM:  One thing that propelled me to leave the country in 2009 was the nagging feeling that I was stuck in a rut, doing the same things over and over, making the same mistakes and indulging the same bad habits, while always wondering: “What else is out there?”  I had to take action and leap, radically into the unknown, or live a life of regrets!



WE:  How can travelers best prepare for heading to a new place?

LM:  Research as much as possible (formally and through word of mouth), do some serious social networking.  Once traveling, stay relaxed and open-minded, while not being afraid to speak up if things are really wrong (you know, like being groped on a moving motorcycle).  But above all, just GO!  Do it, do it, do it!  It’s scary if you think about it obsessively, but once you’re in the journey, it’s shockingly relaxing and right.



WE:  What are your favorite places to visit?

LM: I love it all, especially new places!  I’ve adored Latin America, Asia, West Africa, Europe, and dear North America, and plan to go deeper into each, and beyond, in the future.

Regarding previous places I’ve visited that made a wonderful impact, I loved Laos (and found Southeast Asia in general to be a backpackers paradise), my time in Ghana was AWESOME, Peru was fantastic, and Portugal was beautiful!


Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast, Ghana



WE:  How can travelers give back, while in traveling?

LM: Let’s put it this way: your travels will give back to YOU if you give back to the world while traveling.  During my 9 month journey around the world, the first 4 months were sightseeing, which was amazing, but not the same profundity as the 3 subsequent months I spent volunteer teaching in Ghana, West Africa.  By volunteering in any way for a week to a bunch of months during your travels, you get so much deeper into the country and form incredible cross-cultural bonds.  You can find a volunteer opportunity easily, either by connecting beforehand with an agency (usually more expensive but very organized), by literally walking up to an interesting-looking school or organization, or through more informal word-of-mouth and online channels (like the country groups through which I found my Ghana position).



WE:  What's up next for you?

LM:  One of my best friends just moved to China for the Peace Corps so I’m headed out there to see her (and that giant country everyone has been talking so much about) during my wide open teacher summer!  I may also try to slip in another country or two on the way to or from China.  So many great places to go!



WE:  Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

LM:  Every day I thank the universe that I was able to travel the way I did, and that I am back home with a renewed love of my hometown and teaching career.  Readers, if you have any travel dreams at all, and have even the smallest possibility that you could make them come true, MAKE YOUR DREAMS A REALITY!  There are so many wonderful resources out there to help you (including Wandering Educators!).  You can start small, with just a week or two, but make it happen, because the time is NOW!


Around the World L, volunteer teaching in Ghana

Volunteer teaching in Ghana



WE:  Thanks so very much, Lillie! I LOVE your site and highly recommend it to our Wandering Educators.

To check out Around the World L yourself, please see:


All photos courtesy and copyright Lillie Marshall