US Operations Manager Mike LaPorta was interviewed by the travel blog Stars on the Ceiling. Stars on the Ceiling is a blog about getting outside the norm, seeing the world, and truly loving life.
Mike was interviewed for their section called Vagabond Voices, that every week asks fellow vagabonds who travel and show others the world about the “One Things” of their travel experience. Check out the entire interview here.
“‘No regrets’ — that’s my motto. That, and ‘everybody Wang Chung tonight’.” -Michael LaPorta
Mike is currently the US Operations Manager for Bus2alps, a tour company that operates weekend and weeklong trips for college students who are studying and traveling in Europe. Mike met the owner, Simon O’Keefe, while studying abroad and “badgered him until he offered me a job.” He began there 4 years ago as a Marketing Intern, and spent three years traveling all over Europe, organizing, leading and guiding tours. Today he is opening the new Bus2alps office in the US which is focused on trips from the US to Europe for Spring Break and Post Grad in the Summer.
My journal and books
…you have learned to live without (while traveling):
…you learned from your first trip abroad:
Friendships when traveling are intensified. I’ve become best friends with people I traveled with for 3 or 4 days in the same way of people I have known for years. Traveling is the most life altering experience, and sharing that with someone else, whether you are hanging out at a Ping Pong show, heckling Lions outside of your Safari Truck, or doing mushrooms at the Van Gogh museum, solidifies some bound that no matter how much time spent with someone at work, or in class, will never match.
…you learned from your first solo trip:
Is myself a corny answer? My first solo trip helped me learn just how independent I am. Growing up I wasn’t a loner, but I was completely content playing by myself. Once I hit High School I decided it was time to break out of my cocoon and become a social butterfly, and did everything I could to leave behind my sense of independence. My first solo trip allowed me to reconnect with me, and appreciate times when I completely block out the world, stare off at some incredible scenery, write in my journal, read a book, and focus solely on my own thoughts.
…you ate on your travels and still dream about:
Peanut curry on the beach of Koh Pha Ngan Thailand.
…you tasted on your travels and will never eat again:
Fish curry from a street vendor on a 100 degree day at the same beach
…that gets you through a long flight:
My thoughts and memories when returning from a trip, and the excitement of what I am going to do when headed out
…helps you through homesickness:
What’s homesickness? Naaa just kidding — everyone gets homesick. It usually only hits me at the end of a big trip and I know I am going home, so it is cured pretty quick.
…helps you through travel sickness when you’re home:
Looking up flights on kayak to random places in the world and filtering through travel destinations on Wikipedia
…you’re scared to do:
Settle down into a position that would not allow me to keep traveling
…you were scared to do but tried it and loved it:
Going to the bar alone with hopes of meeting people new. People in the US may think I am weird because I try to become friends with them randomly, but screw them.
…you’ve gotten better at since traveling:
Problem solving. This might come from being a tour guide for Bus2alps (have to put a plug in for work here), and frequently having to come up with a solution to a problem that affects 50 – 400 travelers on the fly – but I’ve learned to not panic when something unexpected occurs and come up with a rational solution.
…you still need to work on:
Wearing shoes or sandals so that my feet stop splitting open.
…that will be crossed off on your bucket list this year:
New Years Eve in Edinburgh.
Regardless of having done it the cheapest way, the best way, gotten lost, been robbed, talked to a lady boy for almost too long, maybe eaten street vendor food in Cairo too many times — I did it all and survived. I don’t think anything is as inspiring as the realization that you are doing something most people sit in their cubicle dreaming of.
…people always ask you about your vagabond lifestyle:
How do you do it? Where do you get the money, the time off, the drive to just pick up and leave?
…you always tell people when they ask you that:
Don’t be an idiot — just do it. It’s easy to live cheap, and it’s easy to get out of the normal routine — to get away from the idea that life goes from high school to college, job, wife, kids, and the only getaway is that family vacation to Bermuda. Please. Anyone can do this. I met a 45 year old guy who was traveling with a middle aged Irish woman he met while backpacking. Both had some life altering experience, and decided to make a drastic change. By doing so, they were having the time of their lives and met each other.
…you can’t wait to tell your grandkids about someday:
Grandpa was cool too back in the day. Well actually, he still is because what other grandpa takes you on vacations to Nepal.
…people should check out in your hometown:
Any one of the local bars. If you don’t have a massive desire to get the hell out and travel after that, well then you’re hopeless.
You can have similar adventures as Mike by checking out the tour company he works for, Bus2Alps!
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