Laura and Tiziano (Campervan Tango)

Today's Explorers

Laura and Tiziano (Campervan Tango)

January 17, 2022
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

Laura is from New York City but moved to Rome, Italy fourteen years ago. Tiziano was born and raised in Rome where we are currently based.

When did you start your interest in exploration?

Neither of us grew up in families that traveled much and I think this actually triggered our desire to get out and see more of the world. Growing up, we both felt a little confined in our local worlds and realized that you only get one shot at life so you better get out there and live it in a big way. This is the reason Laura picked up and moved to Rome without knowing anyone there or even the language.

We started exploring together soon after we first met in 2016. Over the last year, we've stepped up our travels, despite the limitations of the pandemic, although we've been keeping within the confines of Italy. As soon as possible, we will start to venture much further away.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

The two of us had fallen into jobs that did not inspire us but which we held onto for years. We were both experienced Argentine tango dancers when we met in Rome and realized that, aside from tango, we had a common interest in traveling that we wanted to develop further.

Last year, Laura was laid off from her long-term job as a technical writer and, instead of doing the practical thing of looking for another job in that field, she decided to use her severance pay to buy a campervan so we could focus more on living the kind of life we wanted. Buying the van has been the best decision we've made and we look forward to living in it full time in the future.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

We don't really have any particularly special skills per se. Tiziano is very good with technology and navigation tools. Laura is a native English speaker and likes languages which helps when we are not in Italy.

Where have you explored so far?

Between us, we've visited about 25 countries. We've been to every region of Italy (except Friuli-Venenzia Giulia– you're next!) and a good number of places in Europe but we've only just begun. Some other locations that one or both of us have been to are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Alaska, Puerto Rico, as well as other parts of the US.

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Before we had our campervan, we traveled as much as possible but of course when you work full time in an office you have limited vacation time. We used to do a lot of home exchanges which are a great (and free!) way to travel, get advice, and live like a local. We will probably do this again in the future in places where it's impossible to take the van.

We now have our campervan which we have recently configured so that we can work on the road. This means our travel possibilities just grew exponentially. We are very excited and think our lives are going to change very soon since we will be able to roam near and far without having to be back at a physical location for work.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

Realistically, our next trips will probably all be within Italy until the Covid situation is more clear with some possible excursions into neighboring countries. Once Covid is not an issue anymore, the sky's the limit. We want to see all of Europe and beyond in our van and are still deciding how to go about some long-term trips especially into Scandinavia and eastern Europe.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Our answer is biased: Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with enough culture and history and variations to make your head spin. From the Dolomites to Sicily, every region you enter has its own history, local language, food, and culture.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We bought a new campervan just last year. That difficult pandemic year made us realize that you just don't know how much time you will have in this life and we decided we wanted to get on the road quickly instead of spending time working on a fixer upper. We splurged with the money from Laura's severance package and got exactly what we wanted. We added in some extras like solar panels, a lithium battery, and an inverter so we would have more autonomy on the road.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

We travel pretty lightly. Good hiking shoes. Our phones for photos and research. We always have our little mutt, Ruthie, with us in the van so we often spend more time worrying about her needs than our own! Before the pandemic, we always brought along our tango shoes and hope we will be able to use them again soon.

What inspires you to explore more?

The desire to live intentionally has really been a main factor in deciding to explore. You only get so much time on this planet and we want to see as much of it as possible in our time here.

It is so very easy to sleepwalk through life, but by traveling, you are pushing back against this tendency. It's easy to forget that the world is so big when you are caught in your own daily routine. Seeing a new place gives you perspective; you see just how diverse and beautiful so many different cultures and places are. And really, the beauty in this world can knock your socks off.

How do you engage with others?

We always learn at least a few words in the local language and approach everyone with a smile. We treat people the way that we would want to be treated: with respect and friendliness.

Our favorite way to interact with some local communities is through Argentine tango. It is danced all over the world and has opened up many opportunities for us. Tango is like a language without words so you are able to dance with anyone anywhere regardless of spoken language. We hope that this pandemic ends soon so we can start dancing again on our travels.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

It is amazing what you can learn from other cultures. Again, it gives you such a huge perspective on your own life. When you are immersed in a different culture, you realize how big and diverse the world is but at the same time, you can see how similar we all are.

In Italian there is a saying that basically means life is beautiful because of its diversity. There is no better way to live this idea than to travel and see the diversity of life in person.

What are your goals when you explore?

Our goals usually depend on what kind of exploring we are doing. If we are immersed in nature, our goal is usually to find peace and natural beauty. If we are exploring towns or cities, we want to experience as much as we can from language to food to art and history. We try to absorb the feeling of every place we visit and imagine what it would be like to live there.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

Sometimes language can be a challenge especially for Tiziano who speaks Italian which is not used much outside of Italy. For me, crossing time zones can be rough and I can often feel like a zombie for days!

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

It's hard to pick one moment as the most meaningful. Often, arriving in a completely new place, the first moments are magical. The first day or two somewhere can be dreamlike. This is when we often look at each other and say, I can't believe where we are.

How has exploration changed you?

Exploration forces you to come out of any shell you may have built up around you for protection. Any shyness or fear you have in dealing with people has to be thrown aside so you can communicate and also learn from people along the way. You would miss out on so much by always keeping to yourself. We have both become more confident and outgoing because of our exploring.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

We've learned that our small, everyday problems are unimportant in the grand scale of things. We've learned that most people are good and curious and want to help.

We've learned that the world is full of incredible beauty and it is worth it to get out there and fully experience it while you can.

How do you explore locally?

We explore our home city of Rome constantly. Rome makes this easy. Even Tiziano, who grew up here, is constantly discovering new things here. We love having visitors because we get to see the city through their eyes and it makes us appreciate it all the more.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

To us it means to keep an open mind and an open heart wherever you go. Collect knowledge and experience from your explorations. Learn as much as possible from other people because we all have so much to offer each other.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Do not wait. Do it now. Be brave. Be open. Take risks. You will not regret it.


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