Articles by Laura Lopuch

Laura Lopuch is a freelance writer. She is a bookworm, has gypsy blood running through her veins, and has flown on 35+ flights with just a carry-on. When not traveling, she can be found hiking Colorado's mountains with her dogs.

You can follow Laura on Twitter or Google+.

I banged my forehead against the wall, silently cursing myself for signing up for this class.

Scattered in front of me were several novels, each at least four inches thick.

On my computer screen, the blinking cursor in the middle of a blank Word doc taunted me. Where, oh where, was my paper that was due in less than 10 hours?

I felt like it was jammed down the back of my throat. Jammed to a place I’d never been and couldn’t find. A place that I didn’t know existed until I signed up for a course on J.R.R. Tolkien and found out that place’s name: Middle-Earth.

Definition: Middle-Earth: A fantasy land populated by dwarves, elves, hobbits, and the like; a world set in a wild, rugged world that looks remarkably like New Zealand.

Instantly recognizable to movie goers as the visually-striking world that director Peter Jackson, director, brought to life in the stunning Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

Many years ago when I was yanking a paper out, word by word, for my midterm in a Tolkien class, I never thought I’d want to visit the Shire.

Peter Jackson, you charming devil, changed that feeling by filming all three Lord of the Rings movies in jaw-dropping New Zealand.

Basic Packing List

If you’re headed to New Zealand, this is your basic packing list. Start here and then tweak for the region you’re visiting and the time of year. There’s a big difference between the sunny north coast of the north island, with palm trees, and watching penguins surf ashore outside of Oamaru on the cold, drizzly south coast of the south island in winter.

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Scarf to ward off chills
  • Long-sleeve layers
  • T-shirts to layer
  • Tank tops to layer
  • Sunglasses
  • Fellowship of the Ring
  • Two Towers
  • The Return of the King

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“Indy, your dad is missing. He was last seen in Venice. I think something’s happened to him.”

“Hang on, while I go put on my travel clothes,” said Indiana Jones.

That scene never happened in any Indiana Jones movie.

Why? Because Indy hopped on a plane, with a single black satchel for his carry on, and flew to Venice, Italy, to find his father.

He didn’t stop and put on travel clothing because he was traveling. He didn’t pack his one and only bag with travel clothing.

True, he left his professor outfit of tweed jacket with elbow patches and glasses at home. He swapped them out for his more-comfortable adventure outfit of soft khakis, worn boots, and swashbuckling fedora. Tucked in a corner of his bag is his whip, right next to his problem-solving skills and appetite for adventure.

If Indy can save the world and attempt to land a plane in simple khakis and white shirt, why do we think we need clothes that are made only for travel?

As though traveling is an action that requires specific clothing, like race car driving or being an astronaut.

I don’t own a piece of “travel clothing.” Because I hate this type of clothing. Travel clothing sucks. Let me tell you why: Click to continue…

“Having two weeks of vacation a year is a horrible way to live.”

Meet Andrew Pototschnik. A small-town Texan, who has hit 115 countries (and counting!) with his Tortuga backpack.

His goal: To visit all 193 countries, plus Mars.

But, life hasn’t always looked like this for Andrew.

Wind the clock back a few years before Tortuga and life on the road.

After graduating college and slaving away at 60+ hour work weeks in advertising, Andrew realized that life wasn’t for him. So he quit his job and started his own business.

But to his surprise, being his own boss quickly became just another gilded cage. He found he was stuck in his office even more with even less free time to travel.

How did he go from cubicle life to exploring the world?

I asked Andrew some pointed questions about that:

Describe Your Ideal Life & How You Achieved it

For my next business, I did it right. I started with the simple idea of figuring out exactly what I wanted my daily life to look like and made business and relationship decisions that only took me closer to that vision.

I literally sat down with a pen and a pad and wrote out a very detailed story of what my perfect day would look like.

If you don’t know what you want your life to look like, how can you ever achieve it?

The main details were:

  • Wake up without an alarm clock in south of France, with a girlfriend
  • Go to a late brunch
  • While at brunch, she and I would decide to drive into Italy
  • So, I’d have a concierge bring a convertible to the restaurant
  • Without packing at all, the plans are made for us and we buy anything we need when we get there

Having that simple clarity suddenly made all of my life decisions black and white.

Now my story dictates certain that things have to happen in my business and personal life in order for this to come true:

  1. Income
  2. A girlfriend
  3. No alarm clocks

Click to continue…