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Travel Writer: Lauren


Lauren grew up everywhere and nowhere. As a military brat, her bedroom quite often consisted of whatever she unpacked from her suitcase. Her family was always experience-focused rather than commodity-focused, and all six family members enjoy roaming with few possessions and a passport full of stamps. She feels lucky and indebted to her family for such an amazing youth.

Lauren - ATC(image) Shanghai, China

In early 2001 the family retired and moved state-side. They unpacked their suitcases and bought a small farm raising apple trees, rabbits and the occasional turkey or sheep. At any given time there were over five cats guarding the property, and a mangy rabbit dwells next to the stove in the kitchen watching as the family cooks. Several of the family members remain on that property—though no piece of land has yet to hold a Johnson for more than a few years at length, and they travel often.

Lauren went to college in Minnesota, where she triple majored in English literature, political theory and world history. After living in one place for two years (a near record) she became exhausted and journeyed to Central Asia and then China before graduating in 2005. She has permanent frostbite damage on two toes from her time in the tundra.

Darvaza Lauren | ATC

(image above) Darvaza, Turkmenistan, 2009

After college Lauren tried to avoid taking a real job by applying to grad school. Oddly enough, she was accepted-- and attended Illinois State University, where she earned an MS in non-western history. She worked at a museum while she earned her degree, and, more importantly, she met the charming and dashing Michael Bromley, a guitar player and avid watcher of Steve McQueen movies. The two struck up a hearty friendship and shared stories of travelling in China over large glasses of Jack on the rocks.

After graduation Lauren jokingly enquired if Mike wanted to travel to China with her the following month. Tickets were bough, travel books were consulted and, in June of 2006, the two met at the airport amid a blur of kisses and waves to family, and departed for an epic adventure across the most populated country in the world.

Khiva Lauren | ATC

(image above) Khiva, Uzbekistan, 2009

In a scheme to earn some money and expereince the cubicle, Lauren and Mike took jobs in Shanghai. Lauren worked at a British investment bank for 9 months. It was in Shanghai’s corporate underbelly that Mike and Lauren realized cubicles were the same no matter the location. They have decided to abandon the cube for good. Currently they are traveling in Turkey. They have been on the road full-time since May, 2009 and have traveled from Shanghai to Istanbul, by land and sea.

Urgench Lauren | ATC

(Image above) Urgench Fortress Ruins, Uzbekistan, 2009

Please read about Mike as well.

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Travel Updates:

Read about Lauren's most recent trips in the travel blog, or follow her route in the maps section. You can also read a guide on each country she has visited. Lauren has a Canon EOS 1000D that she keeps on her person at all times. Check out some of her pictures, including humor and beer images from around the globe.

Why I travel

"I travel because otherwise life is too simple. When you live or travel abroad every day is full of challenges. How to get food, where to stay, and how to survive, these are things most Americans don't have to worry about on a daily basis. When traveling you are forced to trust people more than otherwise, and people generally prove themselves to be good. This is refreshing, and makes the whole process worthwhile. Life is too simple at home, and living abroad is one way to suck the most out of every moment and see how others life and what makes the rest of the world tick. For anyone interested in the human condition, travel is the only sure way to begin to grasp the why of things."

-Lauren, 2009.

Facts about Lauren:

Lauren was on the football team in High School and on the UMN women's wrestling team in college. She triple majored in history, English and political theory and has a master's in non-western history. She enjoys laughing, traveling, painting, writing and photography and dislikes anything that keeps her in one place for too long.

How she funds the escape:

Lauren makes money as a freelance writer, though she hopes to someday publish her own work. She also saved money while working in Shanghai. If you are in need of a writer, contact Lauren, she'd be happy to use her pen for travel dough.

Lauren's articles

Lauren's Favorite Places

"I most enjoyed Turkmenistan, of all the countries we have visited, because it is such a raw and colorful place full of absurd monuments, strange natural sights and even the gateway to hell. It is unlike anywhere I've been, or will likely ever go, and I know how lucky I am to have been able to see so much of such a secluded and far-away place."

-Lauren, 2009.

"China is a place you either love or hate. Most people seem to hate it when they are there, and miss it every second they are away. If you can travel there, you can travel anywhere."

-Lauren, 2007

"The Republic of Georgia was one of the best countries I've visited purely because the people there were so friendly. Everyone went our of their way to help us out, gave us free food and drinks, and were not interested in us for the currency we would spend. I can't recommend Georgia highly enough."

-Lauren, 2009

Lauren's 5 Favorite Travel Books:

  • Foreign Devils on the Silk Road (Xinjiang)
  • Mao (China)
  • White Tiger (India)
  • Wolf Totem (Mongolia)
  • Riding the Iron Rooster (China)

Lauren's Five Favorite Cities:

Lauren's Top five Travel foods

  • Donar Kebab (Turkey)
  • Shashlek (Turkmenistan)
  • Qing Cai (China)
  • Apricots (Xinjiang)
  • Sugar-peanuts (Uzbekistan)