We Said Go Travel’s Lisa Niver On Building A Top Travel Website, Seeing The World, And Packing Efficiently

A community of over 1,600 travel writers from 75 countries, We Said Go Travel was founded by Lisa Niver in 2010. A top 100 travel blog that is read by more than 200,000 people every year, We Said Go Travel covers destinations from all over the globe with both blog posts and self-produced video content. We Said Go Travel is also known for its Travel Writing Competitions, having awarded writers on 12 occasions.

On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of conducting Q&A with Ms. Niver, whom I first met on a press trip to Park City, Utah. Not only does she have a lot of insight to offer as a travel blogger and the head of an influential website, but her ability to apply her background as a classroom educator into her travel-related content is especially of interest. Her journeys often involve trying things that she had previously feared, ensuring her writing to be original yet relatable. Plus, her “last words” within our interview were especially inspirational. More on Lisa Niver and We Said Go Travel can be found at www.wesaidgotravel.com.

How did We Said Go Travel get started?

Lisa Niver: I was teaching science full-time at Curtis School, where I was an elementary school student. Many of my students were the children of my former classmates. When I decided to travel for a year, my students were so sad that I was leaving them so I promised to send a monthly newsletter. After that adventure, those newsletters formed the beginning of my new travel site, We Said Go Travel.

What was the first destination you covered for the site?

Lisa Niver: On my year-long trip, my first destination was French Polynesia. I was excited to return there as I had visited before but had never stayed overnight on the islands and was ready to explore more.

Before launching the site, had you traveled extensively?

Lisa Niver: I was bitten by the travel bug as a child when my parents took us on a Mediterranean cruise. Seeing the pyramids and the Parthenon, I felt like my history books had come to life. I was hooked. I spent a high school summer and college semester living in Israel and was ready to see more, learn more and eventually lived for many years on a cruise ship.

Is there anywhere you haven’t traveled to but still hope to?

Lisa Niver: OH YES! I went to country 97 (Monaco), 98 (Scotland), 99 (San Marino) this summer, and am trying to decide on country #100. Maybe Iceland, Brazil, Antarctica, South Africa or Papua New Guinea. I have only been to Egypt and Morocco in Africa, so I have a long list of places to discover there.

How long does it take you to pack for a week-long trip?

Lisa Niver: I have a full second set of toiletries so those are always packed. If I am only going to one hotel or one climate, I can pack in about 20 minutes. I often pack my suitcase and then take everything out and re-pack so I can decide if I really need it and where will it fit best. I always travel with a hula-hoop so I can stay fit on the road. I even hooped to “Gangnam Style” in a prison with the male inmate dancers in the Philippines! I have a video! It really happened!

In terms of running the site, how does an average work day go for you? How much time is actually spent writing?

Lisa Niver: We Said Go Travel has many pieces including writing, video, social media, and the Travel Writing Competitions. I try to write every morning but am often pulled in many directions by the needs of the site. I was honored recently to win an award for my article in the Jewish Journal at the Southern California Journalism Awards.

When it comes to writing, was there a particular travel writer who inspired you to become a travel writer? Or a writer in general that inspired your tone most?

Lisa Niver: In high school, I did a project on Margaret Fuller who was the first female war correspondent. I loved learning about her as a writer, explorer, and rebel. She was friends with Emerson and Thoreau. I always imagined she had the most fascinating experiences. I wanted to be like her!

What is the most difficult part of running We Said Go Travel?

Lisa Niver: I started We Said Go Travel in 2010. Originally the site ran on Blogger because I wanted it to be free and I refused to have a new password. Later I built a site on Weebly. I was running both the.net and.com separately.

The hardest part is that as soon as you learn how to do something, there is a whole new thing to learn. I have been challenged to learn each new social media platform and then to get started in video. I now have over 1 million video views and nearly 700 videos so there has been plenty of time to practice!

I just did two Facebook Lives for USA Today 10best. It is a brand new project and I did one at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, and one in Culver City. My best advice is to just start! That is how I deal with difficult things, I just jump in and go for it!

Is there something you’re still hoping to accomplish for the site?

Lisa Niver: I have now held 13 travel writing competitions and published nearly 2,000 writers from over 75 countries. In August 2017, we will have our very first photo award. I am excited about this new idea and our two fantastic judges. We have always had amazing travel writers and professionals as judges, and that has made a huge difference in our competitions!

Do you have a proudest accomplishment for We Said Go Travel?

Lisa Niver: This year has been full of amazing accomplishments for both the site and for me personally. I am working on a project to do 50 new things before I am 50. I was able to ski with a wounded warrior and someone who is blind. Writing about that day and creating video about it was truly an honor. Being published in Luxury Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, and Sierra were highlights. Recently, I went mountain biking for the first time and I was terrified but I did not give up. I had a highly-skilled instructor and I trusted that he was not trying to kill me before I turned 50. I still cannot believe I actually did it. I think I could do almost anything now.

Is there anything you miss about being a teacher?

Lisa Niver: YES! I miss my students. I love teaching and being in the classroom. Sometimes I watch myself on Career Day and wonder why I am not still sharing my love of science. I have a science site called Science Isn’t Scary and used to run a camp called Simply Science. It was really fun! Who knows — maybe I will do that again! I loved it! I have this page called Just For Fun which has many of the websites we used in class when I taught K-6 grade science.

When not busy with travel, what do you like to do for fun? What are some of your other hobbies?

Lisa Niver: When I am in Los Angeles, you will find me in my art studio making bowls. I started learning ceramics in San Francisco after I left medical school. I have been in several art shows and I love throwing on the wheel.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in your hometown?

Lisa Niver: I love to go to Bamboo Cuisine in Sherman Oaks. I wrote about them for one of my first articles for USA Today 10best when I first moved back to the USA from Asia.

Finally, Lisa, any last words for the kids?

Lisa Niver: In 2010, I started my site and I was writing once a week, only on Sundays. I was teaching science full-time. There were people who told me, “If you only write once a week, you will never get anywhere.” I said, “That is okay. I am already nowhere. It is not a far trip.”

I just kept going. I picked a reasonable goal which for me was to write once a week. It was a challenge to create a new post each week and I was glad I had not committed to anymore. In the beginning, no one is really reading so they will not notice your mistakes. The most important thing is not to give up. Do your best and keep your commitments. Eventually, people will notice.

I often thought about planting a garden, which I often did with my science students. Early on, you have to water and tend the soil but it seems like nothing is happening and then suddenly like magic there are actually stems and leaves and plants. That is what has happened at We Said Go Travel, little by little the site has grown and we have added new sections like video, Travel Influencer Interview Series, Travel Writing Award, and soon the Travel Photo Award. Now I am the Adventure Correspondent on The Jet Set TV. I am verified on Twitter and on Facebook. I still remember when someone told me I needed to join Twitter. I had no idea what they were talking about! But I joined and I figured it out.

Fortunately, I have had many people to ask questions and for help. We Said Go Travel is a community of travelers and writers, and I hope your readers will share one of their stories or photos with us soon!

[Featured Image by Amy & Stuart Photography]