Boarding Pass – Marisa Lenger of The Local Foreigner

I met Marisa Lenger in the MA in Global Communications program at the American University of Paris. Our mutual love of travel bonded us no doubt (Marisa is the former Managing Director of Quintessentially Travel North America). Since graduation, Marisa has returned to NYC, but I was lucky enough to see her during her recent visit to Paris and hear all about her new business, The Local Foreigner (awesome name, ay?). She and her business partner came up with the idea after realizing that traveling is exhilarating, but the task of planning a trip can be overwhelming. These days there is so much information at our fingertips and that excess creates indecision, so the two decided to create a service using knowledge from their extensive travels and with the help of their network of “locals.” Their full website will be up later this week (Sandy delayed!), but consider yourself the first in the know. In the meantime, enjoy a peek at how Marisa sees the world when she travels.  – Anne

home town: 
East Brunswick, New Jersey

where you live now:  
New York City, New York.  It’s going through a rough time right now after Hurricane Sandy hit us last week and the spirit of its people in the face of it reminds me why I’m eternally in love with this city. 

{Central Park, NYC}   

last trip taken: 
A 3-week trip to London, Paris and Stockholm. It was my first time to Stockholm – you could feel like you were in the middle of the country, in the cobbled streets of a village and in the hustle and bustle of a big city, all within 10 minutes by foot of each other.
{country living on Skeppsholmen, Stockholm} 
 {Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley Hotel, London}

next trip on deck: Savannah, Georgia. Ever since my trip to New Orleans a few years back, I’ve fallen in love with the American southeast.  

one place you would go back to again and again: 
London!  No matter how many times I go, I always discover something new with the help of my fabulous friends and family that live there. 
{soaking up the last bit of summer in Green Park, London}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:  The wildly beautiful Irish countryside. I spent a week in and around the stunning port town of Kinsale at my friend Charlotte’s beautiful home – the scenery, the people, the music, it was the full package.  I sent a friend and client of mine on her honeymoon to Ireland and I still hear about what an incredible time they had. 
 {Charles Fort, Kinsale, Ireland}

preferred method of transportation: 
Within cities, I love bicycles and between cities/countries, I love trains – both are for the same reason, I love to watch the beautiful sites and scenery go by. But I fly often – being 5’2″ makes even economy class a bit easier.  
{The skies over Sweden}

place you’ve never been but dying to go: 
I have a travel bucket list that’s always getting additions. The ones at the top are India, Bhutan and Iceland.  

place you’d never go back: 
I never like to say never…but I’d have to say Singapore.  It was nice to see, but I wasn’t particularly intrigued.  Although any place that followed an amazing 10-day trip in Thailand with my friends was going to be a hard sell. 

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:  Cuba and Ethiopia with a philanthropy group I’m a member of.  Seeing these beautiful countries in the context of ‘giving back’ has allowed me to appreciate every trip I am fortunate to take even more.   
{Shepard boy at the Kossoye Overlook, Ethiopia} 
{Girl in the red dress, Havana}

how do you prepare for a trip?  I’m so lucky to have a network of well-connected, in-the-know, local friends around the world.  I always first tap into that resource to make sure I get the best up-to-date recommendations of what to see and do.  
 {Travel is cooler with locals in Berlin!}  
{Seeing the pyramids with a friend from Giza}

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling? 
A mixture of photos, cards from local businesses and cool people I meet, iPhone voice memos, and a lot of eating – my stomach always remembers the good restaurants.
{Terrace in Yaffo, Israel} 
{Afternoon café in Saint Germain}
what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place? 
I used to focus a lot on landscape photographs but now I try harder to capture the people. The aesthetic beauty of a destination usually attracts the travelers, but the people that populate it give it its soul.  
{Gardeners in Havana}  
 {Ukai Toriyama Restaurant near Mount Takao, Tokyo}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip? 
I used to take hundreds but after awhile I felt like I was seeing everything through a lens and not actually experiencing it.  Now I’ve scaled back and try to take only those that really hit me.  
{Donkey in Khan El Khalili Market, Cairo} 
{Pont Neuf, Paris}
what’s in your “designer travel kit” ? I’m adamant about only traveling with a carry-on bag no matter how long the trip so my “travel kit” is usually pretty small.  My iphone, ipad and camera (a Canon EOS Digital) keep me connected and I carry a small folder to hold business cards and other informational trinkets I pick up along the way.
what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen? 
I make sure that all the things I see and do on any trip are logged shortly after I get back so that it’s still fresh and my clients get the benefit of all the details from my travels. My company’s online magazine/blog will be launching along with our website and will document all of our great globetrotting experiences so stay tuned!
favorite souvenir/thing to bring back? Artwork, textiles and spices.  It does make my apartment look, and sometimes smell, a bit schizophrenic, but every time I look at them they take me back to each incredible trip and make me smile. 

 {Textile studio,Tunis}

The Local Foreigner

BOARDING PASS is a regular column exploring the creative ways people travel.


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