Traveling Lives: Paleontologist Taormina Lepore
A self-described “geek,” Taormina Lepore is a science educator and paleontologist (How cool is that?!). In her spare time, she promotes affordable, enriching travel experiences in the U.S. and overseas with her girlfriend, Jessi, on the blog Outbound Adventurer.
NAME: Taormina Lepore
RESIDENCE: Pomona, California
How have you made your life a “traveling life” and why?
I love traveling, and like most of us, I rarely have time or money to travel far. But my girlfriend Jessi and I have made travel a priority. Family and health and happiness, they’re all number one – but whenever we have extra money to sock away, we do so for travel.
A traveling life goes beyond the ability to hop in the car or on a plane, too. I think we value the mindset that our lives are enriched by opening our lives to the experiences and worldviews of other cultures and peoples. Even within our own country, travel has brought me a sense of comfort, in spite of a long-standing discomfort toward change! I think my view of a “traveling life” means challenging my fears, building new friendships and expanding my world.
Why is travel important to you?
Travel excites me! It means new food, new languages, new places, and new people. It helps make me more confident and independent. And it’s just fun to share in travel experiences with others.
How did you first get the travel bug?
I remember traveling with my parents to rural Nova Scotia, Canada, to visit my grandmother’s side of our family. The long car ride from Boston was highlighted by stops for go-carts, lobster meals and picturesque towns. Being with family far from home made me feel secure in a new place, and it was just the beginning of my travel bug.
What is your most significant travel memory and why?
When I was 17, I got the chance to travel to Wyoming for a two-week scientific field dig. It was simultaneously the scariest thing I’d done up to that point, and the most rewarding. Getting on several planes by myself for the first time, facing foot-freezing panic attacks in a strange new airport, and finally spending all those days camping in the cold with strangers…it challenged me, and I almost didn’t even go. But I’m so glad I did, and it helped shape my future and uplift my confidence in so many ways.
What are some misconceptions friends & family have about your travels?
My family just isn’t sure where the heck I’m getting the money to travel! Airline miles and careful saving, and the luxury of making travel a goal, that’s what I tell them. Other than that, they’re really pretty supportive.
What advice do you have for others who want to incorporate more travel into their lives?
I have a 9-5 job, sometimes more than that when I’m in the field, and as a former teacher I know that even having long vacations doesn’t mean you can always escape your surroundings. I’d say, have confidence in yourself, book the tickets, and then you have no choice but to make it work. You will find a way to find the time, the energy and the cash. Just take that first step, and you will never regret it.
Where are you headed next?
Back to Texas for a short trip to see loved ones!
Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and to follow your goals and dreams. Yeah, it might sound cliche, but I can tell you from experience that sometimes we are our own biggest critics. Let go of self doubt or anxiety, and trust yourself to travel. It’s so worth it!
And as a last note…if any of you would like to go on a fossil dig, please let us know!