What do you get when you combine two fearless females with a savvy business sense, a thirst for adventure, and a creative ease with pen and ink (or rather keyboard)?–The Voyage Vixens–a duo made up of freelance writers and adventure junkies, Lanee Neil and Lindsay Taub.
They do everything from cupcake crawls in NYC, visiting orphanages in Nairobi, and rappelling into 160 foot deep caverns. What we love about the Voyage Vixens is that they not only tell stories about their own adventures (which are very entertaining in their own right), but they also provide a slew of useful travel articles that range from healthy traveling, gear reviews, spreading awareness about different non-profits, and spotlighting art and film festivals from around the world.
With a gold mine of information on their blog and a penchant for adventure, it’s no wonder why the Voyage Vixens are one of our favorite travel bloggers. We sat down with Lanee and Lindsay to pick their brains about their past, how travel has changed them, and what the Voyage Vixens blog is all about.
1. What made you transition from freelance writers to becoming full-fledged travel bloggers?
We noticed there were plenty of hardcore adventure bloggers as well as luxury travel bloggers, but not a whole lot of female voices that wanted both! That’s when we decided to launch Voyage Vixens – an online magazine and YouTube web series championing adventure AND the finer things in life, as well as humanitarian works around the globe that we’re passionate about.
2. How did you both meet each other to found the Voyage Vixens?
Lanee: We met on a press trip. The friendship was sealed that first night, teaching Lindsay how to smoke her first hookah pipe in Calgary, Canada of all places!
Lindsay: I’d like to add that it was actually a mutual fascination with a GQ cowboy who sang on horseback up to the summit at Lake Louise that really sealed the fate. HA!
3. You mention that, among other things, you travel to experience “scream-your-lungs-out daredevil stunts.” What would you say are some things that you’ve done that fall under this category? How about things you want to do?
Lanee: My favorite stunt so far was skydiving on my 30th birthday and Toronto’s Edgewalk, hanging off a building 1,100 feet in the air, has to be a close second. If there was a way to jimmy rig physics, I’d like to do a tandem base jump off the Himalayas or maybe through the streets of Paris.
Lindsay: I’m definitely in agreement with Lanee about Edgewalk – insane! That “impulse to jump” is real. Skydiving is on my favorites list too, but for me it was in Interlaken, Switzerland surrounded by the Alps. Another highlight for me was getting to fly in an experimental aircraft with the sport air racing league in Texas – we did barrel rolls and all – I felt like Maverick in Top Gun. Most recently, we went ice climbing for the first time in Ouray, Colorado, which was a true test of our physical and mental capacities. You can watch a video of it here. As far as the ultimate bucket list, I want to go to space. It’s probably never going to happen, but boy do I want to! If we could somehow be the female pioneers for space tourism, you can sign me up now.
4. Do you feel like you reached a turning point after doing so much traveling? For example, have certain trips represented new chapters in your lives?
Lanee: Each trip, including the people I met, represents a new chapter in my life. And I am always raring to write another one. I suffer from incurable wanderlust, so the book is going to be very long.
Lindsay: Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” and I’ve certainly found that to be true. Africa was the biggest life-changer for me. The safari was a luxury, indeed, but it was the people we met along the way who had the greatest impact. The contrast between the primitive ways of life in the Maasai villages versus the slums in Nairobi was mind-blowing. And yet the generous spirit, commune with nature, and joy for life was palpable. Then, we get on a plane to New York, and on the way home a kid was throwing a tantrum about Justin Bieber not being available on the in-flight entertainment. I was sick to my stomach! I’ve had a hard time ever since that trip finding any acceptance with the waste and extravagant indulgences that all-too-many people place so much value on.
5. Lanee, it’s mentioned that the first thing you do to experience a new culture is to dive into their food and have a toast of the local brew. What has been your favorite epicurean experience while traveling?
Hmm, so many! I loved a wine pairing dinner at Wrath Wines in Monterey County, CA recently where we talked chickens and romance (yes, they do go together) with winemaker Sabrine Rodems. For the unorthodox epicurean experience, I was on a camel trek to a remote village in Rajasthan. Our guide was like a magician, making a delicious three-course meal with what appeared to be measly supplies: flour, oil, spices, potatoes, and dried chilies!
6. Lindsay, what would you say is the first thing you do to take in a new culture, and what has been your most memorable experience?
I tend to be a bit reserved and quiet at first. I like to observe before engaging because if you don’t let your gut steer you, you can miss the simple nuances of a culture. I think the most important thing to do is be fully present and let Western mentality fade. And that applies anywhere in the world, even at home! Discovering what motivates people and makes them unique is probably one of my greatest passions or curiosities. Aside from Africa, the most memorable for me was traveling solo in Estonia. I was on a mission to discover my roots and retrace the steps of my grandfather before he left the country in the mid-1940s. It was a deeply personal trip that connected me to my family and where we came from.
7. If you could take any Mountain Travel Sobek trip, which one would you take and why?
Lanee: New Zealand: The Best of the North Island. It looks amazing, and of course I’d want to add some of New Zealand’s wacky adventures, like zorbing and canyon swinging!
Lindsay: The Antarctica Expedition to the South Pole! You had me at “the last wild, unspoiled place on earth.”
8. Why do you think you have such a thirst for adventure, and how do you hope to inspire others to explore a life of adventure?
Lanee: We always say, “There’s something wrong if we don’t have a helmet and a harness on.” I was born curious with an extremely short attention span. What could be better? Challenging myself physically and seeing the world.
Lindsay: For me, adventure brings out my best. I’ve never been good with limits and boundaries. I have a rebel within that aches to come out and while I get scared and nervous beforehand, the personal fulfillment of being able to say, “oh yeah! I did that!” runs deep. You get to see what you’re really made of.
Lanee: I think we’re regular gals with problems and faults just like everyone else. By being real and sharing our ‘how-not-to’ mistakes in traveling, hopefully it encourages our readers that they too can do it. And travel is really the best peacemaker in the world.
Lindsay: Exactly. We’ve found in our own lives that the best way to get “un-stuck” – whether it’s from a job you hate, a relationship that isn’t working, or whatever it is – is to have an adventure that pushes you to get out of your comfort zone. It’s about getting comfortable being uncomfortable and we hope that by showing people our experiences in a raw and honest manner, putting it all out there, we’ll inspire. We certainly don’t gloss it up! What you see is what you get.