Would you quit your job to travel the world?

By A. Christine Maxfield
January 12, 2022
Courtesy The Lost Girls

What would it take to make you quit your job to see the world?

Three friends—Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda—did just that. Known as the Lost Girls, these ladies gave up their media jobs in New York City and vowed to "get lost" with each other in a year spent traversing the globe. Their travels led them to 14 countries where they mingled with locals, provided volunteer work helping at-risk girls in Kenya, and took lessons on everything from capoeira in Brazil (Brazilian martial arts) to yoga at an ashram in India.

Did their path lead them to some uncomfortable situations? Absolutely, but that's exactly what they were searching for. Their amazing tale is now available in a book released last May called The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World.

Keep reading for travel tips from the Lost Girls.

I recently caught up with the Lost Girls in New York, who told me how to wander a little more comfortably.

What is your go-to budget tip that you could reveal to our readers?

Jennifer: Slow down! As we learned, the faster you move from place to place and the more destinations you try to pack in, the more cash you're going to end up dishing out. Give yourself the opportunity to get to know a place beyond its tourist attractions.

Holly: Consider subletting your place. I listed my one-bedroom apartment on a site called, and this greatly helped me defray the cost of my adventures.

Amanda: Don't pay more for an overpriced travel wardrobe. I spent a ton of cash on quick-dry clothing and special convertible pants that I assumed I'd need, but very rarely wore. How often do you spontaneously get soaked while traveling and need your outfit to dry in an hour?

What is one thing that you packed that seriously saved your sanity?

Jennifer: A headlamp. I'm a night owl, and having a portable light allowed me to read after everyone else had gone to sleep.

Holly: A sleep mask and earplugs. In noisy buses, trains, and hostels, these enabled me to shut out the world and get some shut-eye!

Amanda: A universal memory card reader. It allowed me to snag photos from fellow travelers while still on the road (because, realistically, very few people actually email you after the fact).

What is one thing you wish you'd packed that you now would never leave home without?

Jennifer: Disposable contact lenses (I recommend Acuvue TruEye). I was trying so hard to save on space and money, so I brought my regular set of lenses that require constant cleaning and attention. Some things are worth the extra space and bucks.

Holly: My rolling suitcase. I can pull it around whenever there's smooth ground, but convert it into a backpack when I'm on more rugged terrain. I used one from High Sierra for a trip to China, and I love it.

Amanda: A top-notch, ultra-portable camera. I discovered a passion for photography during our trip, and I wish I'd had a better camera! I'm planning on buying the Canon G-10 before my next trip.

So what's next for the Lost Girls?

Amanda: As a group, we all feel strongly about visiting parts of Asia that we missed during our trip (or only explored cursorily), like Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Nepal. We're hoping to plan a trip to this area of the world this winter!

Looking for more tips and travel stories? Check out this exit interview from the girls' trip to Panama last October to find out what they'll never do again, what they wish they had known before they set out, and what part of their journey they can't stop talking about.


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London: Pop-up theater

Attention, American visitors to London who are paying high prices to see Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals in the large West End theaters: Are you crazy? The locals are far more excited about pop-up theater performances all over town. Abandoned warehouses and after hours subway stations now double as stages. Shows are inventive and inexpensive. The trend began a year ago, when Kevin Spacey, who runs the city's Old Vic Theatre, discovered spooky tunnels under Waterloo subway station. He organized a spontaneous series of stage performances there by the theater group Punchdrunk. The shows were a hit, and it became cool to think outside the black box. This summer, Spacey and his Old Vic colleagues created a 160-seat theater in the tunnel, with Art Deco cinema seats and The Bunker bar. Visiting in December? Book now to see a tunnel staging of Cart Macabre, a co-production by Old Vic and Living Structures. It's been described as "a restless exploration of isolation and disorientation, an act of faith on the part of the audience." I admit that sounds a little weird. But tickets are only 14 pounds each! And think of the stories you'll have to tell when you get back home. (December 4 to 22, and Pop-up theater performances won't have a familiar Phantom score, but don't let that weaken your resolve to try something new during your vacation. MORE LONDON POP-UP THEATER… Fly Theatre is reviving the workplace satire Contractions in an empty office complex in the prime shopping district of Oxford Street. Audience is limited in size to 40 people for each performance of the comedy, a kind of twist on The Office. 26-30 October 2010., £9. Theatre Souk performs in an abandoned building off the popular Bond Street. Through Friday Oct. 16, it's hosting a set of performances. Future line-up of shows to be announced soon., £7 INSIDER TIP: To hear about future shows in the Old Vic Tunnels, fire off an email to with "mailing list" in the subject line. LODGING: Find affordable and stylish places to stay in Budget Travel's easy-search London hotel database.


Rome: Book soon for film festival tickets

Unlike celebrity-studded fests in Venice and Cannes, the International Rome Film Festival, which runs from October 28 to November 5, is a laid-back affair that's accessible to both locals and English-speaking visitors. You're more likely to see Romans munching on pizza outside one of the theaters than Angelina Jolie in oversized designer sunglasses. The fifth annual festival presents a diverse lineup of films such as Last Night directed and written by Massy Tadjedin and staring Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes; Rabbit Hole, Nicole Kidman's debut as producer, starring Kidman and Aaron Eckhart; and Oranges and Sunshine by Jim Loach. There is also the opportunity to watch Anita Ekberg splash around the Trevi Fountain on the big screen—a restored version of Federico Fellini's iconic film La Dolce Vita will be screened in honor of its 50 anniversary. Auditorium Parco della Musica—designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano— is the primary event host and has on-site restaurants and gift shops. Tickets are priced from €3 ($4.15) to €23 ($32) and go on sale October 12. If you show up at the box office with a ticket from one of Rome's museum, you get a 10 percent discount. Get ticket details at PREVIOUSLY A wry film from a Roman mama's boy


Neighborhood watch: Monti, Rome

Tucked between the Roman Forum and the Quirinale Palace, Monti housed the poorest locals back in ancient Roman times, when it was called Suburra ("sub urbis"), Latin for "under city." In recent years, this neighborhood has morphed into the place to see and be seen, especially for bohemian thirty-somethings. Its winding, well-kept cobblestone streets are home to some of Rome's best locali (hangouts) as well as eclectic shops and piazzas for observing everyday life. La Bottega del Caffe should be your first stop.You can't miss this bar since it literally overflows with patrons, who spill out from under its awning and into the neighborhood's main square, Piazza Madonna dei Monti. La Bottega del Caffe is at its best during the early evening aperitivo, when you can people watch over platters of cheeses and cold cuts. You can always just grab a drink and look cool outside and sit by the fountain. Piazza Madonna dei Monti, 5. Just around the corner, Urbana 47 specializes in organic, seasonal fare like vegetable polpette with sweet pecorino, sheep's milk yogurt, and ravioli with pumpkin and amaretto. The decor is warmly retro and includes playful, knitted works by local artist Alessandra Roveda, who can easily cover any piece of furniture with colorful yarn. Brunch from 9 a.m. on Sundays, daily aperitivo from at 6 p.m. The restaurant stays open for dinner until after midnight. Via Urbana, 47. On the opposite side of Monti is Ristorante La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, which my friends call Dustin Hoffman's because they once spotted the actor eating there. The owner and chef Alessio Liberatore's family has been in the restaurant business for over a century. His wife Maria Grazia heads up the staff, and their two children Claudia and Aldo rattle off more specials than you can keep track of! The pappardelle al ragu di vitello tartufo e verdure, a regular menu fixture, is sublime. Last time I went there, I spent less than $50 for a dinner that included generous amounts of wine, antipasti, heaping courses, dessert, and coffee. Seating is limited, so it's best to reserve in advance. 011-39/066-798-643, Via della Madonna dei Monti, 9. Abito is one of my favorite places to shop because most of the clothes are made in the back room by the owner herself, Wilma Silvestri. She has a knack for contemporary designs and for resurrecting vintage men's and women's clothes and turning them into something off the runway. Via Panisperna 61. Are we in Notting Hill or are we in Rome? That's what you might ask yourself when you step into Pulp, the eclectic second-hand store that carries everything from old Fendi bags to your next punky costume-party outfit. The store prides itself on its vintage designer clothing and all around funky stuff. 011-39/0648-5511, Via del Boschetto 140. Want more insider recommendations? Read up on five quintessential trattorias in Eat Like a Local: Rome and check out our complete Rome coverage.


San Francisco: Decoding the new Clipper pass

San Francisco transit is switching over to a new reloadable plastic card called Clipper that works system-wide. You can use it on BART, MUNI trains and buses, as well as the East Bay's AC Transit, CalTrain, which goes to San Jose, and the ferries. You would think the one-card system would simplify things, but the transition is proving confusing. In fact, city workers are stationed around San Francisco to help commuters operate the new vending machines. There's even a YouTube how-to video. With the Clipper, you "tap" the card instead of sliding or inserting it (much like London's Oyster system). Currently, you can still pay cash when you hop on a MUNI bus or train on the street, but not in the underground stations. BART is also still taking the old tickets—but only for so long. Right now, the plastic card is free but eventually it will cost $5, on top of the regular fare. Luckily, for visitors there's a lesser-known, limited-use Muni Ticket good for 90 days that you can tap on the Clipper reader. You can buy these for 25 cents, and reload them at the underground Muni station vending machines pretty easily. The card works for unlimited rides over 90 minutes. Locals are still getting adjusted to the new system, but it is catching on fast, even with equipment hiccups and other issues. Though if you seem confused, don't worry—you'll blend right in. Get more details on the Clipper at the card's official website. MORE ON SAN FRANCISCO Trivia Quiz: 12 Things You Didn't Know About San Francisco Photos: 8 Perspectives on San Francisco San Francisco's Best Street Food