My name is Lauren C. Williams and TraveLauren is an avenue to share my international travels with anyone interested in viewing the world through my bifocals. In 2008, I tragically lost my only sibling, three weeks before his twenty-fifth birthday. With memories of all his unaccomplished goals I committed myself to live without boundaries!
I hiked up a portion of Beijing’s Great Wall of China. While in Dubai, I traveled to the top of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa. To experience wildlife first hand I visited game parks in South Africa as well as Kenya and fed tiger cubs while in Bangkok, Thailand. I traveled through the Brazilian rainforest and spent some time on an animal reserve in Sydney, Australia. I stood with my arms spread out in front of the Christ of the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and got to capture the beauty of the Chichen Itza, while on my journey to see the new wonders of the world. I have even taken selfies with llamas and alpacas at the Machu Picchu located in Cuzco, Peru.
The death of my brother kicked my travels into high gear but after watching my mother’s nine-year cancer battle end with her final breath in May of 2014, I decided to volunteer more of my energy to others. I have been able to experience different cultures and have grown to love learning about the traditions of others, which allowed me to discover more about myself. Below you’ll find my Travel Resume, which is the why behind each destination. My Portfolio is filled will videos and pictures accompanied with music I enjoyed with the locals while abroad. I find peace in sharing and connecting with you all via my travels!
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After three years of learning French and tasting French cuisine by way of my high school French teacher Madam DeFur, I was granted the opportunity to travel with my classmates to France. The students of Hill Regional Career High were ready to put what we learned to the test as we toured and explored Paris, Cannes & Tours.
In January of 2011, my parents Dr. Leroy C. Williams and the late Patricia W. Williams were kind enough to treat me to an early graduation present as I prepared to complete my undergraduate degree from Morgan State University. That graduation present came in the form of cultural exploration by way of allowing me to follow my God sister Regina Boyd as she traveled with a group of ten others to CapeTown & Johannesburg, South Africa and Dakar, Senegal. The group of travelers was orchestrated by Dr. Brian K. Perkins and Out Of Africa Gallery Tours.
When I lost my only sibling in July of 2008 of an underlying heart condition, I learned to cherish those around me. So when I discovered that a very close family friend, whom I have always considered to be more like a sister then just a friend, had been accepted to the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia to study for her masters I took that as nothing less than an invitation to visit. "Chanelle Dumas, I was on my way!"
After I had such a stellar time traveling to Cape Town & Johannesburg, South Africa and Dakar, Senegal with Dr. Brian K. Perkins and Out Of Africa Gallery Tours I decided to travel with them one more time, but this time trekking across the continent of South America to discover the beautiful culture, cuisine, and customs.
In need of a mini vacation and with the use of my timeshare, I spent my 24th birthday at the beautiful Grand Mayan Resort in Maya Riviera, Mexico. Only leaving the resort to travel to Yucatán, Mexico to visit the Chichen Itza as well as the rest of the Mayan ruins.
With 2013 marking five years since I lost my brother, Lance Christopher, I decided I wanted to aim for new travel heights. So on the anniversary of his death I departed with my friend Tarena Gadsden, who I've known over a decade, for Beijing, China. All we had was hotel reservations, google translate, a Beijing lonely planet guide book, each other and PRAYER! I forgot to mention Tarena dabbles in Spanish and I dabble in French so Chinese was not our forte.
When I planned this family vacation I didn't quite understand how important and remembered it would become. This trip was simply my parents, my God sister, Claudette Senior, and myself traveling to our timeshare on the beautiful island of St. Thomas. We just didn't realize it would be our last family vacation with my mother in attendance.
I have a wonderful friend, whose birthday is only a few days before mine and in 2014 we decided to celebrate together by traveling to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for a little over a week. That wonderful friend is LaQuaya Cohen and we were also accompanied by her cousin Tahara Byrd.
After losing my mother to bilateral breast cancer I felt I wanted to donate some of my time to others yet still experience another cultural. So with the assistance of Cross Cultural Solutions I taught English for two weeks to the most beautiful 3 year olds at the Phithuksa Daycare & Preschool. I was able to give my body a relaxing weekend in Phuket before heading back home to the United States.
Once again looking for another opportunity to volunteer I reached out to International Volunteers HQ (IVHQ) for the opportunity to build sports education in Nairobi, Kenya. Sports education because it coincided with the growth of the Christoph Foundation. Once in Nairobi I was placed at the CMF Excellence Center primary school and the African Hope Center (AHC). The AHC is an orphanage where the children have lost parents due to HIV/AIDS. Along my three month journey I was blessed in such a way, I refused to leave Nairobi without sponsoring two of the children from AHC. If you’re interested in sponsorship feel free to contact me for more information.
Since losing my brother at the age of 19, I enjoy spending my birthdays immersed in another culture when afforded the opportunity. So, while volunteering in Kenya, I could not let a moment pass without making travel arrangements to visit another Eastern African country. What better way to spend a birthday than laying on a beach with views of the Indian Ocean?
In need of a deep breath and a moment of clarity during my transition from international volunteering and returning to the states, I decided to stopover in the Netherlands to enjoy European culture.
Embarking on my first cruise since I was seven on the Disney cruise, I decided to entrust my experience to Norwegian, setting sail through the Mediterranean. Departing from Rome and sailing through the ports of Florence, Pisa, Cannes, Palma, Barcelona and Naples, I explored European terrain with my good friend Tarena Gadsden. I truly experienced a one of a kind vacation.
I'm not a person with a bucket list but one thing I simply can't pass up is a great deal. While volunteering in Nairobi I discussed the unforgettable site of the Northern Lights with some European natives. Once home from Nairobi I was browsing travel sites and stumbled upon a great package deal to spend 5 days in Reykjavik. I passed the news along to my Godsister, Alexis Sizemoore, and next thing I knew I had a travel companion as well as my next adventure booked.
I do not pass on many opportunities to travel, especially when friends, that became family, give me the opportunity to come celebrate another year of life. This trip to Barbados with the Gadsden family was nothing but love, laughter & good eats!
On a journey to see my fifth new wonder of the world, I embarked on Peru to tackle the Machu Picchu. I traveled 8,000 feet above sea level, 7 hours by plane, 1 hour 45 minutes by train and 20 minutes by bus before arriving. I stood in line for 35 minutes in the rain to get into the sanctuary and walked a few a miles up hill, but it was all worth the view. This once of a lifetime experience would not have been the same without my God sister, Claudette Senior.
My caring spirit and my need to want to make a difference brought me to Bogota, Columbia. With the help of Emerging Voices by way of International Volunteers HQ, I was able to spend two weeks feeding the homeless at Hogar de la Madre Teresa and El Dormitorio de Hermana Sor Ladys. It is ironic that when you reach out to help others, you normally find yourself along the way.
Like a few of my past trips I sought India for the opportunity to give of myself and my time in hopes to not only teach others but to learn more about myself. I spent three weeks teaching a group of 6 eighth graders English, Math and Social Studies as they prepared for mid year exams. The school was located in a slum within Faridabad. When I wasn't giving of my time I was traveling around to Delhi, Agar and Jaipur which some may recognize as India's golden triangle.
My curiosity and excitement for the Egyptian pyramids brought me to Cairo. There was nothing more and nothing less to my destination choice. I wanted to place my eyes on the Pyramid of Khufu and the Great Sphinx of Giza. I chose to spend my 72 hour layover on the way to Nairobi, trekking through the pyramids, sailing on the Red Sea, admiring ancient antiques, and indulging in Egyptian cuisine.
In search of a clear mind and that feeling of peace that only comes from relaxation, I decided to travel to Panama over Memorial Day weekend. To lay on the beach and study for my upcoming Human Resources certification exam and only take breaks to recline by the pool.
With my sights set on a little adventure I headed to Belize to sleep in the rain forest, hike, bike, and swim through caves. I find these task to be small pleasures that turn into huge amounts of joy once accomplished in a new country. Not to mention spending my downtime laying around in a hammock overlooking the mountains while listening to howler monkeys.
I am not one for surprises. Not too many people truly know me well enough to surprise me with something I would actually value. However, due to lack of research on my part I did not realize Tikal was only a three hour drive from my Belizean resort, i.e. a beautiful surprise. So I took the journey and discovered another set of Mayan Ruins along my way.
I have this admiration for Elizabeth Gilbert. Something about her journey of eating her way through Italy, praying her way through ashrams in India and finding love in Bali was enough for me to add Indonesia to my short bucket list. Instead of searching for love in Bali I spent half my time in a private villa with a butler who cooked my meals to order. While the other half of my time was spent at Blooming Lotus, a yoga and meditation retreat.
I often struggle with enjoying life one day at the time. So after applying to doctorate programs and foreseeing how much time I would be wasting scrolling through my emails awaiting acceptance or denial emails; I decided to dedicate the month of February to helping others across Uganda. While there I spent some days in the slums of Kampala feeding and providing medical treatment to young boys who struggle with drug addiction amongst other issues. I spent other days at a women’s shelter near Entebbe where young adults were learning trades like crafts, sewing and hair dressing. Those skills were paired with math and English lessons; a solid foundation to help build a business in the near future.
In search of some needed R & R (rest and relaxation), I traveled across the Ugandan boarder by bus to Rwanda. Most my time in Kigali was spent with my nose in books, but when it wasn’t reading, I enjoyed being a dictionary definition of a tourist. I ate out three meals a days and wondered from museum to museum.