Meet Lisa Travis (IES Abroad Freiburg, Fall 1988 | Bates College) co-founder of Pack-n-Go Girls, a multicultural travel adventure mystery book series for children. Lisa’s own travel experiences sparked a newfound sense of confidence, adventure, and curiosity about the world. Inspired to share these values with her own children and teach them about different cultures, Lisa discovered a lack of travel literature for children. Recognizing the need to develop the next generation of global citizens at an early age, Lisa decided to do something about it. Read on to discover how Lisa went from working in academia and global leadership consulting to authoring children’s books, and how she is changing the world one reader at a time.
IES Abroad: As an undergrad at Bates College, what led you to study abroad in Freiburg, Germany?
Lisa Travis: I’ve always dreamed of faraway places - ever since my childhood days of exploring old National Geographic magazines in my attic. In high school, we connected with some relatives in Germany and spent a magical Christmas in the Black Forest. I knew I wanted to go back. Bates College and IES Abroad luckily provided me that opportunity.
IES Abroad: What are some of your most impactful study abroad memories?
LT: Studying in Freiburg was an amazing experience, which changed my perspective on who I was as a person, what it meant to be an American, and the importance of being a global citizen. Traveling abroad gave me confidence. If I could find my way around by myself (or with a few newfound friends!) in a foreign country, what couldn’t I do? It also gave me a new sense of adventure and curiosity about the world.
Taking classes at the University of Freiburg and interacting with the students and professors gave me an "inside-out" perspective of being an American. As a political science major, I discovered what was important to Germans in politics was quite different from the American point of view of German politics. I also remember traveling to West and East Berlin and seeing first-hand the side-by-side realities of two different governments. Probably most important were the day-to-day things such as eating, shopping, and going to college classes. I learned to embrace and adapt to the German culture, to be a good ambassador of my American roots, and at the same time demonstrate my respect for the culture I was living in.
IES Abroad: Where did your career take you after graduating? How did the skills you learned abroad transfer to your professional life?
LT: After graduating, I ended up in academia for a bit. When my husband received orders to South Korea, I had the experience and confidence of living in Germany to draw on while living there for a year. I later moved into the consulting field building learning experiences for global clients. My experience living in Germany and South Korea gave me the ability to observe, learn, respect, and adjust to the local culture in which I was working. As I've worked with companies around the world, I can see first-hand the impact travel has on people. They have greater curiosity about and empathy for those who are different from themselves—traits the world would certainly benefit from these days.
IES Abroad: In 2013, you co-founded Pack-n-Go Girls, a multicultural travel adventure mystery book series for children. What inspired you?
LT: With my work in global leadership development, it's very clear that we are increasingly working in a global environment, and our children need to compete in that world. When my own kids were young, I was constantly looking for books and educational toys to teach them about different cultures. There wasn’t a lot out there for the younger set. In particular with my daughter, I was inundated with princesses and horses. I wanted bold, adventurous girls who were on the verge of developing their independence and curious to discover the world. I tried to find multicultural literature, but there was and still is definitely a gap in the market that I'm passionate to fill.
IES Abroad: Tell us about Pack-n-Go Girls and what makes the series unique.
LT: Readers tour haunted castles in Austria, catch thieves in Mexico, save dolphins and turtles in Brazil, search for lost golden temples in Thailand, and chase aliens in Australia. AND at the same time they’re inspired to embrace adventure, be curious, value what unites us, and celebrate the differences that make us unique. Kids discover the diversity of cultures and the richness each one contributes to the world. An added bonus is that the Pack-n-Go Girls American characters reflect the diversity in our own country, as well. Young readers love our books because they’re fun. We’re always looking for a broader audience, though, and have developed loads of materials for classroom use. Teachers and homeschooling parents appreciate that the books can be used across the curriculum.
IES Abroad: How did you prepare to become a children’s book author? Have your own travel experiences inspired any of the books?
LT: I’ve been writing ever since I was a young girl. I used to write little “newspapers" for my friends. I was a Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo fan, and I wrote my first “mystery” with my best friend in 5th grade, The Case of the Missing Diamonds. Of course, that wasn’t quite ready for publication! In my career, I’ve been writing presentations, marketing materials, website copy, learning materials, etc. When I thought about starting Pack-n-Go Girls, I reached out to a colleague I considered a great fiction writer - my current business partner, Janelle Diller. She brought her fiction-writing expertise and traditional publishing experience to our business, which has been invaluable to me and Pack-n-Go Girls.
And yes, both my experiences and Janelle’s experiences have inspired our books. When you travel, there are always great stories to tell. In fact, I am just getting back from working in South Africa with quite a few memorable experiences in my journal. Perhaps we may see a book set in Africa within the next year?
IES Abroad: What impact do you hope to have on children through the series?
LT: Janelle and I hope that every child who reads a Pack-n-Go Girls book is inspired to be curious about the world or even just the new family down the street who comes from a different culture. We’re trying to change the world one reader at a time and inspire them to become global citizens.
IES Abroad: Do you have any advice for students considering studying or interning abroad?
LT: Do it! It will stretch your world and add a perspective that you’ll never get in the classroom. But it doesn’t stop there. Working with some of the top global companies in the world, I have had the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the impact international experience has. We are increasingly a global society, so having this experience will help you not only grow as a person, but also improve your job opportunities and performance.