Brave-ish in Bloomberg Pursuits


To Stay in Shape on the Road, One Travel Expert Packs a Hula Hoop

Writer and podcast host Lisa Niver has visited more than 100 countries. Here’s her advice on scuba diving, hydration tablets and exercise.

In her new book, Lisa Niver shares 50 adventures she took on before turning 50.
In her new book,Brave-ish, Lisa Niver shares 50 adventures she took on before turning 50. Photo: Judith Gigliotti

By Lebawit Lily Girma

September 14, 2023 at 7:00 AM PDT

At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to road warriors to learn about their high-end hacks, tips and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers .

Lisa Niver is the author of the new nonfiction travel book Brave-ish: One Break-up, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty, which is set to be published on Sept. 19. “I did 50 challenges before I turned 50 to reinvent myself after my divorce,” says Niver about her first title with a major publisher.

A former science teacher who lives in Los Angeles, Niver is a travel podcast host and writer who has been to 109 countries across six continents, many of which she visited while working on cruise ships.

On her adventures abroad, which she shares in her book, she survived mishaps that she says ranged from hurricanes and medical emergencies to unruly passengers.

Her favorite airline is the one that offers the best direct flight to her destination. But of all the places she’s visited, she never tires of returning to her synagogue in Los Angeles, Stephen Wise Temple.

“Over the years, I have participated in holidays and Shabbat around the world,” says Niver. “Feeling grounded in Judaism, whether I am spending the holidays at home or away, the music and the prayers are important to me. Being welcomed back to my spiritual home has made a huge difference in my nomadic lifestyle.”

These are her best travel tips.

Lisa Niver with her hula hoop in Iceland.Courtesy of Lisa Niver

This one item—detachable and easy to pack—can help you stay fit, joyful and grounded.

I always travel with my hula hoop. I use it for exercise in my room. During Covid, I took 10 classes at UCLA as a senior scholar.

One class in the psychiatry department about meditation focused on how we have been thinking about meditation all wrong. There is no one way to do meditation, and the point is not to sit on the top of a hill alone but to be at work or in a new place and be able to ground yourself and make good choices. I used my hoop to center myself.

Traveling with something that looks like a child’s toy gives me great joy, keeps me in shape and prepares me to take on my day no matter where I am.

Change cards frequently.

There was a time when roundtrip flights were cheaper, but that time is past. I book my flights one way and often on different carriers for my outbound and return. I also use multiple credit cards to do so.

I change cards each year (both personal and business) so that I can get the new bonus airline miles. You can usually get the new 60,000 or 80,000 miles every two years. I always tell people, if you are about to buy a house and get a mortgage, it is not always great to keep opening new cards, but if you are not—keep getting the new cards and fly for free!

Dorado Beach, Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico.Photographer: Lisa Niver

Going back to the same place can feel offbeat.

Sometimes there is pressure to check off a list and rush from place to place. Travel is often about the perspective you bring and what you look for.

I have been to Puerto Rico at every stage of my life and travel career. San Juan was a home port for me when I worked for Royal Caribbean; I loved to stroll in Old San Juan, listen to live music and visit the 500-year-old forts.

When I was married, I went on a cruise as a guest and we took a very small plane to the island of Culebra to snorkel with turtles and splash among the mangroves. When I was first separated, I went scuba diving at Copamarino. I filmed an Orbitz web series and hula-hooped at the fountain of youth in Ponce, and screamed the entire way on the Beast zipline (at Toro Verde Adventure Park).

Most recently, I had a villa with a private plunge pool at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and on World Environment Day, I planted trees with Dr. Richard Murphy at the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Program.

Most dive sites in Bonaire are accessible from shore, Niver says.Courtesy of Lisa Niver

When it comes to scuba diving, Bonaire lives up to the hype.

When I worked on cruise ships, I dove all over the Caribbean and the world. But the place that was always on my to-dive list was Bonaire. In Bonaire, I dove three or four times a day—and every single dive was spectacular. There are more than 85 dive sites with more than 57 species of coral and more than 350 species of fish. Most of the dive sites are accessible from the shore, but I also did boat diving.

I am definitely considering moving there so I could dive more with the turtles, Caribbean reef octopus, tarpon, scorpion fish, flamingo tongue nudibranch and many others. I fell in love with the island and cannot wait to return again for more “dushi” days. Dushi means “happy” or “sweet” in Papiamento.

Jewelry is the ideal keepsake.

In Ketchikan, Alaska, I found butterfly-shaped earrings designed by Tlingit silver carvers. I have always loved butterflies, and the carvings remind me of the totem poles in the area. I also bought a silver heart-shaped pendant necklace. When I wear them, I remember the three summers I worked in Alaska.

At Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, I bought a bracelet of green Connemara marble beads; some are round and some are shaped like hearts. When I wear it, I feel like I am back wandering on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Niver swears by Nuun sport hydration tablets.Source: Nuun

When a heat wave strikes, drinking water isn’t always enough.

A new item I will not leave home without is electrolytes. I have been traveling for decades. I believed I knew how to take care of myself in all conditions, but recently during a heat wave in Puerto Rico, I nearly ended up in the emergency room. I never stopped drinking water, but water was not enough. I tried Pedialyte hydration powders, which ended up all over my sink with very little in my water bottle.

Then I discovered Nuun sport hydration tablets, which easily break in half and dissolve instantly. I will not ever travel again without these.

I brought them on my next trip scuba diving in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Normally, after a two-tank dive, I need a snack and a nap as soon as possible. However, with my electrolyte-filled water bottles, I did not nap after diving and had the chance to try something new: On the beach, I hula-hooped while flying a kite. I did not even think that was possible!

THANK YOU TO BLOOMBERG for sharing about my adventures and my book, BRAVE-ish.

2024 Literary Titan Non-fiction Gold Book Award​
2023 Zibby Awards Runner-up: Best Book for The Strong Woman
2023 HEARTEN Book Awards Finalist for Inspiring & Uplifting Non-Fiction
2023 WINNER: Goody Business Book Awards: Memoir/Self-Help
Featured in Conde Nast Traveler Women Who Travel Book Club: 10 New Books We Can’t Wait to Read this Fall
As seen in Forbes Best New NonFiction

and 2024 Gold Book Award: Non-Fiction Authors Association!

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We Said Go Travel