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Lisa Yancey on how travel breaks down ‘ideas of otherness’ and expands our humanity

We caught up with founder and president of Yancey Consulting to talk about all things travel.

Lisa in the Highlands in Scotland.
Lisa in the Highlands in Scotland.

For Lisa Yancey, founder and president of Yancey Consulting, traveling is about more than relaxing in a faraway locale. The entrepreneurial strategist, who advises businesses and organizations on dismantling inequities, enriching marginalized communities, building leadership, and amplifying diverse perspectives, believes that travel provides opportunities for growth. “To really travel, it’s about exposure to different and to break down ideas of otherness to building our understanding and empathy of something that may be different,” said the 47-year-old Atlanta native, who lives in Mount Vernon, N.Y. “To expand our humanity, to expand our empathy muscles . . . that’s what travel does for me.” Yancey, a Boston College Law School graduate, was a recent speaker at “The Lunch Room,” the American Repertory Theater’s virtual talk show that features artists, activists, and civic leaders for curated conversations and interactive Q&As (available for viewing on ART’s website). We caught up with her to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?

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Any beautiful place that I’ve never experienced before that I get to experience for the first time. I usually have filters for vacations: I need to be able to engage authentically with locals; I like places that are pedestrian; I love markets with a bounty of produce for cooking; and there must be wine options. I also must be able to engage with nature — either with the sea or mountains. Nature is critical. Last, but certainly not least, I need reliable Wi-Fi.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?

Food? Tuna tartar/sushi. Drink? Wine.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

Well, the next place I’m traveling this year answers this question. Mauritius [an island off the coast of southeastern Africa]. I haven’t been there yet — but will, come June 2021.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

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Sneakers.

Aisle or window?

Aisle on short flights — three hours or less — and window on longer flights. I like the aisle ‘cause I hate to have to ask for passage to the bathroom. On longer flights, I like the window because I get to control the light.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

Traveling to the Tennessee mountains. My mom planned a trip where the entire family — seven of us — hiked up McCloud Mountain. I have no idea how she did that with kids, but moms are super heroines. And, I remember becoming fully covered by the clouds and then having the opportunity to ride the trolley down the mountain. It was fascinating!

Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Baths.

Best travel tip?

Do it often and splurge on at least one thing that gives you joy.