Profile: Laura Smythe

Traveling gives people the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and experience the world in an entirely new way. They are able to take a break from their everyday reality and expose themselves to a new way of life. For some, the importance of traveling and what their experiences mean to them is too significant not to share with others.

Laura Smythe, a junior journalism major at Temple University, is planning to use her blog, “Across the Time Zones,” to share her traveling experiences as well as to persuade readers on why they should go out and experience what the world has to offer.

Smythe first got into traveling when she was 17 years old. She had attended Ithaca College in upstate New York after graduating from high school. Originally studying psychology, Smythe didn’t feel too happy while being there and ended up leaving.

Between leaving her previous college and coming to Temple University, Smythe spent three years off from school. It was during that time period that she got her start with traveling and by the end of those three years, she had visited 24 different countries total.

“When I first left Ithaca, I did a roadtrip. I went from Philadelphia down to New Orleans on a megabus and stopped at different places along the way,” she said.

When Smythe turned 18 the following summer, she made the decision to go abroad.

“I went to Europe and stayed there for a while. Over the next three year period I went to 24 countries. I went around Europe, South America, and parts of Africa,” she said.

For Smythe, traveling has allowed her to meet new people along the way, discover new cultures, and see things from a different perspective than what she was used to before. Some of the places she has visited include Colombia, Peru, Morocco, Kenya, and South Africa.

“I really like that traveling has kind of restored my faith in humanity. It really reminds you that the world is a good place,” she said.

During her travels, Smythe recorded her experiences for herself through journaling to keep track of the things she did and the people that she met. She found this process to be very therapeutic. After doing this for a while, she realized that combining both writing and her experiences on these trips is not only something people do for their jobs but is something that can be very useful to others who may have second thoughts or concerns before traveling to a new place.

Smythe decided to act upon her two passions and start up a travel blog called, “Across the Time Zones,” which she is planning to launch at the end of the year. Although there are a few reasons why Smythe decided to start up this blog, one of her main reasons was to encourage women in particular to travel by themselves due to how much of a positive impact doing so has had on her. Smythe has travelled alone on the majority of her trips and is still in awe of how many times strangers were willing to go out of their way to help her in the places she has visited.

“I really want to encourage other people, especially women, to travel individually because it has just been such a great experience for me and such a big part of my life,” she said.

Aside from that, Smythe’s blog will act as a guide for all readers to have in order for them to feel more comfortable going to certain places. It will include a range of content from travel tips such as what to pack, tips on the mentality one should have when visiting a new country, to country-specific content such as sites to see, recommendations on places to stay, and more.

In the future, Smythe would love to pursue a career in travel writing and travel photography for a magazine like National Geographic. She hopes her blog will be a way to give her a boost in that profession along with practice in consistently producing travel content for a larger publication.

Another end goal of Smythe’s is to one day publish her own book to encourage those who are young to take some time off from school in order to focus on figuring themselves out.

“I feel like we have such a tendency in the U.S to have a one-track mentality to go to high school, pick a major, and go to college. How can you expect these people who are 17 or 18 years old to know how they want to spend their life?” she said.

Studying abroad is something many college students have an interest in doing and for those who may be having second thoughts, according to Smythe: “Definitely do it!”

“It’s very empowering. You gain a sense of independence. Just keep an open mind and be willing to accept a culture that is different than your own,” she said.

It is very obvious that taking time off and traveling for Smythe has allowed her to develop a sense of what she is passionate about as well as learn about the world outside of just a classroom. If she can do it, everyone else can too, and based on what she says, going out of your comfort zone and traveling is very much worth it, even if you choose to go alone!

To stay updated on the launch of her website “Across the Time Zones,” and to get a glimpse of her future travels, follow Smythe on her Instagram @laurasmythe77 and Twitter, @lcs_smythe.