Interview: Lauren Raouf and Tisha Vaidya of My Best Friend’s Weekend
Lauren Raouf and Tisha Vaidya are the founders of My Best Friend’s Weekend, a new event planning service aimed at crafting custom bridal showers, and bachelor and bachelorette parties. Their unique itineraries are curated and organized to have a fun, tailor-made experience without the hassle of planning an entire weekend.
Name: Lauren Raouf and Tisha Vaidya
Profession: Co-founders, My Best Friend’s Wedding
Age: 27 and 27
LR: Always carry a duffel bag, never a rolling bag. You can carry it anywhere, making you mobile over everything, including dirt roads. Plus you’ll be forced to pack light!
TV: Make sure to keep the essentials in your personal bag/backpack — toothbrush/floss, deodorant, Neosporin/Bandaids, a deck of cards, travel perfume, and most importantly, a lightweight collapsible bag (I like to bring either a Longchamp or a purple cloth bag I bought in Laos). Small/flexible so that it doesn’t take up weight or space, but can easily be taken out for extra room if you buy stuff during your adventures. Plus, I always find my clothes don’t pack nearly as well at the end of the trip as they did at the beginning, so I like to have the extra bag as a luggage safety net.
Favorite travel memory?
LR: My third international trip — visiting my grandparents in Cyprus when I was six. I spent the whole summer with them on the beach, picnicking in the mountains, making friends with alley cats (my mom still doesn’t know about that) and generally getting adjusted to living in a new culture. Close second is the first time I traveled to London (which had always been my dream place to live) when I was 19, getting off the Tube and seeing the double-decker buses and black cabs and realizing I’d finally made it.
TV: My mom, my sister-in-law and I took a girls’ trip to San Diego a few years ago. No particular occasion, just a weekend to spend time together in a new city. The weather was beautiful, the meals were delicious and the three of us spent some awesome quality time together — a rarity given that we lived in three different cities.
Bucket list destination?
LR: So many — but exploring the pyramids in Egypt and backpacking in Nepal are two of the top ones right now.
TV: Lebanon, Argentina, Cuba and South Korea. I want to visit 30 countries by the time I turn 30!
Favorite off-the-beaten-path spot?
LR: Family friend’s cabin in the backwoods of Maine. An amazing place to hang out, read, play countless games of cards, eat lobster rolls, go for freezing morning swims in the ocean, hike every day and bake boatloads of blueberry crisp. Best vacation(s) ever.
TV: Lullwater Park in Atlanta, Ga. It’s a gorgeous running trail that runs within Emory University (my alma mater’s) campus. Specifically, I loved relaxing next to the waterfall/pond among the forest trees. Just check out a photo — its awe-worthy.
What kind of traveler are you?
LR: I aim to be a minimalist, packing as little as possible. Maybe because I like planning for everyone else, I like to spend at least some of my travel time exploring without any plan in mind. (To be fair, this can be a high-risk strategy … sorry to everyone who’s trekked six-plus miles in a circle with me on the days we haven’t found something cool!)
TV: I plan for everything (thanks Mom!). This goes for both random supplies (daily-use products, medicines, etc.) and planning an itinerary (I have every hour mapped out). Don’t get me wrong, I love spontaneity. But I like to have a back-up plan just in case there is idle time. That’s where the cards come in! Cards Against Humanity, please come out with a travel pack!
Funniest travel story?
LR: Traveling with my grandmother. Anyone can ask her to go anywhere (like, say, driving down to Mexico for a week), and she’ll be at the door in less than 15 minutes, stuffing her passport and underwear into a bag and asking the rest of us why we’re taking so long to get ready. (And, yes, this happened.)
TV: As a kid, I would spend every other summer in India visiting my family. And each time I would bring a wide assortment of activity books (this was a pre-iPad era) and other things to keep me entertained on the long journey (also pre-direct flight and personal TVs for each seat). We would also bring an arsenal of candy and chocolate, and one summer included several jumbo bags of Starburst. That summer, I ate exclusively strawberry Starburst, my absolute favorite flavor of all time, and I ate ALL of them … foisting all the others off on my big brother. To this day, I still cannot eat Strawberry-flavored Starburst.
Best meal you’ve had on your travels?
LR: Fish sandwich from a riverside vendor in East Istanbul
TV: Any street food in India, specifically, Pani Puri in Calcutta. It was a risky move, but so worth it.
Craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?
LR: Hot-air ballooning over Bagan in Myanmar. Not really unsafe, but definitely the craziest view. In general, wandering around without a map or a plan in mind in a new city where I don’t speak the language, which happens a lot.
TV: Skydiving in New Zealand and bungee jumping in Costa Rica. Both were incredibly thrilling, and with gorgeous views of the world below me!
Favorite item collected from your travels?
LR: I collect postcards from the countries I visit, so that whole collection.
TV: In Israel, I found a ceramic hanging tile that says “Shalom Y’all.” A combination of two of my favorite places in the world: Texas and Israel. It’s currently hanging up on my wall in the entrance hallway.
LR: Not sure … definitely going to Ecuador to climb Cotopaxi (the world’s highest active volcano) in the spring, but there will probably be some skiing in Austria and Utah before then.
TV: India, Philippines, Napa (I am determined to make this an annual trip), Vegas, and who knows? Perhaps another impromptu trip to Turks & Caicos? I miss those beaches.