The Lisbona Sisters are an absolute riot. The DJs are real-life siblings and that deep connection was readily apparent the instant we started chopping it up over the phone about all things travel. Ava and Laura Lisbona, are so in sync they often finish one another’s sentences. Talking with them is a whirlwind of interruptions, tangents, random asides, and jokes, hitting like a constant four on the floor rhythm.
The experience of interviewing them together proves that they aren’t just experts at setting the vibe at a beachside festival, they’re experts at curating boundless energy for living life and loving people. It’s impossible to spend 10 minutes with them and not feel ready to get out into the wilds of the world and live life burning brightly like some kind of Kerouac metaphor or whatever.
That’s how we at Uproxx want you to travel this year, so we asked the Lisbona Sisters how to curate your own travel experience to match that of a wild life-loving DJ sister duo with boundless energy. I don’t know about you, but I want to travel more like a DJ sister duo, and less like a guy who doesn’t know what the hell to do the second he lands anywhere.
What inspires you to travel somewhere?
Ava Lisbona: “I always really like meeting new people, I love traveling for the people and the food.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, for sure. We ended up traveling to a lot of places because we know people there. So we end up visiting people and then meeting a lot of new people on the way… It’s always really fascinating to see how other cultures and people do things. Costa Rica is a really amazing example of that. How they’re spending their money as a country and how they’re prioritizing sustainability. It’s just really interesting to see how different societies operate.
That’s a really inspiring reason to visit a place. To appreciate what we can about our country and also see where we can do things better.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at a new place?
Ava Lisbona: If I haven’t already looked, I looked for what food is around and what’s delicious to eat, straight up.
Laura Lisbona: The first thing I do, when I arrive at a new place is put away my clothes because I’m an adult now. It honestly sets off the tone so much better, just having my stuff put away. I just feel like it starts my trip off right.
What drives you crazy about other travelers?
Ava Lisbona: I don’t like when people crowd the gate when you’re boarding an airplane. That drives me nuts! I’m like, sit down until it’s your turn.
Laura Lisbona: It’s true. It’s weird! Let’s see. Also, gosh, I would say something that tends to drive me crazy about other travelers, in general, is the assumption that in another country a person that they’re talking to would speak their language-
Ava Lisbona: Oh that’s the worst.
Laura Lisbona: I guess like if somebody approaches somebody and asks them something in English or whatever —
Ava Lisbona: And you’re in Turkey.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, don’t assume that. There’s a nice way to do it. Like you can just say, “Hey, do you speak English?” But just to make the assumption like, “Hey, can you tell me where to. . . ” I don’t like that. Assuming. We have Google translate now!
Ava Lisbona: And I also don’t like it when people clap when the plane lands. I sat next to a lady that tried to get me to do it when we landed somewhere recently and I looked at her, I was like, “no.”
Laura Lisbona: I’m not.
Ava Lisbona: She literally asked me to do it and I was like, “You don’t…” She was the worst.
Laura Lisbona: It’s important to celebrate the small things, but that’s a little excessive.
Ava Lisbona: There wasn’t even turbulence, it wasn’t like we feared for our lives or anything. Like I can understand, if you’re like: “Oh my God, congratulations, We made it through that.”
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, I’m going to be honest, I’ve done it before but I don’t feel good about it.
Ava Lisbona: But she tried to give me to do it, which was even more offensive.
Laura Lisbona: Anyway, I hope that answers that.
Ava Lisbona: Al right, next question!
What’s your favorite country and city to visit?
Laura Lisbona: It depends on the time of year.
Ava Lisbona: I haven’t traveled everywhere either, so I’m going to say, for right now Costa Rica because they’re extremely sustainable, environmentally, and it’s full of beautiful and happy people.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, that’s true, actually. It’s like I’ve never met happier people, more kind people. They have their like national kind of little catchphrase saying is “Pura Vida” which means pure life.
Ava Lisbona: Which is so true.
Laura Lisbona: And they will live that, they feel that. And it is such an uplifting place to be. But there are so many amazing places.
Ava Lisbona: I’ve never been to Asia, so I’m like… I don’t know.
What’s one thing that we have to do if we’re visiting Costa Rica?
Laura Lisbona: I think our favorite thing, or my favorite thing, was going down to Tamarindo for this festival called Ocaso Festival, it’s incredible. That alone is an amazing experience, it’s a really awesome way to connect with a lot of locals on the dance music tip. But then we took a day, the last time, last year that we visited and went and did a day tour with the most amazing tour guide. This guy named Alex. He was so funny. He picked us up at like 5:30 AM, and we went on a full adventure tour. We paddled down a river, got uncomfortably close to an alligator or crocodile, not sure which, equally scary.
Ava Lisbona: Iguanas.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, iguanas everywhere, monkeys jumping in the trees around us.
Ava Lisbona: It was really cool.
Laura Lisbona: And then they took us for a local lunch and then they took us to this place in the middle of the forest where we saw sloths. We saw a mom sloth carrying a baby sloth.
Ava Lisbona: We took a selfie with the sloth.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, we got to see this sloth so close up. We saw a chihuahua in the wild.
Ava Lisbona: Wild Chihuahua, very wild.
Laura Lisbona: And then they took us to this volcano where there like a weird gravity effect. You feel like you’re running up, but you’re actually running down, it’s really weird. And then they took us to a waterfall. I mean, it was like a full day of activity and our guide would do things like hide in the bushes and then jump out and scare us. So the whole day was full of entertainment and I think the whole thing costs around $175. There are really reasonable prices down there. So if you can, do a day-long adventure tour, see the local wildlife.
Ava Lisbona: And then the rest of the time-
Laura Lisbona: Go off the beaten path.
Ava Lisbona: You can literally go do your own thing and there’s just beautiful nature everywhere. At our hotel, there were giant iguanas just hanging out and then at our friend’s hotel, there’s just monkeys hanging out.
Laura Lisbona: And also talk to as many people as possible because everyone is so friendly and they want to talk to you and they want to make sure you have the best experience.
Ava Lisbona: Talk to as many Costa Ricans as you possibly can.
How do you know where to find the parties when you arrive in a new city?
Ava Lisbona: Locals.
Laura Lisbona: The internet and the locals. Now it’s so easy to look up online, just different local sites for party entertainment. But I’ve also found some of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my freaking life by —
Ava Lisbona: Just asking people.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, connecting with locals and they have the real inside scoop, you know obviously be careful.
Ava Lisbona: Yeah, with caution.
Laura Lisbona: With caution.
Ava Lisbona: Use the buddy system.
In your experience, which country parties the hardest?
Ava Lisbona: I haven’t been everywhere.
Laura Lisbona: He said “in your experience” Ava! Spain and Argentina.
Ava Lisbona: Yeah.
Laura Lisbona: But every country we’ve ever been to, there’s a society of ragers.
What is the best beach you’ve ever been to?
Laura Lisbona: Maybe that little one in Lagos, maybe?
Ava Lisbona: That was amazing, that actually is amazing. I would say they’re different cause my favorite beach is Bondi beach and just maybe I was really homesick —
Laura Lisbona: Which is in Austraila.
Ava Lisbona: Australia, but maybe I was homesick and it reminded me a lot of California. I don’t really love LA beaches, but Bondi was really nice and I just like sat in the water and chilled. The water is so beautiful and the shape of the beach — it’s a perfect beach.
Laura Lisbona: “It’s a perfect beach.”
Ava Lisbona: It’s a perfect beach. Beautiful. There are rocks there.
Laura Lisbona: Ava and I took a really cute sister trip, it was our first little vacation, just sister, sister —
Ava Lisbona: Sister, sister.
Laura Lisbona: And we went to Lagos in Portugal.
Ava Lisbona: Oh my God, that was so beautiful.
Laura Lisbona: It was gorgeous. It was in the Algarve and we just went to this little cove beach that’s just really small and secluded and you can be topless and it’s chill and you can bring beers and chill out. It’s just like so European!
Ava Lisbona: There’s a little natural archway through the rocks. It’s like you’re going into a labyrinth or something, but it’s actually just a beautiful beach.
Laura Lisbona: It’s just the perfect place to have a nice chill day. I love that beach. But there are so many beautiful places. The black sand beaches in Hawaii, there is beautiful stuff in the United States and there’s beautiful stuff everywhere.
Ava and I have been doing these beach cleanups. We did our first one at home in LA at Venice beach just last, end of last year. And now we’re starting to work with more of the festivals that we’re visiting for music purposes and starting to also to piggyback things like beach cleanups on top of that. We just partnered with Insomniac to do one at Holy Ship! in the Dominican Republic. They have a beautiful beach there in Punta Cana and we just took about two hours to work with some other people at Insomniac and different organizations involved with the festival and a bunch of people who were attending the festival who came out and just cleaned up the beach and we got a ton of trash. We love our beaches and that’s one way we’re trying to give back to these places that we visit, keep the beaches beautiful.
What city has your favorite street food?
Ava Lisbona: I keep coming back to Costa Rica, but I’ve had such good food there.
Laura Lisbona: On the side of the street anywhere in South America.
Ava Lisbona: Yes, Mexico has amazing street food.
Laura Lisbona: Mexico I think has my favorite street food. I was going to say tacos because I live in LA and there’s street food everywhere. It’s like that. So probably, that will be my favorite because I eat it the most.
Ava Lisbona: I love street food anywhere —
Laura Lisbona: Anywhere —
Ava Lisbona: Anywhere.
Laura Lisbona: I think that’s the best thing you have to try when you go anywhere new. You have to try the street food.
What’s your greatest travel secret? I guess it won’t be a secret anymore…
Laura Lisbona: That’s fine. These ones, I’m happy to share. Okay, so I think one of my favorite little tip for traveling is again, just learn how to say a couple of things in the language of wherever you’re going, you can keep it on your phone. If you can learn to say, “hello” and “thank you,” If you can just get those two down, that’s like a huge accomplishment and people appreciate that.
Obviously now we can look things up on the fly, which is amazing, which we’ve seen in 90 Day Fiance. Like you can have a whole conversation —
Then the other thing I was going to say is that if you’re ever in a dicey or sketchy situation, even if you don’t quite know what you’re doing, just kind of look like you do and most people won’t mess with you. Because usually when people are looking for people to mess with, they’re looking for someone that looks lost and confused. So even if you do feel that way, just look like you know what you’re doing and people will believe you, mostly.
Ava Lisbona: Definitely don’t be walking around looking like a tourist.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, like confused and on your phone,
Ava Lisbona: Figure out where you’re going first. That’s actually a really good travel secret because if you go somewhere then your phone doesn’t work or something, you’re screwed.
I have a travel uniform, that’s my biggest travel secret. I wear like nearly the same run of something when I’m traveling and I’m always comfortable.
Laura Lisbona: Oh my gosh, I have one other really good one. If you’re going any place where you are, where a stomach virus is a threat, like a lot of Americans, get sick in Mexico or India, places like that where you’re going to be battling different bacteria. Start —
Ava Lisbona: Start licking surfaces!
Laura Lisbona: No, do not put that down. Great way to build your bacterial immunity! If you start taking activated coconut charcoal pills a week before you’re going on your trip, then you definitely reduce your risk of any stomach sickness. I used to get sick every time I went to Mexico and I tried it and it works.
Ava Lisbona: Activated charcoal pills, that’s Laura’s secret.
Laura Lisbona: That’s a secret, it is. It will save a lot of people, not a secret anymore.
What’s on your travel playlist right now?
Ava Lisbona: Elvis, “All Shook Up.”
Laura Lisbona: I’ve been so into that song lately.
Ava Lisbona: Frank Sinatra, always.
Laura Lisbona: It just keeps me in a good mood. I put songs on repeat a lot. It’s meditative, in a way. So I usually will get stuck on one song and I’ll just keep playing it over and over and over again. And it’s just like such a nice and pleasant song, you can’t not be in a good mood when you hear “All Shook Up” or you’re a monster.
Ava Lisbona: Wow.
How can we be more responsible and sustainable travelers in 2020?
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Helping the planet has never looked so good or been so fun 😍 HUGE THANKS to everyone who came out for our first Bikini Beach Cleanup‼️ ———————— We’re so happy with how our first #bikinibeachcleanup went; such a great turnout of amazing people and the day left us feeling us so inspired. We’ve had a ton of people asking about when we’ll be having the next one, which we love! Here’s the tea: 👙January 22-26, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – we’ll be partnering w @insomniacevents to do our Bikini Beach Cleanup at @holyship Wrecked 👙Big January festival announcement TBA, where we will be joining in on another beach cleanup- details very soon! 👙ANOTHER LOS ANGELES BBC IN THE WORKS! Projected for spring 2020 so stay tuned! @bikinibeachcleanup
Laura Lisbona: There’s so much difficulty in traveling and being sustainable, but, there are more solutions now. Even starting from the way that you pack. Travel size things, maybe get refillable stuff because then using all those little mini disposable plastic travel sizes, that is just a crazy amount of plastic to use for such a small thing.
Even in airports, we, in California now, don’t think about plastic straws anymore. It doesn’t happen. But then, we’re going through an airport in Florida and there’s plastic, you have to specify, “Hey, I don’t want a plastic straw in my water.” Trying to be conscious about that stuff.
Ava Lisbona: And obviously those are the smallest things, a plastic straw, but it helps.
Laura Lisbona: And then on the airplane, they have all these small plastic bottles and things like that. Look for things that are in glass and in aluminum. So on an airline I always, I request things in a paper cup.
Ava Lisbona: Or seltzer water instead of water, because that comes in aluminum versus plastic.
Laura Lisbona: Yeah, requesting the can instead of a cup or asking for a paper cup instead of a plastic cup cause they have them for coffee. And I also ask for no napkin because I don’t need a napkin to drink a cup of water.
And just try to even do a little bit of good everywhere that you go. We picked up for only two hours on the beach, you could even do less and just clean up a little bit. I heard there’s actually another girl DJ named Vivian. She goes by Blondish and she’s also really passionate about this stuff. So I heard that she’s starting to make sustainable travel kits for people. For DJs, people, anybody who travels, which is great because it’s hard.
Laura Lisbona: It’s hard to do it, but, if you can find things made of bamboo and hemp, I know they make toothbrushes made out of bamboo. Just look for the most sustainable materials possible wherever you go.
Where do you guys want to go this year? Where are you excited about seeing that you haven’t been?
Laura Lisbona: I mean we are talking about going back to Miami, which we haven’t been to in a really long time and I honestly love Miami. We’re obsessed with Costa Rica. We were actually talking about using that as a jumping-off point at the beginning of next year and maybe basing ourselves there for January and being able to use it as a jumping-off point and maybe go explore more of Central and South America.