PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL: JOYCE FROM NEW YORK, USA
I am a female solo world traveler born and raised in New York City and of Philippine descent. I graduated from Penn State University and I worked in the media industry for Fox News prior to traveling around the world. This past year, I travelled to over 50 countries and accomplished my biggest goal to see all 7 New Wonders of the World!
1) NUMBER OF COUNTRIES VISITED
2) AGE AND FIRST INTERNATIONAL TRIP YOU TOOK
I started traveling before I was even a year old. After I was born in America, I lived in the Philippines and Kuwait as a baby before settling in New York. I took several trips back to the Philippines with my family but I started traveling internationally on my own at 23 when I went to Italy.
3) FAVORITE AIRLINE
4) FAVORITE COUNTRY AND WHY
Since I can’t pick just one, my top 3 favorite countries are Egypt, Italy, and Turkey in no set order.
Egypt is definitely a country I only dreamed of going to.
What intrigued me about this country was its rich history. Seeing the last standing ancient Wonder of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza was definitely a treat. Other highlights were visiting King Tut’s tomb and seeing his actual mummified body, going on my first hot air balloon ride overlooking the Valley of the Kings, cruising down the Nile River, and snorkeling in the Red Sea, one of the best snorkeling locations I have ever been to.
Italy was the first country that I fell in love with.
It is where I saw my first Wonder of the World, the Roman Colosseum and where I promised to myself that I would see all 7. Each city in Italy has its own uniqueness. From ancient history to amazing people, delicious food, beautiful scenery and fashion, Italy has much to offer!
Turkey has definitely surprised me.
There was so much negativity from the media that I almost did not go but I’m glad I did. From the busy streets of Istanbul to the scenic views of Cappadocia, Turkey did not disappoint. In Istanbul, there are trendy restaurants and bars in Moda, tons of shops on Istiklal Street filled with hundreds of people, beautiful mosques and a large cistern underneath the city. And of course, the biggest highlight during my stay in Turkey was the Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia. With amazing scenery and so much more to explore, I would definitely go back!
5) FAVORITE CITY AND WHY
Other than my home, New York City, my top 3 cities in no set order are Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cappadocia, Turkey, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Buenos Aires is a very green city with a lot of European influence.
One of my favorite places was a neighborhood called La Boca, with colorful houses, graffiti art, and tango performances everywhere. I watched my first futbol match in Buenos Aires and was amazed at how much emotion and energy the fans had. There was also La Bomba de Tiempo, which was an amazing percussion show that ended with performances and celebrations on the streets. With delicious food, great night life, and much more Buenos Aires is definitely a favorite!
Traveling to Cappadocia reminded me so much of the Flintstones!
It has breathtaking landscapes and unique rock formations. In some of these rock formations, you can find underground cities and churches filled with Byzantine Art. I also went on an unforgettable hot air balloon ride for sunrise and rode ATVS through different landscapes for sunset. It was an incredible experience.
Kuala Lumpur is a very modern city with a beautiful skyline.
The highlight of this city for me was visiting some of these structures. There is the Petronas Twin Towers where you can walk across the sky bridge and the observatory deck at Menara KL Tower for the best views of the Petronas Towers. There are also tons of trendy bars and restaurants in the city. Two of my favorites are the Heli Lounge Bar, which is an actual helicopter pad with a 360 view of the entire city and the Sky Bar at the Traders Hotel right across the Petronas Towers. You can also visit the Batu Caves, which is a Hindu Shrine and temple. Just be prepared to climb up a long set of stairs!
6) FAVORITE CUISINE
I’m into all types of cuisines. Some of my favorite dishes are Bicol Express from the Philippines, Fried Artichokes from Italy, Masala Dosa from India, Seafood Paella from Spain, Steak from Brazil, and Arepas from Colombia just to name a few!
7) HOTEL, HOSTEL, OR AIRBNB?
Traveling solo, I have used mostly hostels. It saves on costs and it’s a great way to meet people!
8) MOST MEMORABLE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
One of my most memorable travel experiences has been meeting a local family in Morocco and celebrating Eid-al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, with them. After sharing a very crowded taxi with this family through a rigorous 5 hour ride through Morocco, they invited me into their home. I was able to see first-hand how local Moroccans live and how different their culture and religion was from mine.
Their kindness, selflessness, and appreciation for someone they have never met before was truly heartwarming. Although the language barrier was difficult, we were able to push through this and communicate not just with words but with emotion. These are the type of events that truly inspire me as I continue to travel and strive to make even a small difference in someone’s life.
9) MOST CHALLENGING TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
The most challenging travel experience I’ve had was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. As a first time hiker and first time camper, I knew it would be difficult.
During the course of 4 days, I hiked a total of 27 miles and up 4,200 meters (about 13,800 Feet) in altitude through different terrain and various weather climates including rain and hail. On the last day of the hike, I became very sick and had a fever. Even through that, I pushed myself to continue and reached that goal to finish the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the third Wonder of the World I have visited.
Not only has the Inca Trail been challenging mentally and physically, it has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and be more open to other challenges. Hopefully, in the future I will also complete the hike to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
10) BEST TRAVEL ACTIVITY
I’ve done a lot of adventurous activities. I swam with whale sharks in the Philippines, I hugged a real live Penguin in UAE, I bungeed jumped off the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe, I skydived in Namibia, I walked Lions and Cheetahs in Zambia, and I mountain biked down Death Road, the world’s most dangerous road. I never dreamed of doing any of this activities but some of the best experiences you can have are the ones that are unplanned!
11) FAVORITE TRAVEL SOUVENIR
I have one from every country visited!
12) MOST LIKED INSTAGRAM PIC
13) FAVORITE TRAVEL PICTURE TAKEN
14) FUTURE TRAVEL PLANS
I’m taking a trip to Florida in a few days and hopefully a trip back to the Philippines for the holidays
15) BUCKET LIST
Antarctica is #1 on my list. Others are the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Cuba, Mozambique, Cross country trip in America, Hiking Everest Base Camp in Nepal and Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
16) YOUR TRAVEL INFLUENCER(S) AND WHY
My travel influencer would have to be Dr. Seuss. When I began travelling, I carried around one of the books he wrote called “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” In this book, he encourages readers to go out of their comfort zone to find their own success.
It continues to inspire me to take charge of my own life and decisions. Even with life’s challenging journey, if you are optimistic and continue to strive for the best, you are capable of moving mountains too.
17) FAVORITE TRAVEL QUOTE
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” –Bruce Lee
Follow Joyce and her adventures on her Instagram page @Joyceontherun
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