Photo Source: Jannelle and Instagram
We are in awe of Travel Crush Janelle! Having been to 33 countries, SOLO, she is one of the most well travelled TCTs we've had yet! With Jannelle being so worldly you are not going to want to miss her travel stories and tips. Keep Reading!
Tell us about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? What inspires you to travel?
Hello BlackTravelBoxFam! My name is Jannelle Catherine and I’m originally from California but have been living in Washington, DC for the last 6 years. I’m always going to be a Cali girl at heart, but so far have loved my time being on the east coast. However, once the pandemic hit, I gave up my lease, put all of my things in storage and have been working from a different destination each month. Like many of you, the pandemic allowed me to time to actually just sit still and think about how I wanted my life to look, including how I want to spend my time and most importantly, where I wanted to spend it. I work full time in the tech industry helping political candidates and elected officials use social media to elevate their voices to secure a seat in public office. As you can imagine 2020 was insane – there was never a dull moment at work every day.
Given this I’ve actually found balance in my life through travel! It provides me an opportunity to disconnect and put things into perspective regarding what’s happening in the US versus abroad. Travel pushes me to try things I would never even think to do in the states, like going paragliding in Brazil or hiking up an active volcano. But most importantly it has allowed me to make lasting friendships all over the world.
How many countries have you been to? Which was your favorite destination and why?
I’ve been to 33 countries and one of my favorite destinations was Croatia – I went for the first time a few weeks ago and was blown away by the beauty of each island. I grew up around water and the beach so naturally fell in love with Croatia’s see-through water and pebbled beaches. I’m also a huge Game of Thrones fan (still disappointed by how they ended the season!). But being able to see some of my favorite spots they filmed the show was unreal. Croatia also has some of the most beautiful natural parks I’ve ever seen. I spent the entire day exploring Plitvice just staring at waterfalls all day. utinhbfkejekuudrdcvvjhheflufiivvIt’s really one of those places that pictures just can’t do it justice. I’ve always told myself I’d rather visit another country before doubling back to somewhere I’ve already been, but Croatia is honestly one of the places I would make an exception for.
What is the most underrated destination you've been to and why should people jump at the chance to go?
I actually smiled reading this question because my friends are probably annoyed hearing me say “Guatemala is the most underrated destination!” – I mean even if you look at my Instagram you can see if I have an entire reel explicitly calling this out. I went to Guatemala for my birthday earlier this year because I wanted to stay at Lush Atitlan, an eco-friendly hotel located on the lake. I ended up arriving in Guatemala and within a week I knew I had to extend my trip. I loved it so much I ended up staying for 8 weeks. By the time I left I really did feel like a local.
The thing about Guatemala is that is has such a bad reputation among many people who have never even set foot in the country. It’s often categorized as “dangerous” and “gang affiliated”. But reality is everywhere can be dangerous right? I tell my close family and friends this all the time when they ask how do I feel safe traveling solo. I remind them that there are places in the US just as dangerous, if not more than some of the places that I’ve been to abroad. But with Guatemala I was welcomed with open arms and not once did I feel like I was in danger. Also, if you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m a huge fan of showing up to places inspired by my favorite films. I’m a huge Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan so of course I had to make sure I spent a weekend in a hobbit hotel at Hobbitenango. If Guatemala isn’t on your list, I’d highly encourage you to add it. If this isn’t convincing enough, just go check out my stories to see the magic for yourself!
What is the best-kept travel tip that you think everyone should know?
Do not underestimate the power of travel cubes, but seriously. I am known for overpacking and learned the hard way in Guatemala that my away luggage was no match for those cobble stones. I wish I would have leveraged travel cubes earlier on for so many of my trips. You’d be surprised how much you can pack into them – especially if you roll your clothes. Lastly, save your receipts when you travel. You can actually get some of that money back!
Share with us your most memorable travel experience. What made this travel experience so unforgettable?
Three words: SAFARI IN KENYA. It has been on my bucket list to visit a safari for years and for my birthday last year I was able to spend a few days in the Masai Mara. I was able to wake up every day to hippos in front of my tent and elephants within an arms distance reach. I also got to spend a ton of time with the locals learning Swahili and tribal traditions. I felt right at home and to this day I’m so appreciative that I was able to experience being in an environment that was so welcoming and uplifting. I also got to try maharagwe for the first time – one of my favorite dishes while in Kenya!
Where else can folks find you?
Let’s stay connected! You can find me at Catherineconfirmed.com.
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