In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Jewels Rhode, a world traveler from New York who documents her adventures on her blog travelJewels. We chat with Jewels about how the media misrepresentation of a country played a role in sparking her love of travel, why traveling equals wellness for her, the things she recommends people do in her favorite destinations around the world, and much more! Check out the items she never travels without and find out where she’s headed next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
My passion for travel started when I studied abroad my junior year of college in Durban, South Africa. It was actually my first international flight. Prior to studying in South Africa, a lot of people advised me against it because they felt it was dangerous. Despite the advice of others, I went and I loved it! Most importantly, I saw the stark difference between how African countries were being portrayed in media versus my experience in real life. South Africa is a beautiful dynamic country with a rich history. Not to say that poverty and violence don’t happen there, but the country doesn’t need to be defined by that narrative. That trip sparked a desire for me to go see the world for myself and challenge misrepresentations.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?
I travel at least 6 weeks out of the year. I love to travel both domestically within the United States and abroad. I’m open to visiting all places, but I tend to gravitate towards visiting countries with interesting ancient history and architecture or picturesque landscapes.
You run a travel blog called travelJewels. Can you please tell us about the inspiration behind it? What makes travelJewels stand out from the other travel content out there?
travelJewels is a play on my name, Jewels, but also represents the purpose of my blog: to provide gems of knowledge to help people live their fullest lives through travel and wellness. travelJewels stands out from a lot of other travel content out there because it’s authentic. I’m not overly filtering my photos to distort its essence. A lot of travel accounts feel fantastical and unachievable, my account is more realistic.
You’ve said in the past that, for you, traveling equals wellness. What do you mean by that?
On a normal day, I’m typically juggling a lot of tasks and thinking about my next move. As much as I try to be mindful and be in the moment, I’m not able to do it as much as I would like in my day-to-day. However, when I travel, I’m away from my day-to-day hustle and it allows me to be more mindful and enjoy the moment. The people I meet and the experiences I have while traveling all fuel my body and my spirit.
You’re from New York City. What makes NYC such a great travel destination? What do you suggest people do there when they visit?
NYC is a great travel destination because there is something for every kind of person. It’s hard to prescribe things to do in NYC without knowing what the person is interested in. But at minimum, everyone who visits NYC should do the following:
- Take the subway (best way to experience authentic NYC culture)
- Don’t get stuck in Manhattan, visit other boroughs!
- See street art in Bushwick
- Visit the High Line Park, it’s a former railroad that has been transformed into a linear park.
- See a Broadway show!
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
I want people to know that you don’t have to quit your job to travel the world. You can make travel work for you right where you are. When people read my blog I want them to be inspired to see more of the world, try new things, and feel confident in using their newly gained insight to plan their own adventures. I also want people to walk away from my blog and social media knowing how to incorporate more wellness into their life—whether that’s trying a yoga class for the first time, meditating, or seeking therapy.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
1) South Africa 2) Peru 3) Morocco
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
Cape Town, South Africa
- Go visit Robben’s Island
- Hike up Table Mountain and Lion’s Head
- Enjoy a braii at Mzoli’s
- Visit the Cape of Good Hope
- Take a ride along Chapman’s Peak and indulge in the beautiful view
- Take a cooking class in Lima (it’s the gastronomical capital of the world)
- Go dune-buggy riding and sandboarding in Huachachina, the only desert oasis in South America
- Visit Machu Picchu!
- Go on a tour of the Sacred Valley
- Challenge yourself to hike up Rainbow Mountain
- Take a camel ride and sleep in the Sahara Desert
- Go on a tour in the Fes Medina
- Explore Chefchaouen (the magical Blue City)
- Stay and eat at a riad (they tend to have the best authentic food)
- Visit the oldest university in the world, Al Karawiyyin in Fes
How many countries have you visited so far?
32 countries and counting!
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Italian, Moroccan, Brazilian
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Senses in Warsaw! It was my favorite dining experience. All of the courses appeal to your five senses.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Eat, Pray, Love
What is your favorite international airport?
Singapore Changi Airport. It’s beautiful, feels very futuristic, and there’s a lot to do in the airport.
Which city had the friendliest people?
It’s a tie between Bali, Peru, & Uzbekistan.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
This is a trick question haha. I’m fortunate enough to have a solid group of friends who share my love for travel whom I travel with often. I would say my friend Fiona is my favorite travel companion because she’s my “let’s book it” friend. She’s always down for an adventure, will book a flight on short notice, and we have similar travel styles.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Journaling is one of my favorite hobbies, but also a great way to kill time while traveling. It’s a good way to process my experiences and it is always fun to read later on.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Uzbekistan for the World Influencers Congress
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
My advice for someone who wants to embark on a life of travel is to avoid over-planning. Having a loose itinerary is fine, but leave room for spontaneity. Some of my most memorable travel moments were unplanned. Also, try at least one new thing in each destination!
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
1) Packing Cubes – The secret to me being a light packer
2) A Pen- It’s usually always needed to fill out custom forms
3) My Epi-Pen – Life-saving medication
4) Cross-body Satchel- the most convenient and safest way to protect myself from pickpockets and thieves.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Japan for Cherry Blossom season!
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
Where are you headed next?
I’m going to Ghana in December.
Jewels Rhode is the founder and content creator of travelJewels, a blog dedicated to helping people live full and intentional lives through travel and wellness. travelJewels equips people with the tools to travel deeper, smarter, and healthier. Since 2010, Jewels has traveled to 32 countries while either working full time or being a student. With a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, she navigates the world with curiosity to learn more about people and countries’ truth.