Joelle Mentis is a staff writer and contributor at Galavante. Joelle’s love for travel began on her first trip to New Zealand. She was blown away by the never-ending beaches and stunning scenery. From a young age, she has known that travel brings about an education that is impossible to replicate outside of the destination.
Though I have travelled to experience culture, I am finding myself more drawn to places where there are fewer people. My favorite travel memories are my solo mountain hikes and sunrise swims. There is something about experiencing new natural phenomenon alone that inspires me to make sense of myself in new ways. I find that the elements can be healing.
My favorite destination is the island of Kioni off the coast of Ithaca in Greece. I have distant familial connection to the island and have ancestors buried under beautiful ancient headstones nearby the beach. It’s almost impossible to get the island (it takes two planes, a ferry, an a rental car), and the population is in the hundreds.
On a trip there, my cousins and I took a boat out to explore the perimeter of the island and found a 30-40 ft cliff jutting out over the ocean. We climbed up the rock and took turns jumping into the clear blue water. It was an incredible bonding experience for my family and also one of the moments I felt most powerful. I doubt anyone else has jumped from that hidden cliff.
Most Exotic Destination Travelled
The craziest place I have been is the Waitomo caves in New Zealand. These underground caves can be accessed by boat, or on a small jungle train ride. You get to see the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as weird looking creatures that you might expect to see in a cave. But the coolest part are the glow worms which light up on the ceiling and look like little stars in the night sky. The worms undergo a chemical reaction which produces a bioluminescent blue color that makes them glow like night lights.
On My Bucket List
Everywhere and anywhere I can go! But most pressingly, Bhutan. Ever since I was assigned to research Paro for Galavante, I’ve been fascinated by the history and nature there. I am very spiritual and I would love to be surrounded by ancient Buddhist temples. I also love hiking and being in the mountains.
Carry on only. No matter how long I am staying, I will fit everything I need in an overhead suitcase and a backpack. I love style, so this can be tricky, especially in colder climates, but I find that packing too much is a hassle. Every piece has to work together so I have maximal outfits with minimal pieces. I also always come back with more than I left with, and I find my style changes the minute I step foot somewhere else. I want the freedom to pick myself up and move easily!
More about Joelle Mentis
Joelle is a Boston native. She has a B.S in arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently pursuing her MPH from Columbia University. She is a health and fitness fanatic who loves hiking in the woods with her puppy, and getting outside everyday. She is also a thrill seeker who loves sky diving and trying new food wherever she is. When on vacation, you’ll find her out and about, whether she’s at the museum or snorkeling by day, or on the dance floor until the sunrises in the morning.