Lose The Map With Joanna Kalafatis
Joanna has traveled to over 40 countries and worked with major travel brands including Hipmunk, Mapquest, and JUCY Campervan in the past.
She also has published two photo books on “Abandoned California” with Arcadia Publishing and runs a travel blog at LosetheMap.com.
In addition to writing about travel and cultures, she is passionate about social causes; she helped film a documentary in a Syrian refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece, has worked with charities such as Centro Infantil in Mexico, and partnered with Omaze to promote and help fund Tanzanian charities.
As far as acting, Joanna has appeared in commercials for Mitsubishi, worked as a voice actress in franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, in music videos for Pierce the Veil and Lil Wayne, and acted in many independent films.
We interviewed with Joanna to discover her journey as a traveler, actor, and photographer, favorite inspiration, and tips for people wanting to get into these industries. You can also check Joanna out in our Wanderlust Issue released 7/25/2020.
Where do you call home when you’re not traveling?
I live in Los Angeles, California, and have called it home for the past nine years. But I also always have a place in my heart for my small town of Nea Makri, Greece, just outside Athens. I grew up there, still have my childhood home there, and visit every year.
Where have you traveled that is a place you can always go and feel or be happy?
Besides Greece, I would say Colombia is near the top of my list. Everything about the nature, the music, the food, the nightlife, fills me with joy. I have also found it very easy to meet people there, and anywhere that people are that open, friendly, and not afraid to dance their hearts out is alright by me.
What is one of the worst travel experiences that you have encountered?
A combi taxi – an illegally operated minivan taxi in South Africa – hit me in Cape Town. I broke my femur, had several other injuries, and had to spend ten days in the hospital and much more time recuperating. However, I still have the fondest memories of Cape Town; things can happen anywhere, we can’t let that stop us from traveling.
What part should travel play in our lives?
That really depends on the person. Some people are OK with taking a week or two vacations a year just to relax and escape. Some people are constantly itching to hit the road. Obviously, I fall into the latter camp, as I wouldn’t work in the travel industry otherwise.
But I think that even if travel is just to our closest National Park, a stunning road trip, or a place a few towns over that we’ve never spent time in, spending time with new people will always help to open up our minds to other perspectives and ideas, and exploring new places almost always leads to us feeling more fulfilled.
When you travel do you look more at the affordability or comfort?
I do look at affordability. I may splurge once in a while, but I find looking at lower to mid-budget places helps stretch out my budget for longer travels, as well as support local businesses and owners, which are usually in a more mid-budget range. However, as I get older I do look for a nice balance between affordability and comfort. There are places I stayed at when I was 23 that I would definitely find it difficult to crash at now!
What do you enjoy or appreciate most about traveling?
Landing in a place that I know almost nothing about and slowly learning even just a little about a different culture, lifestyle, and history is one of the best parts of travel for me.
There is something that happens when you visit somewhere new, where all of your senses are triggered and suddenly you find yourself completely present and observant in a way you rarely are at home. That combination of curiosity, fascination, and attention to the simple things is thrilling.
Road trip or staycation? Which is your favorite and why?
Road trip. Always. In fact, my blog was originally named Go Road Trippin’ before I changed it. The feeling of adventure, yet also stillness and contemplation when you’re on the open road is intoxicating.
What are some of the travel necessities that everyone should have?
For me, it’s definitely my camera. I love capturing moments. Also, it’s usually my actual job to do so when I’m traveling. In general, I would say an extra charger, a great book either by a local author or set in/about the place you’re traveling to, comfortable walking shoes (the fancy shoes almost never come out, trust me), and a translator app on your phone.
A passport probably helps too, but I figure that was already included in anyone’s packing list.
What travel tips do you have to offer our readers?
Go to the attractions you want to see, the museums you want to see, and everything else, of course. But also make sure you set aside an afternoon or a day to just roam around the city on foot, maybe sit in a café or bar and people watch or talk. There should always be room in a trip to take it slow, explore, and see where your feet take you.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, who inspires you the most?
It may be a popular answer among travelers, but there’s a reason for it: Anthony Bourdain. In quarantine, I’ve been watching a lot of “Parts Unknown” again. Though he had this big personality and very definitive point of view, he always tried to amplify the voices of the people he was talking to wherever he went. He listened, learned, and tried to appreciate, without overtaking the conversation.
Biggest challenge you face as an entrepreneur today?
For online entrepreneurs, the speed with which things like Google algorithms and SEO best practices change can feel impossible to keep up with sometimes. I think it’s hard to find the balance between diversifying as much as possible (blog, podcast, social media, YouTube), but without stretching yourself too thin.
What does success mean to you?
I feel the most successful in two situations: 1) when I get respect or appreciation from someone I truly look up to and admire and 2) when I feel I have connected with and helped my audience. For me, success is in truly finding the way you can combine doing what you love with helping or entertaining people – being of service in some way.
If you could change one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
Eliminate a pandemic? In all seriousness though, I would want every single one of us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and become more empathetic. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own routine and forget to respect, understand, and appreciate others.
What is your own favorite travel-related motto, quote, or words to live by?
From one of my favorite travel authors, Bill Bryson. “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
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