In Search Of Perfect with Yulia Denisyuk
Self-proclaimed ‘Wanderpreneur’ Yulia Denisyuk is a passionate storyteller and photographer specializing in travel and human stories. After having worked with several Fortune 500 companies as a brand manager and strategist, Yulia turned to a career in travel journalism and never looked back. Her Instagram page, @insearchofperfect, is full of thought-provoking, lovely images documenting all her travels and explorations. Having traveled the world extensively, it comes as no surprise that she comes from a global background. Born in Kazakhstan, she then moved to Estonia and now currently resides in NYC with her doodle Misha.
She strongly believes that travel makes us better human beings – more tolerant, open-minded, and sensitive to cultures and viewpoints different from our own. Her work is inspiring for any would-be traveler itching for a new adventure, which is exactly why we love her and thought her perfect for our Women & Travel segment. She has a lovely and positive outlook on solo travel, more than enough to put any mind at ease. See what she had to say below.
Tell us a bit more about your work and how you got started in it?
I’ve had a desire to write and take photos as long as I can remember. I received my first camera (a point and shoot film Kodak) as a gift when I was ten and I was instantly hooked. It took me another twenty odd years, with careers in the military and brand management in between, to realize that I want to follow my true calling full time. I believe that travel makes us better human beings. When we travel, we learn that, irrespective of our skin colors, upbringing, and cultural heritage, we all have the same fundamental needs for love, safety, nourishment, and affection. I aim to spread this message with my work.
How do you balance your work travels with your personal travels?
Since I am a full-time travel journalist, my personal travels inevitably turn into work travels. This is how I know I am doing what I love–when I am on the road, capturing an essence of a place and interviewing its people does not feel like a job at all!
What kind of things do you wish you had more time for?
When I was little, I spent whole afternoons and weekends tucked away with a book. Reading was my favorite pastime and I wish I had more time for it now! I spend the majority of my time planning and executing content creation trips, as well as managing my business. I do bring a good book or two on flights and catch up on reading that way.
As a woman traveler, what do you think are the greatest challenges for women traveling alone?
I think the greatest challenge is to balance being aware of your surroundings with the desire to connect to the world. As women travelers, we have to take extra steps to avoid potentially dangerous situations on the road, but do it in a way that opens us up to amazing experiences, such as cooking aloo paranthas with a woman in rural India or spending a night in the Moroccan Sahara with the bedouins.
What would you tell to women that are on the fence but want to go on a trip alone?
I have been traveling solo for ten years and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself and have connected with people in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. Solo trips are more introspective and give you time to spend with yourself, to really get to know yourself. At the same time, you connect with other people more easily on solo trips, because you don’t have your group to hang out with and are looking for companionship. Some of the best encounters on the road have happened to me while I was traveling solo.
If you are on the fence, my advice would be to start small. Book a solo weekend trip to Seattle or to Puerto Rico, and see how you feel getting out of familiar surroundings by yourself. I promise you will be hooked in no time!
Can you share an anecdote (positive or negative) that happened during a solo trip and how did that shape the rest of the trip?
On my latest trip to Vietnam, I was robbed on the streets of Saigon (HCMC). The experience really humbled me (as I thought I was a seasoned traveler who was immune to such things) and made it difficult for me to keep a positive attitude about Saigon. However, traveling once again taught me that for every bad character or a situation, there are a tenfold more people and experiences that are positive. So many Vietnamese people went out of their way to help me deal with the situation that I could not stay in a negative state for long.
What have been some of your favorite destinations? Any one in particular that is great for women travelers?
I am such a hopeless romantic that I fall in love with every country I visit. Some of my all time favorites, though, are Morocco, Portugal, India, and Turkey. I feel safe in most places I go, but I’ve particularly enjoyed my travels in Morocco and Turkey, which sometimes get a bad reputation for being difficult places for a woman to visit.
Is there anywhere you have felt less safe and why?
I think in general, whether you feel safe or not has more to do with a particular situation you’re in, rather than a whole country. I’ve felt uneasy on the streets of Athens, for example, because the country was going through a crisis at the time I was there, and I saw desperation in people’s eyes that could lead them to act out on it. I’ve also felt uncomfortable one time in Goa, where I unwillingly became a subject of attention for a crowd of men on a beach. With that said, most of my experiences in India were incredibly positive, with nothing but respect shown to me by the locals.
What’s next on your agenda?
Southwestern United States! It is incredible how many beautiful locations we have right here in the US, and I am planning to explore many of them in the coming year. We don’t always have to travel far to find something beautiful.
What tools, apps or websites would you recommend to women that want to do their first solo trip but don’t know where to start?
Research is an important part of every trip preparation, but I would caution other travelers to not let it create expectations or preconceived judgements. Coming to a new place with an open mind is the best way to ensure you will have a good experience. With that said, I usually try to reach out to a network of friends I have in countries around the world to help me understand a destination better before I come there. I’ve also found Fodor’s guides to be helpful when looking for practical information. For inspiration, I always turn to Instagram–it is such an endless source of creativity and wanderlust!