Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Joy is an adventurer with a passion for exploration, culture, storytelling, and much more. She discovered her love of the outdoors through scuba diving and hiking, and her love of travel through family vacations that took her across the country and across the sea. During her senior year of high school, her family hosted an exchange student from Germany, who Joy would come to consider a second sibling, as well as a great excuse to plan lengthy international trips to go and visit. After high school, Joy moved to Orlando, Florida, where she attended Rollins College while working at the same time at Walt Disney World.
She would spend five years working in ride operations, in a variety of roles that included being a safari driver, a skipper on the world-famous Jungle Cruise, and a park operations supervisor. She graduated with a degree in Media and Cultural Studies, with an emphasis in Responsible Tourism and a minor in Cultural Anthropology, doing all she could to cater her studies to her passion for global exploration and connection. Joy currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where she moved just three days before the start of this year’s guiding season. Joy lives with her partner, her cat, and their two guinea pigs, all of whom are undoubtedly causing trouble while she’s out guiding. Joy is also currently in graduate school and will complete her degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management by the end of 2021.
What’s your favorite vacation destination?
While I love the thrill of traveling somewhere vastly different than where I come from, I have never once gone wrong visiting anywhere in the National Park system (my minor obsession with collecting National Parks passport stamps has certainly added to this).
What’s your favorite hike?
So far, my most memorable hike was to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, and finding myself standing not only above the city but also above the clouds.
What’s your favorite bike ride?
I was fortunate enough to explore Angkor Wat in Cambodia by bike; both the temple and the bike ride were breathtaking.
What’s your favorite movie?
The nerd in me unapologetically says Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
What’s your favorite book?
It may be a cliché for a traveler, but I find myself returning time and time again to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
What’s your favorite song?
I will never get tired of “The Anchor” by Bastille, “Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton, and “Future Days” by Pearl Jam
When did you first catch the travel bug?
Growing up, as I began to travel to places outside of my hometown, I found myself engaging with the material I was studying in a school in a different way. I felt a unique type of connection to the histories and cultures in my textbooks if I had experienced their stories in the world outside my classroom. I couldn’t define it at the time, but this was my first exposure to the power that travel has to cultivate empathy, and I’ve been fascinated by this idea ever since.
What are your hobbies?
In regard to traveling and being outdoors, I love hiking, scuba diving, photography/videography, and I especially enjoy being on the water. I’ll also confess to being a massive nerd, especially when it comes to video games (would you kindly join our next tour?)