Travel Insider: Noël Nocciolo
As part of our ‘travel insiders’ interview series, we draw inspiration from the famous Proust Questionnaire, where we will regularly share our own Q&A with women who either work in the industry or are serial travelers. Here we can all get some tips as well as some inspiration for a new adventure. This week I chat with world traveler, master cycle trainer, consultant and writer, Noël Nocciolo.
I first met Noël years ago in NYC where she was as a talented writer, actor, dancer, DJ, and for a time, my roommate! She was always passionate about travel, and eventually she turned her love for indoor cycling and fitness into a full time venture, traveling the world as a master cycle trainer, business consultant, and educator. Since 2014, she has worked with early adopters to begin studio indoor cycling culture in countries where it did not previously exist, and some of the first group of instructors she trained have gone on to own their own boutique fitness studios in multiple modalities. A California native, she returned west to use it as her base, though she has spent the last few years largely in Asia, Europe and South America training others. Her love for travel is always inspiring, so be sure to visit her website and connect with her Instagram.
Q: Where was the last Country you visited?
A: I started answering these questions in Spain and finished in Indonesia!
Q: Who or what inspires you to travel?
A: The “who” are Anthony Bourdain and my digital-nomad friends, Tian and Guy.
Bourdain’s death has gutted me deeply; his openness to learn about people, places and food have been a tremendous influence. I lived in NYC for 15 years, including during September 11th and its aftermath. When I left, it was to move abroad. I relate to his tough NYC roots and to his global citizenship. He asks simple questions on his shows and connects with people over food. There is a curiosity with him I wish more Americans had.
Tian and Guy are from Singapore and Australia, respectively, and since we met in 2014, they have lived the world over, working on startups from laptops. Instead of paying office rent somewhere, they are mobile. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet up on three continents so far, and their overall vibes and travel stories inspire me to visit places not yet on my list.
The “what” is the need to see more than I currently know or understand and to be challenged by needing to find deeper patience or understanding when things are not what I am used to.
Q: What was a particularly memorable destination or cultural experience?
A: I rode in Harry Connick Jr’s Krewe of Orpheus parade during Mardi Gras weekend in New Orleans, masked, in costume and throwing beads, cups and other throws mostly to kids. It was something I wanted to do for more than a decade and planned my ride for a year. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is nothing like what you’ve seen on television, and I highly encourage everyone to go. Better yet, buy ball tickets to Orpheuscapade & get dressed up, too. Or, go in the spring for JazzFest. New Orleans is like the USA’s, own foreign country…but they take USD.
Q: Do you have any favorite hotels and/or airline routes?
A: I travel EVA Airways from LAX to Taipei multiple times each year. I usually pre-order a vegetarian option whenever available, as I find the food to be far less questionable & nutritious than the standard plane meal.
If I have a quick turn-around somewhere, I always grab a room at Ibis Hotel at the airport; it’s always cute & simple for a quick sleep. I’m in Asia a lot, and I like the Amara or Parkroyal hotels for a standardized experience, if I don’t find a locally-owned boutique hotel or Airbnb to book.
Q: Where do you go to for recommendations, to research a destination? Does social media have an influence?
A: A friend I made while living in Singapore, Kelly, has a Tumblr blog with simple recommendations from everywhere she has gone. (http://kelaguk.tumblr.com/) Once I have decided on a trip, I will reference Kelly’s specific restaurant and coffee picks…she hasn’t lead me astray yet! To be fair, I often google “top 10 things to see” for somewhere I’m planning. It usually narrows down what I may want to do that is more tourist-focused and from there, I can seek out specific neighborhoods to wander or other more local things to do, too.
Q: What is one fashion accessory or outfit you always pack? Any additional packing tips?
A: I have a simple cotton black dress I bought about two years ago at Target. It washes well in questionable washing machines overseas, and can be dressed up with shoes & interesting jewelry, depending on the occasion. I have worn it to a birthday party, business meetings and to a conference. Some trips I only end up pulling it out once, but it is always worthwhile to bring!
Rolling my clothes, especially workout wear, has been a game-changer. I was in SaPa, Vietnam last year with my friend, Shay, and was wondering out loud “Do I have room to pack one more woven blanket from the market in this suitcase or will it not zip if I do?” And Shay stepped in with rolling techniques that have been unparalleled. And yes, I went back and bought a second blanket, and it fit, thanks to her!
Q. What destination(s) is still on your bucket list?
A: Too hard to narrow down, so I need to pick a few: Easter Island, Sri Lanka, Bagan & Inle Lake in Myanmar, Colombia, Morocco, Cuba, Brazil, Egypt & the Maldives are all on my annual “will I make it happen this year?” list.
Q: What advice would you give to would-be solo travelers to encourage an adventure?
A: On the practical side, I advise to always have a local SIM card with data and a copy of your itinerary with a close friend or family member. Having access to a map, email, WhatsApp and various relevant apps based on where you are, can be hugely comforting when you are taking a taxi from the airport to a hotel, for example. And having close advocates know where you’re staying and your flight information is also helpful in the modern world where anything can happen, whether you are alone or not.
On the fun side, I would encourage being open to talking to people, be it people serving you in some way or to fellow travelers you may meet randomly. I often want peace and quiet when I travel alone; a hammock, pool, beach, book. I have had some fabulous conversations and made new friends simply by saying hello.
Q. Finally, what is your travel motto?
A: See everything you can, but remember to sleep so you can enjoy it.
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)