Meet Joya Dass, TV personality, documentary producer and Founder of Lady Drinks, a networking initiative for South Asian executives and entrepreneurs. Ever since she was a kid, Joya has always been curious about her world and enjoys pushing boundaries. She did this through her work, as a business reporter interviewing Fortune 500 CEOs and as a founder herself, and through her travels. For her, travel is a huge part of satisfying that curiosity and learning to leave her comfort zone. We’re excited to learn more about how she travels and where she's heading next.
Describe your earliest travel memory.
What Indian parent on the Eastern seaboard hasn’t dragged their unwilling child to the temple in Pittsburgh in the hopes of saving them? I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ station wagon on an interminable ride to it. Pennsylvania is a deceptively large state.
What or who inspired you to travel?
Maybe it was a reflex reaction to my upbringing growing up with immigrant parents, but I wasn’t allowed to do anything growing up. No football game Fridays. No movies. No ice cream. By junior year of high school, I was lying to my parents about being on the Yearbook committee just so I could attend school dances. And by Senior Year, I had gone on an chaperoned trip to France, England and Spain. That was it. I was hooked. Plus I could stay out past 10 pm. But in all seriousness, Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been very curious about my world. I’m someone who is forever pushing my boundaries. Travel is a huge part of satisfying that curiosity and learning to leave my comfort zone. See what I am capable of. Today I run a large network of South Asian women executives and entrepreneurs called LadyDrinks. I am combining my love of travel in planning programming for this demographic. As I launch new chapters in new cities, our travels will take us to London, Oslo, and Dubai in 2018. I’m pushing ladies outside their comfort zone as well. I often marvel at how different people return from the trips I’ve led for the last six years.
Tell us about your travel essentials.
Oh my god. Since I’ve turned 40, the number of moisturizers and sunscreens have doubled for sure. I carry oils from LadyDrinks member Julie Shah. Makeup. I’m a sworn believer in Milk tinted moisturizer in medium tan. A hat to protect my face from sun damage. Raybans. My kindle. To read Conde Nast Traveler, of course. A wool scarf from LadyDrinks member Annu Gyani’s Shawlux line.. I’ve worn it in the blazing morning sun in Maine while kayaking. I’ve worn it to play pool on a ski retreat in Sugarbush Vermont. It will inevitably go with me to Barbados this March, while hiking. Hair mending masque from Briogeo. I never know what the hardness in the water at the destination is going to do to my hair.
What’s your packing style/strategy?
I am an excel sheet junkie. A week before departure, I map out the activity I’m doing in each part of my day, and then enter what outfit goes with each. So for example, I just returned from Art Basel in Miami. Dressing for Miami requires as much effort as it does to stay in New York. There are outfits for attending art fairs. Not to be confused with the outfits to wear to dinner and dancing afterwards. Heaven forbid, I forget a strapless bra for that one-shouldered dress. Mapping it all out with jewelry, purses, shoes, undergarments ensures that I have enough time to order something that is missing, and crossing items off the list as I put them in my suitcase. I’m pretty sure I’m single handedly keeping the Container Store in business because of my obsession with packing cubes. Dresses, gym clothes, hair dryer, intimates. Each have their own dedicated packing cube. Nomad Lane's jewelry organizer was a godsend, because that was probably the one really good item I had still not found.
Do you prefer to work on flights or disconnect (watch movies, read etc.)?
I live life at such a high energy pace, that I’m excited at the prospect of being where nobody can reach me, and I can’t respond to email. I sleep.
What has been your favorite place to visit so far?
Wow. The desert in Ourzazate. The souks in Marrakech. Buying a furry avant garde sweater in Avignon. Picasso’s home in Malaga. Waking up aboard the Kapetan Bota on a new Croatian Island every morning for 8 days. Bicycling on the island of Tertulia.
This year, I went to Ireland and logged 900 miles around the perimeter of the island. I thought I was signing up for a week of fish and chips. I was so pleasantly surprised by the sheer of amount of fresh oysters, razor clams, and mussels we consumed on the entire trip. Ireland was so breathtakingly beautiful.
One thing you can’t live without on a flight
Headphones. I never know if I will be seated next to someone who feels compelled to share their life story.
Do you head to the airport with plenty of time to spare or just in the nick of time?
I like to arrive 3 hours before an international flight. 1.5 hours before a domestic flight. My best friend Jess likes to come screeching in as the flight is departing the gate. So we compromise. We just agree to meet at the airport..
Check in or carry on?
My aerosol hair products would never pass security muster. Always check in.
Airplane food or bring your own meal?
Aren’t you sort of prisoner to airplane food?
Aisle or window?
One thing on your travel bucketlist
ONE? Ca Patro’s March for dinner in Mallorca. You can only take a boat there.
Opening night of the opera at the La Scala Theater in Milan. How amazing to watch Madame Butterfly in the theater where it was first performed in 1904
Izmir, Turkey. I’ve been obsessed since I saw the movie “Across the Sea” on Netflix. It’s set there.
A distillery tour of Scotland. I’m a scotch lover. It’s my moral obligation to go.
Dinner in Girona, Spain at El Cellar de can Roca. I’m already plotting this for my birthday 2018.