She was on stage at the age of seven in her first dance recital. Later, she pursued a 12-month course in Method acting at Lee Strasberg’s Acting School.
Julie graciously spared some time amid her hectic filming schedule to answer my questions about her multifaceted career journey, what traveling means to her, and how it has personally and professionally transformed her in ways she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Q. They say, “Life is a journey in itself”. Before we go further to discuss your travels, tell us the story of your life’s journey.
After high school, I started exploring the idea of living outside of Washington State, and I knew that Los Angeles was the best place for me to pursue my aspirations as an actor.
Before heading to California, I landed a job on board Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a dancer and cruise staff member for almost a decade.
This was one of the many times in my life where I understood the need to keep an open mind and an open heart and surrender to life’s unpredictable gifts, and then go along for the ride.
I also came to realize that I could travel and make money while doing so. This concept would come in handy once I started to pursue my travel writing and photography.
After the cruise ships, I made my way to the City of Angels. I packed up everything that would fit into my car and started driving south. Talk about being thrown to the wolves. It was a swift introduction into surviving the lifestyle of an artist, and a lesson in confidence and perseverance.
Four years in Los Angeles, I studied acting and voiceover, auditioned during the day and bartended at night.
Doesn’t that sound like a movie about an aspiring actor chasing her big break in a big city?
It was tough but rewarding in many ways, and it thickened my skin.
A new challenge arose when I was presented with the opportunity to be a host and news anchor for KVEW-TV in Washington State.
I had years of on-camera experience under my belt with acting. However, transitioning to live television and journalism was a whole new game for me.
It was a challenge that I was willing to meet head-on. I learned so much during those two years at the news station, and strengthened my ability to think on my feet, roll with the punches, and change course on a moment’s notice.
I carried those valuable lessons into my endeavors in the arts and travel. It taught me how to be an active listener and ask thoughtful questions while traveling
My perspective on life has changed so much over the years, and I owe most of that to travel.
I longed for the freedom to live a non-conventional life, one that is rid of the preconceived notions of what I believed was necessary for my personal growth. I’m thankful for trusting my instincts and traveling young.
Create your own existence out of what brings you joy, motivates you, takes you out of your comfort zone, and supports you in becoming the best version of yourself.
Share that knowledge and beauty with others. Life is short, and travel has helped me to live more fearlessly, savor every moment, and take nothing for granted.
Q. Were there any specific events or influences in your childhood and your early years that sparked your interest in exploring different cultures through travel?
When I was a young girl, my parents sponsored children in other countries. I remember reading the children’s letters and seeing photos of them in school and with their families. My parents invited one of the boys they had been sponsoring to come visit us in Washington State.
Jose Martin was only 13 years old when he visited us. We took him camping, hiking, and shared our way of life with him. He spoke almost no English, and we got by with the little Spanish that my mother knew at that time.
It was wonderful. Several years later when Martin had a family of his own, my parents flew to León, Mexico to visit him and his extended family. They were treated like their beloved relatives, and they shared their way of life with them.
This greatly influenced some of my later travel decisions, such as my volunteer trip to Costa Rica.
Global Volunteers is an organization that offers tailored group trips to meet specific regional needs.
Costa Rica’s reputation for “Pura Vida” preceded it and they needed some structural renovations to the CASEM Coop located in the heart of Monteverde.
CASEM is a non-profit cooperative dedicated to empowering female artisans through their work and economic status.
I spent a week with these beautiful women and their children and was touched by their kindness and joyful spirits.
There are so many opportunities to volunteer while traveling. I look forward to more of these experiences down the road.Q. How has your early career with Royal Caribbean Cruise shaped you into the person you are today?
I was 22 when I landed the job with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
This was the early 90s, before cell phones or the internet. I put together a cover letter, headshot, and resume and sent it to the RCCL headquarters in Miami, Florida.
I received a cordial thank you letter informing me that they weren’t hiring at this time and that their fleet was full. I don’t know what came over me, other than gumption, and I decided to fly to Miami and meet the hiring manager.
After sitting in his office for 3 hours and refusing to take no for an answer, he put me on the Majesty of the Seas that weekend as Cruise Staff & Dancer.
I was surrounded by so many amazing people from different countries and backgrounds, who spoke different languages, and had unique talents and interests.
This experience shaped me in so many ways. It molded me into a more confident performer, public speaker, and problem solver.
With up to 2,500 passengers on board each week, needless to say, there were always numerous inquiries to address.
We shared tiny cabins with new roommates and enjoyed a crew only area of the ship where lasting connections were made.
It was one of the highlights of my young life and I remain friends with some of my fellow shipmates to this day.
Q. How do you describe your travel style, what appeals to you the most about traveling, and how do you immerse yourself in local cultures and learn from locals?
My style of traveling has certainly evolved over the years. When I was young, I would rush to the nearest beach or tourist attraction. Not that I no longer enjoy those aspects of travel, but now as a writer and photographer, I tend to think about the perspectives to tell my story.
There are certain destinations that people are curious about, but they want to know more than what a simple online search can provide them. It’s an honor for me to explore this world and share those experiences with others.
I like to research in advance to find specific events of interest, and I like to join at least one or two excursions; scuba diving, dance class, cooking course, etc.
This is a great way to meet locals and enjoy what they enjoy. When we visited Bali, we hired a driver who took us to designated snorkeling spots on the island.
He had lived on the island his entire life and had never been to that area. We bought lunch, listened while he told stories of him growing up in Indonesia, his adoration for his children, and why he became a driver.
Just like us, he enjoyed meeting new people. I tend to travel with a loose itinerary, and I don’t like to over plan. Sometimes it is necessary to get a ticket beforehand to save yourself a long line or to better prepare with wardrobe or travel accessories. When I travel, I try to dig deeper, ask important questions, investigate the lesser-known secret locations.
For instance, while on our safari in Kenya, our friend and guide secured us an invitation to a local Maasai Village, where I did a jumping dance with the local villagers.
We laughed with the children, were welcomed into their homes, given consent to take photographs of their tribal elders, and learned about a culture that I knew very little about. It was magical!
Q. Relocating to London represents a major milestone in your life. How are you finding your new life in the UK?
Fast forward to 2019, my husband Clyde was offered a work opportunity that would allow us to live abroad in England for a few years. It took me about two seconds to agree to this exciting new chapter.
We were so ready for a change, and as I always say, “Go big or go home”. We sold our home, our cars, put the rest in storage, and took a giant leap of faith.
London has now been our new residence for almost four years, and we love it. As much traveling as I’ve done over the years, there’s just no comparison to living like a local for an extended period of time.
It expands your vision in ways not possible when you’re just passing through. I do my best as a world traveler to integrate myself into the local cultural, language, customs, etc., but nothing compares to living full time in another country, even one that speaks the same language.
We are both so grateful for this journey that we are currently on, and it has motivated and excited me in new ways to continue sharing my love of travel with others.
The United Kingdom is a lovely destination that provides us with seamless access to neighboring countries. Our upcoming travel plans include a couple’s golf getaway to Ireland and Valencia for our anniversary this summer.
I was in Prague a few weeks ago filming a television series, and it was beautiful. I’d really love to explore more of Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia. They have so much to offer, and they don’t always receive the same recognition as the Western European countries.
Q. What lessons have you learned from your years of travel that have eventually resulted in a significant change in your way of living?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my travels revolves around food, good food!
The more my husband and I explore the diets of different cultures, the more we become aware of the food we have consumed throughout our lives.
It seemed that everything was fresher, tastier, and made with simplicity and ease.
We started making homemade pasta, growing our own herbs and vegetables, preparing our morning coffee at home, and cooking together instead of going out.
We try to eat at the dinner table instead of in front of the television.
We light a candle, talk about our day, and sometimes we’ll choose a good book and read it aloud during our meal. No cellphones at dinner, and we connect eye to eye without any forms of interruptions.
Years ago, my husband and I began a lovely tradition of incorporating the customs of a specific country into our annual Christmas dinner preparations.
For instance, we chose Spain for the first year – we made homemade tapas, paella, sangria, decorated the house with Spanish décor and listened to flamenco music.
Not only did it require us doing our homework for these amazing recipes, but we also learned a lot about their traditional holiday celebrations.
We started alternating each year with other family members, and to this day we’ve experienced the Christmas traditions of eight different countries.
Another beautiful lesson that I’ve tried to adopt, is simply to slow down.
We hear a lot about the European lifestyle and how they take time to enjoy their meals, enjoy leisurely walks with family, and embrace an afternoon at the local piazza or park.
Find the beauty in the present moment and savor those occasions when you’re surrounded by life’s simple pleasures.
Q. How has travel taught you valuable life lessons overall?
Every trip teaches me about the person I aspire to be. Embracing simplicity, gratitude, and knowledge are among the keys to unlocking happiness and enriching my life.
Travel has also taught me the importance of journaling. I’ve been writing in a journal for years and I’ve always loved taking photographs, so now I make sure to get names, dates, and specific details to make my storytelling more accurate and compelling once I sit down to write my articles.
Thanks to my honed photography skills over the years, I’ve developed a knack for seeing the world through an artistic lens.
I’ve also learned the most important travel tip of all, and that is …. to pack light.
I get by with a carry-on bag for almost every trip I take. It’s amazing how little you need in the world.
Q. What have been your memorable and challenging travel experiences, and what lessons have you learned from them?
One of the trips that has stayed with me long after my return home, was the African safari. It’s such a unique and breathtaking experience that I have trouble putting it into words.
Africa just seeps into your bones. My favorite memory was hearing the lions roaring outside our tent in Masai Mara and hearing the elephants and hippos munching on the grass throughout the camp at night. There is nothing quite like it, and these truly are the greatest sounds to fall asleep to.
I’ve had some rough experiences, but they’ve taught me the importance of preparation.
I’ve been stuck at toll booths in Spain and Italy with men yelling and waving their hands because I didn’t have the correct change to get through.
This spirited display of frustration is definitely universal. Now, I always make sure I have plenty of change with me during my travels, as it comes in handy for parking, tolls, tips, or the impromptu double espresso.
Q. How do you see the relationship between your multifaceted careers and traveling, as they intertwine and complement each other?
As an artist, I think it’s quite common to have our hands in a lot of creative pots. That’s how our minds work.
I love how each of my professions intertwine and enhance the other. My years as a news anchor made me a better storyteller in my travel writing. My dance and modeling training has made me a better actor through expression and body awareness. My photography has allowed me to see the world through a different lens and share my visual creations. My travels have inspired me in so many ways, and have given me the gifts of continued education, curiosity, and compassion.
One of my career goals has been to travel to amazing cities on work assignments, and I’m seeing those dreams brought to fruition.
It’s a wonderful feeling to see all your hard work and dedication pay off, and I look forward to seeing how my artistry continues to unfold in the future.
The world would be a very boring place without art, so whatever contribution I’m able to offer, makes me feel like I’m on the right path.
Q. In what ways do you think your career as a model and actor can inspire and encourage others to venture out and explore the world?
It is said that every person has a gift, but not everyone opens their package.
We all have something unique to offer to the world, and there are so many opportunities to work abroad, opportunities that were not available when I was younger.
Get creative and find your niche. We hear so much these days about being a digital nomad, but there are plenty of spaces to fill in theater, film, dance, travel writing, photography, and more.
It might take a change of scenery, or even a change of city or country. I have had some amazing breakthroughs since moving to London, and sometimes you just need to put yourself into a different picture frame to stand out.
Q. Your message to our readers?
If travel is important to you and your heart is telling you to go, then don’t wait. We always think we have more time.
My dad was in the Air Force, and he was stationed in Europe during the 1960’s. I loved listening to his travel stories and his desire to go back one day.
Sadly, he passed away from cancer when he was just 58-years old. He thought he had more time. Now, I travel for him.
Start making your list of places you’d like to visit and then go. It may take you twenty years to complete your list, but that’s the best part, the journey. Just think of the compelling tales you will share with your friends and family. You will inspire others to do the same.
The world is a magnificent place, and like artist and author Mary Anne Radmacher once said, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
So, my quest for foreign skies shall continue.