On April 7, 2017 a post and photo appeared on the Black Travel Movement Facebok Page that one of their members had just completed visiting the Seven Modern Wonders of the World in just 18 months! I was so excited that I instantly made a comment on her post and asked her if she would be documenting her experiences. Well, today I am honored to be able to introduce our readers to Ms. Claudine Nicaisse and share her story with you.
Claudine resides in New York City, she has a daughter that travels with her frequently and she supervises a team of health insurance auditors. For the last 15+ years Claudine has been an avid traveler and she has created a "Travel Bucket List" for each of those years. As the years progressed her desire to travel grew and ultimately lead her to complete this journey. For those of you interested in the Seven Modern Wonders of the World please read and enjoy her experience’s until you visit these Wonders and can share experiences of your own!
1. What inspired you to see the Seven Modern Wonders of the World? Originally I wanted to see the Ancient Wonders of the World, but the only one that is still here are the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and I have visited them couple of times (with my daughter and with a group) and so I decided to visit the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
2. How did you prepare for your journey? I did a lot of research! I was able to visit three of these Wonders with groups to the Taj Mahal in India, Chichen Itza in Mexico, and to Petra in Jordan.
3. Did you decide to go to all to all of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World in the beginning, or did you decide to go to all of them after visiting a few of them? I actually decided to see the Seven Modern Wonders of the World after visiting The Pyramids of Giza since I couldn't visit the rest of the Ancient Wonders. I am naturally drawn to archeological types of sites and when I decided to visit a different country every month in 2015 I thought, why not include visiting the Modern Wonder locations? I didn't plan to complete these seven sites in 18 months but I am blessed that I was able to do so.
4. What was your budget to visit all seven sites and what was the average cost per site? My budget was around 10k to visit all Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The average cost per visit was a little under $1500.00 due to opting for all-inclusive travel at several sites. I was fortunate to be able to use my frequent flyer miles, credit card points and hotel rewards to help keep the costs down. Machu Picchu was the most expensive trip, it was about $3,000.00 as I purchased First Class airfare and stayed at a 5 star hotel. My least expensive trip was to Jordan because I used accumulated miles and only paid about $800.00 for accommodations, food, and tour costs to visit that site.
5. How did you budget your money while visiting these sites? It was pretty easy at the all-inclusive sites and for the other sites I set a certain amount of cash aside and stuck to that budget.
6. How many miles did you log to complete this journey? I traveled 70,760 miles to visit the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. Some of the miles I acquired from my first six sites were used for my flight to get to Petra in Jordan.
7. How did you prepare for your visit to each country? I searched Google and Trip Advisor. I also got information from several travel groups I am a member of. I looked at prices, when was the best time to visit each site, and were there any groups traveling to the sites when I wanted to go.
8. Where did you stay at each of the world wonders? I stayed at a combination of types of places. Mostly 4 to 5 Star accommodations including: Air B&B, Boutique Hotels, Moderate Hotels, and at Luxury Camp Grounds.
9. Where was the dopest place you stated overnight? I would have to say the JW Marriott El Convento in Cusco, Peru. The hotel is in a restored 16th-century convent, all of the artifacts are maintained and can be seen when taking a tour of the hotel. They actually pump oxygen into your room at this hotel because you are 15,000 feet above sea level. The customer service was amazing and the decor of the hotel was simply beautiful!
I'd also like to add that I really enjoyed two additional, unique accommodations. The first was our hotel in Beijing, China. It was a 5 Star boutique hotel called Hotel Eclat Beijing and it is also an Art Museum. The second was Wadi Rum Luxury Desert Camps in the desert of Jordan about 1.5 hours away from Petra, the camp-site had tents, fireplaces and air conditioning. This was “glamping” at its finest!
10. Which of the Seven Modern Wonders was your favorite? My favorite was the Lost City of Petra! I loved this archeological site, and to see an entire city carved out of sandstone - I was in AWE of the skills it took to create the Lost City. There is so much more to see than the Treasury Building.
11. How did you handle the currency exchange? What was most efficient? I withdrew money from the ATM at the airport. My bank had a pretty good rate. I always carried cash to exchange as well.
12. Were any of the sites family friendly? Which site was the most family friendly? All of them were family friendly, but I personally didn't feel comfortable taking my daughter to Jordan and I would be very cautious visiting Jordan in the future with the current political climate. China is fairly safe and it was exciting to visit Great Wall. My daughter and I had a few occasions where we felt overwhelmed due to the crowds, people wanting to take pictures of us, or try to touch us. That was quite uncomfortable. If taking a family to India I would definitely recommend booking a tour guide and/or package through a professional tour provider.
13. Which trip would you recommend doing with a group? Jordan and India. Which trip is good to do solo trip Mexico is the easiest place to travel solo. It was actually my very first solo trip.
14. What did you pack for your journey? I try to pack as light as possible. I carry on my bag instead of checking it in. I always pack leggings, jeans, t-shirts and a couple of long skirts and dresses.
15. What was your favorite "off the beaten path" thing that you did when touring these locations? I can’t say that I ever really veer off the beaten path. I have mostly used Viator Tours to book my activities. I did hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro and met some ex-patriots through a travel group. We hung out and went to a party, which is something I don't normally don't do. I made friends in Rio that I still am in contact with.
16. Here is a question for our Foodies, which destination had the best food? Italy!!! I love Italy and Italian food. Rome where the Coliseum is located had the best food. Each region of Italy has their own signature dishes or styles of cooking certain food. Rome is known for their Carbonara Pasta which is absolutely delicious. I took a cooking class and learned about each of the signature foods in the different regions of Italy while making a ‘kick-butt’ Carbonara Pasta.
17. Which of the Seven Modern Wonder would you like to revisit and why? Interesting questions. I don't necessarily want to revisit these sites, but if my daughter or any of my close friends wanted to visit I would certainly go back with them. I like to see new places, so I don't generally repeat vacation sites with the exception to Paris, France or my annual trip to St. Martin.
18. Which of the Seven Modern Wonder locations was life changing for you in terms of perspective about your daily life? India was definitely life changing. It was cathartic. I went during Holi holiday (the Festival of Colours) and I traveled with a group of mostly women. Holi is about releasing negativity and bringing in new energy. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthens the secular fabric of the country. We were immersed in their culture and everyone celebrates the festival together regardless of social or economic class. We were in our tour guides homes and celebrated with his family, friends, and neighbors. It was so profound that despite our differences we were the same in that moment. It was an AMAZING TRIP!
19. Tell us something that you enjoyed while visiting these sites that you were not expecting to experience? I enjoyed the people in Jordan. The media portrays a lot of negative images of the Middle East. My interaction with the locals was amazing. They were very welcoming and went out of their way to make sure we knew that we were welcomed. My trip to Jordan was also great because of the wonderful women I was traveling with. I have been on several group trips and this was by far one of the best group trips due to the bonding and great interactions we had with each other.
20. What is your next travel goal? I will be traveling to Cuba with friends next month, but my next bucket list travel goal is to visit my final continent - Antarctica! It will cost about 10k and I hope to do it in the next 2 to 3 years.
@2017 Paméla Tate-Roger. All rights reserved. This work was originally published in ROAM Magazine, in part or entirety may not be reproduced in any way without the author’s permission.