Senior Director for Data and Tech Partnerships at MediaMath, ad tech world veteran of Yahoo, Interclick, and AOL, Aruna Paramasivam is an incredible role model for women everywhere. She’s achieved great heights in the tech and fitness world, in the female empowerment and entrepreneurial sphere, but above all, her positivity and adventurous spirit are her trademarks.
I believe the sense of adventure is one of the keys to her success: being open to travels both within herself and out in the world. It seems she’s in a different country weekly, meeting new friends and testing out the waters (sometimes literally) everywhere! So, I jumped at the opportunity to delve a bit into her experiences and share with you all!
[Jungle Island | Photo Courtesy of Aruna Paramasivam.]
Q: What was your latest solo adventure? Do you book everything ahead of time or do you play it by ear?
“My latest solo adventure occurred completely by chance. During the recent January blizzard, I happened to be in Paris for work, and my flight back to New York got cancelled—giving me an unplanned weekend in a fabulous city. I took it all in stride and played it by ear completely.
I figured this was my chance to check off a few items off my bucket list that I had never got around to doing on my past trips there. A rainy Saturday morning? What better excuse to spend the day at the somewhat new Louis Vuitton Foundation, which I had only seen from the outside before. I love shows, so I decided to try out my luck and got a last minute front row seat to Crazy Horse, the famous cabaret! I remembered reading about a speakeasy bar at The Beef Hotel, so I decided to check it out. It turned out to be a great experience of not only unique cocktails, but a lot of fun conversations with locals.
I don’t think I could have done better even if I had been given the opportunity to book everything ahead of time!”
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Q: What’s your favorite place/country/city to visit? Do you return often? If so, why?
“I love the Caribbean! It’s not far or expensive to get to from New York, and there are so many islands to visit. Having a natural affinity for beaches as well as being a scuba diver, I do return often.”
[Volcan De Totumo | Photo Courtesy of Aruna Paramasivam.]
Q: What are some tips you want to share with female travelers? Safety tips?
“Read up ahead of time and have a general idea of what you’d like to do there. Always book the first night or two of hotel so you have a place to settle into right away. After being grounded and exploring the terrain, you can then decide to be spontaneous after that. I also make sure I have a global data plan for my cell phone just in case I can’t get WiFi—so I always have a way to be connected, not just for trip research, but also to keep in touch with family and friends.”
Q: How do you balance your work travel with your free time?
“I’m fortunate that my work travel involves a lot of networking. So I’m able to still utilize my evenings with my clients doing fun activities that I’d want to do anyway.”
[Oxford Circus | Photo Courtesy of Aruna Paramasivam.]
Q: What specifically do you love about traveling frequently: The change of scenery, the culture, the food, etc.?
“Everything, but yes, I’d say I do love the frequent change of scenery. I love meeting and new and different people, and hearing their perspectives of everything. I enjoy learning about other cultures and being a total food enthusiast, I always try to eat adventurously.”
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Q: When did you first start traveling outside the US? And did you immediately fall in love with it?
“I’ve been traveling since I was a few months old. My parents have always made the time to travel in their lives and started showing their children the world early. So it is something I’ve just grown up with.”
Q: How often do you travel?
“Now that my job has regional and global responsibilities attached, I feel I’m at an airport every other week.”
Q: What cities are on your plate for the rest of the year?
“I am heading to Berlin, Hamburg and Barcelona in February for work. I also have a friend’s milestone birthday party to attend in Ibiza in June this year. Nicaragua has been on my list for a while, so I’m hoping to make it there by end of year as well.”
[Toledo, Spain | Photo Courtesy of Aruna Paramasivam.]
Q: Do you enjoy the city life, rural adventure, hiking, the beach (an island paradise)?
“Which type of travel are you most drawn to and why? I enjoy all types of travel and think you are missing out if you limit yourself to only certain experiences.”
Q: Must-haves for your luggage/carry on?
“I only do carry-on. I have a black roller duffle and so far, even for trips of about two weeks, I’ve been able to fit everything I need. Must-haves always include one pair of super comfortable shoes, a cozy sweatshirt and a bathing suit.”
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Q: Lastly: can you tell us if you’ve ever experienced racism while on your travels? And if so, how did you deal with it?
“I thought long and hard about this, and I must say I think I’ve been fortunate that I have not experienced racism. People are generally very curious and intrigued about a woman traveling solo, so I think they are more open-minded about it. A lot of it is just about having a good attitude as well – always be polite, smile and friendly, and don’t give anyone a reason to dislike you.”