POWER 98 LOVE SONGS DJ Joanna: Her Passion For Getting ‘Lost’, & Her Best Travel Tips

The sassy DJ says there are still many places she wants to visit in the future.

By Sasha Gonzales        10 June 2024

When she’s on the air hosting The Late Show from Mondays to Fridays at 9pm to midnight on POWER 98 LOVE SONGS, Joanna Francois’s (@power98joanna) love for music and hosting really comes through. But the local personality, who’s also a professional singer, voice-over artist, songwriter, ballet dancer and piano player, is equally passionate about travelling.   

In fact, between 2022 and 2023, when the world began opening up towards the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, Joanna travelled to 12 countries in Europe and Asia, where she got to try some fun and unique activities, like stargazing and exploring a limestone lake. 

She says that travelling is a part of who she is. 

“There’s a viral song on TikTok (End of Beginning by Joe Keery), and part of the chorus goes, ‘You take the man out of the city, not the city out the man’.

“All the places I’ve been to have had some impact on me, and all of my travel experiences have built me. Whenever I travelled overseas with my parents as a child, I used to wander off on my own, which always caused them to panic, so you could say I’ve had a passion for getting lost since I was a kid.”

Seasoned globetrotter

Joanna still remembers one of the very first trips she took with her family. It was a beach holiday to Langkawi in Malaysia. Even though it took place many years ago, she can still recall the lush jungle views from her hotel room balcony, the bright orange sunsets, and the vast, empty beaches. She made countless precious memories with her family during that trip, which she says set the bar pretty high for future beach vacations. 

An accomplished singer, Joanna has performed to crowds of up to 8,000 people. She’s also sung with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and at major shows and events, such as the Mosaic Festival and the Hong Kong Fringe Festival. When she was 10, she got to travel to places like Las Vegas, Taiwan and San Francisco to showcase her talent as a participant in international singing competitions. 

Post-pandemic adventures

As soon as international borders reopened and travel restrictions were lifted in 2022, Joanna wasted no time scheduling a series of overseas trips. On her list were countries like Japan, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Vietnam, Thailand, Scotland, Indonesia and the Netherlands. 

“This wasn’t some ‘revenge travel’ plan after Covid,” quips the bubbly DJ. 

“I had the privilege of visiting these locations for work, for leisure, and to attend a couple of weddings. The European destinations were part of a backpacking trip and a road trip.”

She made plenty of unforgettable memories during those trips, from going off-road to explore a limestone lake in Denmark and driving through the idyllic Isle of Skye in Scotland, to sampling Kobe beef in the Japanese foodie city of Osaka and stargazing in Bali.  

Where’s she off to next? 

“I have my eye on Eastern Europe and little-known countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – these are situated along the Baltic coast and they’re a bit more affordable than other places in Europe,” she shares. 

“Plus, these countries are steeped in history, culture and tradition, so I’m bound to have some wonderful adventures.”

Someday, Joanna would also love to travel to The Bahamas, a country in the Caribbean. 

“That would be my dream holiday – sand, surf and fun! I’d take my family with me.”

Best travel tips

Having travelled so much, you can be sure Joanna has a travel tip or three up her sleeve. 

When it comes to packing, she follows this one rule – “if you don’t need it, don’t bring it”. 

“I’m a light packer and have a no-frills packing philosophy,” she explains. 

“As long as you have your passport, you’re all set, so don’t stress out if you forget something because you can probably buy whatever you need at your destination.”

She also recommends downloading movies from your favourite streaming sites when preparing for your trip. That way, if your flight is delayed or you’re in transit, you won’t feel bored.  

If you want to feel at home when you arrive at your destination, do what Joanna does and strike up conversations with the locals. 

“Whether you’re at the grocery store or a restaurant, have a friendly chat with your server – tell them about your day, ask them for tips and recommendations, and get them to divulge their favourite spots,” she says.

“You may be surprised at how much they’re willing to share. If you can say hello in the local language, extra points to you, because that conveys your interest in the culture and helps break the ice.”

Joanna has come across many tourist traps while overseas. She says that a way to tell if you’ve found yourself in one is to simply look around you. If you’re in a place where you’re surrounded by people and can barely move, it’s time to go. 

But, that’s not necessarily a reason to skip popular tourist attractions and landmarks, because these are built for tourists and are usually easy to navigate. Many of these attractions are also a good way to learn about the history and culture of the area. Joanna suggests planning your trip around just a few popular attractions and landmarks and to spend the rest of your time going off the beaten path. 

Like most Singaporeans, Joanna loves to shop and pick up souvenirs when she travels. If you don’t want to spend too much money or lug too many items home, she says to pick up something from the supermarket. 

It is truly the perfect, tasty gift.” 

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