Traveling, especially abroad, as a Latina can be a layered experience. Growing up in such a tight-knit community that traditionally doesn’t encourage solo travel may make it seem like an impossible feat to experience. Olga Maria Czarkowski, the founder of the bilingual online travel community, Latinas Who Travel, shares:
“As a Latina woman, sometimes it is difficult to travel since we are very family oriented and most times our family is also very close knit. I think, as long as you check-in regularly and always keep your family informed of where you are, they will feel more secure.”
Jennifer Morilla, the travel blogger behind The Social Girl Traveler, finds that being a Latina can make traveling more difficult, but not impossible.
“There is a way Latinas grow up that isn’t typical to the American culture — it’s hard,” shares Morilla. “We live in society and culture where there are certain boxes that need to be checked at a certain time and that isn’t the way it works for everyone. Accepting that is big! My biggest advice is to listen to yourself — you’ll know what’s best for you. Eventually family will learn to support and love what you do.”
“ Traveling unravels those prejudices with a more complex story of the world ,” explains Gonzalez-Reyes. “It connects you to the humans behind the headlines, allows you to visit communities and make friends all over the world and get invited into the homes of people that will never see the inside of yours.”
Below both digital nomads share their tips on how you should plan your solo adventures this summer.
Streamline your planning process
Morilla adds that getting TSA pre-check or Global Entry beforehand will help with the airport experience.
Save on data by keeping certain info offline and handy
Czarkowski recommends downloading the map of the country you’re visiting off maps.me. She adds, “In terms of safety, always know where your embassy is and learn the number for emergency. It’s always good to be aware of your surroundings as when visiting any other big city.”
Block times on your calendar for work
“You need to find a balance,”shares Czarkowski. “It’s important to make a schedule to allocate certain times to work and also find different environments. Sometimes I go to cafes, co-working spaces or I just stay home. You need to find what works for you, but getting out of the house is a great option to separate work and home.” Getting out of your AirBnB or hotel can also be key to making sure that your wifi is strong.
Practicing gratitude will help keep your perspective in check
Getting off and on the plane can contribute to a certain high, but what grounds you is keeping your eyes open to the cultures you walk into and embracing gratitude as a often used skill. Morilla shares, “Traveling brings you a sense of peace. I’ve been to 42 countries around the world all prettier than the next. I’ve also seen some serious sadness in the world. I’ve learned to have a high sense of gratitude for everything in life. A greater acceptance for the thing in my life.”
Traveling solo doesn’t need to mean feeling lonely
Gonzalez-Reyes emphasizes that if done with an open mind traveling solo does not have to mean being lonely. “Traveling solo opens up conversations, moments of clarity, and deep friendships,” explains Gonzalez-Reyes. “You basically can make friends anywhere. Be the first to smile. Make an effort to join in their celebrations or simply ask them questions about their lives. This is really all it takes.“
Track spending digitally
Morilla’s go-to apps are — QuickBooks and Zelle — and they help keep finances in check while you travel.
Prior to boarding your flight, Czarkowski’s tips are, “Decide how much [you] want to spend and this way [you] allocate a certain budget towards [your] trip. This will define where [you] stay and also what kind of food or activities [you] will do.”
Pack light, literally and figuratively, when traveling solo for the first time
“Because [Latinas] grow up very family oriented I find that most of us really feel guilty traveling, moving or doing our ‘own thing’ without our family,” shares Morilla. “It’s hard! So I recommend women of all background and upbringing to go abroad solo. My biggest tip would be to pack ‘light’, take only what you need, bring a journal, an open mind, and start with some gratitude.”
Treat traveling like a skill to be honed
You won’t get everything right the first time you fly solo, but over time you’ll improve and build on the skill of traveling. “After carting around a giant suitcase and trying to stuff it through tiny train doors, or taking cabs instead of public transportation, you learn that there are some things you can absolutely do without,” shares Gonzalez-Reyes. “After travelling and learning all of these new things, you start to realize how smart you are. After all, you made it to your destination, found your connecting flights, ordered food and somehow made it through a new experience. You are pretty resourceful, so go and have fun.”
Assume you’ll spend more than you budget for
“Things happen and you never want to be surprised financially,” explains Morilla. “I would certainly suggest investing in a good credit card that you would only use for emergencies.”
Download these apps before you go
Czarkowski suggests downloading the offline version of Google Translate. Morilla swears by TravelSmart, Skyscanner, and App in the Air.