Hola, I’m Stephanie Granados. I was born and raised in New York and I am a proud Colombian! So far I’ve traveled to over 20 countries and the majority of those trips have been as a solo traveler.
Photo: In 2017, I traveled solo to Morocco for 11 days. This was the first time I stayed with a local family during my trip and it was such an unforgettable experience.
I’m so grateful to say that travel has been part of my life thanks to my parents. Both of my parents come from very humble beginnings in Bogota, Colombia. They both were the first in their families to move to the United States to seek better opportunities. Once they met, dated, and eventually got married in New York, their goal was always to chase the “American Dream.” They certainly achieved that when they moved out of the Bronx, buying their first home in Yonkers and then moving into their second home in Hartsdale. My first international trip was as a one year old to Colombia to celebrate my first birthday. Later on, instead of having a traditional quinceañera party, I opted to go on a trip with my cousins to the Bahamas!
Although my parents gave us an upbringing they didn’t have, they always reminded us about their struggles and to always appreciate what we have. As we traveled once a year thanks to their timeshare at that time, my parents would always make it a point that to whatever destination we visit, to go and see how locals live. If we stayed in a nice hotel/resort, they would make it part of the itinerary to take a day trip to learn about the culture and history of that destination, try local cuisine, buy from local markets, and just explore outside of developed areas. I truly appreciate looking back on those trips because it’s influenced how I like to travel. My favorite trips have always included deep-diving into the culture, forming friendships with locals, shopping at local markets, and trying all the different cuisines.
Once my parents divorced all those family trips stopped. On paper, you may think my upbringing was all rainbows and butterflies but I struggled with many things. As a first-generation kid, I always struggled with not being “American” enough nor being “Latina” enough. I think many first-generation kids feel like an in-betweener when growing up within two different cultures. My home life was very toxic, I witnessed domestic violence countless times. I had to call the police many times and just having to be around negative energy the majority of the time was not fun. Once my parents divorced was finalized, soon after my mom had to sell the house we grew up in. She could no longer afford the mortgage on her own. Having so-called “everything” to then go to nothing was such an eye-opener and that changed everything for me. I don’t hold value in material things anymore because that can be taken away at any time. I now find value in experiences because you will always have that no matter what.
Photo: In 2015, this was taken during my one month European adventure. This was in Barcelona, Spain in Parc Guell.
A few years down the line, I felt like something was missing in my life. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was but I was craving travel again. I haven’t traveled at all for many years at this point. I wanted to go to Europe and was planning a trip with my best friend. After many failed attempts on coordinating dates, figuring out schedules, and planning this itinerary that never was finalized, I realized this trip is never going to happen. I’ve always been into watching YouTube videos, I used to make beauty tutorials back in the day. I was all about makeup back then, but I somehow stumbled upon a few YouTubers on a trip in Europe and all of them were uploading daily videos of their experience. I was so intrigued and fell down this rabbit hole of searching travel videos. I started to research the company these YouTubers used for their trips and found out this company did group tours all over the world. After researching for months I pulled the plug and booked a MONTH LONG TRIP to Europe without telling anyone. I asked myself, Why am I waiting around for someone to go on this trip with me? Why am I depending on someone else’s schedule? What’s the point of planning a trip with someone if they eventually are not going to make it happen? So that’s when I decided to go by myself. This would be my first ever trip with no family or friends.
Once I told my family and friends, literally no one believed I was going to go through with it. No one I knew has ever gone to Europe before. It was always a far-out thought of actually traveling to Europe because everyone always said it’s expensive. As the trip was getting closer and closer, people were trying to discourage me from going on this trip. Saying it’s too dangerous for girls, you shouldn’t travel alone, you’re not going to have a good time, and so forth. My anxiety hit me the day of my trip and I was freaking out before heading to the airport. I was thinking, what did I get myself into? I got on the plane and jetted off to Europe for a month and it truly changed my life. I met so many amazing people, had the time of my life, and it just made my wanderlust explode because I caught the travel bug. I grew so much from that experience that it also changed my perspective on my life.
Photo: In 2016, I visited Bali Indonesia and spent two weeks exploring the gorgeous island. This location was taken in Ubud, in the middle of a rice field.
Since returning from that trip, I have continued to travel solo. No one was going to hold me back from seeing the world. If people wanted to join me, great. If not, I was going to make those trips happen regardless. I started my blog, Youtube channel, and Instagram, Wanderlust Beauty Dreams, to share my adventures, give travel tips, and inspire those who want to see the world. At the time I noticed that the travel blogging world lacked diversity. There wasn’t much representation especially when it came to Latinx travelers. I think overall our community has a mindset of following one straight path in life. It’s okay to venture off and follow a new path, we all have different journeys. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve broken the barriers my family fought for when coming to the United States. I hope to continue to break barriers wherever life takes me and hope to bring my family along for the ride. I want to encourage more of the Latinx community to travel more and be that representation. Our travel dollars matter and needs more recognition within the travel industry.
Photo: In 2018, I went to the FIFA World Cup in Russia to watch three live games in support of the Colombian Soccer team.
We live in an age of total access to information and resources. There are so many ways to achieve all your goals and dreams. If you want to travel to be part of your lifestyle, it’s possible. Instead of buying designer items, going out to eat/drink every weekend, or having the latest gadgets, cut back on those costs for a couple of months. Pick up another job on the weekends to save up more money if you have to. There are many ways to achieve that extra cash flow to go on these trips. Also researching locations that can stretch your dollar for a longer period, staying in hostels, and traveling on the offseason. Finding ways to get to your goals is what makes you more of a proactive person as opposed to someone who just talks about one day going on these trips. It’s just up to you to make it happen at the end of the day!