Meet Cynthia!

Viajerx Travel Stories

I have been on a plane since I was three months old. Growing up with a single mother, she always made an effort to show me where our family was from, La Isla del Encanto, specifically, Barrio Tejas, Humacao, Puerto Rico. My mother, grandmother, and I visited the island at least once or twice a year. Therefore, airports, planes, and airplane food always seem to excite me. However, traveling to other places than Puerto Rico and Florida never came to mind.

IMG_5341Fast forward when it was time to select a college, the idea of a traditional campus life with a dorm at a forty thousand dollar a year university was a fantasy but not my reality. I decided on a less expensive college in Manhattan instead of committing to years of debt. John Jay College of Criminal Justice was not exactly what I wanted but I later came to appreciate every second of it. I knew I was not going to get the college experience many of my catholic high school peers decided on, but I was going to obtain my degree and study abroad. Study abroad was the only experience I looked forward too. As a freshman, I applied and I was accepted to a study abroad program in Greece. Sadly, I decided not to go. I felt it was too early in my college career to attend and the finances were not there yet.

Junior year was the year. I received an email from a new study abroad program in Genoa, Italy and I applied. I knew it was time to adventure out of my shell, but little did I know getting my first passport would guide me to see the world. Thanks to my part time job at Bloomingdale’s and a scholarship, I went to Italy. The study abroad program consisted of two sociology classes at the University of Genoa, unless pizza, pasta and gelato, free time to visit cities like Florence, Milan, Rome, and the meeting of the fabulous founder of Sueños De Una Viajera, Zeline.

After the program ended, I was grateful for the experience and the new friends I made. Italy was exposure to the old world, a culture shock and lastly, an experience I would recommend to any college student. Nonetheless, I had my senior year of college to complete and decided to pursue my Masters in Public Administration. In other words, life was continuing and traveling abroad was not in the plan.

Shortly after completing my masters, I got my first real job. I never thought in a million years my new coworkers would be my travel buddies. We started with a road trip to Niagara Falls to then a quick trip to New Orleans to then seeing the world. In addition, getting my first car allowed me to travel to neighboring states such as Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Five years later, I have had the pleasure of visiting 14 states, 14 countries and 6 continents. I have been blessed with the funds, couponing and saving skills, the vacation time, and friends/travel buddies to see so much of this beautiful world.

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I never thought I would be able to say I have been to South Africa, Australia or even Argentina but I have. So never say never. My single parent household upbringing in NYCHA in a borough that is constantly belittled did not define my life or my travels. My name is Cynthia. I am a 5’1 little lady from El Bronx traveling the world, one country at a time.

Gentrification in the Old City, Panama and Xenophobia towards other Latinx Communities.

Blog, Central America

Months ago I thought it would be useful to write about what it’s like to stay in Panama City. I started and never got around it until I was recently asked if it is worth taking a trip to Panama. Now, I am back in this document finally finishing up my original post, on gentrification in the old city and what I learned during our time in Panama.

Staying in Panama City was different, I enjoyed the city as much as I could, but being the nature geek that I am, I found myself traveling endless hours across Panama. While some will say there is nothing to see or do in Panama City, if you are enlightened by learning about people of color, indigenous communities, and learning about the infrastructure and increase in property development and investments then Panama City will intrigue you.

Alex, our tour guide from @Xplora gave us so much information regarding Panama and was knowledgeable about different communities and their struggles. We touched on topics like gentrification, displacement, and immigration. My conversation with Alex allowed me to visualize the differences between living in the city, rural areas, and gentrified communities.

I also learned that Panama City and its surrounding areas are undergoing gentrification which has affected many Panamanians. I quickly remembered that gentrification fails in all countries and it is unfortunate that those who are underrepresented and of color are the community strongly affected by it. Over the years we have learned that gentrification is not “for the people”, it’s a way for the elite class and our oppressors to have control over our communities and displace the underrepresented. When gentrification occurs in places like Panama City most of the local community is displaced to rural locations where it can take more than one hour to commute to work in the city.

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Photo by Google

So where can you see Gentrification in Panama? Neighborhoods like Casco Viejo (the old city) were known to be owned by the local community. About a decade ago, Casco Viejo was considered unsafe. It was once known to be a dark community with a strong gang presence. Over years tourists were told to avoid walking to Casco Viejo due to high crime, flights, and drug abuse. Today, it is different. I felt “safe” and didn’t feel that I was in “danger”. It is know gentrified and the home of a new artistic style and where most rooftop bars and restaurants are located. In recent years the old city has blossomed and it’s considered a new “artistic colonial community” that has brought attention to many tourists and Panamanian artists.

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Some tips before going to Panama: Immigration in Panama is a big thing. You would be told to carry your passport at all times in case you are enforced by government officials to present documentation. Thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing economic injustice and are flooding other countries like Colombia, Panmana, Brazil, and Ecuador. I learned that in Panama there is a high level of Xenophobia towards Venezuelans. On my trip I heard a few locals make inappropriate comments towards Venezuelan women calling them prostitutes. Like undocumented Mexicans and other Latinx communities in the U.S, Venezuelans are being pushed out, marginalized, facing xenophobia not only in Panama, but in South America as a whole. While carrying your passport at all times is a must, knowing the reasons behind this touches my heart and I am in deep sorrow — to know that members of the Latinx community (MY COMMUNITY) cannot find peace, work, and live in countries that should stand strong in solidarity with the Hispanic and Latinx community is overwhelming and very heart breaking.

Resources: Read: Venezuelans face new barriers, Xenophobia across South America

Traveling with Ma!

Blog, Europe

While I wasn’t born into socio-economic privilege, I am privileged to be American born.

My citizenship in itself is a privilege! I was gifted with opportunity to seek, find, and take advantage of many programs in my educational endeavors that allowed me to easily move through social mobility.

With that being said, that has allowed me to Travel with Ma!

This year I was able to take my mother to Europe (Italy) for the first time. Growing up she has always dreamed of crossing the seas and traveling the world but her social-economic situation did not allow many of her dreams to come true.

In 1979, she took a leap of faith and decided at the age of 29 that she would move to the U.S to be with her mother. My mother and I were around the same age. I have two degrees and have never missed a meal in my life, all due to her endurance to leave an education in her home country behind in search of opportunity and family.

Today, I vow to make her dreams come true as much as I can. God has gifted me with a special woman and through travel, we can create memories and show our appreciation to the womenx that are selfless.

To new destinations, culture, love, and memories with Ma!

Borinquen con @coquidaytours

Blog, The Caribbean

My girlfriend and I took a quick 4 day trip to Puerto Rico and, I know you’re probably thinking that’s short, but it recharged our souls in such a way that words can’t explain. Our ancestors were there with us and so were the butterflies who were watching over us. Our trip, however, wouldn’t have been the same without @coquidaytours. The Coqui Day Tours experience is one of a kind and it wouldn’t be fair that you don’t experience the island of Puerto Rico with out them!!

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Yauco

 

Yauco is a city in southwestern Puerto Rico, we took a steep drive from San Juan to Yauco and boy was that amazing! The city of Yauco is known to produce Puerto Rico’s finest coffee and is home to about 5 coffee plantations.

Gilligan Island (Guanica)

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Gilligan Island (Cayo Aurora) is one of the National Parks of Guánica. The island’s water is knee high and its lazy river is amazing!!!! We opt out of the snorkeling part of the tour, however, you can’t miss the amazing colored fishes in its clear waters!

Sunflower Farm in Guanica

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We visited the Girasol Field, soooooo breathtaking!

Ponce

ea4d36_0c5f9074c9724b9d8c1764e458ba35e2~mv2_d_3024_4032_s_4_2In Ponce, one of the largest cities in Puerto Rico’s we stopped at La Guancha where we took a break and enjoyed the views of Puerto Rico.

As you know I have fallen in love with Puerto Rico. The laughs, memories, stories, and healing recharged my soul. I live in New York City, the city that never sleeps, the busy city, the city where you can get lost in routines. On this tour, we felt like time stopped for a bit and we felt as if we were visiting old friends back home and that is what I needed, sometimes it only takes knowing that there are good people in the world to feel safe when traveling. This is why I HIGHLY recommended Coqui Day Tours my girlfriend and I felt safe, and if you are like us and love to chat up with locals choose Coqui Day Tours!

My soul, body, and mind belongs to an island. My dream will come true.

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Mi amiga y yo hicimos un viaje relampago de 4 días a Puerto Rico y sé que probablemente piensas que es corto, pero recargó nuestras almas de tal manera que las palabras no pueden explicar. Nuestros ancestors estaban allí con nosotras y también las mariposas bellas que nos vigilaban. Nuestro viaje, sin embargo, no hubiera sido lo mismo sin @coquidaytours. ¡La experiencia de Coqui Day Tours es única y no sería justo que no experimentes la isla de Puerto Rico sin ellos!

Yauco: Yauco es una ciudad en el suroeste de Puerto Rico, tomamos un camino largo desde San Juan a Yauco y ¡fue increíble! La ciudad de Yauco es conocida por producir el mejor café de Puerto Rico y es el hogar de aproximadamente 5 plantaciones de café!

Isla Gilligan (Guánica): La Isla Gilligan (Cayo Aurora) es uno de los Parques Nacionales de Guánica. ¡El agua de la isla llega casi hasta las rodillas y su río es increíble! ¡No puede perder los increíbles peces de colores en sus aguas cristalinas!

Granja de Girasoles en Guánica: Visitamos el campo de Girasol, ¡ Que cosa mas bella!

Ponce: En Ponce, una de las ciudades más grandes de Puerto Rico, nos detuvimos en La Guancha, donde tomamos un descanso y disfrutamos de las vistas de Puerto Rico.

Como sabes, me he enamorado de Puerto Rico. Las risas, los recuerdos, y las historia recargaron mi alma. Vivo en la ciudad de Nueva York, la ciudad que nunca duerme, la ciudad ocupada, la ciudad donde puedes perderte en las rutinas. En esta gira, sentimos que el tiempo se detuvo un poco como si estuviéramos visitando a viejos amigos, a veces solo se necesita saber que hay buenas personas en el mundo para sentirse seguros cuando viajan. Es por eso que recomendo a Coqui Day Tours, mi amiga y yo nos sentimos seguras, y si eres como nosotras y te encanta hablar con risas y de todo, ¡elige Coqui Day Tours que los chicos en el tour son muy amigables!

Mi alma, cuerpo y mente pertenecen a una isla. Mi sueño se volverá realidad ❤

 

Zeline Santana – Founder of Suenos De Una Viajera

Viajerx Travel Stories

My name is Zeline, I am the founder of Sueños De Una Viajera. I’m Dominican American born into the struggle of assimilation. For the first five years of my life, my family lived with relatives and friends, it was rough. We didn’t gain financial freedom easily but my mother found what she saw as an opportunity as a housekeeper. Something is something?

Growing up, I struggled with my identity. I went through a lot of phases in search of who I was. The in-betweens were rough emotionally. I didn’t have a clear understanding of who I was or who I was meant to be in life. I went through a few heartbreaks, but somehow gracefully smiled regardless of the pain and discomfort. Educationally, I have accomplished a lot, but at times I feel unaccomplished. I went through hell in the educational system and while most thought I was smart, many said I wasn’t, well talk about that later.

My father and I don’t have the greatest relationship even though we do talk, It’s like we got to talk, no? He’s my dad. My dad once told that I shouldn’t go to college, que machista! I should stay home and do what women do, while he is proud now (of course, momma did all the work), what he doesn’t know is that marked me for the rest of my life because my life became a competition with everything and at times that was rough and its not good for your inner being.

I started to travel to forget words of impact. Words I heard my mother and dad say to each other as a child, words from men who claimed they loved me, and situations with friends that went sour, so basically everything that happens in life. I have traveled to 19 countries and approximately 9 states in the search of my purposes and I quickly learned that travel was a new found cultural experience that broke barriers for me, financially and spiritually, so why not share it with my community. With Sueños De Una Viajera I am cultivating our story and our fun travel experiences, our personal and spiritual growth through travel, and everything in between. While you may travel for fun, I wish my insight will open your perspective and reflect on how you got where you are or how can we help you get there.

While traveling to Panama, I connected with my spirituality and learned about the socio-economic struggle many Panamanians go through in the inner city. I’m also learning how to manage my personal life, work, travel, and getting out of my comfort zone. While I save for travel, I have my own financial struggles because I think we can agree that New York City is not cheap! I work full-time, I am a wife, a sister, a best friend, tia, and who knows could eventually be a mother. With our community page, I would like to change the narrative in travel and guide young Latinx to travel.

Connect with me and the ladies who have shared these stories via La Comunidad Viajerx! Follow @suenosdeunaviajera

Meet Ruth

Viajerx Travel Stories

The only thing you buy that makes you richer! Just like Ruth, most of the Latinx travel stories start in our many trips to our native lands – meet Ruth and her experiences in Costa Rica.

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Travel has always been such a big part of my life. At an early age, I remember traveling to South America to visit family (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents). When my parents moved to The United States from Paraguay – they left behind memories, loved ones, their homes, and dreams. No matter how far away we were from their “home”, we made sure to build and maintain relationships with their roots. I always felt Paraguayan even though I was born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up eating Paraguayan food, listening to Spanish music, and speaking Spanglish on the regular. Summer and Christmas vacations overseas were part of our yearly routines. My siblings and I looked forward to spending our summers with our grandparents – eating home-cooked meals, walking around barefoot in the mud, and being submerged in the culture.

When my husband and I started dating – I understood that traveling would remain a big part of my life. After all, his immediate family (parents and siblings) was still overseas in Costa Rica. Over the past couple of years, we have traveled multiple times to Costa Rica – and I can honestly say I am completely in love with their culture, cuisine, and way of life. We daydream of raising our children with the same lifestyle I had – summers and winters with Abuelo and Abuela.

PoasVolcano2This year, we flew my entire family to Costa Rica so they too could experience Pura Vida. Almost instantly, my parents began to fall in love with my husband’s home, their food, the Costa Rican people, their kindness, and lingo. It meant the world to me – to have our two families together. It was amazing to watch our two cultures blend together.

Our almost three-week trip included hiking in the mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, tours of coffee reservoirs, swimming in the ocean, and a wedding (our second wedding, this time in the church)! With every trip we take to Costa Rica, we always try to visit new places and make new memories. The small country has so many treasures to discover.Here are my top recommendations:

Playa Flamingo: If you love clear water and white sand, you won’t want to miss this beach. The best part yet, it’s neighboring beaches offer nightlife and beautiful scenery as well. You won’t regret this trip!

Playa Tamarindo: Another must-see beach in Costa Rica. Here, you’ll be greeted by many English speaking tourists and feel right at home. The nightlife is the best in the area – so bring comfy dancing shoes.

Poas Volcano: I’ve been here twice and have loved both trips. This active volcanic park includes a quick hike to the top of the volcano. On a clear day, you can see the center of the volcano!

Hacienda Alsacia: Are you a #coffeelover? This is Starbucks with a view. We took my entire wedding party here, and they fell in love. What is better than freshly brewed coffee in the mountains?

San Jose: Costa Rica’s biggest city has so much history to offer. The shopping malls are to die for and don’t even get me started on the food options. If you have time, check out the National Theater for a quick tour/story.

If you haven’t already planned a trip to Costa Rica, it’s time to start looking! Any questions/recommendations feel free to reach out and follow my instablog to continue to watch as our multi-cultural family unfolds: @heyruthg.

Connect with Ruth via our Comunidad Viajerx! Follow her via @heyruthg

Panama City

Blog

I booked my trip to Panama through Expedia and I found the most affordable package with Copa Airlines. Copa Airlines is a Panamanian airline, the process from web check-in, choosing my seats, and skipping long lines was seamless. I was extremely impressed! I was also very surprised that I didn’t panic like I normally do during take-off and landing (yes, I fear flying, especially on long flights). The flight was smooth and I felt very comfortable and safe (major key, safety is a plus)! I landed at Tocumen International Airport and was truly astounded by how advanced the airport was. Our package also included our stay in Sortis Hotel & Casino in Panama City. Check out my review here! The total package for 6 days started at $890, not including taxes & fees.

I normally book package deals for short trips, especially when I travel in groups. Recently I learned Expedia has a rewards program and members can earn up to 2 points per dollar on flights, hotels, activities and vacation packages. I have already booked a few trips with Expedia and learned I had roughly $90 in points sitting on the backend of the site, via their points system I was able to book our transfer from the airport and hotel at no additional cost! As we drove to our hotel we were very astonished by the cities architecture and buildings, all of that was great, but what we were most excited about was starting our trip and experiencing some of the REAL Panama!

San Blas Islands

ea4d36_d85888acabd4483b8b9bf68119feede5~mv2San Blas is known to have more than 300 islands and caves and approximately 50 islands are inhabited. The residents of the islands are the Kuna People. Kuna’s are self-governed and this aspect allows you to notably see the different cultures and structures between the Panamanian government and the indigenous people. In Panama, it is important to bring your passport everywhere which I will discuss more in a later post, however, Kuna’s are very territorial and crossing to different parts of the Island can be difficult unless booked through their own self-governed routes which includes taxes. Regardless of that, I admired the scenic beaches, soft sand, and local food. Our visit included food at Iguana Island and a natural pool stop.

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Emberá’s

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Located in Panama and Colombia the Emberá’s, also known in historical literature as the Chocó or Katío Indians are an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. We took roughly two hours to reach the Emberá Dura village. One hour by land, and another by canoe (boat). The experience was one I will never forget. I learned about what the Emberá men and women do for a living and in their community, the importance of La Botanica (natural health remedies for illness and death), ate, and shared dances with their community. When I learned more about their botanical and natural health remedies I couldn’t stop thinking about how natural health remedies for many illnesses are so embedded in the Latinx and Afro Latin culture. Till this day my mother can name mostly all the natural leaves and its remedies which comes from the history of our ancestors, santeria, and the famous medicine man in many of our communities who was known to be the traditional healer in a community of indigenous people.

It is important to know that science at times does not have all the answer. Our ancestors knew that.

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We also hiked until reaching an unmanned waterfall. I decided to take a hike in Panama because I never did it before and wanted to test my strength and endurance. I also read Panama has one of the most biodiverse national parks with a wide array of animals so I decided to get out of my comfort zone and get down and dirty! While I was concerned about my safety this was one of the biggest hikes of my life, I made sure to be organized and brought all the necessary items needed which gave me a lot of security.

You can do it!

Casco Viejo, San Felipe

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On our last full day, we decided to explore the town of Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo, San Felipe is considered the old city. Colonizers settled in Casco Viejo in the 1600s and later it was destroyed by pirates. For many years Casco Viejo was known to be a community for the people of Panama and businesses were owned by locals who lived in the community. Now the city is known to be a tourist location full of rooftop bars viewing Panama city, and restaurants, while its ruins are the main attraction. Many Panamanians who lived in Casco Viejo were displaced by the gentrification of Casco Viejo.

You will never be disappointed in starting your adventure in Panama.

 

Meet Sorangi

Viajerx Travel Stories

Here is a true travel story from the heart, Sorangi a daughter of two Dominican immigrants shares her upbringing and how travel has allowed her to enlighten her community – meet Sorangi and follow her @theglobalchica

My name is Sorangi. I am the daughter of Dominican immigrants. I grew up in a hood of Miami called Carol City. My father was that strict machista that kept me in the house with a ball and chain while my two older brothers got the liberty to do most of what they wanted. Growing up, it felt like everyone from the Dominican Republic stayed at our house when they visited the US. Of course, my room was the original AirBnb. At one point, when my family migrated to the states, we were eleven people living in a three bedroom home and I slept on the floor of my parent’s bedroom for years. We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot.

One day, my father decided to move back to his motherland. I remember looking out of the window on the plane, with puddles in my eyes, until I couldn’t see Miami anymore. When we landed, a band playing perico ripiao greeted us as we entered the airport. That’s when it hit me that I would spend the next year of life fully immersed in Dominican culture. Of course, I made friends, got acclimated to going to school in Spanish (with no AC) and fell in love with the island. We took road trips that allowed me to see most of the country. I discovered my favorite beach in the world: Boca Chica. It was different than life in the states but I was privileged there; my mom didn’t have to work and we had a housekeeper. This is a real come up because before we left the US, my mom was a housekeeper! However, our time in DR was short lived as the economy suffered, government corruption increased and my father’s business encountered some failures causing him to take a hit financially so we ultimately moved back to the states. We found ourselves back in that same hood in Miami but now in a trailer park.

I’m the only person that I know that had to apply to college behind their father’s back. My father being the strict dictator he is, had plans for me already. His orders were that I would go to DR for college and when I begged him to let me go on a high school field trip to the University of Florida (UF), he let me go and said that when I got back I was to forget about UF because “tu mueres aqui”, while pointing to his chest. I cried almost every day of my senior year and threatened my mom that I would run away. He stifled my attempt to graduate first in my class because I wasn’t allowed to take dual enrollment classes and be on a college campus. I finished third in my class; both valedictorian and salutatorian took dual enrollment to boost my gpa. Thankfully, my good grades opened the door for me to go to UF with a generous scholarship and the situation in DR wasn’t favorable due to crime. My father had to reconsider.

When I arrived at UF, traveling and exploring the world was a far-fetched dream I couldn’t fathom being a reality. I associated it with something that only rich (and white) people could do. I was just a girl from Carol City and girls like me don’t get to travel the world like that. In 2011, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I was enrolled in the combined degree program and started working on my Master’s while getting my Bachelors. When one of my friends in grad school decided to take a study abroad course, I did too. Studying abroad was a goal for me in undergrad, but I just couldn’t afford it. This time, I wasn’t afraid to take a student loan. I took my first trip to Europe! I spent 3 weeks in Germany and went to about 11 different cities. It was the most amazing experience and worth the extra couple of stacks of loans I took out! I was blown away by the differences; how they preserved their buildings, kept their country clean, prioritized recycling and I actually liked drinking their beer (coming from a girl who swears by Presidente). I saw amazing castles and more snow, up in the mountains, than I ever care to see again in life. I made many friends on the German side of the exchange program. I even met my best friend, Tine, in this program. Taking that trip was the best decision ever because it birthed in me a desire to see more of the world and nothing could take away my new found sense of freedom.

Caribana PicDuring this time, my career was also taking off. While in grad school, I got a job as a Human Resources Assistant at the UF Foundation. I had no idea that people worked to get private financial support so that the university could offer students the best resources. I thought it would be just a gig to get me through school but I was moved by the work they did and I ultimately worked my way up to become the Associate Director of Development for the College of Journalism and Communications by the age of 24! I thought it would be cool to get paid to travel and meet with alumni and friends of the university, cultivate relationships and ultimately, ask them for significant donations to move the vision and mission of the university and impact first-generation students like myself. My career goal was an uphill battle though! I spent three years applying for countless jobs as an internal candidate; I was always a finalist but never the finalist. I was working as a temporary employee and financially things were really tight. My dream was to be in a position where I was in the frontlines; not behind a desk. I wanted to meet with people face to face and ask for the big bucks. They finally granted me an Assistant Director title that was still behind a desk. Six months later, I saw someone get hired due to nepotism and land my dream job with no real experience. It broke my heart. My whole life I had heard that as a woman of color I would have to work twice as hard to get to the same level as my white counterpart. At that moment, I realized that I would work twice as hard and still not reach that level. I turned that hurt and anger into motivation and three months later I got my dream job. I began traveling around Florida and Georgia on behalf of the university. In the years following, my territory would expand to include travel just about everywhere in the US.

The fulfillment I got from my work was amazing. I helped create the first scholarship for black students, Hispanic students and for study abroad in the college I worked for! Second, the benefits were amazing. Twenty-two paid vacation days, plus 11 holidays a year! As you can tell, I’m that employee that uses all of those days! Not to mention, I travel for work and get to explore cities on my job’s dime too. The best part is that I am good at it! Alumni would pour out confirmations to me that I was exactly where I belonged.

No te equivoques, don’t get it twisted, this salaried job didn’t mean that I was ballin’! I had student loans, credit card debt (because I couldn’t call Mami and Papi for anything besides “La Bendicion” in college) and bills to cover. Even still, I was committed to saving money every year to travel the world with my friends. I didn’t have cable or wifi in my apartment. I paid my upstairs neighbors 1/3 of their bill for the code to the wifi. I used my cousin’s Netflix (confession: I still do that!). I drove my ’03 Sonata that made the highest pitched noises when I turned on the AC and led me to do a quick prayer every time I put the key in the ignition so that it would actually turn on. I didn’t go out on weekends to avoid spending money on bar tabs and the likes. I sacrificed what I could and started to look at every expense asking: how many flights could I purchase with this money? I saved half of my income tax refund for travel, and Tine and I soon began to plan our first major international trip together to Thailand and Cambodia. Tip: to save money, I chose a flight with a long layover in London. I recommend doing this to get a bonus trip out of the experience! I had 12 hours in London; enough time to leave the airport, take a tour and spend the day in the country.

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My love for travel only grew deeper! I always skip the tourist traps and immerse myself in authentic experiences. I interact with people and I try to learn important phrases in their language. I research the best experiences to have in order to experience their culture and practice responsible and respectful tourism as much as possible. You likely won’t catch me in that expensive 5-star hotel full of tourists! I want to stay and buy locally owned if possible to give my money to the people. When I went to Cuba, I hired underground taxis and bought my cigars from farmers in Viñales. I’ve had many life highlights abroad including going to Kenya and realizing that the music was familiar and the food tasted like what my mom always made me; it was definitely the birthplace of my Caribbean culture and being called Africana by the locals made me feel so connected to the motherland. I’ve made friends in almost every country I’ve visited that have offered me a place to stay for next time.

I got smarter and more stable with my finances as the years went by. I started to acquire a lot of hotels and car rental points through my work travel and used it for my personal travel. I also got the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and took point finessing to the next level. My work requires me to pay for my work expenses and then get reimbursed. The Chase card gives me 3x the points on any travel and dining related purchase. Ca-ching baby!

Soon, I realized that my travels weren’t just for me. I was inspiring others to feel like they too could explore their curiosities and travel. One year, three close friends told me that my travels inspired them to get a passport. I would be with two of them for their first stamps! My mom, who would worry and never understand why I had to choose locations to visit that were so far away, finally got a dose of travel when I brought her on a trip with me to Paris, Switzerland and a surprise stop in Rome. Now all she wants to do is travel every year; she’s caught the travel bug! I began sharing tips via my Instagram page under TheGlobalChica. My goal is simply to share my travels as an afrolatina exploring the world in hopes to inspire diversity in travel. I’ve been to 18 countries so far and I’ll keep traveling “hasta que se seque el malecon.” It turns out travel isn’t reserved for the white and the rich, and Dominican girls from Carol City can travel like that.

I hope you catch my Travel Tuesday posts on IG @theglobalchica!Connect with Soragni via our Comunidad Viajerx! Follow her Travel Tuesday tips on her Instagram – @theglobalchica