The Girl Behind the Passport – My Most Asked Questions & Answers!

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Welcome to my blog!

Ah it's finally here!! You guys have been asking me to share all of my travel stories, tips, and picks, and I've finally created a platform to house it all! 

To kick it off, I have gathered a list of the most asked questions I’ve received throughout the years.

 

Q: At what age did you start traveling?

A: I started traveling at a later date than many of my childhood classmates, given that my family was in a tough economical position growing up. My parents emigrated from Mexico a couple years before I was born, so the opportunity to travel internationally (outside of visiting family in Mexico) was definitely not in the picture during that time.

The first oversees family vacation we took was when I was 11 years old to Puerto Rico to attend a family friend’s wedding. I remember the infectious excitement my siblings and I had getting to experience a new place.

After this point my family and I traveled domestically to my gymnastics competitions and my siblings’ tournaments, and to Guadalajara, Mexico to visit our relatives. The 16-hour road trips there and back are still some of my most cherished memories.

At the age of 18, I traveled to Canada solo for the first time, and was immediately hooked!

 

Q: How many countries have you traveled to?

A: As of now, I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to 55 countries. I'm actively working my way to all 195 countries ;)

 

Q: How many countries have you traveled to solo?

A: About 22 countries. It’s a completely different experience traveling solo, but one I really love. It is an incredibly rewarding experience seeing yourself adapt and figuring out the challenges on your own.

 

Q: What is your favorite country you’ve visited?

A: Ah the number one most common question I receive (and the hardest one to answer, by far)! I think the more I travel the harder this question becomes because I learn to appreciate the beauty in different cultures and landscapes. If I had to pick a few personal favorites based on categories it would be:

Best Food = Thailand

Best place for adventure = Costa Rica, South Africa

Friendliest people = Bali, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica

Favorite architecture = Morocco

Favorite landscapes = Bali, Switzerland, Sri Lanka (this country is a blend of  Bali, Thailand, and South Africa!)

Favorite city to visit again and again = Paris and Rio de Janeiro

 

Q: How do you fund your travels?

A: The majority of my trips have been self-funded. During my 4 years of college, I worked on campus. My parents were gracious enough to allow me to keep my work-study money and save it for my personal interests. I named this my “travel funds” and I used this for my travels during my college years. While I was studying abroad in Madrid, I opted to live in a lofted bedroom instead of a true bedroom in order to cut half of my rooming expenses and allocate these funds towards traveling.

From that point on I started seeing money in terms of flights…I could spend $200 on a shopping spree or I could buy a flight to another city or country (especially when country proximities are small!). I am a person that really values experiences over material goods, so I tend to leave my spending on goods (the majority of the time) for must-have items such as technology and clothing that will be useful during my travels.

Lastly, I get very creative with how I finance my travels! I am always on the hunt for the cheapest flights, I travel during low-season when possible, and I find affordable lodging options that still offer incredible views and/or amenities.

 

Q: What is your favorite part about traveling?

A: My favorite part is arriving in a new place and having all of the expectations of a place become their own reality (often times very different from how I imagined it). I love finding similarities in the architecture or culinary dishes of different countries, but also finding the intricacies that exist only in this place. The more I travel, the more I see the overlap of our cultures, the beautiful mesh that ties us all together.

 

Q: Where did your interest in travel come from?

A: My passion for traveling stems from a sense of curiosity – partially innate, but primarily taught to me by my parents. Even though we didn’t travel as much when I was younger, I have vivid memories of my parents instilling in us a need to dream bigger than our current situation, to challenge ourselves and leave the nest, to go out and meet people with different views than our own. As we grew older and traveling became a possibility, traveling became “our thing” as a family. My siblings and I travel independently, but we also love traveling together as a family once or twice a year. We all have a similar traveling style, preferring to see more of a country and being on the go, that it makes it very fun to travel together. It's funny to see our family texts, they're like 75% about travel. "Where should we celebrate New Years this year?" "I think I'm heading to Russia next year." "Where should I go this weekend, Scotland or Iceland?" I feel incredibly fortunate to have a family that shares the same passion. 

 

Q: What would you say to someone who wants to travel but doesn’t have the means or the time to travel all the time?

A: First of all let me say, that is totally okay! I understand that everyone’s situation is different and traveling around the world is not a feasible possibility for everyone whether it be due to financial restraints, work obligations, or immigration restrictions. Being interested in traveling is more about what it means internally – having an open mind, being adaptable, being curious! It also doesn’t mean you need to travel far to experience something new. Start out in your own city. Go explore the beautiful places your own city has to offer, a new neighborhood you’ve never visited, a new adventure you’ve always wanted to try! Go out and challenge yourself to have conversations with strangers. It may seem unnatural because you’re not in an "exotic" place, but trust me, it is exactly the same when you’re in another country. It is about putting your fear/stereotypes/awkwardness aside and just striking up a conversation with someone next to you. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier and more natural than you initially thought. Some of the best conversations I have had in my life have been in the car with a cab driver on the way to the airport, with someone having coffee at the next table, or with strangers I’ve asked for directions.

If you are in a position where the possibility of travel is feasible, start saving! It doesn’t have to mean sacrificing everything you love, but start with cutting back on things that aren’t essential. Maybe skip out on that $5 latte today and bring your coffee from home or set up a small amount from your paycheck to go directly to your savings each month so you don’t have to think about spending it or setting it aside. Similarly, start saving your vacation days at work. A trick I learned from my mom who has been in the corporate world longer than I have is to bundle up your vacation days with company holidays and/or weekends, that way you have an extended vacation time! Try to avoid taking random days here and there if you don’t need them and save them up for a big trip once or twice a year. This is a topic that I hope to dive into deeper, so stay tuned for a dedicated post with more tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

 

I look forward to sharing more about me and this passion of mine! If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below or shoot me a note!

Til next time! 

❥ Ashley


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