Traveling as a Mexican Latina
As I previously shared on my Instagram stories and Facebook, I was recently featured on an article as one of the "19 Latinas That Will Induce Severe Wanderlust," for a major travel company. It was incredibly exciting to be featured among other girl boss Latinas; however, in complete transparency, when the article came out I was a little hesitant. During our interview we had discussed our heritage and what it means to travel as a Latina. This is a topic I feel strongly about, given the limited Latina representation, so I was truly honored to be a part of this article.
Weeks later, when the article was published, I had an unsettling feeling about the wording in my description. To me, I didn't feel like the paraphrasing captured my Mexican pride and identity - I didn't identify as Mexican because I speak Spanish, I identify as Mexican because I am Mexican. I immediately messaged the author and was amazed at her response. She urged me to share my actual words. She reminded me that in a world where our identity is constantly being challenged and often attempted to be defined for us, it is important for us to speak up and say "No, this is actually who I am."
I wanted to share with you all the full interview, sharing a little bit of how I have experienced traveling as a Latina.
1. What is your Latina heritage?
2. What has your experience been as a Latina traveler? What are the benefits of traveling as a Latina? What are the downfalls? Share the good, bad, and ugly.
Traveling as a Latina has been very interesting for me. I proudly identify as Mexican, having grown up in a Mexican household speaking Spanish and to this day follow many Mexican customs and traditions; however, I fully recognize that I was born and raised in the United States, holding a U.S. passport, which means that I have privileges and relative security that come with these facts. It’s not the same being Mexican and emigrating to this country and being a first-generation Mexican-American. I didn’t have to struggle nearly as hard as my parents did, but it is something that I carry with me every day. When I am traveling and people ask me where I am from, people aren’t satisfied with any answer I give. I am not Mexican because I wasn’t born in Mexico and don't currently live there, but I am not American in their eyes because I don’t fit the mold of what an American looks like to them. Despite this frustration, this question often leads to some great conversations about what my experience has been like being a first-generation Mexican-American.
3. How have you overcome any stereotypes or limitations you've had as a Latina traveler?
People don’t usually identify me as Mexican unless I tell them. My dark-tan skin tone, curly hair and “ambiguous features” often leave people confused about where they think I am from, which means I am constantly being questioned what my ethnicity is (even last night there was a full on guessing game of what ethnicity people thought I was). I usually make light of it and find it entertaining to see how broad the spectrum of answers are, ranging from Brazilian, Cuban, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Dominican, Filipino, Middle Eastern, to Sri Lankan. However, often times I wish I could say I am Mexican and it wouldn’t be received with such skepticism.
On a safety level though, I do find it comforting to know that I can blend into so many diverse communities, especially when I am traveling alone. It allows me to connect with many people and engage in conversations about my background and ethnicity with those I feel I can trust.
4. How do you represent the Latina community? Why is it important to leverage Latinas and encourage them to travel?
I represent the Latina community while traveling, but also through my Instagram and my blog. I have always been very open about sharing my stories of being a Latina in higher education, professionally, and as a traveler. Through my Instagram I aim to inspire the Latina community through raw and honest stories, as well as beautifully curated photographs. I never want to mislead women following me on Instagram to think that my life is anywhere near perfect, so it is important for me to share my struggles, as well as successes. The goal for my blog is to share tactical strategies that I’ve learned through trial and error to empower other Latina women to travel solo.
5. Why is it amazing to travel as a Latina? Why should people follow your IG for inspiration from a traveling Latina?
I think often times as Latinas we feel that traveling isn’t in the cards for us. Perhaps it wasn’t something that our families could afford when we were younger or we have a false perception of the cost of travel. For me personally, I didn’t travel during my childhood because my family was in a tight economic position. As we got older and our situation improved a bit, we started traveling as a family and individually. My goal is to show my community that traveling can be in the cards for you, even while working full-time, with a few tactical strategies!
I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit more about my experience traveling as a Latina. I encourage you to read the stories of the other 18 amazing Latina travelers and get to hear some different perspectives of traveling as a Latina.
Til next time!
Be sure to pin this image below to your Pinterest board!