Who’s Out There Now? Stephanie the Travel Chica

Written By: jeff

Posted On: December 20th, 2011

career break travel adventures in El Salvador, Travel Chica

At the fish market in El Salvador. Copyright TheTravelchica.com

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Stephanie, the chica behind TheTravelChica.com. Exploring South America, she’s been from Central America to southern Argentina and many places in between. She’s now exploring one of my favorite places in the world, Patagonia. Time to check in with the self-describe, Travel Chica.

1.  So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

I am in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I sort of got stuck here and am finding it difficult to leave such an interesting and exciting city.

2.  So, I have to ask, how did we miss each other in Bogota earlier this year?

That is easy to answer.  I was ignorant of this amazing travel blogging community.  I did not realize there were so many other travelers out there with similar interests writing about their experiences.  And I did not use social media to meet up with other travelers when I got to new cities.  It was not until I arrived in Argentina in March that I started seeking out more travel blogs and signed up for a Twitter account and got a Facebook page.  I’m a newbie!

My eyes have now been opened.  I hope to meet you and other “online friends” in my future travels.

3.  What was your draw to Central and South America to spend your career break? 

I picked Central and South America for three reasons:

  1. My travel budget – Since I would not be earning an income during my travels, I wanted to choose a part of the world where my savings would last longer.
  2. Incredible natural beauty – The landscapes are so diverse, a photographer’s dream.
  3. Language – I really wanted to become fluent in another language.  I took some Spanish in high school, so I at least knew the basic pronunciations and how to find the bathroom.  And you can travel through so many countries all speaking the same language.
career break travel adventures in Nicaragua

Learning to juggle in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Copyright TheTravelChica.com

4.  I got a chuckle out of your post ¨My Possessions: What I Chose to Keep.¨ Your photo could have been taken at my storage unit in the US. What was your rule for what to keep/store and what to discard?

The biggest rule was asking myself if I would remember it was in the storage unit a year from now. Also, thinking about the effort to move it to the storage unit and then to move it out of the storage unit when I return made it easier to get rid of even more.

5.  Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?

That’s a tough one because I have actually had different travel styles over the past year. Definitely a career break.  I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of time that is all mine. Definitely backpacking for the first five months (and will start up again soon). I would also call myself a pseudo-expat (stole that term from Hecktic Travels) in Buenos Aires.  After 6 months, I have established a routine here and changed my travel lifestyle for a much-needed rest.

6.  What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know? 

It can be done quite cheaply, especially if you are willing to change your lifestyle a little bit.  People who have never stayed in a hostel (I was one of them until 2010) do not realize how nice many of them are.  And if you’re traveling with someone, it is often the same price or cheaper to get a private room rather than a shared dorm.

I think some people believe that travel is stressful.  That can be true, but it is all about how you travel.  There is a good kind of stress that comes from not over-planning a trip and challenging yourself with figuring out what you want to do and how to do it.  You discover the most interesting places and activities when you talk to locals and other travelers.  Leaving yourself open to exploring unexpected opportunities can make travel a more rewarding experience.

career breka travel adventures in Guatelmala, The Travel Chica

Hiking El Volcan Fuego in Guatemala. Copyright TheTravelChica.com

7.  What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?

Unfortunately, it was getting robbed my first day of my trip in Quito, Ecuador.  I had fully researched the dangers of traveling alone in certain parts of Latin America.  I knew the tricks people used.  But it still happened to me.

8.  What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

When I was in Panama City, a local woman I met around my age invited me to celebrate Carnaval with her friends and their family in a small town called Ocu in the interior of Panama.  She told me it would be the “real Carnaval,” not what I would see in Panama City.  How could you turn that offer down?

It was such a great experience.  The family was so welcoming.  I learned about the Panamanian traditions and took part in the parades, the singing, the dancing, the drinking, and the culecos (huge trucks that spray you down with water hoses).

9.  What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I do not really think I have had any embarrassing moments.  Well, I probably have but didn’t realize it.  That may be because I find it much easier to shrug things off rather than get embarrassed when in a foreign country, especially one that doesn’t have the same type of peer pressure and societal pressure that I grew up with.

Maybe the other reason I haven’t had an embarrassing moment is because I am very diligent about bringing toilet paper with me whenever I go out.  That is one of my travel tips for Latin America

career break travel adventures in El Salvador, The Travel Chica

Hiking El Bosque Imposible in El Salvador. Copyright TheTravelChica.com

10. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

Tough question.  One thing that is important to me is focusing on doing things I want to do.  It is much easier to do this when traveling solo.  This is my year of being selfish. I try not to allow myself to feel pressured to visit every major tourist attraction in a destination if they do not interest me or if it will be too rushed. I try to balance this with also being open to new experiences.

11. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far – Ajiaco, a thick Colombian soup
  • Most exotic food eaten – Iguana
  • Most breathtaking moment – Watching the sunset from the top of an active volcano in Guatemala
  • Biggest disappointment – Salt Cathedral near Bogota
  • Most memorable place – Buenos Aires, so many memories because I’ve spent so much time here
  • Most memorable person – The bitter old woman I rented a room from in Buenos Aires who threw me out and stole 2 weeks of rent money.
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride – Sleeping bag, long-haul buses are usually freezing
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride – Small bladder
  • Best thing you packed – Fleece jacket with zip-up and interior pockets.
  • Dumbest thing you packed – A very old point-and-shoot camera (now replaced with a good one).
  • Funniest travel habit you have – I hoard packs of artificial sweetener for my coffee and small bits of paper for writing myself notes/ lists/ directions
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer – Nicaragua
career break travel adventures in Argentina, The Travel Chica

Rooftop Sunset in Buenos Aires. Copyright TheTravelChica.com

You can follow Stephanie online at TheTravelChica, on Facebook, and on Twitter @TheTravelChica

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world. 

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9 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now? Stephanie the Travel Chica”

  1. Curt says:

    I love reading the TravelChica blog. Keep up the juggling practice. I got pretty good at it after lots of practice! Next, you gotta try knives! (Hint: start with butter knives! :) )
    Curt recently posted..Multi-Cheese Mac & Cheese Recipe

  2. Abby says:

    I love the juggling and sunset photos of you, Stephanie!! Great interview. :)
    Abby recently posted..Rain, rain, go away?

  3. Unfortunately, one of the juggling balls I bought in Guatemala fell apart in Buenos Aires. I’m keeping my eye out for a new set!

    Curt, not sure if I’m quite ready for knives. I’m a bit out of practice since I left Central America :-)

  4. Have been enjoying following her travels from the other side of the world
    Michael Hodson recently posted..Good People, Bad People, Dead People

  5. NLM says:

    Your blog is great–never would have guessed you were a “newbie.” Hope you’re having fun!
    NLM recently posted..Go Ahead, Ring the Bell

  6. It’s been going for about 14 months, but it has only been about 8 months that I have settled into the style and type of content I like. I’ve only had a Twitter account and Facebook page for 8 months too!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..What Exactly Is An Elephant Seal?

  7. Laura says:

    This interview inspired me to try to keep a closer look to the travel community, so that I can befriend and meet more people when i am on the way…
    Laura recently posted..The Igloo Village: Enjoying The Northern Lights From… An Igloo

  8. I like what Stephanie said about how you travel that can make your trip either stressful or fun. This was a great piece and the pictures that were posted are beautiful!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Estiatorio Milos & Knave: A 5 Star Evening in New York

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