Here’s our new traveller! Kristina Carrodeguas is from Miami, but her innate desire to explore led her to work as an English teacher and freelance writer in Madrid, Spain.
It’s on her travel blog, Living Wonderfilled, you can find out more about her adventures in some of the 16 countries she already visited.
Midlands Traveller: Talk a bit about yourself.
Kristina Carrodeguas: My name is Kristina, I’m 29 years old. Originally from Miami, Florida, I grew up between South Florida and East Tennessee before moving to Nashville.
I’ve tried out several different jobs and career paths and I am currently working as an English teacher and freelance writer based in Madrid, Spain. I’ve always been a really curious person and one day I wondered what it would be like to live in Europe, so here I am, doing it!
I travel as much as possible, which means weekend trips, and trips over winter and summer break. When I’m not travelling, I’ve always loved exploring. I like to try out new restaurants, visit museums and wander around Madrid.
I’m also a big fan of yoga and try to practice at least 3 times per week. It’s hard in the summer because Madrid is so hot and I’m travelling, but it’s my favourite way to sweat and destress.
I also try to spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. Travelling as much as I do is hard on relationships, so I try to give that attention as well.
I have friends I go years without seeing but we do our best to catch up as often as possible, no matter the distance. It can be very difficult since life has a way of distracting me!
MT: When did you start to be interested in travelling?
KC: At birth really! My parents got my passport pretty much immediately after I was born, my first international trip was at 6 months! My mom is from Colombia and my dad is from Cuba, so we’ve always travelled as a family. Plus, they both love travelling so it started with them.
MT: What is your first travel-related memory?
KC: Oh wow. I remember when I was younger, we would take small road trips in Colombia, from Medellin to a small ‘pueblo‘ where my aunt and uncle had a lake house. The roads in Colombia basically hug mountains so each stop we made on the way felt slightly dangerous but beautiful. We would stop for snacks in random small villages, and I always remember seeing little kids running around, chasing a soccer ball.
MT: What is your favourite place (travel destination) in the world? Why?
KC: Well I’ve only been to 16 countries, but I’ve travelled back to several of them and without a doubt my favourite thus far is Colombia.
It’s one of the most diverse countries in the world when it comes to nature and wildlife, and it’s breath-taking. There are rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains….it has everything you could want. I also feel like it could please every type of traveller.
Do you want an adventure? You’ve got it. Want amazing food? Colombia has it. History, culture, and art? Yep, Colombia has that too. Want to relax at a waterfront resort? You can. I’ve probably been to Colombia at least 10-15 times in my life and I’d go once a year if I could.
MT: Have you ever had any bad experiences when travelling?
KC: Yes. I’ve never really experienced harassment, sexual harassment, catcalling or anything like that. I went on a girl’s trip to Frankfurt where I was made to feel very uncomfortable by local men. Walking down the street men stared at me very intensely and made aggressive faces and remarks under their breath. Then at a local restaurant, we felt like cattle going up for slaughter walking to our table…it was very strange.
MT: Which countries have you travelled to?
US, Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.
MT: Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
KC: I think most people I’ve met who want to travel but don’t are hindered by two things: time and money. In the United States especially, there’s a culture around what we’re “supposed to do” in life, and many people get caught up in it.
Travel hasn’t traditionally been a part of that, so older generations don’t necessarily understand or encourage travel. I think for women especially, the issue of travelling alone in a foreign country has always been portrayed as dangerous.
People always ask me how I was able to travel, even when I had a corporate job, and my response is always: planning and starting small. Travel doesn’t have to be a huge trip to Bali or Europe.
It can be a weekend roundtrip to a city a few hours away. Also, it’s about realigning priorities. For me, travel was a priority, so I saved money in other aspects of life and was also strategically using the time off my company allowed.
MT: What are the challenges of travelling solo? (if you are a solo traveller)
KC: I love solo travel and have written a few posts on it, and I don’t find it challenging at all! I’m a very independent person and love being able to do things at my own speed, but I know some people who hate travelling alone.
The strangest thing for me was my first meal alone on my first solo trip. It was an experience I would have liked to share with someone, so I FaceTimed my mom as I ate. Once I got over that meal, I never felt the need to do that again.
MT: How have your travels changed you?
KC: Oh wow. They’ve changed me in so many ways. It sounds incredibly cheesy but I learn something about myself on every trip I take. Actually, I wouldn’t say that travelling has changed me so much as it’s introduced me to myself.
I’ve definitely grown into myself more through each trip, but I wouldn’t say anything has dramatically changed me.
I’ve always been independent, but now I’m more independent. I’ve always been curious, and that curiosity just keeps growing. Travelling has really also opened my eyes to how different and alike humans are and has given me an incredible appreciation and respect for different cultures and lifestyles.
MT: What country or city is your travel bucket list?
KC: Everywhere! There isn’t really one place I’d say I don’t want to go. My 2020 bucket list is Italy, Norway and Finland as far as new countries are concerned, but I also want to go back to Germany, Ireland and England.
MT: Future travel plans?
KC: As I write this I’m actually travelling (shocker!) visiting friends in Nashville. In the next few weeks, I’ll probably do a bit of travel around South Florida, discovering more of the Gulf Coast, before heading back to Spain! I plan to do some travel within Spain as well, but nothing is in the books just yet!
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