Travel even if you are the "Other"

Travel even if you are the "Other"

When I used to think of travel, I thought of the quintessential backpacker. Some attractive looking white dude that with that sleek hair, who has been so blessed to be out "finding himself", and most likely with a travel fund aka their parents.

Yes, you do find some of these people while traveling, and they tend to be nice people, but that is not the only people you will find or rather who should only be traveling. Yes, it can be pricey but also it can be rewarding!

In my own country, I don’t always feel like I belong, I am the other. I am a first generation Latina, child of immigrants, I grew up in a low- income household, and I am a womyn. Although I dreamed of it as a child, I was the last person I ever imagined to be able to travel to now 20 countries.

It is terrifying and the truth is it’s not easy but it’s so worth it! This is why you should travel when you are the "other" in the US. The truth is we are constantly traveling in our daily lives. We navigate different worlds and identities, code switching all day, that we are naturally born travelers.

These are my experiences, this may not be the case with all people but this is what I have found to be my truth and one of the reasons I continue to travel abroad.

  1. You will find those that accept you
  2. Many times you will be asked:

    No, where are you are REALLY from?

    Ironically, this happens more to me in my hometown than when I leave the country.

    "Why yes, I grew up here and speak your native tongue.Shocking, I know showing right 😒"

    Yet when I go abroad, people might have a slight look of confusion but saying "the US" is often good enough.Of course this isn't always the case but more often than not, and that's good enough for me. THIS is an amazing feeling, for me, it feels so great to not have to explain your existence over and over. Honestly, it may be one of the main reasons I love to travel abroad, I'm just accepted or maybe it's that I really am the foreigner there (but more on my native origins later).

  3. You will blend
  4. If you are blessed enough to be touched by the sun and have beautiful brown skin #BrownIsBeautiful, you will most likely blend when you travel outside the western world.

    Melanin was gifted to them as well, especially in parts of the world where the sun is closer cause #SCIENCE #RaceIsASocialConstruct (no but really read here). Because of this, you are more likely to blend in with the locals, and this is great use it to your advantage! Allow yourself to interact with the local people and listen to their experiences. Also, if you are so inclined, you may be mistaken as a local and pay less in museum fees 😉.

  5. You will gain new perspectives
  6. Americans tend to not like talking about taboo topics. We like to pretend bad things don't happen here, poverty is non-existent and we live in a beautiful post-racial society. I have found other nations, tend to tackle and want to partake in typically off-limit discussions particularly other backpackers. Which ends up being a really great opportunity for dialogue and insight. We learn so much from others and exchange our lived experience to become more conscious travelers.

    You will also realize your own privileges whether it's gender, sexuality, or class. #CheckYourPrivillage

    What is privilege you ask? Check out this video that's pretty spot on.

  7. You will expand your network
  8. You may meet someone and go on a hike, have a couple drinks, have a meaningful life discussion and then the next day you may have to part ways and be oceans away. Technology today allows us to stay connected and create our own spaces. Personally, I have tried to stay connected to those I have met that had a great impact in my life. I have met up with people years later, crossed paths again, gone on trips, and visited friends I made while traveling. I have been connected and connect opportunities when I can. You never know how a person you meet can change the course of your life.

  9. You will be confident in your existence
  10. As I mentioned before, as "others" we are naturally born travelers. We navigate between different realms, so why not use this to our advantage. Why not live a more fulfilled life and surround ourselves with people who accept and embrace us that we may meet all over the world. We find that our media has taught us to hate ourselves but the rest of the world is waiting to let us in.

    Do you have any other tips you’d add?

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Growing up as a low-income first-gen Valerie never imagined being able to see 20 countries since 2012. She aims to inspire, create dialogue, and cultural exchange through Part Time Exploradora.

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