In my quest to find Latina travelers, I came across three exceptionally powerful and inspiring women who are changing the face of travel through writing and cultural exploration. I reached out to them and asked some introspective questions. Here is Part One of this three-pronged Latina #Travel Series, introducing Alexandra Tracy of Travel Latina.
HipLatina: Please provide a brief summary of yourself and Travel Latina.
Alexandra Tracy Chavarriaga: My name is Alexandra, and I am a bicultural Latina who has lived mostly in the United States, but also in México and France. I am very proud of my bilateral identity of both Colombian and indigenous roots. My love for travel began the time my family moved to Mexico when I was nine years old. I have now visited 17 countries, and have the whole world on my bucket list. I started Travel Latina in March of 2015 because of my passion for traveling and my desire to share this with other like-minded Latinas.
Travel Latina is an initiative to inspire Latinas to travel and have unforgettable experiences all over the world. Since most Latinas in the diaspora still hold a strong connection with their individual motherlands, most have traveled back and forth from their current home to visit family. We want to encourage Latinas to expand their horizons and travel outside of that. There are many advantages Latinas have when they travel, work, or study abroad. We currently have 12 bloggers who talk about all of their distinctive experiences who either live abroad, travel on a short trip, or study abroad for an extended period of time. Since we value culture and language in a unique way compared to the mainstream media, they are encouraged to express themselves in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Spanglish or any other language they please.
HL: How did you start traveling? And why did you continue?
ATC: My first real trip alone was when I studied abroad in France for a whole year, which I completely prepared on my own. Luckily, I was able to receive just enough financial help from my parents to live there. I then got two jobs while in France and used that money to travel everywhere in Europe. I felt free and empowered to be able to travel so easily and on a budget. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to travel as much as I could for the rest of my life. It is what brings me the most happiness (after my family of course).
HL: Why do you think only a small percentage of Latinos travel, particularly Latinas and how do you think we can start to travel more?
ATC: I think the biggest issue for our community is primarily the scary assumed cost of traveling. If we can show how so many Latinas have been able to travel the world, on a small budget, and with a lot of planning and saving, than others will be encouraged to travel. I personally have never traveled very luxuriously on my own and usually have to plan and save strategically to compose a low-cost trip. Saving is really hard to do, but I am a big believer in the fact that true happiness lies in the concept that we should buy experiences rather than things. I want to make sure Latinas realize why this motto is so important, and I want to help them to create healthier financial decision not just for traveling, but in their daily lives.
HL: In your website, you mention you want to promote positive stereotypes and role models about and for Latinas. What are negative stereotypes Latinas are combatting today?
ATC: Latinas are hyper-sexualized by the media, whether it be in TV and films, or in commercials or marketing. We are seen as objects, demeaned by machismo, and we are seldomly given a voice to speak on our experiences. I want to combat those negative stereotypes by featuring all different kinds of Latinas of all various shapes and sizes such as Afro-Latinas, Indigenous Latinas, White Latinas, Mestizas, and Mulattas, who travel. It shows that we are more than just our bodies or our appearance. This initiative focuses more on our diversity, our love for life, our passions, our interactions with different cultures and environments, and a variety of things we do.