Exploring the Island of Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is the largest Spanish island, located to the east of the peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. It is known internationally for its beautiful landscapes, beaches and nightlife.

When most people think about this island, they tend to think of only a beach destination, but after visiting there several times I discovered that it has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches!

Mallorca is rich in history, with delicious cuisine and many incredible places to explore: mountains, traditional villages, beaches etc.

It is perfect for a family vacation, a couples getaway or even for those who travel alone, like myself.

It is also an ideal location for professionals or companies that are looking to organize or attend activities and events. There is always something happening on Mallorca island!

During this last year, I have had the opportunity to travel to Mallorca, combining both work and pleasure.

During my first visit, I was invited to attend the annual Travel Bloggers Meeting of the Balearic Islands. During the five days that I visited, I stayed at the beautiful Meliá Calviá Beach Hotel, which was in a beautiful area, full of attractions and night life.

For this event, they invited 17 influential travel bloggers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Poland, the United States, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. During this trip we visited different parts of Calviá and explored different key parts of the island.

 

Apart from being one of the invited influencers, I was also the invited keynote speaker that was asked to share about my experience traveling alone to almost 100 countries around the world and working as a full time media influencer.

On my second trip, I was invited to speak at DESTINO MICE at the Congress Palace in Palma. This is an annual event aimed towards meeting and event organizers that seek to promote Mallorca as a specialized destination.

In the afternoon, I gave a 2 hour training on Emotional and Social Intelligence applied towards management.

The next day, I was one of the five inspirational women invited to speak in Inca for an event with MOTIVATING TALKS organized by Creativity Events.

Resultado de imagen de MOTIVATIONAL TALKS de Creativity Events.

After spending some time in Mallorca, I quickly realized that it is much different than any of the other Spanish islands that I have visited so far. In my opinion, it was a huge advantage visiting in the low season, because I was able to escape the crowds and experience a whole different side of Mallorca that many people might not get to see in the high, crowded season.

Mallorca is so much bigger than I thought, so I decided that renting a car would be the best way to get around and explore.

I chose Roig Rental Car, a car rental company located less than 5 minutes from the airport. I was picked up by a shuttle at the airport and taken quickly to their main office. I was given a small, fuel efficient car during the week that I was there. It was very practical and I got my around the whole island on just one tank of gas!

This is hands down the most comfortable and affordable way to get around, especially if you are traveling with multiple people.

Recommendations:

There are many hotels and places to stay on the island, but given that Mallorca is known for its beautiful beaches, I decided to look for something as close to the beach as I could. The ocean always gives me energy and helps me to recharge my batteries, so finding a place with beach views was a must.

Hotel Nixe Palace

After a late evening flight and dinner, I arrived to Hotel Nixe Palace quite exhausted. The reception was friendly, helpful and had everything prepared for me as soon as I arrived. Upon entering the room, I was surprised to find a nice welcome note, fruit platter and a bottle of cava. The amazing detail as soon as I entered my room was priceless!

The room was very spacious and the bed was soft and comfortable.  I instantly opened the curtains and saw that there was a large balcony. I stepped outside, took a deep breath of the fresh air, with a gentle breeze coming from the ocean, and instantly felt relaxed.

I was so excited about having the large outdoor area with seaside views that I actually woke up each day way before the sun in order to have some quiet time before my events and calm my mind with the sound of the waves and deep breathing exercises and mediation.

Each day I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet in order to enjoy a delicious healthy breakfast with amazing ocean views.

Given that I travel a large part of the year, it’s very important for me to have healthy options for each meal. Most people travel and skip their diets, but given that travel is my lifestyle, I make it a rule to eat healthy when on the go, just like one would do in their regular day to day lives.

In the evening, after returning to the hotel, I finished each day by a nice workout in their gym and soaking in the spa. I was so impressed with all the amenities of the hotel. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to Mallorca!

Click here to read more about Hotel Nixe Palace.

GASTRONOMY

Mallorca is an island known for its gastronomy. The food has a rich history, with African and Roman influences.

I tried many different restaurants during my stay in Mallorca, ranging from classy sit down places, to stand up tapa bars.

In my first visit to the island, I found a place called Urban Food in Calvia. It has a very modern atmosphere that attracts many international tourists and is perfect for trying different types of Mallorcan food and tapas.

I loved this area because of the different options of food available and for its young, hip environment. This area is also perfect for shopping, night life or just simply an evening stroll.

Restaurants:

Lume & Co

This was the very first place that I visited after getting my rental car and starting my adventure through Mallorca. This was recommended to me by others and they have excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

It is located in Genoa, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Palma, about 10 minutes by car from the center.

Upon entering, I fell in love with their cozy and romantic atmosphere. It is located in a 15th century historic building, next to the castle of Son Berga, which was restored and modernized from stables to a beautiful location to dine.

Their speciality is quality meats (without hormones, antibiotics and additives). However, there are many vegetarian options, as well as wild fish.

It was a perfect place to start off my trip through Mallorca: good food, romantic atmosphere and excellent service!

Click here to read more about Lume & Co.

La Cuadra Del Maño

Strolling through the old town, near the Plaza Mayor in Palma, a strong smell came over me that reminded me of my days back in USA when I used to have barbecues.

I followed that smell down the street until I found La Cuadra Del Mano, which was absolutely FULL of people. They had long lines of people waiting outside to enter, but I decided that given the amount of people there, that it must be a place that was popular and that I should not miss.

Although the restaurant was packed, they still managed to find a small place for my guest and I. We told the owner that we wanted to try a little bit of everything in small portions so that we could try out many different things that they had on the menu.

Within 10 minutes, the waiter started bringing large plates of food out, ranging from olives, cheese, morcilla, meat and home made bread with olive oil. Once we got started, it was very hard to stop eating.  We stayed there for 2 hours and we left feeling very full and satisfied!

I am not a meat eater, but there are other options to choose instead. However, without a doubt the best part of the experience was feeling the lively environment and the staff (its a family run business) that will treat you just like one of the family.

Food&Friends

This is a perfect place to hold business activities, events, special occasions or just a good night out with a group of friends. After the MICE event, the organizers and speakers went out to have a unique gastronomic experience, where we learned how to make new delicious dishes together.

This is an excellent way to learn about the local gastronomy and have a fun interactive experience for everyone!

 

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Apart from the delicious gastronomy, there is so much to enjoy in Mallorca, such as its coastal towns and cute traditional villages. I would of have liked to spend more time on the island in order to explore much more, but given that time was limited, I only had the chance to explore the following:

Porto Colom

This is an adorable fishing village where you can enjoy beautiful post card views and see small colorful houses and fishing boats. Many historians claim that this is actually where the famous explorer Christopher Columbus was born and for that reason it got its name, “Port Colom.”

I enjoyed walking through the town and seeing all the gorgeous views around sunset time. For those who have lots of time, boat trips are available, something that is highly recommended by others.

The ride from Porto Colom to the hotel was absolutely breathtaking. The sky ended up turning pink and yellow and I couldn’t help but stop the car and get out and take some pictures in the hay field.

Santayi

Walking through the old town you can see many cute shops and charming houses. Every Saturday there is a local market and its a great place to find traditional local products, homemade cheese, wine, fruit, jams and all kinds of different souvenirs.

If you are a wine lover, there are different places to stop along the way way to try different wines and to find a good quality bottle to take back home with you. One of the places worth mentioning is the Son Alegro Wine Cellar. They are known for making organic wine and highly respecting the environment.

I have to admit, out of all the places that I visited in Mallorca, this area was by far one of my favorites, because it is just a few kilometers away from the famous Cala del Moro. It is a small hidden beach, with beautiful blue waters and surrounded by rocks and groves.

There are many places to explore, but this is the most recognized area. There was not a single person in sight, which was the perfect opportunity to fly my drone and get some amazing video and footage.

Pollença

One of the things I quickly discovered walking the streets of Pollencça is that they actually have their own dialect. This is a great place to go and learn more about the culture of Mallorca, interact with locals and have an authentic type of experience.

This is also a nice place to relax and watch people. The environment is relaxed and good for taking a nice stroll and checking out the artsy places around. There are different areas that you can visit, but if you like to hike, I highly suggest you visit the Mountain Puig. You can walk it in about an hour and the views are lovely.

Strolling through the village was a nice way to end my time there. I found a very romantic restaurant that I fell in love with called FOGONEU

It is perfect for a chilled out evening, enjoying the good cuisine and wine with their tasting menu.

Valldemossa

This is a lovely place in the mountains of the “Serra de Tramontana”, a quiet and relaxing place with incredible views. You can visit different art galleries, enjoy delicious food, visit the monastery and walk through its artsy streets.

For all nature lovers, there are many trails in the area for hiking, with neat spots that you can stop and get nice panoramic views of the sea and Mallorca.

Foto: Domingo Vázquez

Deià

This is a coastal town in the western part of the island, known as the village of artists. It is a great destination for art lovers and those love to walk aimlessly though art galleries. Many claim that this is a great place to live if you are looking for a calm and relaxed way of living. There are many fantastic outdoor areas, with good hiking trails and excellent opportunities for photographers.

 

Mallorca is truly a hidden gem that one needs to discover and explore. I really believe that this is one of those places where you can visit countless times each year and still never run out of exciting places to discover.

 

Don´t forget to also check out: 

HOW I GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN 1 YEAR WHILE TRAVELING FULL TIME TO 20 COUNTRIES

7 GESTURES YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID IN OTHER COUNTRIES

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

 

 

 

 

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7 Gestures You Might Want to Avoid in Other Countries

The more I travel around the world, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. Each and every day while being on the road life seems to teach me new lessons in regards to different cultures, lifestyle, people and completely new and distinct ways of thinking.

Traveling and having the opportunity to interact with countless individuals on a personal and professional level from all different cultures, ages and lifestyles has changed me from the inside out and has completely transformed the lens in which I see the world and the people in it.

Over the last 5 years that I have been living and working abroad, I have immersed myself completely into the cultures that I have visited and have studied the ends and outs of communication, with a special emphasis on non verbal and intercultural communication.

As of now, I have visited almost 100 countries completely alone, speaking at conferences, seminars and life coaching individuals who seek to reach the next level in their personal and professional life.

Throughout all of my travels, I have learned the power of communication and how it can be such a powerful tool to connect us and absolutely transform the world.

At the same time, I have also seen how much communication varies across cultures, especially in terms of non verbal communication and the gestures that we use in our day to day lives.

In this article I wanted to dive deeper into the topic of the gestures that we are used to using each day and talk about some of the very interesting lessons that I have learned in reference to this while traveling across the world.

Focusing and learning more about our gestures and how they are interpreted across cultures could save all of us a world of problems while traveling abroad.

10 Gestures that is important to know when traveling and doing working internationally:

1. Direct Eye Contact

Growing up playing sports I was taught on a daily basis the importance of respect for adults and the importance of never losing eye contact when someone is speaking, especially an adult. Having had this drilled into my head from an early age, its quite difficult to not look at someone directly in the eye, no matter who they are.

However, while traveling in the Middle East I quickly learned a cultural norm, which is not applicable in every situation, but is a good rule to follow if you don’t know exactly what to do, and that is not making direct eye contact for periods of time with someone from the oposite sex.

This all depends on where you are and the type of environment that you are in. Of course, if you are with friends and the environment is relaxed, then there is no problem in most cases. However, if you are a complete stranger, the environment is a bit intense and the people there tend to be more traditional, then its better to focus your attention in connecting, talking and making eye contact with just the women.

Eye contact can come across very flirtatious and can be completely interpreted in the wrong way in many cultures, including America. It can be an issue as well if you are making eye contact with a man who has a wife by his side, even if you have no wrong intentions. Not in all cases, but this could be uncomfortable and insulting to the woman.

I write this one as #1 based on personal experience. Like I said, you could just be just a friendly person and have no flirtatious intentions, but in some cultures more than others, this can be portrayed completely the wrong way.

Also, in reference to looking at others directly in the eyes, in Latin America, and even parts of Asia, I learned that looking at an adult that you respect in the eyes is a sign of disrespect. In many of these countries the children grow up learning to not look their teachers or elders in the eyes in order to show them the respect that they deserve.

However, it’s even aplicable for many adults who are in the workforce. They are taught to have high respect and courtesy for their boss, and one of the ways of showing that is by not making eye contact at any given point with him or her.

I grew up learning that if you do not make eye contact that you are most likely lying or trying to hide something. In law enforcement they pay special attention to the victims eyes, their movement, eye contact and these can lead officials believe that a person is telling the truth or not. With that being the case, I tend to make eye contact with anyone that I am speaking with, whether it be a teacher, boss or high authority.

I just say that a good rule of thumb is to be careful with your eye contact in very unfamiliar settings and you should be just fine.

2. Thumbs Up

Ever since I was a young, I have been using the thumbs up gesture. It’s something that I have used over the years while playing sports and a gesture that others have shown to me when I have done a good job.  Without even saying a word, the thumbs up sign has given me a sense of security in many situations and the confidence to know that I am on the right path and doing a great job.

However, the thumbs up is not always interpreted in other parts of the world like it is in the USA.

For example, in many parts of the Middle East, South America and parts of Africa this gesture is what people would use to say “up yours!”

This can be especially tricky for those who travel across the world by hitchhiking, because your friendly sign showing that you want a ride can come across as very offensive in many countries.

I actually learned this while in the car with someone that picked me up on the side of the road on my wild hitchhiking adventure years ago when I started traveling.

It may seem silly, but there are people out there that literally take these things seriously.

3. Peace Sign

When I visited Asia the first time, especially in countries like South Korea, I quickly learned their love for the peace sign. It’s very common in many Asian countries to show it and for many countries, including the USA and most Western countries, it’s absolutely harmless.

However, when giving that friendly sign, it’s important to not turn the finger around the other way because just a slight tilt of the hand in countries like Ireland, England and Australia would be the same as giving someone the middle finger.

4. OK Sign

“Everything is A- OK!”

This phrase, combined with the OK hand sign, is something that I have used and continue to use when nonverbally communicating with people from around the world.  It’s another one of those signs of approval to show that you are doing a good job with what you are doing, whether it be in school, work, sports etc.

Also, for those scuba divers out there, like myself, it’s the sign that you show while underwater to tell your dive partner that everything is good and you have no sort of stress or problems.

I learned this while being in Brazil during the few weeks that I was there during the Rio Carnival in Rio de Janiero. To my shock, I found out that the OK sign is anything but approving for the Brazilian people. Although you may do it with a good intention, others can interpret it as you if you are calling them an asshole.

When I was studying about non verbal communication and gestures before around my trip through Brazil, I came across an article that was talking about how in 1950 Richard Nixon went to Brazil and gave the OK sign and everyone booed him and showed high disapproval of his gesture.

This is a perfect example of a national world leader, that obviously meant no harm, but in the end he ruined his image with people by just one small gesture of the hand.

This is also very offensive in Turkey. If you make the OK sign with your hand you can maybe assume why it may be somewhat offensive no? If not, think harder and maybe you can figure it out. In Turkey this gesture is used to tell to someone that they are homosexual.

Hint: OK with the hand looks like a butt hole, which is where the insult comes from.

5. Horns

This is the classic sign that many Americans use if they are into heavy metal music. This is the sign that shows “ROCK ON MAN!” I personally have never used this sign, but growing up I have seen many people make that sign as the “cool thing” to do.

To my surprise, I found out that this is quite offensive in many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Portugal and even Spain.

I will admit, I have lived many years in Spain and have never heard of any Spanish person talk about this as being an insult. However, from what others have explained, it really depends on which part of the country that you are in and the context in which you use the gesture.

If you uses the horns with a happy face in one of these countries, it most likely will not be a problem. However, if you show it with a face of disapproval, then this could be interpreted as “your significant other is cheating on you and you are too dumb and ridiculous to realize that is happening.”

I have to admit, when I learned about this gesture it made me laugh because I have never seen or heard of anyone these days with with any problems using this gesture, but that is not to say that it does not come across as offensive in different parts of these countries.

6. Crossed Legs

Most of the time when we are sitting in a chair with our friends or in a meeting we don’t even pay attention to how we are positioned. Most of us change positions multiple times in one single meeting without it even crossing our minds. However, if you start working in other countries, such as the Middle East, India or even Japan, it’s important to pay attention to how you sit.

If you are in a meeting or sitting with your legs crossed in the presence of someone that is older than you in Japan, this can come across as very insulting for that person.  Along the same lines, in the Middle East and Asia, it’s very offensive to cross your legs to where the other people can see the soles of your shoes.

During my visit to the south of India, I learned this lesson the hard way. I had absolutely no idea years ago that showing your sole was offensive to them. During my 10 day mediation/silent retreat, I was sitting with others with my legs crossed and my sole showing.

Obviously I did not do this to offend anyone, but it was something that I was pulled aside and told to never do. Although it was an innocent mistake, I was given unfriendly faces during the rest of my stay by the person that I had offended, even though I never did it again after being called out.

7.  Calling Someone with Index Finger

Every chance that I get to talk with local people about strange cultural norms in their country I do, because culture and different forms of living absolutely fascinates me. Every single day I seem to learn something new, which is why I love the experience of traveling and staying with locals and interacting on a daily basis with complete strangers.

Probably one of the most shocking pieces of information that I have heard regarding gestures is when it comes to calling someone to come to you with your index finger. We all do it from time to time, whether it’s to our kids, friends, animals or whoever and whatever it may be.

However, this is not something that you want to do in the Philippines because this gesture is actually punishable by arrest!

When I spoke with my hosts in the Philippines about this they told me that it was not a joke and if you did that towards an authority that you would be facing jail time. They claim that this is a disrespectful gesture that is only suitable for dogs.

They did mention that if are with your friends in the street and signal one of them with a finger and a police sees you, that he will not arrest you. However, if you turn around and do that to the authority, you would have major problems.

 

 

Do you have any crazy stories about gestures gone wrong while traveling or working abroad?

Do you have any gestures to add to this list?

Connect on Social Media and Share your Stories!

 

 

Don’t forget to also check out: 

HOW I GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN 1 YEAR WHILE TRAVELING FULL TIME TO 20 COUNTRIES

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

 

 

 

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Escape into the Magical Nature of Sapa, Vietnam

The older I get, the more I truly take time to enjoy nature and all of its amazing benefits. While traveling across the world for long periods of time is an incredible and life changing experience, at times it gets quite exhausting, especially when traveling through large and over populated cities.

Two months into my long term trip through Southeast Asia I made my way to the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, a city that has a reputation as the “city that never sleeps.”

However, after months of traveling throughout large cities, my heart was crazing quietness and nature and that was simply impossible to find in Hanoi.

After only a couple of days in the city, I decided to take a trip to the north of Vietnam to the mountainous town of Sapa to get the break I was craving.

Sapa is a beautiful area that is located near the Chinese border, surrounded by mountains and stunning views.

There are many places to stay in the area, but I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be far away as I could from the town, with amazing landscapes and rice fields all around me.

Sapa Valley is an area with cute little villages, waterfalls, rice fields, rivers, hiking trails and a perfect place to explore by a motorcycle.

Just a short distance outside of the town is the charming Cat Cat Village. This was hands down one of my favorite parts of visiting Sapa. This old village not only has gorgeous views and waterfalls, but its a perfect place to see different ethnic groups and experience the different practices and traditions that are still being implemented today by many Vietnamese people.

While walking through the village one is able to see traditional activities, such as women weaving fabric, home made crafts being made and women dressed in fancy traditional clothing.

INFORMATION:

 

Transportation

There are many buses that travel to Sapa every day. I highly recommend the night bus that leaves from Hanoi at 2200 and arrives around 0500. This was the first time I had ever been in a VIP overnight bus with beds that fully recline and it was a very pleasant and comfortable ride.

Tickets can be bought online or at the bus station and cost anywhere from $10-20 one way. If you are located in Hanoi Old Quarter most will pick you up without an additional cost from your hotel.

I went completely alone at there was not concern at all about safety. In fact, I met many other solo travelers that I decided to continue traveling with during my whole trip to Sapa.

Once you are in Sapa I highly suggest renting a motorcycle. The roads are a bit rough, but this is the best way to see different parts of Sapa. Many people take a taxi, but I like the feeling of having my freedom and not having my driver wait on my every time I get out to do something.

The other option many people opt for is taking a 1-3 day hiking trip. Many people go to Sapa to hike the rice fields and do all of their travel by foot. This is a great option, but just make sure to know your directions because its super easy to get lost.

Homestay

There are many options for accommodation in Sapa, but after doing my research I decided to go with Zizi Home Stay. Prices are between $5-15 per night and the experience is very unique, especially if you are used to staying in hotels.

This homestay is only recommended for people that are in good physical condition. You will be required to walk from the main road up hill for around 5 minutes in order to reach the home. Its not exactly the easiest little hike, especially if you have a big bag or some kind of injury.

However, if you make it to the top and decide to stay, it will be worth the hike. Each morning you will wake up to some of the most amazing views you have ever seen, without a doubt!

In addition, during the night for a small price, the owners will prepare a very large home cooked meal. Everyone staying at the homestay will gather around a large table and share the meal together. This is a great option to meet other travelers, especially if you are traveling alone. I went there not knowing a single person and left with all kinds of new friends.

Sapa is a unique place where you can experience nature, culture and have an experience unlike any other place in Vietnam. This was hands down of my favorite places that I visited in Vietnam and I could not recommend it enough!

 

 

 

Don´t forget to also check out:

THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

MY SOLO TRAVEL NIGHTMARE: LOCKED UP AND DEPORTED FROM EUROPE

5 TIPS FOR A PERFECT TRIP TO ANGKOR COMPLEX IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

 

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How I Graduated with Honors in 1 Year While Traveling Full Time to 20 Countries

If I had to narrow it down to one word to identify the essence of me and my sanity, it’s the word balance.

We live in a world full of constant motion, opportunities, temptations and contradicting opinions and at times life seems to pull us in all different directions.

Maintaining a balanced life, in the area of health/wellness, spiritual, mental, work & play and relationships, is key to feeling a sense of accomplishment and happiness in our overall direction and purpose in life.

Traveling the world, while creating my own personal brand and establishing myself as a digital nomad, has taught me many lessons on the importance of balance and having clear goals and priorities.

It’s one thing to travel for fun and pleasure, like I did when I first started, and a whole different story when trying to combine travel and work together in order to create a life to where you have the freedom to live and work from any place around the world.

About 70 countries into my adventure, I decided to take my brand Nomadic Dreamer to a whole different level and create something lasting and profitable for myself.

When I started, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was pulled in many different directions, growing my social media, writing articles, translating everything from English to Spanish and I was completely lost.

However, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, learning something new each day, offering speeches, courses and making appearances on multiple television and radio shows in order to grow the reputation of my brand.

When I started public speaking in 2015, I was very eager to improve, learn new techniques and push myself past my own personal limits.

I realized that I had a very powerful story and that my calling in life was to share it with others and be the best speaker I could possibly be.

In order to push myself to the next level and accomplish another life long goal of mine, I decided that not only was I going to dedicate 2016 to traveling the world and growing Nomadic Dreamer, but I was going to do it all while finishing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas in the USA from distance.

They offer an intense program in communication and language that offers tools and trainings that I knew could help me to succeed as a better and more skilled speaker.

I spoke with the director of the program about my desire to start the program in the following semester and that I wanted to do it all in just one year from distance, while working and traveling full time.

Doubts filled her head as she knew how demanding the program is to do in one year for students that physically attend classes. Trying not to discourage me, she made sure I was aware that I would need to be active each and every day for class, engage in all activities, discussions, tests, projects and during multiple times in the year I would have a project where I would need to find my own audience of people in order to give a 15-20 minute speech, which obviously is difficult while on the road and while only interacting with strangers.

As a traveler, I know how from first hand experience how difficult it is to find balance while on the road. There are constant problems of finding strong wifi to upload projects, places to have pure silence in order to work and a constant challenge to find the the motivation to sit down and do projects while in a beautiful destination in a foreign country.

However, I decided that it was worth the risk and I made a firm commitment.

The beginning was much harder than I thought. I not only was trying to juggle six classes that I had to be present in each and every single day, but I had to do all of that while traveling completely alone through countries like India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.

Not only that, I had to make sure that I was taking good care of my health, always watching out for my safety, planning my next destination, confirming all my travel arrangements, maintaining my work as a digital nomad and growing the Nomadic Dreamer. As if that were not enough, a few months into the course I got a call to be an invited speaker at the largest TEDx conference in Spain in Spanish.It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t say no.

So there I was, with more than I thought I possibly could handle on the table, and wondering how in the world I was going to make all of those dreams become a reality.

In my free time, I eagerly watch videos on YouTube on how to maintain balance, but still struggled to find that perfect balance. However, half way into the course I started a different practice that changed my life and helped me to find better balance and that is the practice of meditation.

During that year, I became very strict and disciplined in all of my practices. I woke up at 5 o’clock every single day, meditated, exercised and all of my classes that I had for the day.

Many times when people were just waking up I had finished with my whole entire day of activities, giving me the freedom to see all the beautiful countries that I was visiting during the day.

Meditation was the medicine that helped me to stay sane during that crazy year. I had absolutely no caffeine during that time and simply relied on my inner power to help me do the impossible.

Many times we have dreams and our heart that seem impossible, just like mine. Sometimes we start something new and we become discouraged because we see our dream as one big mountain, while forgetting the importance of just taking one little step at a time in order to climb up that giant mountain.

I took one baby step each and every day, focusing on my daily actions and making sure that I did not skip a day on any of my commitments.

In those moments that I thought I could not keep moving forward, I quieted my soul with meditation, which always left me feeling refreshed and focused.

It was mentally and physically one of the hardest things I have ever done, but in the end I made my dream a reality. Not only did I graduate in December 2016 with Magna Cum Laude Honors while traveling to 20 countries, I also received an award from the University as an outstanding student that is making a big difference in the world, as well as two newspaper articles about my experience.

In November 2016, I also made another lifelong dream become a reality. I stood before an audience of more than 1,000 people giving a TEDx talk at the largest event in Spain in a language that I could not speak fluently just two years before.

I say all of these accomplishments with a very humble heart. This has nothing to do with me bragging about what I have done, but rather emphasizing the point that if we have a love and passion in our hearts for something, combined with a strong determination to achieve it no matter what the cost, we can make our biggest dreams become a reality.

Does that mean that it’s going to be easy?

Absolutely not.

There were days that I locked myself up in my room crying and wondering how I was going to keep moving forward.

I passed horrible days in that year of traveling with sickness, food poisoning, exhaustion, homesickness and moments that I truly wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits.

However, life is it not about escaping the obstacles in our path, but rather, looking them straight in the eyes and saying,

“I am bigger than you and nothing can stop me!”

 

To read article, click on the photo: 

 

 

 

 

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adminHow I Graduated with Honors in 1 Year While Traveling Full Time to 20 Countries
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My Solo Travel Nightmare: Locked Up and Deported from Europe

Traveling and exploring Europe has always been a big dream of mine. Since I was a child I had always learned in school interesting information about the continent and there was no place on Earth that I wanted to visit than there.

In 2013, I made a drastic change to my life, paid off all of my debt, quit my well paid job as a nurse and booked a one way ticket to Spain. It was an experience that completely changed my life and opened my closed and limited mind to a whole new world of opportunities and ways of thinking.

During the time I was living and working in Spain I was finally able to achieve one of my dreams and visit many of the European countries that I had always studied about in school. The experience was magical!

In 2015, after having traveled to many European countries, I decided that I really loved to travel and that I wanted to do it full-time and COMPLETELY alone.

I started my solo adventure in Morocco, then to the south of France to walk the Camino de Santiago for 31 days, followed by a long term epic adventure trip across Europe.

After visiting Europe, I then grew the courage as a young solo traveler to visit Asia, then South America, Central America, Middle East and before I knew it I had traveled to over 70 countries around the world!

When I finally returned back to Spain after all of my travels, I pulled out the map and began to plan my next big adventure.

In that moment I realized that I had almost finished the entire continent of Europe and if I planned well enough I could visit every country by the end of the 2017 year and accomplish another dream of mine.

The only countries that I was missing in that time were:

  • Malta
  • Czech Republic
  • Norway
  • Belarus
  • Monaco

Being the goal driven person that I am, I quickly found a good travel deal to Malta ($15) and within just a week I was packed and ready to go an another adventure!

MALTA

I was so pumped up about my plan and continued traveling to my remaining countries, with the goal of celebrating my accomplishment in Monaco at the end of the year.

It was the PERFECT plan!

After leaving Norway, I booked a flight to Belarus, which is a country that had just recently changed their visa policy, giving Americans a visa free visit for up to 5 days. Although the weather was below freezing, I decided to explore Belarus while I had the chance and then fly directly to Italy, via Kiev, Ukraine and arrive to Monaco by train.

Belarus

Capital of Belarus

Everything on my trip went with such ease. No missed flights, perfect accommodation and many new and exciting friendships with people in all of the countries that I had visited. I arrived to Italy at 11pm, after many hours of travel from Belarus, feeling rested and stoked by the fact that I was officially going to mark off my last European country off the list in just a matter of hours.

I had all my travel documents prepared, a return flight to Spain, accommodation and pick up from the airport organized and my train booked that would take me directly to Monaco.

Just like any other immigration border check, I arrived with all my information and passport ready and a big smile on my face.

Most immigration officers pay special attention to my passport, given the amount of stamps that I have, but this time the officer was studying my passport a bit more than the usual.

He flipped back and forth through the pages and looked up at me with a stern look and back at the passport again. In very broken English he began to ask me about what I do in Spain, how long I have been there, why I travel so much and anything he could think of to learn more about me.

With a serious face, he said “Ma’am, I need you to come with me.”

I was led a small waiting room. Three men surrounded the immigration officer and then began to whisper to each other. Around a small table they pulled out my passport and a piece of paper and pen and began to look at my passport with great detail, writing on a sheet of paper little notes.

I remained very calm, knowing with certainty that I did not do anything wrong and what was happening was just a simple mistake.

At least that’s what I thought.

The immigration officer returned and on a piece of paper pointed to the number 94.

“You can only stay 90 days. You need to go now and you cannot come back.”

Feelings of anxiety started to take over me as and I began to argue my case. The immigration officer had absolutely no sympathy and with a stern look on his face repeated the same statement, “you can only stay 90 days. You need to go now.”

Growing more anxious by the moment, I then showed him a letter from my lawyer indicating that I was obtaining residency in Spain, but he firmly said “here in Italy we do not recognize this. You must go!”

He then pulled out a stamp and my heart instantly dropped to the floor. Without any sort of hesitation he picked up my password, threw it down on the desk and stamped an “X” and told me that I was going to be locked up and deported out of the European Union to Kiev, Ukraine.

At that moment I could not hold the tears back. I began to sob like a baby uncontrollably. All I could think about was my life in Spain, my apartment, with all of my stuff and those awful words of “you must leave and cannot come back.”

A woman working in the immigration department came down to find me hysterically crying and said, “I know this is a completely innocent mistake on your part and that you are not out to break the law, but why would you EVER come through this airport if you have questionable visa problems?!”

She mentioned that in bigger airports that no one checks or cares about these kind of issues, but in a small airport like Bergamo, Italy, they don’t have as much traffic coming in and out and they have more time to take you in for questioning for minor problems.

In the end, the officers collected my materialistic possessions and led me to a freezing cold bare room where I was detained with others that were genuinely breaking the rules.

I was all alone, cold and more scared than I had ever been. I felt like a criminal and there was nothing I could do at that point.

The sound of the bear like snores echoed through the barren room and tears continued to roll down my face. I had not eaten or slept for a full day and all I could think about was my nice comfy bed in Spain and some delicious warm food. However, my reality in that moment was so far from that.

I reached in the pocked of my winter jacket and I to my luck I realized that I still had my full charged cell phone. I walked through my cell with the phone high in the air trying to reach some sort of service, but had absolutely no luck.

The room was bear, ice cold and the minutes seemed to never pass. I could hear the sound of my stomach growling as I sat there fantasizing about something delicious to eat, but the officers did not offer me food or even a glass of water.

I made my way to my hard bed and laid there profusely shaking and able to see the fog from breath out in front of me. Feelings of regret and anger filled my mind for not having recognized my visa error beforehand and for having gone through that small airport.

I swam in a pool of negative thoughts of “should of,” but I quickly realized that this way of thinking was completely useless and that I could not erase the past no matter how hard I wanted to.

Time seemed like it was frozen. I desired more than anything to escape that freezing cold room and run away and never look back. Freedom has always been a normal thing for me and losing it for one night brought me to my knees and allowed me to see how much I take that special gift for granted.

Laying on my hard bed waiting for time to pass

At 4 o’clock in the morning the police banged on the door and screamed, “Lets go!”

I collected my belongings and was escorted to a police car with with the lights and sirens on. The car rushed across the runway to where my the airplane was parked and we pulled up to see a big bus full of passengers crammed together with the doors closed waiting to get on the plane.

We stopped and the officers escorted me from both sides up the flight stairs and onto the plane with a closed envelope with my passport and written on the outside,

“This document should not enter the hands of the detainee.”

It was a shameful walk up the airplane stairs. I could feel the eyes of all of the passengers watching me. I begin to imagine what many of them were thinking as they watched me get escorted on the same plane that that they would be traveling on for our 6 hour flight.

I stepped on the plane and instead of receiving the warm welcome from the flight attendants, I was given shunning looks from each one of them, as if I had committed the worst crime on earth.

They assigned me a seat in the front and all of the passengers began to enter one by one. Every single person gave me a look up a down, some with disgust and others confusion and fear.

Being the friendly, smily, outgoing person that I am, I felt hurt and a deep sense of sadness from the rejection. All I wanted to do was stand up and scream “I am innocent! It was a simple mistake,” but I knew that was not an option.

Finally everyone entered on the plane and within 6 hours we arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, where I was escorted off the plane and released at last.

The sense of freedom that I felt in the moment of being released was something that I will never forget and from that day I made a promise to myself to NEVER, EVER take for granted my freedom.

 

 

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