For this post we had the honor and pleasure of interviewing not only a very special and amazing friend but also a world traveler who loves to share her experiences in her blog called Lola’s Passage. Natalie is from Puerto Rico; she currently lives in New York City and works as an attorney, but don’t let that fool you because she still manages to travel all over the world whenever possible.
I met Natalie back in college (2002 I think) when we worked together in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies office at the University of South Florida in Tampa (Go Bulls!!). We clicked right away and started a beautiful friendship. We were also roommates, in Miami, for a few months a few years later; I still call her “Roommie”. Anyhow, Natalie is amazing. She’s one of those friends that even though you don’t talk or see each other often, specially since we live so far away from each other, once you get a call or a message it’s like time never went by.
My sister and I wanted to interview Natalie to know more about her experience as a traveler, now as a travel blogger, and about how she organizes her trips. I really enjoy reading her travel posts, I feel like I’m traveling along with her.
What inspired you to start the blog?
To be completely honest, it was my friend Claire who pushed me to start the blog hahaha, and another friend came to me as well and said “Natalie, I think you’re one of those people that should have a blog”. Also, whenever I spoke to random people in NYC about my trips they always asked if I had a Youtube channel and told me that I should open one to tell my stories. I never thought there was someone interested in knowing what I was doing LOL!! But as I was traveling, more and more people would ask me about my trips and about advice on traveling. People liked what I was writing on my personal facebook and liked my travel photos. It was one thing after another, and after a few months I decided to give it a go.
How did you fall in love with traveling?
I always had a love for traveling but didn’t have the money or the time for it. I remember being at the office and crying because I wanted to travel and I couldn’t. I needed it. I think the reason why I have fallen in love with traveling is because I have realized how much I enjoy it. I have fallen in love with meeting other people, listening to different accents, getting lost. I love not only traveling but also the process of organizing a trip.
What kind of traveler are you? How do you plan a trip from A to Z?
I like to say I’m a “trentona backpacker (backpacker in her thirties)” hehe. I’m not really a ‘backpacker’ because I don’t like to stay in hostels but I don’t like to check-in a luggage either; I prefer to use a backpack. I want to have that facility and commodity of feeling at home but with an affordable price.
When I organize a trip, I start by using an excel sheet. I prepare a budget without taking into account the plane ticket because if I see a cheap ticket, I go. But with an organized budget, I can know where the money is going during the trip. If I can buy things online before arriving at my destination I take advantage of that because it is cheaper than buying tickets on-site.
If you could only travel with 3 things, what would they be?
My Camera with the selfie stick, the external battery, and the travel pillow.
Check out her article on Money Inc on 13 things you should bring on your carry on
How do you get great deals on airfare? How do you save money?
Ahhh, it’s a secret haha. My secret is called “Thrifty Traveler”, which is a website where you can pay an annual membership and they can email you the best deals depending on where you live. I also use Google Flights and Momondo to have prices by day. But to be honest, the key to find good airfare is to be flexible and to act quickly.
I save money by putting 30% of my paycheck for savings, and out of that 30% I take a percentage for my travels. I also try to do as much meal prep as possible; it is extremely expensive to eat out!! Another thing I do is that not only do I stay on Airbnb but I also put my apartment for rent (on Airbnb) so that even when I’m traveling I can pay my rent, and sometimes the trips. And I want to start teaching english online so that I can still earn some money even while I’m traveling.
If you could relive 5 minutes of any trip, which moment would it be?
Hmmm, I’ll have to say any 5 minutes from my trip to Australia with Claire, Glorimar, and Valerie. That trip was amazing, those were two weeks of great moments so I’d love to relive any 5 minutes of that trip.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done while traveling?
I pretended to be a hooker in Amsterdam. LOL!!! I rented a window in the Red Light District for 30min haha. My friends dressed me up in this terrible French maid costume with stockings, heels that didn’t fit and I think I had a blonde wig, oh there was also a chair and a whip. I was nervous the first 2 minutes when I came out to the window because you know, everybody is watching but my friends were there taking pictures and having fun so I let go and started to have fun as well. It was a cool experience.
Do you rather travel alone or with friends? Who would be your dream travel companion?
It depends on the mood I’m in. I have fun either way but they are very different trips. Even if I travel with friends, I need to have some “Natalie time” though.
My dream companion would have to be Glorimar, we are very alike and she’s so outgoing and has that “que se joda” attitude (let’s do it). But if she’s not available, hahaha, my dream companion would have to be Amy Schumer. I think she’ll be a very cool person to travel with.
Which is the most beautiful country that you have visited and where is Lola’s next stop?
Iceland hands down!! My next stop is officially Argentina (in November) but Lola is always looking ahead of time.
What have you learned since you started traveling?
That people are good. The more I travel, the more I realize that we (good people) are more. Even though we are different in the sense that we speak different languages, have different cultures, and different religions, I see that we’re all the same.
We hope you all enjoyed reading a bit about Natalie, don’t forget to stop by her blog at Lola’s Passage to show some love and to travel along with her by reading her stories.
My dear Natalie, I want to thank you again for giving us the time to getting to know a little more into your new world. I hope one day we can travel together.
*Please note that all photos and video are Natalie’s property