Where are you from? How old are you? Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Christina Solis and I am 24 years young. I reside in San Diego, California when I am not wandering my way around this beautiful world.
I like to write and I love taking pictures. With these two tools, I try and tell stories to inspire people to live their life how they want, and show them that there are no limits to what one can do. I love to talk to new people and listen to their story. I think it is so interesting to hear what inspires people and what drives us all to make the decisions we do.
I am currently on a ‘round the world backpacking trip with my boyfriend, Camden, and I’m absolutely loving it!! We weren’t raised traveling the world; as a matter of fact, we have both only been out of the U.S a handful of times before embarking on this crazy adventure!! But, we were able to work hard, save some money, take the risk and make it happen!
When and where did you start off on your journey?
To me, this question has two answers. On the trip I am on currently, I began in Peru, (January 16. 2016) where I have been slowly making my way through Brazil, across the U.K, all around Europe, where I will continue my journey through Africa, India, S.E Asia and New Zealand until mid-September.
I believe my real journey began back in 2014 when I took my first overseas trip to Thailand. That trip changed me forever. My eyes were opened to what the rest of the world had to offer and I was hooked. I became obsessed with seeing it all, living an unimaginable life and hoping to inspire others to do the same; so here I am, still on that journey, and loving EVERY second of it!
What’s your one dream location to visit (whether you’ve already been there or not)?
One place I have always dreamed about going, is Santorini. And funny enough I am writing this right now at Piraeus (the port of Athens, where I will board a ferry in two days to fulfil this dream)!!
I am not sure where this dream manifested, it could have easily been by the pure beauty that gravitated to me; It could also be that I never thought I could make it here and I finally have. Nevertheless, I am here and very ready to see what is in store!!
What kind of traveler are you?
Good question…. I guess I would say I am a universal traveler. I love hiking though jungles, rainforests, etc.. and living the local life. I also love cruises and being pampered (who doesn’t?!) I can stay in a 24 bed dorm or get my own house on Air B&B. I’ll carry my backpack for days without a shower, or roll my luggage without looking like a hot mess. Eastern toilets, bring it on.. haha. Although I do prefer the Western ones.
I would say it all depends on the situation at hand. I can do any type of travel and love to mix it up. Of course I can afford to do more and feel more culturally rewarded when I backpack and find more local ways of life than always walking along the road well paved for tourists.
How have you evolved as a traveler over time?
Over time, I believe I have become a smarter traveler.
Starting out, I would bring EVERYTHING with me. For an eight day trip, I would need sixteen outfits..Of course some things never change, as I still slightly overpack, but for the most part, I know what is needed and stick to the essentials.
I also have learned that over planning can be a serious downer. It is always good to be prepared, but leaving some things to fate is just as good, if not better. By not planning out every step of the way you can be open to suggestions from other travelers and locals, who may be able to offer you something that you would have never found on your own!
Do you have one thing you always pack no matter where you’re going? What is it?
I sure do! I actually have a couple of “ must haves” .
I don’t leave anywhere without my GoPro, Cannon and iPhone. Like I have said before, I love taking pictures.
I also always carry a small notebook, sort of like a diary. I keep it just for myself to jot down things that may move me, scare me or make me angry. It helps me story out my emotions and keeps things real and in the moment for me.
What are the three most important things travel has taught you?
- No matter where I am in the world, people are people. We are all the same. Obviously we may not speak the same language or have the same beliefs, but at the end of the day, there is a passion and a fire inside of all of us that drives us to move forward every day. We all want a better world for the future. I have found much comfort in learning that.
- That life always has a way of working out. It is inevitable that there will be bumps along the way while traveling. Whether it be money issues, relationship issues, health issues, you name it… life always works out.
- The world is not a scary place. Right now, our world is going through a lot. The media and society tells us horrible accounts all over the world with efforts to scare us. Yes, there are places that are dangerous, but for the most part, it is not as terrifying as it seems. The world will never be a “safe place”, it’s all about being smart and being aware, and that goes for anywhere in the world, not just the unknown.
How has traveling changed you?
I believe I have changed tremendously from traveling. Some changes are more profound than others.
Some not so jaw-dropping changes: I like radishes and coffee. Two things I refused over at home. No reason, just did. And now here I am, eating radishes and drinking coffee.. Another change, I can properly read a map, I know it’s sad but its reality. Also, I can confidently take public transportation. I may sound like a complete loon, but in San Diego, there is very little public transportation. When I first started traveling I had no clue how to get a ticket for the metro, or a train or a bus, now I am a seasoned veteran!
Onto the more meaningful changes: I believe I am an overall better person because of traveling. I know, it’s a bold statement. There are many ways I am sure I have changed and at the moment, it is quite hard for me to get the right words out to describe it for you. But, I will try my best 🙂 I am more patient with others. I better understand cultural differences. I understand that not everyone speaks English, because thinking that was the most naive thought in the world. I accept that I will not fall madly deeply in love with every place I visit, and that is okay. I’m already a talker, but I believe I am a better listener now. I really try and give my whole, authentic self to people I have just met, which can be hard at times. I trust a lot more than I used to, whether it be strangers or new friends. I like to think that I am more educated about the world and the people who live in it.
I have lived and experienced things that have shown me more about the goodness and pureness of people; something I thought was long gone in this world. I have faith that the world will live as one if we all try a bit harder to get to know one another, and try and understand and accept our backgrounds and differences.
I think now with an open mind and see with open eyes. There are many things we miss by rushing around in our daily lives, I have learned to take it slow and enjoy the little things just as much as the big things. I dream bigger than ever before. There is no limit for me. I believe anything is possible because we are alive. I try and urge people to take a risk and do something that think they can “never do”. It worked for me and it can work for them.
I could go on and on, and I am sure I’ve already rambled on long enough… haha. But the changes of oneself are inevitable and ever-changing. By the time I wake up in the morning, I am sure I will have thought of many more ways I have changed just from traveling.
What are you missing most about home?
Three things for sure.
- Friends and family: This is a given. They are my people and I love them all so dearly. Although I make many friends on the road (all of whom are awesome and lifelong friends), those special ones at home hold a special place in my heart that no one else can fulfil.
- The constant and predictable sunshine: At first I did not think I would miss the constant sunshine so much. However, after being in Europe for four months and seeing the sun only a handful of times, I definitely miss it. I like how at home, I can wear whatever I want and know that I will not be cold and it will not rain at a moments notice. Although I am thankful I experienced winter, and weather for that matter, now I can fully appreciate the warmth and constant sunshine at home!
- Smoothies and Mexican food: These two things are almost impossible for me to find anywhere. No matter how hard I try, I come up with nothing or something that slightly resembles it, but leaves me craving the “real deal” even more. So, I save myself the torture and wait until I get home to indulge.
If you could give two pieces of advice to other travellers or aspiring travellers, what would they be?
The risk is always worth it. ALWAYS. Picking up and leaving your comfort zone can be scary, it is scary!! But, we can not grow and become better people if we never take chances on what the world has to offer.
Put yourself out there. Meet new people. Try new foods. Learn the language. Fall in love with where you are every day. I promise you won’t regret a minute of it.
How do you learn about the culture and communicate with locals in each destination?
Communication is key. It is obviously a lot easier if everyone speaks the same language, but that would just be boring… I always ask the first person I met in the city (whether that be a driver of some sort or my hostel) how to say hello and thank you. So at least if anything, I am trying to speak a bit of the language. On my travels, there have only been a few instances where no one has spoken English and that is when hand gestures and context come very handy. Camden and I spent five days with a woman who spoke no English and we spoke no French, and we all had the best time ever!! Sometimes its just about making the effort to understand.
I try my best to learn about the culture through the local perspective. When I meet a local, I always ask where to eat, what the local dishes are, and how it is like living there. I also try and take guided tours of the city, for extra information and tips about the city one may not find on the internet.
Do you have any travel hacks to make it easier/cheaper etc?
One thing I regret not bringing with me EVERYDAY are Ziplock bags. I suggest bringing a bunch of them to use as “to go” bags for food. Food cost add up, especially if you are eating out three times a day. By being able to make your own food and take it with you on long bus/train/car rides can be a lifesaver for you and your wallet!
Something that makes my life easier while traveling is being organized. Packing cubes was the answer for me. I am able to put all my warm weather clothes together and all my cold weather clothes together. Everything is separated and in order. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me!
Have you worked while traveling? If so, what did you do?
I have only done one Workaway, where Camden and I I taught English in Poland. We were asked to teach out of a private school for three to five hours a day. This experience was beyond words.
I do wish we did more while traveling in Europe, but life had a different plan.
One day we hope to take a trip that is strictly working and volunteering. I think that would be incredibly rewarding.
What inspired you to begin traveling?
What inspired me to travel? I say it was travel itself. As I mentioned perviously, my first trip to Thailand was life changing. I initially started traveling on a whim. Camden and I were talking about how we never do anything “cool”. A few minutes later an empty bank account and an email confirmation came through my inbox… We were going to Thailand. And just like that, I became a traveler. After that moment, I began to live my life as such. Just doing things because I was alive, and it was possible. Nothing seemed to be “too far” or “too expensive” as they had seemed before. Sure, I had my moments of doubt and still do from time to time, but as traveling has taught me, life always has a way of working out.
I think what inspired me to continue my journey was all the amazing people I had met along the way and all the amazing stories I had heard from them. I think the constant chase for something unknown fuels my fire. The food and culture shock is always fun, no matter how long you’re on the road. And the feeling of complete freedom is indescribable. For now, thats what keeps me going. Im sure it will continue to grow and change, just like my journey.
When you think of each of the five senses, does any one destination come to mind for each sense? Why?
Sight: Venice, Italy: One of the most beautiful cities I have ever been.. Every corner offers picturesque moments and the character of the city is so authentic. Being a “photographer” I was in heaven.
Smell: Split, Croatia: The green market of Croatia was one of the best smells that my nose has ever whiffed. The constant aroma of fresh fruits and flowers filled the air with each passing stand. I spent hours wandering around the maze of vendors taking it all in. I now walk around every market in hopes for the same smell, in most cases they do not disappoint; however, Spilt has had the best smell to date.
Hear: Jamaica: I have never heard so many people singing and dancing as much as I did while in Jamaica. The beat of the drum, the voices singing, “don’t worry about a thing…every little thing, is gonna be alright..singing don’t worry..” It is such a musical place! Every time I think about this country, I really do break into song. To my knowledge, it is also the only place a complete stranger has gotten me to sing on demand.
Touch: Peru: I have a specific memory in mind for this. Camden and I were staying with a family in the Ccaccaccollo Community of Peru. We were asked to change into traditional clothes and then help with the daily routine. Once we were changed, we were led into the family garden. The man gave me a “gardening weapon” (as I like to call it, I also do not know the name of the tool I was given… it looked like a large hook) and we started plowing potatoes. Before this experience, I had never gardened before. The feel of the dirt on my hands, the sun on my back and the sweat of my face, gave me a completely new perspective of life and a new appreciation for those who do this everyday. It inspired me and changed me. Oh, and I also pet and hugged many llamas and alpacas. Something I am still very excited about.
Taste: France. I LOVED THE FOOD. Cheese, wine, baguettes, eclairs, fish, snails, you name it… I tried many new things in France, things I would have never tried at home, and absolutely loved them!
The famous question… What has been your favourite country and why?
Oh the famous question… IT’S SO HARD! I really don’t know if I can choose just one since all the countries have SOO MUCH to offer!
Thailand: I am forever grateful to this country for changing my life and opening my eyes and my heart to the world around me. Not only that, but the food is amazing, I rode an elephant, bareback, through a village, (best moment of my life ever) and got a bamboo tattoo.
Budapest and Albania: Both places I never expected to steal my heart, but they did. The people there are so genuine. Thanks to them, I have a restored faith in humanity.
And lastly, what are your future plans?
Ah, the future. Such an exciting place!!
Personally, the plans for my future always seem to be changing as I do. The future is a place where I store all of my dreams and know that they will happen one day.
I have a bucket list as long as the Great Wall which I will complete one day.
I would like to write and publish a book about my travels (even if no one reads it besides myself).
Camden (my boyfriend) and I would like to open a hostel in our hometown (San Diego) so we can give back to the traveling community by offering an amazing experience in a place we love and hope to share with the rest of the world.
I have also promised myself that traveling, for me, will never cease. There is always somewhere I haven’t gone or someone I haven’t met. I have met many people who have told me that I will never travel like this again because life will grab ahold of me and I will “be stuck paying a mortgage, raising children and be stuck in life”; my goal is to prove them wrong.
I have big plans for the future and I am excited to see where life takes me!
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