So the name’s Gloria (but we become automatic BFF’s if you call me GLO, hehe) and I’ve coined my title as a Professional Risk-Taker, because there’s no better way to sum up what my life has been the past 2 years — a series of risks! I first traveled abroad back in 2012 when I studied in England and I fell in love with the liberation, adventure and ease of overseas travel, jet-setting to new countries almost every weekend. Upon my return to the states to finish my degree, I was invited back to the UK to intern at the same institution I studied at (which happens to be a castle, feel free to Google this Hogwarts-reincarnated fairytale land called Harlaxton). After my contract was up in June, I knew I wasn’t ready to head back to the states, so I did what any normal person would do and impulsively bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona, Spain. 5 days before my flight, I built a website, started an English academy, and put up Spanish ads online and acquired 7 students my first month while mastering the skill of butchering basic Spanish jargon along the way. Everything was trial and error for me, and then a couple months later, I get picked up to play semiprofessional basketball for the top league in Catalunya (I formerly played collegiate basketball), and as my blog started growing, I began doing some fun sponsorships and collaborations, and then got picked up by a couple major travel and writing sites, as well as doing freelance photography and graphic design work when I can! This is my life, and as complex and dynamic as it may seem, I couldn’t imagine it any other way!
My blog is called The Blog Abroad and I started it back in December of 2013 as a humble, little corner for friends and family to keep up with the randomness of my life before I booked a one-way ticket to Europe the next month. My domain renewal came over the summer of 2014, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d continue it or not. I wasn’t posting as often as I’d like, and it was just sort of lacking direction. But I decided to give it another shot and renewed it for another year and I now have readers in over 55 countries across the world. I’ve broadened my topics to other subjects that fellow travelers and wanderlusters can relate to, and I’ve found my writing style to be a mix of tongue-in-cheek wit sprinkled with a dose of keepin’ it real. To put it in relative terms, Stella got her groove back 😉
When did you fall in love with travel?
I was incredibly fortunate to have studied abroad my super-senior year in college and that gave me my first taste of life across the pond. I never dreamed or imagined a life outside of the U.S. until I took my first transatlantic flight, which goes to show that you never know where life will take you, but the willingness to make bold moves is a good first step! It’s amazing what one, single experience can do to altering your perspective and forever changing the way you see life.
We know this is a tough question but where is your favorite place in the whole wide world?
This is incredibly biased, but I have to say Barcelona, and so much so, that I’ve made it my temporary home. At the moment, I don’t even know what temporary means. It could be home for another few months, or another few years. I just know it’s magical enough to keep me here for the time being. When you look at the beaches, the architecture, the nightlife, the culture, the people, the mountains, the views and everything in between, Barcelona just has most places beat! As a photographer, my camera is in heaven!
What are some ways in which you help yourself make time and generate funds for traveling?
Moving to a Spanish-speaking country, I knew the market for English-teaching would be wide open for a native speaker. It’s enough for them to know English is my first language, but if I “casually” mention I was born in California, some act like they’ve struck gold, because to them, they see Hollywood actors and actresses whom they idolize all coming from California, so a part of them thinks I have some underlying connection to them and that my English will be in its purest form, haha. So between my English academy, semipro basketball, freelance photography/design, and blog sponsorships, I’m able to set aside funds for travel. The cost of living in Spain is also fairly low, so I don’t have too many expenses. If I look at my monthly spending and saw Starbucks or nail appointments scattered around, that’s where I’d redirect the money towards traveling. Coffee and beauty luxuries aren’t necessities, and while I most definitely like to keep up with my appearance, there are much cheaper alternatives and DIY options to save some bucks. I rarely do luxury spending and I’ve shopped for new clothes TWICE in the last 6 months and only to accommodate for the winter. And one of those times was at a thrift store, so I’m not even sure that counts, haha. I’m not too big on fashion trends. I just take what I have and make it trendy.
What inspires you most when you travel?
The people I meet and exchanging our stories. Every now and then, I have one of those surreal moments or encounters where I have to take a moment to catch my breath and fully process the beauty of the moment. Being in a foreign land, having this beautiful dialogue with a beautiful human about the most intimate aspects of life, and having just met 10 minutes ago. Those moments inspire me to continue spreading my passion and love of life with others despite the ocean, language, or socioeconomic boundaries that try to keep us apart. Traveling is a constant dialogue between yourself and your soul, growing, learning, and challenging anything and everything you’ve ever thought about life. It’s surreal.
If you could pick up and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Brazil! In a heartbeat. I’ve been told I would blend right in with the Brazilian culture and way of life.
How has a life of travel changed you?
It’s turned me into a believer. A dreamer. A lover of all things, people, customs, traditions, cultures, languages, and lifestyles. It’s opened my heart to crave a way of life I never knew I had an appetite for.
What is your travel style?
I’m definitely more of the “ballin-on-a-budget” gal. Between my travel hacks, networks, and crowd-sourcing of information, I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for anything travel-related. My Instagram might make it seem like I’m this well-packaged travelista, but that couldn’t be the further from the truth. I’ve slept on rugs of Moroccan floors and fed myself for a week off cookies and wine. Traveling isn’t always as glamorous as it seems, but I make a healthy compromise to make the most out of my circumstances. Eat a nice dinner tonight or take a jet to Amsterdam for the weekend? For me, it’s always the latter. I don’t mind cutting corners if it means getting more bang for my buck and making hilarious memories along the way. I always have at least 3 cameras handy and love capturing Kodak moments. I have just as much fun going off a planned itinerary as I do making plans on the fly. I’m sporadic, impulsive, and too dangerous for my own good. My life wouldn’t be my life if it were any other way.
What inspires you most about this beautiful, complex world we live in?
How we are all far more alike than different. And no matter what language you speak or what part of the world you’re from, there’s a universal language of laughter, smiles, and love. There’s also a genuine kindness in every person I’ve met and the willingness inside us all to help out a stranger is awe-inspiring. It makes the world so much more connected than we think. And living in a digital age, it’s easier than ever to hang on to these connections and the best part, meet up again in another foreign land than where you originally met. We can all learn so much from each other, and the way I think today, is a product of the beautiful conversations I’ve had with [then] strangers [now] friends, through traveling.
Favorite words of wanderlust wisdom?
Traveling solo is allowing yourself to live life so vulnerably that you have no choice but to grow from the experience. You have an appetite for things in life you never knew you craved, and your mind is constantly growing that it’s impossible to go back to its original dimension.
What’s your best advice for aspiring travelers out there?
Deep down inside us all, I think there’s a budding wanderluster waiting to burst out of your body and explore this dynamic and amazing world around us. But that voice is constantly drowned out by the waves of our excuses that we tell ourselves, like not having the adequate funds or time. Listen up guys, the time will never be right, you will never have the “right” amount of money, and unless you possess magic powers to read the future, your tomorrows aren’t guaranteed. Traveling is living in its purest form. I’m writing a book that’s called “The Unequivocal Education of Travel, Risks, and Hustle” and I stand behind the statement that nothing in life is a better teacher than the lessons you learn and experience through traveling. I’m so inspired by my blog fans and readers because as long as there is a constant stream of questions in my inbox about ways to live abroad, I know I’m doing my job in helping inspire a future generation of global citizens and ambassadors of this world.