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Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with the very busy Monica Gonzalez, who created the Globe Diva Travels blog and runs the booking agency of the same name.
This is the question that really took me the longest to answer. I don’t want it to sound like a cop-out answer but EVERYTHING about travel makes me smile! When I get a great deal on a flight, I smile. When I think about the places I’m going to be seeing, I smile. When I think about the food I’m going to be tasting, I smile. When I get home and think about the places I’ve been and the people I’ve been fortunate enough to have met, I smile. It’s hard not to smile when I think about any aspect of travel.
2) What is your favorite place in the world?
Italy. I haven’t done vast traveling all over the world like some people but I know in my heart that no place will ever compare with Italy. I can’t, or maybe I don’t want to, narrow it down to any particular region. I just have a feeling of “home” when I get there that I haven’t found anywhere else I’ve visited.
3) What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?
At this point in my travels, I can honestly say that there isn’t any place that I would not visit again. I will say there are some cities I don’t have to visit again and London would be one of those. Even though I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see and even though the trip was very enjoyable, there was nothing about London that struck a chord in me.
4) What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?
My travel guru, Rick Steves, says it best, “You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags: ‘Every year I pack heavier.’ The measure of a good traveler is how light she travels.”
5) How has traveling changed you as a person?
Traveling has made me a more confident person. Although I’ve had some solo adventures in the states, there’s a sense of loss sometimes when you arrive in a place where you know nothing or no one and where you don’t speak the language. I’ve had to learn to accept that sense of loss and turn it into a sense of peace. I’ve also had to learn not to panic when things aren’t going the way I’d planned for them to go. Overall, I always come away from a trip thinking, “If I can get through that, I can get through anything!
6) Have you ever volunteered during your travels? If so, what did you do? If not, will you ever?
I’ve never volunteered but I’ve definitely considered it. I’ve always wanted to volunteer at an archeological dig somewhere so when I finally do some travel/volunteerism, it will probably be along those lines. Since you’ve asked though, I’d like to mention that I’ve been active in the whole “micro-loan” movement through kiva.org and even though it’s not volunteering, I feel I’ve done something to impact, and hopefully help, peoples’ lives in other countries.
7) What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?
Being afraid is not a bad thing. Being afraid is a motivator and being afraid is also your guide. I’ve had to learn to distinguish between when to move forward and push through my fears and hanging back and listening to my gut because I’m afraid. I think it’s made me a stronger person.
8 ) Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?
Wow…this one is tough! I have so many favorite tips for everything from saving to lodging but I think for me, half the battle is the savings part so I’m going to share my own personal savings tip for travel. It’s not exactly budget related but without the savings, you’ll never have anything to budget! Open up a checking/savings account in a bank far, far away from where you live so you won’t be able to access your money in person. When you receive your credit/debit card, wrap it up in foil then again with lots and lots of rubber bands. Now throw that card in the back of your freezer or give it to a friend you trust, just get it out of your sight. Now start saving and don’t pick up that card again until you’re ready to book your flight. Money burns a fast hole in my pocket and if I didn’t save my money for travel in this way, I’d never have the money to travel.
9) Where do you plan to travel this year?
I’d hoped to go to Germany/Austria but my significant other wants to go to Fiji. We’re going to have to duke it out.
10) What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?
My Kindle (or books), my iTouch (for the music), and my computer. I could probably do without the computer when I’m not traveling alone but when I’m traveling solo, I like the connection to family and friends. I’m a tech geek. I admit it. I have to have a camera too but you said I could only pick three!
About our Traveler
San Antonio’s own Monica Gonzalez clearly loves and promotes travel, so the next time you’re planning a trip be sure to look her up! Check out her blog at GlobeDiva Travels and be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.