Women Who Wander: Fatima Rodriguez
Meet Fatima, a New Yorker who is traveling the world in search of good vibes, new cultural experiences, waves and unexplored corners of the World. Fatima, is the queen of Solo Travel. She's always ready to try something new and is not afraid of experiencing new places on her own! We love Fatima because she is fearlessly in pursuit of her dreams, always looking for her next adventure.
Where is she heading to next? South America! Follow her adventures on Instagram! IG: @fattymamaaa
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where have you been and where are you headed?
I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY by a single mother. I graduated from Cornell University two years ago and I'm currently working as a Client Experience associate at PolicyGenius -- no, I'm not in love with my job, but I'm working on changing that. I am currently getting certified to teach English abroad, hopefully somewhere in Central America as I'd really like to learn Spanish as well.
I have been to: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, England, Italy, Vatican City, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Cuba, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas Island, St. John Island, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Australia, Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands.
Next, I am heading to: Costa Rica and Nicaragua!
How did you begin traveling? What fears and challenges did you face? How did you overcome the?
I have always been attracted to the idea of travel -- my first flight was actually when I was a 1yr old to California! My mom always did her best to take me to places domestically or internationally with what she had as a single mother. My first big trip out of the country was to Mexico when I was 8 then to Italy/Germany when I was 10 and England at 12. I remember specifically how excited I'd be to leave the country and to visit somewhere new with tons of history. Global history was actually one of my favorite subjects in middle school, and I think that excitement for the new and old definitely carried on into adulthood. I stopped traveling for a while ever since I started to swim competitively (I never wanted to miss practice), but I also had this idea that travel was too expensive. I feel like that's people's biggest hindrance when it comes to travel. There's this idea that you have to be rich to travel, you have to plan months ahead, you have to stay at the fanciest places, etc, but to me travel is the complete opposite of that. Sometimes the best parts about travel is that last minute trip you booked because the flight was so cheap, the cheap hostel you stayed at ended up being where you met some of the coolest people, and that you can actually stretch your dollar. I wasn't exposed to this kind of travel until recently when I studied abroad on a program called Semester at Sea. I lived on a ship with 400 other college students as we circumnavigated the world. Boarding that ship was the best decision of my life and I haven't stopped traveling since. Up to this day, I've never had any real fears when traveling. I do get anxious when I travel by myself, but it's the kind of excitement for the unknown.
Why do you think travel is important? What has wandering sparked in you?
Depending on the kind of traveling you do, I think travel just exposes an individual to the best parts of themselves. There's something about traveling by yourself to a third world country, meeting new people, experiencing a different culture, trying new things, and actually paying attention to the world around you that just gives you a different perspective on life. And I'm not talking about, "oh my god, these kids are so happy with what little they have, how? I'm so fortunate" Sure, you're fortunate, and sure, they are happy in the moment you're seeing those kids, but there's more to what you're seeing. It's having this understanding that the world is bigger than you and that the world needs more love (sorry to get all hippy on you). There is so much hate and neglect in the world that it's up to us to make little changes, whether that's personally or actively doing something to change the world. Either way, travel has made me a better person.
What kind of traveler are you? What experiences do you gravitate towards?
Depends on the location, but overall I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I lean more towards places where I can do a lot of action-packed things. Recently, I've been taking more surf trips and going to Central/South America (I do tend to stay away from big cities). Definitely also a ballin' on a budget kind of traveler.
What advice would you give millennial WOC who want to travel more or move abroad for work, etc
Just do it. I know it's a bit nerve-racking to step out of your comfort zone, but the best version of yourself will result from doing just this. Don't let money be a hindrance, definitely save and prioritize! Sometimes when you do travel on a budget, there definitely will be some sacrifices in terms of the comfort level or where you're staying or things you can do when you get to a country -- just have to weight the pros and cons. Also, keep a look out for travel deals. Some of my favorite sites to look for deals are secretflying.com or travelpirates.com. I also love going on google flights! Sometimes when I don't know where I want to go, I just input the dates I want to travel, leave the destination blank, and just look for the cheapest flight around the world. If I haven't been there, then why not? Travel should also be really fun! There are definitely dangers to traveling, but don't get too much in your head. Once you get to your destination, it's never as bad as the media or people make things out to be. Use your judgment and trust your gut.
For you, what are the pros and cons of travel?
Pros: Meeting new people, visiting wonders of the world, learning about a different culture, discovering yourself, the list is endless, you won't regret it!
Cons: It can honestly be exhausting and tiring; whoever thinks that getting to the most remote places is luxurious should go into someone's camera roll and see how crazy people look like in transit. Traveling alone as a woman can also be daunting; you'll get the cat calls and unwanted attention. I tend to not go out/wander at night when I'm alone and will be extra cautious of people around me.
What can we expect from you moving forward and how can we be of support?
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you want to leave behind?
I just want to live life without regrets or "what ifs" and I want to be able to inspire other people to travel despite their circumstances. For the longest, I felt bad about myself -- I felt bad about not knowing my father, I felt bad for not being the coolest girl, I felt bad that I was suffering from depression, I felt bad about being sexually abused. I always felt like I was just not good enough or worth it. What I want to leave behind is positivity -- no matter where you come from, who you are, or what you endured, you can do anything, go anywhere, and be anyone you want to be.
Just for kicks:
Favorite flight booking software?
Place you're most dying to get to?
Airbnb or hotel?