All photos were graciously provided by Fiorella Bertola. If you like what you see, head over to her Instagram account and join her 20K followers!
Hi! My name is Fiorella and I run the Instagram @globetrottingblonde. I currently live in Orlando, Florida (home of the mouse), but I’m actually from Montevideo, Uruguay in South America. My passion for travel started the day I took that first flight to Florida, about 10 years ago. Seeing how differently people live around the world sparked in me the desire to learn first-hand as much as I could about different cultures and lifestyles. I graduated from The University of Central Florida in 2014 and shortly after started working my first big-girl 9-5 job. It was nice for a while, but I quickly realized that if there was ever going to be a time to realize my travel dreams – it was then. So I quit my job, packed my bags and booked a one-way ticket to Europe.
I spent almost 4 months backpacking Europe on a budget that summer. I visited 18 countries and over 30 cities and thought that maybe I had satisfied my travel curiosity. Not the case! I came back home more excited to see the world than ever before. I started my Instagram shortly thereafter, mostly to inspire myself than to inspire others. Slowly but surely my profile started growing, and I started connecting with a whole network of travelers that I didn’t know existed. Professional full-time world travelers gave me tips on how to improve @globetrottingblonde (take expert-quality photos, use hashtags and connect with your followers in the comments section!), and I quickly started seeing a large influx of people with similar dreams.
I often get asked about my Europe trip while chatting with the followers on my page. I started planning for that trip by making a list of my ‘dream’ cities, and then jotting down the most efficient trajectory. My biggest tip when planning a backpacking trip is to try to avoid backtracking. Backtracking is costly and unproductive, and keeps you from seeing places that you might have otherwise loved. I had planned to travel solo (since finding friends that are able to travel for months at a time is hard), but luckily my friend Jackie had been planning a similar trip and wanted to pair up. We both traveled with a carry-on backpack that was less than 40 liters – helping us avoid luggage fees and aching lower-backs. I brought only the essentials with me: 4 outfits, a towel, a sleeping sack and toiletries. We also decided to fly to Iceland first, since it was much cheaper than going directly into Europe (and who doesn’t want to visit Iceland?!)
Many people see travel as a luxury that only people with trust fund accounts and paid days off can take, but that’s not always the case. Traveling is a lot about budgeting and priorities. I traveled Europe by staying in $8/night hostels and doing grocery shopping rather than eating out. I took trains rather than planes, and shared shuttles rather than taxis. I also worked full-time for a while to save up, opting to buy a $3,000 car rather than a brand-new $18,000 one. Essentially, if travel is dream of yours – it’s possible.
I have a huge map hanging up on the wall at home, where I pin everywhere that I’ve ever been. I consider these pins some of my life’s biggest achievements. I’m currently working full-time again, saving up for a backpacking trip through Asia next year. There’s also the possibility of a month-long volunteer program in Costa Rica, where you work front-desk at a hostel a few hours a day in exchange for free stay and food – an awesome deal in my mind. My plan is to continue budget traveling as long as I can and documenting the whole process on @globetrottingblonde. Come visit, I’d love to chat!