queen of trips
queen of trips
Hola Hola! I'm Maribel, also known as The Queen of Trips
my travel journey
One of the most unforgettable moments of my trip to Iceland was standing on the edge of a massive glacier, contemplating the expanse of ice that seemed to stretch endlessly into the horizon. The sheer size and natural beauty of the glacier left me in awe, and it was a humbling experience that made me realize the immense power and majesty of Nature. I had the privilege of experiencing two bucket list items on this trip: The Northern Lights and visiting an ice cave.
Montreal & Quebec City, Canada
This is the trip that taught confidence in myself. My friend was unable to leave our Airbnb for a few days and I felt comfortable exploring Montreal and Quebec solo even though I speak 3 words in French. The charming Old Town (Vieux-Québec) with its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and the stunning Château Frontenac created a magical atmosphere during the holiday season that I will never forget. I dream of returning during another holiday season.
This cruise was supposed to be 5 days long, but, due to hurricane Irma, it turned to a 12 day ordeal. Our itinerary was changed and we ended up in Belize which was unexpected for me. We decided to go on a shore excursion to visit Mayan ruins. While exploring the ruins, I found solace in the ancient stones that had weathered the test of time, much like the resilience I was striving to uncover within myself. The beauty of the world, its diverse cultures, and the kindness of strangers I encountered on my travels offered me hope and the belief that there was more to life than what I was living.
My first trip to Italy was enough for me to fall in love on Day 1. I returned home with a resolution to leave everything behind and go on a journey to explore the world with my laptop in hand. However, fate had other plans, and just two weeks later, I received a life-changing diagnosis of stage II breast cancer. Life would never be the same. Italy will forever be a place of contrasts for me, a reminder of both personal hardship and the resilience that life demands.
Cancer: The Journey that NO ONE wants to go on
This journey has challenged me in unimaginable ways, testing my strength. I never had a choice to go on this trip. However, it has taught me invaluable lessons about courage, perseverance, and the incredible power within me. As I continue along this difficult road, I'll share my experiences, insights, and the silver linings I've found along the way in the hopes that it may support others facing similar challenges.
London & Paris
Unknown to me, I would be back in Europe on a business trip two weeks after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I knew that once I started treatment, it would be a long time before I would be able to travel again. I spent 7 days in London and Paris. In Paris, I bought myself a bottle of champagne and sat watching the Eiffel Tower shine and people-watched. The contrast between what I was facing and watching couples declare their love for each other was stark. I drank my champagne and cried my eyes out. I told myself: "If I am going to die, FUCK IT! At least I will do it in style!". I then went on a perfume and purse shopping spree. None of what I bought are the typical brand names we know in the US, but the retail therapy was amazing.
Spain, Portugal, Morocco
A few weeks after finishing chemo and getting approval from my oncologist, I went on a trip through Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. This trip held a special place in my heart, as it symbolized my determination to reclaim my life after a challenging battle with cancer. There were moments when I doubted I would ever travel again, but the longing to explore the world ignited a newfound strength within me. It was a testament to my resilience and an affirmation that despite the challenges ahead, the desire to heal and embrace life's adventures was stronger than ever.
Thailand and Vietnam
I survived chemo, a double mastectomy, the recovery, over six surgeries from cancer, the end of a relationship, and a move. After all that, I decided that I would go on a 5-month trip called "The Cancer Victory Tour". I was turning 40 later in the year and planning to come home right around my birthday. The trip started, but we all know why it ended on March 15. This is the trip that was left unfinished.
A year into the quarantine, I went to visit my friend in DC for a month. My life was turned upside down again when I suddenly had lots of pain one day. I spent the day at the hospital, and by the end, I found out I had an ovarian tumor. I would have to wait six weeks before the next test to be able to know if it was cancer or not.
Las Vegas, NV
Six weeks passed, and the tumor grew exponentially. I was referred to a specialist. He reviews my case and exam results and decides that the tumor is so large that he doesn't want to risk performing a biopsy and rupturing it. We don't know if it is cancer or not, and will not find out until I have surgery. My only option is a complete hysterectomy. The uncertainty of potentially having to go through additional cancer treatment was eating away at me. My response to the situation: Let's go on a trip! Mom and I went to visit family for a week. I finally saw the Grand Canyon. I had the surgery upon my return
I decided to celebrate my recovery with another 5-month trip. I planned on spending a month in Italy and then moving on to visit a few other countries in Eastern Europe. I had so many hopes for this trip. I was training to see if I really liked being a digital nomad. Three weeks into the trip, I received bad news from home. Mom had cancer. She would be diagnosed with a very rare cancer on the anniversary of my own diagnosis. Without a question I return home as soon as I am able to.
There was no one in South Florida that treated my mom's rare cancer. I found a specialist in Houston and rushed us to see him. During our trip to MD Anderson, we didn't receive the positive news we had hoped for regarding her health. Despite this, the trip was filled with moments of hope and resilience. The timing of our visit, during Christmas, brought a unique atmosphere of warmth and togetherness to the experience. Luckily we have family that opened their home to us. To keep her spirits up and her mind occupied, I researched and planned various activities for us to enjoy in the city, ensuring she had little time to focus on the distressing news. It was a journey that showcased the strength of our bond as a family and the power of hope during hard times.
New Orleans, LA
I won a ticket to the first-ever Wanderfest. I went alone and came back with so many new travel friends. This trip opened my eyes to the travel content creation space. I was hooked! I didn't know that there were conferences that were specific to women that love travel. This trip started off a year of travel. 2022 was my biggest travel year. I traveled every 3-4 weeks after this trip.
Kansas City, MO
I won another ticket to a travel conference - WITS Winning a ticket to the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) was a thrilling moment that opened doors to a world of empowerment and inspiration. As a travel enthusiast and advocate for women in the travel industry, this ticket was an entry pass and a passport to a vibrant community of fellow female travelers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. This ticket symbolized the opportunity to be part of a movement that celebrates and supports women's exploration of the world, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Checking off another item on my bucket list brought an incredible sense of fulfillment - I went whale watching in Colombia. As I stood on the boat, gazing at the ocean, I felt excitement and wonder. Witnessing these majestic creatures breach and play in their natural habitat was a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. It reinforced the beauty and diversity of our planet and left me with memories that will forever be etched in my heart.
Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Spain
Christmas Markets!! Exploring these countries during the enchanting Christmas season was a truly magical experience. The Christmas markets in these diverse European countries filled the air with festive cheer and the aroma of seasonal treats. Each market was a unique delight, connecting me to the rich holiday traditions of these nations.
Just for Fun
What can't I travel
I can’t travel without a travel journal, colorful pens, a glue stick and my Polaroid Zip mini printer. During my travels, I try to work on a journal for the trip each night before bed. I create a scrapbook or journal of my trips.
the best things i've bought travelling?
I typically buy at least one artisan or handmade item made in each country I visit. I have a beautiful collection of purses, earrings, and perfume all purchased during my travels. I also love trying skincare and spices from the different countries I have been to. I love being asked where I found something and replying: “I bought it in *insert country here”!
the best piece of travel advice?
I learned this from Going (Formerly Scotts Cheap Flights). Book your trips backwards by finding the cheapest flight from the airport you want to travel from. Then you pick the destination, dates and buy the ticket. Websites like Google Flights, Skyscanner and Kiwi can help you explore different airfares.
window or aisle
I love the window seat but will sometimes book an aisle seat for a long-haul flight. The aisle seat allows you to move around the cabin without disrupting other passengers.
Which country I'd most like to live?
At this moment of my life I do not want to be stationary in a single location. I want to be nomadic and live in different countries for a short period of time. Maybe in the future I will feel the desire to “settle down” somewhere like Italy or Greece.
hot, cold, or temperate place?
I prefer cold and temperate places over hot. I have lived in South Florida most of my life and the hot weather can be overwhelming. I miss the days of Eternal Spring in Medellin. The mornings would be cold as the mist rolled off the mountains. Afternoons would be warm and then the evenings would cool down.
My travel essentials
Shop my favorite travel essentials & more!