A few months ago I received a Facebook Ad promoting a company called Remote Year. I’ve always loved to travel, so it’s easy to assume I was intrigued by this company that plans an entire year of travel throughout different countries, planning all of the accommodations along the way. As I researched the opportunity more, I began to realize that with my career starting to take off, maybe a year abroad wasn’t the best idea right now. But I couldn’t get the idea of working from another country out of my head since I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to ‘work from wifi’.
I decided to do more research on this idea of a work+travel program and that’s when I committed to taking a trip with a different company called Hacker Paradise. Unlike Remote Year, which was more so marketed towards those wanting to take a ‘gap year’ of sorts, Hacker Paradise seemed more catered towards working professionals with a passion for travel. Just my cup of tea. They had multiple destinations to choose from and I decided on Florianópolis, Brazil. I knew I wanted to visit a continent I hadn’t been to yet and I was also excited about the fact that it was only a 2 hour time difference from where I live in South Carolina, which makes working with my team a lot easier.
After meeting with one of the Trip Facillitators during the sign up process, I was informed that due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, we wouldn’t know for sure whether or not the trip was going to happen until one month before the start date. The destination to Florianopolis had two trips planned, one starting in October and the other in January. I was originally planning to go in January for a 4 week trip, giving me enough time to save up money and prepare. But when I got the email that the October trip was a go, I decided ‘why wait?’. I had my nest egg ready to go, and one of the major perks of going with this company is that they plan a lot of the details for you, so it doesn’t require all that much preparation. Sometimes in life, when things feel right, you just have to go for it. So I did.
I left on November 6th, 2021 to start the one month journey abroad. I had an international flight and a connecting flight in São Paulo that would take me to the Brazilian island of Florianopolis, arriving on the 7th. This was the first time I had ever travelled internationally by myself, and I was beyond excited about the opportunity to practice my solo female traveler skills. Which I definitely got to do! The international flight ended up being delayed for take-off and I knew that meant I would miss my connecting flight. I was seated next to a friendly Brazilian woman named Rose, who was travelling to visit her son. She also had a connecting flight she would miss and she was expressively worried as she was told me how she had never been to the São Paulo airport. I was laughing in my head thinking “I’ve never even been to Brazil, let alone that specific airport!”.
When we landed we knew we needed to go talk to a Delta consultant within the airport to determine what other flight options were available. My new friend Rose walked with me and wanted to stay together as we figured out what to do. When we got to customs, she had to go through a different line as she was Brazilian, and I was a foreigner, so we agreed to meet on the other side. Solid plan right? Of course the lines moved at different speeds and when I got through, she couldn’t be found. There have been many moments in my life that have caused me great stress (some even unnecessarily) and it would be fair to assume that this was one of them. However, I was beaming with confidence at the fact I had even made it that far so I was able to stay level headed, even though the process that followed was indeed chaotic. I had to get my checked luggage, consult with Delta to get a new flight that would be leaving in two hours, re-check my luggage for my new flight, and go through security again. Even though it was rare to find someone talking in English, and signage was lacking, I navigated through the giant airport and was able to find the gate for my next flight. Proud personal moment. To celebrate my success as a solo female traveler overcoming the challenge of a flight change in a different country, I decided to get some breakfast along with Brazil’s national cocktail that Rose told me about, called a Caipirinha.
Due to the food, booze, and travel, I slept soundly on the flight to the island, waking when we landed in Florianópolis. From there I ordered an Uber to where I would be staying for the duration of the trip. With all the excitement of arriving on the island, I realized I had forgotten to message my trip facilitator that I had made it. So I arrived with my bags on the side of the curb with no way to get inside. As luck would have it, someone else on the trip just so happened to be outside the building and greeted me with a warm welcome, letting me inside. It felt as if the Travel Gods were watching over me because by the time we made it up the stairs, the Trip Facilitator arrived to check me in. I have my own little apartment to stay in while I’m here, complete with a stocked kitchen and a TV with Netflix access (score!).
Unfortunately you cannot drink the faucet water on the island, so after settling in a little bit, I decided to take a trip to the local supermarket to see what food I could find for my apartment, and more importantly, get water. Even though I’ve travelled abroad multiple times, I’ve never gone into a foreign grocery store and was eager to experience it. It was fascinating to see the selections that were so different than what we have in America. And to be honest, I’m not gifted when it comes to cooking, so my selections were… a bit unsophisticated.
After travelling across the globe, I was rightfully exhausted. Even though it was only 6pm, I decided to stay in instead of exploring more. After all, I would be here for an entire month. I took a much needed shower, unpacked a bit, and decided to cook some of my pasta for dinner. There was a slight challenge as I wondered whether or not I could use the faucet water to cook with, but decided that as long as I boil it, I should be fine (so far, no stomach ails). My emotions were on high all night as I basked in the fact that I was here, accomplishing a dream of mine to travel solo for an extended amount of time. This adventure has just begun, and I know it will only get better and better. Cheers to chasing dreams and experiencing all this beautiful life has to offer!