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As a 20-something Latin woman who frequently travels abroad, and often alone, alumna Victoria Gonzalez sees herself as a cultural trailblazer. And as a travel writer and photographer who blogs about her journeys, Gonzalez encourages other young Latin women to blaze their own trails.

“I definitely got some pushback from my parents,” Gonzalez recalls of her early solo travels. “Being a Latina in the USA, a person of a different background, of a different story, it’s important to break expectations of what people think – of what kind of people we are, I guess. We’re also Americans, in so many ways.”

Gonzalez, who graduated in 2011, first traveled overseas by herself during her senior year at Rutgers, when she visited a classmate who was studying for a semester in Paris. Gonzalez had just turned 21. Paris enchanted. She was hooked. “That did it for me,” she says. “I knew I wanted to make travel a huge part of my life.”

And so she has. In the ensuing five years, her wanderlust has known few boundaries. From her home in Hackensack, New Jersey, Gonzalez has traveled throughout Europe and Central and South America, to Japan and Spain and Italy, to 30 countries in all, including Sweden – twice. “I have an obsession with Abba,” she confides.

Gonzalez finances her sojourns on the cheap. She works part time for a local party business and does freelance TV and video production in New York City. She travels in off-seasons, books flights at odd (and less costly) hours, avoids checking bags and finds free places to stay at couchsurfing.com.

On her blog, Open Air Pursuit, Gonzalez highlights her travels to historic sites and national parks. She also contributes to Travel Latina, a website featuring female travel writers from the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora. (Her family hails from Colombia.) Earlier this year the National Park Foundation named Gonzalez one of eight minority travel writers and photographers chosen to embark on guided tours of national parks and historic sites around San Francisco as part of Find Your Park Expedition.

Read more here.

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