The INSIDER Summary:
- An 18-year-old from Chicago is inspiring travelers to never give up on their dreams.
- Isabel Conde saved $7,500 to travel to Peru by herself.
- She worked three jobs for six months to get there.
- She’s been living in Peru for six months now.
Isabel Conde, 18, always dreamt of discovering “the magical nature” of Peru.
After graduating high school in June 2016, she took a gap year to make that dream a reality — the only catch was that she didn’t have the funds to make the trip.
Instead of throwing in the towel, Conde went into overdrive, working three jobs to save up as much money as possible. As a babysitter, a law office secretary, and an employee at World Market, her work week sometimes totaled 60 hours, and she would often work from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“There was this two week period where I was just working every day without a day off. It was just crazy hours. I made myself a little dream board of Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru, and that’s what would get me up at 3am every morning,” she told INSIDER.
Six months of hard work and $7,500 later, Conde finally made it.
“I just kinda bought a plane ticket and got on a plane by myself — I didn’t know anyone in Peru,” she said. “I had this moment where I was like ‘What am I doing!’, but as soon as I got [to Peru], I saw the mountains, nature, the beautiful people, and the culture, and I knew I did the best thing I could for myself.”
Conde said her mom and dad inspired her solo travel.
“My mom traveled in her 20s, and she always told me how much of an impact it had on her, and how it was one of the most amazing and important parts of her life,” Conde said. “My dad is from Mexico and came to the United States by himself when he was 19, so part of my motivation for the trip was also to get a better perspective on his immigrant experience. To see what it’s like to move to a foreign country at a young age like that and just to understand how hard that is because there are so many difficulties.”
Although Conde admits to having a brief “freak out period” in the beginning of her journey, she has now been happily living in Peru for six months.
In addition to saving $7,500 for her travels, she also managed to put away $1,000 for college expenses, as she will be attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, this August.
She feels that her trip to Peru has helped give her more direction in life, and helped her get to know herself outside of the classroom.
“I had this desire to center myself before college, so when I do go back and study I’ll have more of a direction, instead of just blindly studying whatever I think I might like,” she said.
Conde is inspiring others to follow their dreams.
“There isn’t anything you can’t do if you plan enough. A positive attitude, work ethic, and a plan are the only requirements to make your travel dreams come true. Even if you don’t have the money to travel now, with enough planning and dreaming it’s all possible!” she said.
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