Welcome to the 2nd edition of Travel Chats!
Travel Chats is a monthly interview series where I invite fellow female travellers and bloggers to share their latest adventures.
The goal is to inspire you to discover new destinations and get to know our contributors through their stories. The best part? They share their practical tips & advice (the good stuff you won’t find in a guidebook) to help you plan your trip.
In this interview, fresh graduate Kayleigh shares her first international travel experience in Medellín: her top highlights, personal budgeting tips and how her perception of Colombia changed following the trip.
Travelling to Colombia on a Student Budget
Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi everyone! My name is Kayleigh and I am 23 years old. I just finished my last semester of undergrad and received my bachelors degree in management with a concentration in marketing and I work as an administrative assistant. My boyfriend, Alex, is my travel companion, best friend and my other half.
How would you describe your travel style?
My travel style would best be described as budget, foodie, and cultural. Since I am fresh out of college, budgeting is so important, especially since we went to Colombia in the middle of my last semester. This trip, specifically, was a lot about the food for me since I love mostly every Colombian dish I have tried. Most important is learning about the culture. From visiting a replica village to the government buildings I definitely want to leave the places I visit as a more educated and well rounded person.
Tell us about your Colombia trip and why you wanted to visit
Alex and I decided to go to Medellín, Colombia on a whim. His mom is from Medellín (she owns an apartment there) and we have talked about going there in the past, but felt we never had the savings to go. Since we had a place to stay, we decided to make the trip as long as our school schedules would allow – 10 days.
Some highlights from our visit were:
- Riding the Metrocable to Parque Arví (National Forest Reserve)
- A visit to Pueblito Paisa – a replica of a typical Antioquia village
- One night stay at all-inclusive Hotel Lagotours in San Jerónimo
- El Poblado – a neighborhood in Medellín with boutique shopping and gift shops
- Shopping at Centro Comercial Santa Fe
It was my first time traveling internationally, and my first time off of the East Coast! From breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains to being engulfed in the culture on a scale like never before, everything about the trip was beyond my wildest dreams.
What resources proved most helpful when planning your trip?
When planning our trip, we picked the days we wanted to go and watched the prices of our plane tickets using Hopper. Hopper lets you pick exact dates, or a range of dates, and tells you how prices will fluctuate in the coming months.
The day the prices dropped to the lowest they would be, I got a push notification to buy now. I used an app called Affirm to buy the airplane tickets. Affirm approved me to borrow the amount of money I needed and allows me to pay monthly with extremely low interest.
How has your perception of Colombia changed before and after this trip?
My outlook on the world and life changed in Colombia. I fell in love with the country while we were there. Everything was so clean and everyone was so nice! Even the dogs were super well behaved and were rarely found on leashes. I also have a new appreciation for so many things about the States now. Hot water to shower was rare or very short lived and wifi was very patchy in Colombia whereas at home I never have to worry about that. I would definitely say my impression changed for the better.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of visiting Medellín?
– Don’t expect to do / see everything you plan to. Just take your time and go day by day!
– Definitely use Hopper to find flights! Even if you don’t book through Hopper, they are the best at predicting flight prices.
– Invest in travel insurance. My altitude sickness wasn’t bad enough that it had to be treated, but I definitely suffered, especially in the first couple days. If I were any higher up in the mountains or if my altitude sickness got any worse I would have needed to be seen by a doctor.
What’s your next destination?
Most likely Iceland! We, and most likely some friends, will be going to Iceland in September. I want to see the Northern Lights, go Orca whale watching, and visit the Blue Lagoon.
Follow along on Kayleigh’s adventures
Hope you enjoyed this interview and if you have any feedback, comments or questions, please leave them down below.
Special thanks to Kayleigh for sharing her experience!
- Medellín is known as the City of the Eternal Spring – weather is typically a perfect 70-75 °F (22-23 °C) all year round.
- It was the first city in the world to use cable cars for mass transit.
- Despite its reputation of “most dangerous city in the world” in the past (hint: Pablo Escobar), Medellín has truly transformed itself into a thriving city and hipster holiday destination.
Travelling to South America soon? Check out these travel guides too help you plan your trip!
- 7 Reasons to visit Salinas Grandes Salt Flats
- How to visit El Hornocal in Quebrada de Humahuaca (Northwest Argentina)
- The Complete Travel Guide to Humahuaca (Northwest Argentina)
>> Find all South America articles here