Viajerx Spotlight: Andrea Valeria – “It’s a Travel O.D.”

We live in an age where if you want to create your own T.V. show on the internet…you can! That is exactly what Andrea Valeria has done. After working as a news reporter for a few years and realizing that it was not the particular job for her, she left it. She clearly is not afraid or shy to be in front of a camera, but she wanted to be more creative and tell stories on what she loves. She has two skills that make a great vlogger (in my opinion), great camera presence and creative storytelling. She combined that with a subject she is passionate about- travel- and voila! her vlog channel “It’s a Travel O.D.” was born. She has been able to make vlogging her main source of income, she is a published author, and a digital nomad. How has she been able to make this lifestyle happen for herself? I had the pleasure to chat with Andrea to find out.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Panama City, but moved to the US for college at age 17.

After getting my Communications degree and becoming a TV News Reporter, I realized that it wasn’t the job for me.

I wanted to explore more, have more creative freedom, and also take a shot at entrepreneurism, so I took a year-long sabbatical and then went back to college for my Master’s in Entertainment Business.

When did you decide to begin a traveling/nomad lifestyle? Why did you stick with it?

After having a corporate job for a few years and understanding that staying put wasn’t for me, I made the transition into location independence. While it’s not a lifestyle for everyone, it works for me because I like being on the move, being ‘uncomfortable’ in different scenarios, and challenging myself. Being a nomad allows me to do all that.

I stick with it because I find more ways every day to make it sustainable. When I began as a digital nomad, I had one full-time remote job, but now I have multiple sources of revenue. The transition from having something steady to figuring out new services to offer, new business ideas, or new projects to get involved in is exciting to me. I want to continue being nomadic for quite some time actually!

What inspired you to begin a vlog?

Back when I was getting my Master’s Degree (2012), I needed a creative outlet – a fun hobby to come home to after school. That’s how it started. I was vlogging about different topics than I do now.

I’ve always liked making videos, being on camera and telling stories, so I thought this was the perfect medium for me. I also enjoyed dressing up, writing scripts, and editing.

For about 6 months I did it entirely for fun. Then, I got to attend the 2013 Shorty Awards in New York – as a finalist for Best Video Blogger. A few months later, I started getting paid vlogging gigs. That’s when I realized I could monetize it and continue to do what I love.

What topics do you vlog about?

My vlog “It’s a Travel O.D.” features my overdose in travel while telling motivating stories to get people to incorporate more travel into their everyday life and do what they love. Sometimes I tell the stories through eyes of a successful digital nomad, an inspiring local, or just me giving you the behind the scenes of my lifestyle.

What do you think makes your vlog unique from other travel vlogs?

I won’t just show you a destination, and tell you to come to this beach or that national park.

I’ll tell you personal travel stories or how it’s possible to work while traveling. It just so happens that I’m always in cool places while shooting the vlogs.


Andrea working in Bogota, Colombia.

What is your advice for someone who may want to begin a vlog but has no idea where to begin?

Firstly, get rid of all your excuses…

Think talking to cameras is intimidating? It’s not as hard as you think once you get used to it!

You don’t have the funds to invest in equipment? You can start small and upgrade later!

Don’t let anything stop you and get started creating. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results and get opportunities to grow your personal brand or get to the eyes of a bigger audience.

If you have zero background in video, then I’d recommend picking up my book which is a guide for anyone starting from scratch in the vlogging world.

What countries have you visited?

In the past 3 years, I’ve lived in many cities around Latin America. I have also lived for many years in the USA including 2 years in Hawaii. I’ve been to Europe a few times.

I don’t really keep track of the places I visit, and don’t believe in country-counting as a measure of travel expertise. In a short period of time, you can’t really get to know a country or its culture, so it would be unfair for me to list it as a place I actually know.

That’s also why I’m a big fan of slow travel, and getting to stay in a country for at least one month instead of trying to tackle a bunch of countries quickly.

Tell us about one of your favorite travel moments?

What might be a fabulous travel experience for me might not be one for another person – traveling is so subjective.

However, last week I went back to Panama City, and went to a place that’s considered ‘not safe.’ I grew up hearing that you should never go there, but I went this time around. A local tour guide escorted us through this area, and I had one of the most special days of my life.

Everyone was welcoming when you’re used to hearing everyone there is a bad person. The kids were happy and dancing in the middle of a park- something you don’t see often these days. Families welcomed me to their homes. A passerby told me his story…

It’s just proof that you should never go somewhere predisposed. Take precautions, but don’t miss out on a great experience because of what people might say.


Isla Holbox, Mexico

Tell us about your book! What was the experience of writing a book like? 

I wanted to share what I’m doing, how I turned my hobby of vlogging into my career. I like being as transparent as possible, and I knew I could help at least one person if I broke down how I’ve done it.

That’s why I wrote “So You Want to Vlog?” It’s a guide for people to get started vlogging. I make sure to say it like it is, be helpful, offer valuable tips and ideas, and share what I’ve learned in my 5 years as a vlogger.

In the process, I have acquired so much respect for authors. Writing a book takes time, discipline and organization. It was one of the most challenging projects I’ve taken on, but it’s also very rewarding.

Now, I’m receiving the positive comments of people who are reading it and enjoying it – which is a killer feeling to have!

VlogWhere can folks buy your book?

‘So You Want to Vlog?’ is available on Amazon on e-book version and paperback.

You can purchase it for the price of less than 3 frappe coffees here:

Where can folks keep up with you through social media? Where are your vlogs posted?

I’m on Instagram as @itsatravelod:

There you’ll see photos of my travels, and read behind the scenes of my vlogs and my lifestyle – on both my captions and my IG stories.

My vlogs are on Facebook:

Celebrating Culture Through Traditional Dress is a Form of Travel

Whether you wear your traditional clothing from the motherland while exploring, or you are celebrating your culture in your hometown outside of the motherland, both are equal forms of travel. Maybe you are performing a Folklórico dance at an art museum in Philadelphia you have never visited. Maybe it is “International Day” at school in California. Maybe your spiritual center is offering a cultural day where you get to show your pride, and learn about other countries in Michigan. Maybe your cultural dance group gets to travel to the next city over in Florida to perform. These are some of our favorite photos to feature considering the fact that it feels as if one is transported to the motherland when shared with others. Through these different photos, you allow people to see a small snapshot of what it feels like to be visiting the country you or your family are from.

“No dejes que te roben tu alegría, tu orgullo, tu poder” -@amandaalarah
“I am my Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams” -@marley_marz

BONUS! The funniest outfit award for celebrating culture goes to:

Scientist Series: Facing Fears while Scuba Diving in Colombia & Panama

Science terms to know:

Salt wedgeoccur when the mouth of a river flows directly into salt water. The circulation is controlled by the river that pushes back the seawater. This creates a sharp boundary that separates an upper less salty layer from an intruding wedge-shaped salty bottom layer..

 Refraction: the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where its speed is different. The refraction of light when it passes from a fast medium to a slow medium bends the light ray toward the normal to the boundary between the two media.

I have spent most of my life living in fear. An inherent fear that lead to extreme caution in all situations. Upon arriving at the University of Michigan this portion of my psyche did not go away. It grew. It snowballed into something bigger and bigger every day as I walked around campus. Science had always been something I was extremely attracted to. I remember being a child and pretending I was a chemist by mixing all my shampoos together like a mad scientist. Later I would start collecting rocks and read children geology books, sticky notes with my third grade handwriting littered the pages. Ya, I was born to be a huge science nerd from Day One.

In Ann Arbor, everyone warned me about the difficulty of the science classes. My fear kept me away from something that I loved. The fear was only multiplied when I believed everyone who told me that the only reason I had been able to enroll at Michigan was because of my minority status. I believed them every moment that I was a student. My fear and belief that I was not qualified were enough to hold me in a place that lead to unhappiness. I did not fit in with my Communications classes. I did not fit in with my Political Science classes. I did not fit in with my Psychology classes. This is normal for college, I get that, but fear was keeping me from exploring what I truly loved.

Thankfully due to some course requirements, I was forced to take an introductory Oceanography course. I am not going to lie, I did horrible on my first exam. Mainly because I came down with Scarlet fever, but that is neither here nor there. After I did horrible on that first exam I decided to delve deep into this class to make sure I ended it on a high note. The more I studied for this class, the more I realized that I was not working so hard because I wanted a good grade. I was working so hard because I truly enjoyed studying for this class  and I was genuinely so engrossed with the subject matter.

At the end of this course, I knew I had to take more Oceanography/geology classes in the fall semester, maybe dabble with a minor in Oceanography. Summer vacation quickly came and I decided to move in with my grandmother and my aunt in Colombia. I took a literature and writing class at the Universidad del Rosario while I lived in Bogota, the capital city. Working out was  a top priority while I studied. Swimming has always been my exercise of choice and my wonderful aunt found an outlet for me. She got a little dramatic with it though (thankfully) and she signed me up for a two-month-long Scuba and Free Diving course. We met every day for two hours, it included a yoga session and swim work out on top of SCUBA certification lessons and free diving instruction. In a nutshell it was heaven.

At the conclusion of the SCUBA class, I was sent on a trip to Capurganá, Colombia. A little town nestled between the border of Colombia and Panamá. Only accessible by plane or boat. The airplane I had to take was so small, I watched the pilot eat his ham and cheese sandwich as he maneuvered the flying metal tube of death. Awesome. Capurganá was unlike anywhere I had been in Colombia. The jungle was thick and the humidity was unforgiving. A biologist had accompanied the trip and she was pointing out exotic ferns, Leafcutter ants, and a boa constrictor among more exicting biology.

Our first dive came and I was once again consumed with fear. As much as I had practiced getting into water with all the equipment I could not help but panic as I descended into the ocean. The sound of bubbles bombarded me and my scuba buddy also began to panic. She had forgotten how to equalize the pressure in her face mask and her frantic gestures put us both in a frenzy. After I froze I motioned to my nose and tried to show her what she was forgetting. When she gathered her composure we were finally able to descend and that is when I saw it. The salt wedge. A very simple term in oceanography.

I had a flashbacks to sitting in class answering questions about estuarine environments. But there it


A salt wedge is created when the freshwater and saltwater meet. Image from: biodiversitybc.orgwas. In person. I could see it with my own eyes and feel it with my exposed hand. I was mesmerized. Tears welled up into my eyes. It was simple, almost too simple. A salt wedge is where a fresh body of water meets ocean water. The division can be seen with the human eye because of the refraction occuring between the less saline warm water at the surface and the colder saline water below the surface layer. Both bodies of water have different densities so light travels through it at different speeds causing a refraction. A similar phenomena  occurs when you place oil and water together in a glass. The division between each liquid can be visibly seen.

was. In person. I could see it with my own eyes and feel it with my exposed hand. I was mesmerized. Tears welled up into my eyes. It was simple, almost too simple. A salt wedge is where a fresh body of water meets ocean water. The division can be seen with the human eye because of the refraction occuring between the less saline warm water at the surface and the colder saline water below the surface layer. Both bodies of water have different densities so light travels through it at different speeds causing a refraction. A similar phenomena  occurs when you place oil and water together in a glass. The division between each liquid can be visibly seen.


While having lunch on a deserted island off the coast of Panama, I found this small microscope. At the time I felt it was a sign that I needed to pursue science.


I still get goosebumps recalling my first real life encounter with a salt wedge. From that moment on, I knew I had to take every single Oceanography/Geology class Michigan had to offer. My fears of failing were not as important as learning everything possible thing about the ocean. That fall, I summoned the courage and told my parents I would be majoring in Geology focusing on Oceanography. I would later learn that they jumped for joy when I finally choose to study a science.

This all leads back to fear. As a minority, you are constantly being told by the media what categories you fit in. I fell into that trap. I only saw myself as a failure before I even gave anything that I was truly passionate for a try. This is why representation of minorities in STEM fields is so vital. Thankfully for me, after some academic requirements, support from my family, and real life experience, I faced my fears. I jumped in fins first into a geologic abyss and I have not regretted it for one moment since.

Introducing: Chantal Jemmott

Here is what Chantal has said about her journey that brought her to join Travel Latina:

“I was born in Panama, from a mestiza mom and an “Afro-Antillean” descent dad, for this reason and the fact of living in Panama, an area of ​​great ethnic and cultural diversity; I developed since childhood a curiosity to different cultures.

I was one of the people in charge of a youth group for about four years, which, developed in me the desire to create and promote change and results. With a strong desire to promote art and culture, I’m always up to speak up and generate results. I’m a Feminist, trying to empower women and men in the same direction. I decided recently to let my natural hair grow and since then, my sense of belonging to be Black and Latina increases. I believe that learning to value your roots is one of the best adventures of life

I discovered my passion for design and all kinds of visual communication for several years now, until I finally got my degree as a graphic designer at the USMA, Panama. Design took me to my first trip, Buenos Aires – Argentina, attending to the Encuentro Latinoamericano de Diseño at the University of Palermo, where my passion for design and  adventure made me fall in love with Latin America, traveling, el calor latino, languages, food, photography and fiesta! Since then the next plan is always traveling, promoting domestic tourism, loving my country, and continuing to learn and appreciate how wonderful it is to meet people from everywhere.

I currently work in publishing design for a moving magazine, with a content that continues to fuel my desire to travel, being in contact with people from all continents through the magazine.

I believe that the best of each country is ALWAYS its people, I have traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica and I’m ready for my next destination: Colombia! So here I am just starting this adventure with the purpose of learning throughout Latin America and all the places I can.”

You can follow Chantal’s instagram @chantalm_