Isabel Conde, 18, was a fresh high school graduate who had always wanted to travel to Peru and experience the sheer beauty of Machu Picchu. So in the summer of 2016, she busted her butt and worked three different jobs to save up the funds to make her dream a reality.

Her jobs included a law office secretary, a nanny, and an employee at World Market. She was working roughly 60 hours a week. “There was this two week period where I was just working every day without a day off,” she recalled. She made herself a little dream board to hang in her room, adorned with pictures of Peru to keep her motivated to get up every morning.

Her mother and father were actually very supportive of her goal. In fact, they were the ones who encouraged her to solo travel and see the world. “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,” she added.

After a grueling work schedule for about six months, Conde managed to save up $7,500. Because she didn’t know a single soul in Peru, she had a short moment of panic in the beginning of her journey, but then decided to stay, and happily lived in Peru for six months. “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. She claims living in Peru has centered her, and has given her direction in life. She will be attending college in Minnesota in fall of 2017.

Her advice to other people with the desire to travel solo? “Even if you don’t have the money to travel now, with enough planning and dreaming it’s all possible!” she said. Her job history and work ethic are totally proof.

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