Written by Jasmine R. Castillo 

I can remember the chill of the air conditioning. on my neck, being nervous but excited at the same time. A flight attendant brings me a blue colored felt blanket to ease my goosebumps. My ears began to pop again and again. I start to cry but immediately Ma passes me a chicklet. My eyes grow heavier and heavier, till it is quiet. My eyes shoot wide open after an announcement by the captain “Welcome to San Juan, Puerto Rico” and everyone claps once the wheels touch down. My sister looked out the window with excitement; “the motherland” of our bloodline. I remember getting off the plane, smelling fruit and moist earth mixed with fried food. Home.

I’ve been lucky to have gone back and forth between home and the motherland every year, every summer. I am blessed our parents exposed us to culture and wanting us to retain and maintain this connection mattered to them. I know everyone’s experiences can be different due to circumstances or the way one was brought up. In today’s world, though, you can truly connect and gain insight into many cultures unlike ever before. About 10 years ago, it was a different kind of experience, because you had to know people, do your research through word of mouth, and travel solely by foot to learn where to go, what to do and how. There are so many parts of the world you can connect with right now, prior to visiting. You can go well equipped.



With Google, apps and companies like Ancestry or 23 & Me, you can find your bloodline, research your last name and find out ways to learn about your culture. You may even find family members you didn’t know you have.

After some research, it’s now time to look up flight deals. I’ve listed some apps below and their uses for your perusal. If you’re going to be hopping around or taking ferries, try to learn this ahead of time to plan your journey map out accordingly. your journey If possible, try to pay ahead -, it will save you some time! and pay ahead of time if possible, to get it out of the way. You can create a whole agenda, connect with some local experiences, schedule to meet up with family and download Google maps to help you get around, even if you don’t have wi-fi, and make sure to know as many safe spaces just in case (always want to have back-up plans). Also, words of advice: make sure to have digital copies of your ID’s on your phone and in your email and provide family and friends back home the contact where you’re staying.


  • SkyscannerFinds cheap flights, searching over 1,200 sources to then give you best options available. Available here.


  • Airbnb – Can stay local and affordable. It wWorks with your budget, it’s safe and you can pretty much find Airbnb’s anywhere.You can get Airbnb for both iOS and Android.


  • HotelTonightGgives awesome last- minute deals for those last- minute bookings, if you are spontaneous and prefer to wait for a deal. Available for iOS and Android.


  • HostelworldJjust as its name describes, it’s a hostel finder and works to find the onessome within the areas you want to hang out most. Hostelworld is available for both iOS and Android.


  • TripItAassists and organizes with your travel itinerary. To get full use of this app you just haves to forward your flight, hotel, car and restaurant reservation confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and it’ll create a mastery itinerary for you. Aavailable for iOS and Android.


  • Trail Wallet– Kkeeps track of all your spending (I need this the most since I go overboard when I’m away!). No more jotting down in a note section – j. Just need to set your daily budget or by trip, pull out your phone each time you get a bill and jot it down. It does all the money management for you. Available for iOS.


  • Detour– offers an experience in 17 cities around the world (so you won’t be able to use this app just anywhere) but if you can I highly advise it. It’s a GPS guided audio tour by a local in that city so you’ll be getting the inside scoop. Detour is available for iOS and Android.


Sharing some thoughts…

Proud or not, you come from a cultural line. It may be one dominant culture, consist of a fusion, or maybe you don’t know where your family is from. You may never even have stepped foot on the soil that bore the feet of your family’s journey before they arrived into the United States.

Don’t worry; it’s ok if you don’t know. It’s ok to learn as an adult. It’s ok to learn at any age, actually.The reason why I’m sharing this; because traveling can be a source of inspiration, especially for those curious enough to want to find out about their heritage. Your imagination may wonder what it’s like growing up on an island, a tropical paradise where the water is so clear you see the marine life, music playing at 7pm on a Sunday, siestas shutting down businesses for the afternoon, games played on the corner of the block that create bondage among neighbors, being surrounded by trees and unfamiliar species which may frighten you, or the politics involved that impact how people engage with one another.

Just think back to boring-ass history class during middle school. This time you’ll be learning hands on, as an adult. You’ll get to venture on your own, speak with locals from the area to gain more insight and ask “what it is that they love about their culture?” Places to see, things to do with people to meet. It’s all just a mindset. You don’t have to grow up with your bloodline to know it; you can now live it.

Now that we’ve rounded up our arsenal of tools, it’s time for the trip!


Final Word of advice…

We want to utilize our tools for connections, to get the best travel deals and prepare for our trips. But, when you do touch down on the ground, I recommend taking time to disconnect from technology in order to reconnect with your roots.

Technology has helped get you far, but now, here you are. Back “home.”

Wishing you the best trip possible as it will be enlightening, uplifting, emotional and an unforgettable experience for you that all becomes tangible once you’re there. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.


Anything above inspired you to travel, or need additional resources to get your travels started? Feel free to DM @ProducerJazz or email letscreate@jasminecastillo.com