Cristina Mateo: Empowering Female Travelers

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Traveling and moving abroad can be empowering experiences for women that have the braveness to take on new adventures and the drive to explore the best of each country. 

Cristina Reina is a Spanish travel blogger currently living in the UK. Through the writings on her blog, My Little World of Travelling, she aims to inspire women to travel and live abroad. She also writes about unique, off-the-beaten-track places to visit in Spain, the UK, and beyond, aiming to help women have the most authentic experiences. 

Find out more about Cristina’s experience as an expat and her insights about travel in our interview below!

What made you decide to move to the UK? How was your experience?

I  was passionate about learning English as a language when I was younger, and this made me choose a degree in languages. Once I finished my degree in my hometown, I was sure that I wanted a different experience, and moving abroad would make such a big difference in my life.

I knew I wanted to study for my Master’s degree in the UK, and I chose Leeds because I had visited the city before, and I liked the fact it was small but not too small and had great university options.

It wasn’t easy to tell my family because they have always been a very close family, and I knew they wouldn’t understand why I wanted to move to another country. However, after a few difficult conversations and my firm decision to move, I moved to Leeds.

The experience of living in the UK has taught me many important life lessons that I wouldn’t have experienced if I had decided to stay in my home country. However, I wouldn’t change these moments.

Have you experienced any major cultural differences? If so, how did you adapt?

Coming from a very warm and sunny city, I didn’t know the weather would make such a difference in my mood. Rainy weather and dark winter nights are the biggest challenges of living in the UK.

Despite living here for nearly 5 years, I haven’t got used to the weather.

At the beginning of my ex-pat journey, it was also difficult to understand the Yorkshire accent. All I learned in school and university was the “standard” British English, and I wasn’t familiarised with other accents.

However, living with locals and working really helped me adapt to the language. I sometimes say these Yorkshire words that even people from other counties in the UK don’t know, which is funny.

Why did you decide to become a travel blogger?

Travelling and languages have always been my two passions, and it was 3 years ago when I decided to create my blog. 

Although I have mainly travelled around Europe, I thought I could share my travel knowledge and experiences with others. 

I love travelling like a local rather than a tourist, and I have always believed that travellers want authentic and unforgettable experiences, and this is why I have focused on writing more about my hometown, Malaga, and where I live, Leeds

I want to be that person to go to for local tips so people can explore hidden gems and have better experiences.

What are some of the benefits women can experience by traveling?

Travel can be very beneficial for women, and I am glad that there are more women that travel solo and show others that it doesn´t need to be scary or boring without a best friend or a partner.

By travelling you can build your confidence, be more independent, appreciate the small things, be braver, get to know yourself, meet people you wouldn’t if you travelled with someone else, challenge yourself, and much more.

How do you usually find the most authentic places to visit in the countries you travel to?

One of the ways to find authentic places to visit is by researching on Google. Just type “hidden gems in [destination]” or “a local guide to [destination]” and you’ll find blogs that will provide tips and things to do or see that many people don’t know or only the locals know.

If you happen to know someone from the destination you’re visiting, ask them to give you suggestions. Locals often know the most authentic places in their cities and will give you tips on when to go and what you can’t miss.

If you don’t know anyone from that destination, you can always ask on Facebook travel groups.

I have also asked people I follow on Instagram if I know they are from the place I plan to visit.

Having lived in both Spain and the UK, what are two places you would mostly recommend travelers go to in these countries? 

If you are travelling to Spain, I highly recommend visiting Southern Spain (Andalusia) because you will find a mixture of nature, historic places and delicious food. 

A must-see town in Southern Spain is Nerja, situated 60 km from Malaga. This beautiful whitewashed town has incredible sights such as Nerja Caves and Balcon de Europa, the best viewpoint in all Costa del Sol, and crystal clear sea beaches. Next to Nerja, I also recommend exploring Frigiliana, another whitewashed town that is considered the most beautiful in the province.

If you are travelling to the UK, London is the top city break because there are always new things to do and explore. However, if you are looking for a less known but beautiful place in the UK, you must visit York.

York is a small but beautiful town with lots of medieval history, incredible sights such as York Minster, and green spaces. 

What is your vision for the future of My Little World of Travelling?

The vision of My Little World of Travelling is to continue growing my community and keep helping other female travellers to have authentic experiences.

In the future, I would also love to create an online course in which I teach other women how to start their ex-pat or digital nomad journey.

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