What is your favorite travel memory? - by Onycha Vandermeer

It's so hard to choose just one, but I think I should go with a story from my first time backpacking since it obviously left an impression. Ultimately this story is what led me to continue traveling, to major in ecotourism, and to have a career in the travel industry.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica - 2010


When I finished high school a year early I felt self conscious about heading straight to college and being a year younger than everyone else. Instead, I decided to enroll in a term at a Spanish language program in Costa Rica. It was wonderful, the program and the other students were amazing and so was the homestay experience, I was in heaven.

A couple weeks into the program I decided to go to the beach for a weekend, and I stayed in a hostel for the first time. It blew me away, I couldn't believe people traveled like this for months at a time - basically I had no idea that backpackers existed. I loved the idea so much that I decided to become one on the spot. I called my school to tell them I wouldn't be returning and I set out to see as much of Costa Rica as possible.

Turns out I had a pretty ambitious wanderlust and I ended up hitchhiking, busing, and walking through every country in Central America to return home over six months later, much to my parents relief.

That was eleven years ago (I feel so old saying that), and since that first impromptu backpacking adventure I've continued to travel (over 40 countries and counting!) and work in the tourism industry. I've returned to Costa Rica several times since my first time backpacking here, and there's just something really special about it that keeps bringing me back.  I know that everyone who has joined us at Las Olas Travel has experienced their own version of falling even more in love with travel. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I'm not surprised that it's been a life changing experience for so many who have travelled here.