Filipa and I met in India earlier this year. She is a dentist, writer, and traveler who seeks to form deep connections with the people and places she encounters. This October, she will set out on a nine-month journey around South America. You can follow along on her blog, Contos Alfacinhas.
Even dentists like to enjoy a sweet treat on the road!
NAME: Filipa Chatillon
RESIDENCE: Lisbon, Portugal
OCCUPATION/JOB TITLE: Dentist
How have you made your life a “traveling life” and why?
Let’s start with why. I feel like I’m an improved version of myself when I travel. My better self. I’m more confident, more adventurous, more curious. How…well, I just do it. The moment I realized this was what made me happy, I put all my efforts in to it. My free time and money always have a destination attached.
Why is travel important to you?
Because it opens my mind to other ways of life, to other people. Because it makes me a better person by understanding what unites us and what is cause for division. Because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. Because the world is just too big and too beautiful not be be explored.
What are some of your first travel memories?
It started late for me. I think doing Erasmus (an exchange program) in Finland and realizing how much I enjoyed sharing experiences with people from different countries ignited it. The same happened with friends I met and instantly connected with in Amsterdam. I realized that this sharing of ideas, habits, dreams and experiences, from different parts of the world was pulling me. Then I went to Argentina five years ago. It was supposed to be a three-month volunteering experience. It turned into one year working and traveling in South America. I haven’t stop traveling since.
What is your most significant travel memory and why?
Living with an Argentinian family. I made true friends with a 60-year-old lady and her friends. Women with huge hearts and energy most people my age (let alone theirs) don’t have. They taught me about the country’s history and culture. Gave me piles of book to read, and discussed them with me. Supported me when I decided to quit and stay there. Showed me that age means nothing as long as you keep an open mind.
What are some misconceptions friends & family have about your travels?
That it is always easy. It isn’t. Especially long term travel. You do get burnt out sometimes, you do miss people and some comfort. But in the end, it’s always worth it.
That I’m running away from something. I’m not. I’m running towards what fulfills me.
That I must make a lot of money, in order to travel so much. It’s not that I don’t have a salary that’s better than a lot of people, but it is lower, or the same as that of most of my friends. But I prioritize. My money goes to travel, not to things.
What advice do you have for others who want to incorporate more travel into their lives?
Just do it. If it makes you happy, put it in your priorities. If you do, you’ll make it happen.
Where are you headed next?
Small trip to England. Then South America for nine months.
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