It's the most wonderful time of your teenage life as a Latina: your quinces! While I'm now closer to 30 than I am to 15, I can tell you a huge lesson I learned as I was preparing for my quinces: travel. This came by way of my mother's suggestions, although we all know a Latina mother's suggestion is more like a plan that's already set in stone.
Instead of having my parents spend a ridiculous amount of money on a one-night party - Latinxs reportedly spend from $5,000 to $20,000 on a Quinceañera on average - I chose to travel from Miami to Puerto Rico. I'm not going to go Robert Frost on you and say the decision made all the difference, but in some ways, it really did.
See, sometimes when you travel for your Quinceañera, you can have your cake and eat it, too. For example, I did have a Quinceañera party, it was just at a smaller scale than usual. Since I had enough family traveling with me to fill up a party room with nearly 50 people, we picked a DJ, great food, and had an amazing party to celebrate.
Being in a room with a few people who had seen me grow up and really knew me was more special and intimate to me than having a huge party where I wouldn't recognize half of the attendees - because we know that half the guest list is usually our Latinx parents' friends. I was lucky enough to have so many close family members who were willing to take their vacation to Puerto Rico to celebrate my quinces.
If you're worried about party photos to remember your big day, you need not be. I got professional party photos of those who went, in addition to a beach-side photo shoot and an in-studio shoot probably for about half the prize of Quinceañera shoots in Miami - keep in mind that was about 13 years ago.
My quinces added an incredible value to my life. I took guided tours throughout Puerto Rico and learned how people live on the island. As someone who was born in Cuba, I noticed tons of similarities between the two places, but also many differences that enriched my understanding of Puerto Rico. I would not have received this breadth of perspective at such a young age had I not traveled for my quinces - it surely was the first bite of my perpetual travel bug.
If you're debating whether to have a Quinceañera party or to pack your bags and go off to see a place you've never seen before, go with the latter. Travel will serve you more than you'll ever know. Yes, a party will likely be beautiful and provide a commemorative space for your special day, but to some degree, a Quinceañera party serves the guests more than it does the Quinceañera.
Now that traveling for birthdays is becoming a bigger trend, there are travel agencies that can arrange your entire Quinceañera trip, and there are also Quinceañera cruises that specialize in creating a travel experience on board.
With a fun group of close family members and a pretty dress, you can take the party with you on the road - or the ocean - and celebrate your quinces along the way.