“I’ve learned to live my life. To take something that destroyed me and turn it into something that built me,” as Jen Morilla continues to impact change traveling around the world.
A young Cuban-American, raised in New York, spends most of her time traveling the world. Morilla has been to 35 countries on six continents, has impacted over 2,000 people in five of those countries, and is well-known for her humanitarian work around the globe. At 22, Morilla graduated from Pace University and went on to study abroad in London to pursue a Master’s degree. In 2013, Morilla secured a marketing job in Manhattan. For two years, Morilla lived the “American dream.” It wasn’t enough.
In February 2015, Morilla quit her perfect job and steady income, sold her car, took her savings, and left. Her only plan was to fly across the Atlantic to Europe. With no job, friends or a place to live, Morilla had to think on her own two feet.
“People often ask, why did you leave home, what or who was behind it,” Morilla wrote in an article for HuffPost. The answer: a loss. Her best friend. The death of her youngest brother at 19 due to gun violence. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The numbness and pain felt unimaginable. Morilla needed to find that reason to live. She had hit rock bottom.
The moment Morilla knew life had changed was in April of 2015. She arrived at the mountaintop of El Camino De Santiago and cried. Emotions, physical pain, and understanding that this was her life came to a standstill. That moment was a new beginning. Morilla continued her journey from then on as The Social Girl Traveler.
The Social Girl Traveler started as a travel journal. A way for Morilla to document the incredible places she has been. She used social media, such as Instagram, as a way to express her creativity through photographs and video content. Blog posts, captions, and #hashtags were a way for her to express and connect with people outside the world. The idea of travel forced Morilla to step out of her comfort zone and learn about change.
“As a travel blogger, I am always changing. Leaving the old with the new,” Morilla wrote.
Morilla didn’t want to just travel when she started. She wanted to do something different. Known for volunteering back home and attending fundraisers, the option to make an impact was important to her. Through extensive amounts of research, Morilla became a Courier for Waves for Water. An organization that works with world leaders and strategic partners to provide clean water to communities in need around the world. Through training and learning how to assemble a water filter, Morilla was known as a “clean water courier.”
Looking to create change, Morilla traveled to Indonesia, India, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Guatemala. She carried the clean water filters by Waves for Water and provided 27 filters between the 5 countries. Each filter providing clean water for 100 people for up to 5 years. Morilla’s goal, to reach 50,000 people in two years.
As a travel blogger, conversing with the locals, and taking photographs for Instagram can seem like a dream come true for people looking to leave reality behind, but Morilla explains that you work a lot, but for her, the word “work” doesn’t feel like it – if you love what you do.
“I’m a travel blogger whose purpose is to travel to create impact. I believe in changing the world and playing my part. I work a lot, but it doesn’t feel like ‘work.’ Yes, working is essentially how we survive, but it should be part of our lives, not take over them.”
Morilla does miss home in New York. The option to travel consistently can have its low points. And, although it may seem that Morilla may have a picture perfect post, doesn’t mean that day was perfect.
“You miss a flight, or it’s delayed. The fear of losing something, such as a wallet. Emotions run wild when you are traveling solo. Things happen. But, I have a simple rule. Five minutes. Five minutes to be angry. Five minutes to complain or cry. Life keeps going.”
As Morilla continues her journey to explore, create long-lasting friendships, and saves the world one filter at a time, she wants young millennials to know that you can do whatever you want in life. You can’t let others stop you. Inspired to be an author, TV personality, and public speak, Morilla will do the best she can to follow her passion.
For information on The Social Traveler aka Jen Morilla, you can follow her on social media at The Social Girl Traveler, website at TheSocialGirlTraveler.com, or find out about her on the Waves for Water fundraiser for Puerto Rico by visiting the link here.