We had the good fortune of connecting with Ivan Quintanilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ivan, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States at the age of 7. Growing up in Miami, a multi-cultural identity was the norm not the exception. And I will be forever grateful for it! During college, a year in London cemented my attraction to diverse, urban centers, and naturally led me to New York City upon graduation. I don’t always succeed, but I consciously try to celebrate the uniqueness of each person or place. As a travel writer, I strive to learn about every new place, person, and culture and, in the process, discover a little more about myself with every trip. Curiosity has been a guiding force in my life–even if I’ve had to recalibrate and remind myself to “stay curious” during this pandemic.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Curiosity may have “killed the cat” but it has driven me to creatively explore many lives in one. Travel makes us better people. If we could just expand outside our bubbles, we have limitless potential for growth. What a privilege to learn about new people and places! Covering LGBTQ travel is especially eye-opening considering the struggles our communities endure around the world. Every interaction has the potential to expand someone’s view, so it’s important to realize your responsibility as a traveler. With every travel story I write, I hope to leave this big world, just a little more connected. Because at our core, we are all so much more similar than we are different.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Though I love Los Angeles, I live in New York City. So, I’ll leave the LA itinerary to the locals. However, if you are coming to visit NYC, reach out via TravelingIQ.com and I’d be happy to recommend some of my favorite spots.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would never have become a travel writer were it not for Valerie Gladstone, my first (and only!) travel writing teacher. As an adult, it’s rare to find someone who changes the course of your life. And in many ways, Valerie did just that. She was my teacher at Gotham Writers Workshop, a writing school that is based in NYC and also online. Beyond teaching our “Intro to Travel Writing” class, she became a mentor and a friend and continued to guide me through the nebulous world of freelance travel writing. Sadly, Valerie is no longer with us but to borrow from the musical Wicked: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”