Back in my small room in Palawan, I just need to write my realizations while traveling long term. I am writing this in the voice of an ordinary Filipino traveler and not someone who just quit their job to travel the world. Yes, I am writing this based on my personal experience.
10 Realizations While Traveling Long Term as an Ordinary Filipino
1. Traveling is a privilege, same time it’s a choice
Not all Filipinos travel a lot. Or let’s say, not all our parents love to travel when they were younger unless they were born rich. Or it seems like when you have the money, you can afford to travel. Another thing, if you’re a Filipino who works abroad with a good paying job, it’s a big plus to travel to first world countries.
But not all Filipinos are rich. Like me, my parents are not rich and I have no experience working abroad. When I was working in a company, my job didn’t pay me much until I switch to working online. While working online, I was able to save money for a different goal and a breadwinner at the same time.
Traveling was not the main goal until I had my personal reasons to do it. That is – soul searching. Sometimes an escape. Somehow, traveling solo made me realize what I really want in life and I learned so many things on the road.
2. Traveling is not always a vacation | realizations while traveling long term
Some people questioned me why I always stay in hostels and not in hotels. Well, it’s very impractical for a solo traveler like me to stay in expensive hotels. As a budget traveler, it’s better to stay in hostels and at the same time, you will meet a lot of people from different countries and learning each other’s cultures.
While meeting other people, you will realize that they are just an ordinary person from their countries. Working hard and save money. The advantage is that their currencies can make a long way in Southeast Asia.
It’s not about staying in expensive hotels, having a swimming pool outside of your room or eating at nice restaurants. The important thing is what did you learn on your travels?
3. It’s okay if you can’t travel to first world countries
I have interacted with other Filipinos who got denied their visas to South Korea although they are working in a company here in the Philippines. Not all Filipinos can easily get visas unless you have six digit accounts in your bank or someone who can guarantee or sponsor you for the trip.
Sometimes, getting a visa is pure luck for ordinary Filipinos. I was lucky to get three single-entry visas to Japan without an income tax return while others failed for it. But to compare, Japan visa is easier to get due to the fact that they are welcoming visitors to the 2020 Olympics.
If you can’t travel to first world countries, there are other 65 countries in Southeast Asia and South America where you can travel on visa-free or visa on arrival. Of course, Southeast Asia is the cheapest continent to travel to.
4. It’s an awesome feeling to book a one-way ticket | realizations while traveling long term
Every time Filipinos go out of the country, the immigration will always ask for your return ticket. An indication on when are you coming back to the Philippines. During my travels last year, I braved myself to buy a one-way ticket to Myanmar and successfully, I made it.
5. Traveling is not a competition
While others count on how many countries they have been and visiting touristy spots, my way of traveling is staying long term in a country for one month at least. I want to experience how to live like a local or possible to visit different cities in one month. As a digital nomad in the Philippines who has no experience working abroad, I am lucky that I have a flexible time to stay a long time in Taiwan, Myanmar, and Thailand.
6. You will appreciate your brown-skinned color | realizations while traveling long term
Right now, I have dark brown-skinned color as almost every month, I go to the beach. I became too lazy to put on sun-block lotion as it is expensive. Westerners with white skin love to go to the beach and they admire my skin color. As they say, having pale skin is a sign of being sickly and having tanned skin gives you glow.
7. As a travel blogger with own social media pages, I’m tired of being online all the time
I travel not because I am a travel blogger. I travel because I want to learn new things and immerse myself in different cultures. As someone who owns a travel blog and other social media pages with at least a thousand followers, I realized how tiring it is to be online every day.
There was a time I wasn’t able to update my Instagram for two months while traveling in Thailand. Doing Facebook live was even impractical as I don’t want to bring all my gadgets everywhere I go. Not all the time I am in a place with a good signal.
I only go online when I am bored and see what is happening in the virtual world. Unless you are paid to do that and you have to update your followers every day. But some people are just happy to update every day even though they’re not paid to do it.
Although as a travel blogger, I got some opportunities to work with hostels and other activities to get free stuff in exchange for promoting them on social media.
8. That Philippines is a beautiful country | realizations while traveling long term
Political aside, overall, the Philippines is not a perfect country but I realized how beautiful it is that we are lucky to be gifted with natural resources with beautiful sceneries and especially the ocean. As someone who loves to swim, we have several areas that are good for snorkeling and scuba diving. We have different islands with white sandy beaches. A bonus is that the people can speak English and very smiling towards tourists who are visiting the country.
When I travel out of the country, there were some people who are not familiar with the Philippines. During the time I was in Japan, living in an Airbnb room with travelers from Australia, Sri Lanka, and South Korea, I showed them my photos of different beaches, waterfalls, and mountains in different islands of the Philippines I’ve been to.
9. It’s ok to be single and travel solo at your late 20’s
Friends of my age got married at 23 and now, they have kids already. I’ve been seeing in my feed people getting engaged. Some of my nieces at their 20’s already got married. I started traveling at the age of 24.
The reason I travel solo it’s because not all my friends can keep up with me while traveling. Also, I’ve been single for a long time and I had no real relationships in between. I had some flings while others never work out.
Being single and traveling solo also made me realize what I really am looking for a guy and for the next relationship. I knew myself that I am ready to be in a relationship but the guys I met and dated was not just a good fit.
It made me an independent person but also lucky that strangers are helping along the way. Not all the time you travel solo as you will also meet strangers who will become your travel buddies and friends.
If you and your travel buddy have differences, in the long run, you better go on separate ways. Move on and go to your next destination.
10. In the end, you will go back to your home country
The last but not the least realizations while traveling long term is going back to your home country. While other travelers found themselves settling in a different country and found someone, after four months, I decided to return to the Philippines as I still have personal issues to deal with. It’s not easy when you don’t have a fairy tale life. As mentioned earlier that traveling is like an escape for me but going back to your home country is my reality.
Although I have personal issues, going back to your country is just the safest place you can be especially when you are running out of money. As you know how to survive and get back on your feet when you have failed.
I have to admit that I met someone when I was in Phuket. That was the reason why I stayed longer in Thailand for another two months. We left on the same day in Bangkok and we are now in a long distance relationship. He is back in France, me in the Philippines.
Do you have the same sentiments as myself or I just have different realizations while traveling long term as an ordinary Filipino? If you can relate one or two, please do share your comments below. Would be great to interact with you.
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Roxanne is an aspiring digital nomad. A virtual assistant since October 2009. She is a hobbyist blogger, photographer and travels a lot.