“If you’re looking for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.”
Yes, I am a Filipino and I have caught the wanderlust bug- but most of the time, I chose to keep this secret in fear of being judged. I’ve seen this happen many times in the past, because whether you believe it or not- despite the number of Asian travelers around the globe, it is still quite rare to meet a Filipino globe trotting on their own. People in the Philippines, still generally believe that this is only achievable by white people because they are “privileged” enough to have had the right currency value to travel in Asia for a start, and the right passport that could surpass the immigration lines. Which is why those who aspire to travel, but is too afraid to try, only read the pages of a book or articles from a famous traveler. Which is also why the blog Two Monkeys Travel has gained popularity in the Philippines! but this is not an article about those successful travelers. This is for those (like me) who are still pressured by the society to give up on our dreams, because it’s crazy, risky and not a part of the norm. This is an article for those who are still too afraid to try.
I’m pretty sure they still hear the same familiar voices I sometimes hear in my own head. Voices of friends and families telling us why traveling is such a bad idea for Filipinos. Enumerating me lists of reasons why some people can do it, and why I cannot. The list starts from: they have a companion, their “white” partner helps them through the expenses, they were already successful here, or maybe you’re just bat shit crazy- trying to escape the life you cannot face here in your country. It’s sad, but that stigma remains evident no matter where I go. Which is why I decided to sort out everything I have to sort out here before I finally choose to travel, no pressure on the date – no pressure on the time, I can always leave when needed, I just chose not to – yet. I really don’t want people to perceive that I want to travel to “escape” because things have a way of catching up to you. I just really wanted to have something more than just “good”. So in an effort to lift the spirits of those who are still confused whether they should go or not, I have enlisted the 5 steps you need to take before choosing the life of travel.
1. Decide if this is really something that you want.
I believe that if you want something really bad – and every beating string in your heart yearns for you to do it, you need to stop listening to what others have to say and just do it. Often times, they just project their own worries unto you. The reason why I know I needed to travel, is because every time I see a post of someone going to other places my heart literally curls up in pain. “I want to be there”, I said – with every photo, travel post and article I read, the more my heart resonates that same familiar pain I feel when I lose something. But traveling is definitely not easy. I needed to sort out some matters here, and I needed to prepare myself accordingly… which leads me to my next point.
2. Learn to be your best company.
I already know I might travel alone, and I also know that I have issues being alone. So how do I sort out this problem? well, let’s revert back to the good old saying that, “practice makes perfect.” Yes, I decided to deliberately spend most of my waking hours alone and in front of my computer learning and working. I didn’t do this to kill my social life entirely – I still try to spend time with friends whenever I can. I just chose to learn to be my best company. I tried to eat at restaurants by myself, enjoy my coffee with just my book – go to short visits in far places by myself, and meet people along the way. You know what? this trick helped me so much with my self-esteem. The world is so big and vast – it’s impossible to be stuck with the same group of people every day – because you can always have a fresh start! As I get accustomed to being alone, I also learned about myself. I needed to get away from all those voices telling me what I should be to find out who I want to be. Knowing yourself can be pretty helpful too if you want to start your journey- because it will let you define which situations you can or cannot accept.
3. Define your own success
Filipinos are very traditional, and simple. Most of them believe that there is only one way to describe success: Have lots of money, get a great career, a nice house, a nice car and a family of your own. WOW, that is everyone’s ultimate goal, isn’t it? But often than not, I have seen many “successful” people – UNHAPPY. Why? because I realized that nobody can ever really define success- other than your own. My grandfather was never rich, but often he would say – he is quite successful because he is happy and fulfilled. I wanted that too. I have already tried waking up one morning, having all the things I needed in life- but still, I wasn’t happy. That unhappiness took a toll on my overall health as well. I was not happy on the inside and so it reflected drastically on the outside. How can you have everything in this world, and yet still feel so remarkably empty deep within?
As I set up my goals reassess my life – I took the time to realize that for far too long, I’ve been letting other people define my own happiness and success. I let my parents visualize for me what success should be, my colleagues to decide my career path, my exes to decide my dreams and etc. I got engrossed trying to please everyone that I forgot to please the one person that matters most – MYSELF. It’s like eating the same darn vanilla ice cream, despite knowing fully well that you really like chocolate. You do it because everyone else decided that vanilla is the best, and you didn’t want to disappoint them.
4. Prepare yourself and do your homework.
Now, I posted this because I don’t want to be just another “beg packer” in the streets of Bangkok. Like all the life defining exams of your life – you need to prepare for this one as well. Although I think cash can come in handy – it can only take you for so long. Equip yourself with the right knowledge. Read read read and read more. You see, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice your career in order to travel. I’m just quite lucky to have found a job that would allow me to work anywhere in this world- but in case you don’t, it’s never too late to master a new craft. There are many ways you can earn while traveling abroad.
Me? I have decided to garner as many international certifications as I can in terms of digital marketing. As back up, I also took a TEFL course, so I could teach English whenever deemed possible (also because I secretly want to volunteer in teaching uneducated kids around Asia for free, how to do that – no idea). I also started my own company so I can just establish my entrepreneurial dreams wherever I go.
It is also wise to read about a certain place before you actually go to it. I traveled to Korea alone, (read my Korea series here) and trust me, I read an awful lot before actually taking that flight off. I searched the destinations I want to check out, the places that are safe, the things I should avoid, and most of their cultural beliefs. This will save you a lot of hassle and problems along the way.
5. Hope for the Best (and pray)
Okay okay, I know – I have my own inner battle with my religion as well, so this might come as a shock to some of my friends. But I made peace with God just a few days ago. This is not a second rendition of “Eat, Pray, Love“, but perhaps an episode of my never ending quarter-life crisis. Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, who prayed for a God that she doesn’t even know if it exists or not – I actually believe that a higher being actually exists. So for the first time, in a very long time – I found myself praying. In my surprise though, it really helped a lot to ease all my worries. I know you will not understand, but sometimes, you just really need that brief moment in your life to take a pause and reassess again if your decisions make any sense at all. That moment of weakness signifies that we are human. We will always worry no matter what, but there is also nothing wrong in taking a leap of faith. If you are not into praying, I find that YOGA helps a lot in finding inner peace. Yoga also helps in easing all your worries.
So yes – to all my wanderlust brothers and sisters. Never ever apologize for being who you are. People have their own paths to go to, so take your own chances, and follow your own path. I know this is cliche, but we do only LIVE ONCE, so be happy. Follow your heart, follow your dreams, try to be nice and most importantly – be BRAVE. Trust me, nothing is scarier than failing – but nobody has ever been successful without it too. Keep the fire burning in your soul, and someday, OUR dreams will come true. So grab that backpack, take those exams and live your dream. You’ll never know what’s up ahead if you’ve never even tried.
Have you ever had doubts whenever you want to do something? Write your worries in the comment section below!
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