Just like in any kind of love, my love for travel has evolved over the years. And the lessons that came with it, were not only life changing, but definitely hit a home run.
How it all started —
It was never in my plans to go traveling the world when I was growing up. Because I was in a serious relationship at the age of 18, I was more focused on settling down with whom I thought was the love of my life and start a family.
But as soon as I graduated from Uni and started earning money, there was this sudden urge to travel. At that time, back in 2004 – 2008, I was traveling mostly to local destinations. My friends would always tell me that I could be a mermaid in my past life because of my love for the beach. [Note: Philippines has 7,107 islands, ergo, so much to explore!]
I couldn’t care less that my skin was getting darker, or that I could be at risk of getting skin cancer because I was too lazy to put sunblock. I just want to enjoy the sand, the water and the sun.
For 4 years, traveling locally wasn’t satisfying me anymore. I wanted to start traveling internationally, and I even considered pursuing international studies just so I can have the excuse to go travel.
Fortunately, in 2008, I got a new job and with the position came travel opportunities. Less than a week in the company, the CEO decided to take me to one of his business trips to Jakarta, Indonesia. It was my first trip outside the country and I was ecstatic.
From 2008 to 2009, I was going on business trips nonstop within Southeast Asia. Luck was on my side yet again when the CEO promoted me to become the country manager for our Vietnam operations. Without having any second thoughts, I accepted the offer.
But with change, comes the trade-off. ALWAYS.
2 months in, my then boyfriend decided to call it quits. We were together for almost 8 years and he was my first love.
To say that it was devastating was an understatement. I was more than willing to go back home, just so we can be together again. Yes, I was that naive, stupid perhaps, and in love.
Thankfully, we didn’t get back together. He treated me right and all that, but he’s just not the one for me.
I went on living and working in Vietnam for a year and because I was working as an expat in Vietnam, it only meant one thing — I had more than enough money. Again, it was another trade off and it enabled me to travel to neighboring countries.
Had I known about long-term traveling, blogging and online jobs at that time, I wouldn’t have gone back home. Apparently, Universe had different plans for me.
In July 2010, I went back home. Decided to transfer to another company, a bigger company, hoping to build my career and work my way up the corporate ladder.
Coincidentally, it only lasted for 9 months because my dad had to pull me out and help with the family business. For 2 years, I was employed by my dad and because I was the child of the owner, I had certain privileges and I was earning more than enough. So I continued traveling to new domestic and international locations.
One mistake I did though – I was careless with my money. And it was a mistake I paid for in the years to come.
I know how to earn money but I don’t know how to keep it. I was never a good saver as I will always find stuff to buy or reasons to spend.
In 2013, when my dad’s business went south, I had to look for another job, which meant enduring a significant pay cut.
At that time, I had too much financial obligations and my current net worth was already negative. Again, I wasn’t a financial literate at all so I made mistake after mistake. In effect, I accumulated a mountain of debt.
Ok, so I got sidetracked. This post is not about personal finance. But do watch out for my next post where I will write about how I managed to pay off this debt and still manage to travel.
Moving on, when I landed a job in 2013, I thought I hit another jackpot because, despite the pay-cut, they offered me a car, and the office was just a 5-minute walk from where I live.
Trade-off yet again because that job turned out to be a soul-sucking one. It was unfulfilling and I hit a dead end. I did learn a lot from amazing mentors but other than that, it was just another rat race filled with politics and drama.
It lasted me 1.5 years before I decided to call it quits. Did I have another job lined up?
No. And this decision would surprise you — I quit my job and decided to travel the world.
Short-term travels no longer satisfy me and Asia is becoming smaller and smaller. I want to experience what this big, big world has to offer, to be on the other side of the world.
Coming to that decision was an absolute madness considering I still have financial obligations and I didn’t have enough money to sustain the kind of travel lifestyle that I want.
All I had at that time was courage. I had enough courage and did the YOLO thing. I went for it and nothing or no one can stop me.
June 2015, I found myself inside an airport, ready to embark on what would be the greatest adventure of my life to date.
With a one-way ticket to Brazil, it’s safe to say that yes, I completely lost my mind.
I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of the world. Was I scared? Absolutely. But courage overtook my fear in more ways than I can imagine.
It was this soft voice inside me, telling me — just do it. Universe is always conspiring with you. Live boldly. Just live.
And I did.
For 14 months, I was traveling slow in South America. I hit insufficient funds, fell in love, welcomed by the nicest family in Peru and Chile, spent New Year’s with the Germans in Arequipa, hitchhiked for more than 4,000 kms in Chile and Argentina, volunteered in hostels and NGOs, spent a week in the Amazon river, and more, so much more.
It was, indeed, the greatest adventure of my life to date.
In August 2016, it was time to head back home because I cannot sustain this travel lifestyle anymore. I still wanted to travel but I want to have enough resources so I don’t have to put myself in high stress financial situations. In short, I want to travel smarter.
Going home, I had high hopes that I can easily get a job again, start saving money and pay off my debts. But after 6 months, I had nothing.
Worse, I got my heart broken yet again. Perfect timing, I know.
March 2017, everything was falling apart right before my eyes. I was depressed, lost and jaded. Thankfully, I was living rent free in my sister’s house so having food to eat and roof over my head were things I didn’t have to worry about. Also, the online business my ex and I started is still generating an income.
I wanted to travel again, or even just work abroad, but nothing’s coming my way. Can you see how I was trying to run away?
Yes, I was trying to run away from all my problems and emotions but Universe was not giving in.
It was apparent that if I wanted to get out of this mess, there was no way out but through. After 9 months, I managed to get out of that hell hole. There were times when I felt I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression each day, and glad I recognized the problem before it became too late. So I decided to snap out of it and pulled my shit together.
At that moment, the situation can either work against me or for me. And I decided to go for the latter.
I looked back at my life and started connecting the dots. I had to eat a huge serving of humble pie and admit to myself that it was my life choices that led to my life crumbling down.
There was no one to blame but myself. It was all on me.
But, rather than staying on self-pity mode, I decided to become my own superhero and promised myself never to be this broke and broken ever again [wise words I got from Lisa Nichols].
Within those 9 months, I was able to start my life from scratch, hoping to make the right decisions this time. I became smarter with my finances and made my financial obligations a priority.
Did I give up my life of travel? Hell no.
As a matter of fact, I was able to travel to 2 new international and 5 local destinations. For someone who’s broke, traveling seemed far-fetch. But I did it. I didn’t want to, and never will I ever, let go of my love for travel. I just need to find the balance and manage my finances well.
How did I do it? My next post will tell you all about it, so watch out for it!
I am the kind of person who decides to go for it no matter what. Never will I let fear run my life and never will I be satisfied reading other people’s travel stories.
I want to share my own travel stories and live the best life possible for myself. I may die with $0 in my bank account but I know that I lived fully and not merely existed.
I lived boldly and didn’t settle. I chased my dreams and found my place in this world.
I would like to believe that travel is my one true love.
For all of you reading this, I sincerely hope that you do the same. It may not be a life of travel but hopefully, a crazy, beautiful life led by your passion and sheer willingness to live the life that you love.
Sending you love from my side of the world. Thank you for stopping by!
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