“Traveling is like dancing, it’s dreaming with your feet. Traveling is seeing the world for what it really is and how it is meant to be seen.” – Mars
Everyone wishes to travel—to go in far-flung places, to explore off the beaten paths, to indulge in luxurious beach resorts, to try extreme sports, to swim with exotic animals and the list could go on.
The social media is enough proof of that with my news feed both flooded with travel photos or a strong desire to go somewhere. So I messaged some of them and asked, “why do you travel?” and “what is keeping you from traveling?”
Some gave the usual cliché of traveling: to discover the world, to meet new people, to explore the other corners of the world, to learn new things from other culture and traditions or to simply break away from the daily routine of life.
Others took their time and gave very profound answers. One friend shared it provided her the opportunity to reflect on the blessings that she has and continuously receive. And to some it means freeing themselves from worldly pleasures. It is a liberating feeling to experience life other than your own. One friend even makes sure to travel each year solo in order to “really feel the joy of independence and uncertainty.”
Of course, there is the bragging right–to be able to share and tell your story that you’ve been lost and found your way through. And traveling may just land you to another career as it gives good material for photography and creative writing.
There are numerous and marvelous reasons why we should go out and see the world. Yet we don’t! Often we got stuck in our office desk, in front of the computer – reading with envy how others are living a life of travel.
Money is cited as the main culprit. The majority said it is the lack of funds that is keeping them from traveling. I want to say total BS. Three years ago, I shared the same sentiment that money is the answer to our travel woes. Today, I believe otherwise. One friend admitted that it is the ‘high paying stable job’ that affords him to travel. Ironically, it is the same ‘high paying stable job’ that prevents him from traveling. And I strongly believe he is not the only one. I have witnessed a number of friends cancelled their trips at the last minute over work. Money is a valid concern, but it is an issue one can do something about.
There was a time when my net monthly income did not even amount to US 450 dollars. I was paying my rent and mortgage and sometimes I gave my sister support yet I was able to go to six countries and went to travel locally as well. So how did I do it?
There are simple ways that require only sheer will power and there are ways that really need some ingenuity and talent. I am the type of person who believes in ‘if there is a will, there is a way”, so screw lack of funds and time. Check out my 6 ninja moves below:
1. Prioritize your travel. The first step to creating a life of travel is to figure out where travel is in your priorities and everything else will follow. When you make decisions whether small or big, one’s priority is the primary consideration. You will allot budget and specially time to achieve it.
For instance in 2010, my then boss let me chose between my job and my 9-day backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. Which one do you think I chose? Definitely, the travel! It was an easy and on the spot decision for me. I was not afraid to lose the job because jobs are always there. Besides, one works to live and not live to work.
Making travel a priority in these fast paced and demanding jobs means not extending time in the office or working on Saturdays and Sundays and even during holidays. For me, I do not mind not getting paid for a day or two because going to a surfing trip is way better than getting stuck in the office.
I make travel a priority by maximizing my credit leaves. I don’t convert it to cash; instead I travel because it’s the only thing I buy that actually makes me richer. Sometimes, I even travel illegally–calling in sick at work when in fact I am still stuck in an island drinking beer.
2. Start a travel fund. I believe this is the most common means of funding a travel. All my friends said they set aside a portion of their paycheck for travel. A boring feat, but a practical one, especially for Filipinos who have to present a bank account in order to get a visa. However, one can be more creative in generating money to add to your travel fund. For example, my then boyfriend and I save every ten peso coin and put it in an empty bottle of mayonnaise. Every time we received a ten peso coin, we got excited like a kid. We would search are wallets and had a friendly competition as to who was putting more. And I learned from a friend to save every 200 peso bill. According to her, one rarely receives a Php 200 and she was right. Now I always wish for a Php 200 change everytime I pay 500 pesos or 1000. Isn’t that something to look forward to?
3. Find a ‘raket’ (source of extra income) or make one. ‘Raket’ is a Filipino term which means doing something just to earn money. As I mentioned earlier, my income was not enough but at the same time I don’t want to get stuck in a corporate job. So I made an assessment of myself and asked, “What other talents do I have? Surely, there must be something!”
I love sports. In college, I was part of track and field varsity team. So when running was becoming a craze, I reached out to my former teammates and we started organizing fun runs. Now, I am busy posting ads and recruiting student to our newly formed swim school.
Finding a ‘raket’ is a matter of determination. You don’t wait for it, you seek it out. You tell your friends about your talent and the services you can offer. For example, I shamelessly advertise to my networks that I can do good research and documentation, and that if they need or know of someone in need of a researcher, they can recommend me. True enough, I stumbled upon a research project being commissioned by a university in South Korean. So I spent 10 days in Seoul, all expenses paid and with allowance.
4. Negotiate for “pay when able” deal. This one is a bit tricky, but I consider part of my charm. If you have established your reputation as an honest and trustworthy person I am sure a friend of yours will offer such deal. And if you are a person with such an awesome personality that the trip wouldn’t be complete without you there, someone is bound to offer the deal. Or it could be simply your friends love you a lot and want you to be happy like mine. In 2011, when I was out of a job, a friend offered me to buy me a ticket so I can go to Palawan. Similarly, my former roommate and her boyfriend offered a similar deal so I can go with them in Singapore in 2012. This year, I was able to make a friend to reconsider a pay when able deal for a trip in Shanghai, China. It is a matter of negotiating with friends and keeping your words.
5. Study abroad. Pursuing higher learning abroad will not only satisfy ones’ intellectual cravings, but one gets to feed his/her wanderlust by completely immersing in a new place and culture. Finding a scholarship in Europe or anywhere in the world maybe challenging as it is very competitive and requires strong academic background, but once you get accepted it is all worth undergoing the rigorous process. I have several friends currently studying abroad and they are all having the time of their lives. They are enjoying intellectual discussions in class but more importantly they are getting more pleasure hopping from one country to another on their free time.
6. Find a work that you love and allows you to travel. One of the best jobs in the world is working for a non-government organization (NGO), one does not work only to make the world a better place, but one gets to travel extensively. Sometimes there is too much travel that one begs off to go. My work does not pay a lot, but one of its perks is attending international events and meetings, all for free and with allowance. And that allowance I save for a side trip. I usually negotiate with my employer for few days’ extension to explore the place where meetings are held and sometimes negotiating with funder as to plane ticket arrangements. For instance, I always wanted to go to Bali, but plane tickets are expensive from Bali to Manila and vice versa, so one time when we had a meeting in Malaysia (it’s 45 minutes away from Bali), I asked my funder if they could pay my ticket from Bali to Manila instead of Malaysia to Manila. They agreed and I just had to spend Php 2000 for a ticket from Malaysia to Bali.
Building a life of travel is not rocket science. One just needs to decide that she wants to see the world and pursues it. The world itself is enough reason to build a life of travel. It is a fascinating world. It is meant to be seen. Traveling is a way of saying how wonderful it is to be alive. And as one friend said,
“We all imagine places in the world. Traveling is living that imagination. It is a way of reimagining an image you have in your head with actual experience. ” Kidjie