LONG-TERM TRAVEL AS A FILIPINO
November 5, 2019
HOW I PLANNED MY LONG-TERM TRAVEL DREAMS
It has been a year now since I left the Philippines to travel around the world. I left my sheltered life and high paying job back home to fulfill my life goal of traveling to as many countries as possible. Long-term travel as a Filipino is not easy. It is not ingrained in our culture, and aside from that, we need a visa to visit most countries, making it challenging to visit countries outside Southeast Asia. Challenging as it may seem, I am willing to break boundaries to attain my dreams.
If you had asked me years ago if I would have had the guts to do this, I would have said no. So what changed? Let me narrate my story.
MY FIRST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
It all started when I was still working at my first call center job. Some of my officemates travel a lot and they always used their vacation leaves to travel around Asia. I admired them so much, and I secretly dreamed of being like them someday. The opportunity to travel came when I saw a discounted fare to Cambodia and Thailand last 2013. No one wanted to join me then, but I didn’t care. I booked it and traveled solo for the first time. And from then on I got addicted! I then started traveling to other Asian countries where I don’t need a visa.
My passport credential got stronger after receiving my first Schengen Visa when I enrolled for a Spanish summer course in Toledo, Spain. And because of this experience, I was hired as a Spanish speaking Accounts Receivable Collector and subsequently sent to Poland for a month to train. Other visa applications became easier after receiving these Schengen visas, and from 2013 to 2016, I traveled to 17 countries in Asia and Europe.
SO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
I was ok then to just travel whenever I had available vacation leaves and client holidays, only touring countries for a week maximum, most of the time for less. That all changed when I traveled to Europe for the 3rd time and met my Mexican friend Jorge. We met in the Czech Republic, and during that time, he was touring Europe on an extended vacation. I was so impressed because he can be in any place he wanted to be, while I needed to arrange everything two months before I even arrived. We toured the Czech Republic and Hungary together and parted ways in Slovakia.
After that fateful meeting, something stirred up inside me. I began to yearn to travel unrestricted and visit faraway countries, so I started researching long term travel. I specifically read blogs of Filipinos who did it before, such as PSIMONMYWAY and TWOTRAVELMONKEYS. It’s not that hard to travel long-term as a Filipino is doable even if I am holding a Philippine Passport. My resolve got higher, and finally, I decided to do it.
LONG-TERM TRAVEL PREPARATION
I started saving hard, wherein I stopped partying and eating out every weekend, and I restricted myself from buying new clothes and videogames. I also researched all the possible routes that I will do. Latin America was at the top of my list, but I also planned to include Europe and Africa, because why not? As they say – “Go big or go home.”
I kept this plan a secret for almost 1 ½ years, even from my family, and I only told them after sufficient savings. I did not expect that they will be very supportive of my decision. They told me that I have my own life, and they will not stop me from reaching my dreams.
About work, I only informed my managers four months before my trip. I know that during that time, they felt devastated, but that’s life. I promised them that I will still perform well and make sure that I will transition my accounts properly to whoever will replace me.
Two months before my trip, I started applying for visas – 6 visas to be exact (the USA, French Schengen, UK, Russia, Egypt, and India). I managed to acquire everything just in the nick of time, thank God!
LEAVING THE PHILIPPINES
I left the Philippines on October 18, 2018, and since then, I have visited 39 more countries across five continents, and I am now on my 62nd in Brazil. I also started working online to sustain my travels. My goal now is to travel slow and look for a place to settle down. I am also mastering my Spanish and Portuguese, both essential languages, to survive in this part of the world.
WOULD I RECOMMEND LONG-TERM TRAVEL TO OTHER FILIPINOS?
So, would I recommend long-term travel to other Filipinos? Yes, of course! It is a life-changing experience, and I grew a lot as a person because of it; plus, I learned to be more independent and street smart. However, you need to make sure it is something you want because it is not for everyone.
And also, don’t do it if you don’t have enough savings or any back-up plans to sustain your travels with dignity. Besides, if you have responsibilities back home, then delay your dreams until you settle everything. Don’t even ask your parents to fund your trip; nothing annoys me more than when someone comments, “Ah, maybe you are a rich kid, that’s why you can travel!” If they only knew the sacrifices, I made to make this possible.
And finally, please don’t even think of staying illegally in another country. You will not want to live somewhere as a 2nd class citizen.
If in the end you still plan to do it, don’t worry! Traveling long-term as a Filipino is possible. Just remember, if I can do it, why can’t you?