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Can’t Travel? Don’t Blame Yourself

I’ve always wanted to travel. When I was a kid, I dreamt of going to countries I saw in the movies where trees and flowers were plentiful, roads were wide, skies were bluer, and snowflakes fell during Christmas. I wanted to see Eiffel Tower, Lady Liberty, and the many cows of New Zealand. I dreamt of seeing the world! When I reached college, I figured that maybe if I study hard, get a good career, and work my a** off for money, I’d be able to travel. Then life happened and now at 29, my accomplishment in the travelling field is scarce. Out of the 196 countries in the world, I’ve only been to three – Philippines included. Since you’re reading this, I guess your portfolio is just as poor, if not worse.

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Paris-New York-New Zealand – my childhood travel dreams
The Travel Fad and Your Sorry Life.

History tells us that the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) brought the concept of leisure travel to Europe. At that time, backpackers started seeing the world with all their essential belongings cramped in their bags. Travelling has become a trend that comes with numerous benefits – it improves your social skills, reduces stress, teaches you patience, and makes you realize that there’s more to life than yourself. You want that too, correct?

So you start googling “travel blogs” and 418 million people tell you that life is short and that you should seriously start packing up. You grab your 950-peso Philippine passport and find out that you only have a year left to use it. You search for countries you can go to without a visa, choose Brazil, and decide to buy those 130k-ish roundtrip tickets.

But you can’t. You can’t because:

A. You don’t have the money.

B. Your money is just enough to pay for your bills.

C. You have excess money but you’d rather spend it for the medication of your sick mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend, or dog.

D. Your demanding job requires your presence 365 days in a year; or

E. All of the above.

Realizing that, you start to cry and wonder what you have let yourself become these years. You cry because your friends seem to be having the time of their lives globe trekking while you let yourself stuck in responsibilities, trying to solve the problems of everyone you love. You begin to think that you forgot to live your life, that one of these days you’re going to die, and the only travelling you can do is either to heaven or hell. Right? – WRONG!

Be True to Yourself.

If your career at this point requires you to be at one place and your career is responsible for feeding your family of 4, don’t feel bad about choosing to stay. If the only money you can make is that which keeps you inside your apartment instead of out, don’t feel bad if you can’t buy yourself a ticket to see some tower or bridge abroad. If your concept of a good life is having a stable career, settling at one place, and securing your family’s future – by all means, have a good life! Don’t let social media, travel agencies, air travel companies, or jetsetter friends tell you what you should or should not be doing at your age! Resist the urge of looking down on yourself just because you have not been to places except your hometown. Your life, your circumstances are different. Accept that.

It is Possible.

Travelling for leisure may not be for you now but you can make it happen. You don’t need to wallow in self-pity because there are ways, at least I know of two.

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  1. Save up for your dream destination.

    Your dream destination could either be local or international. If you’re having a little trouble with money, then start local. It’s much cheaper plus you’d help local tourism. Last year, my friends and I travelled to Cagayan De Oro. I did not touch 2-months worth of allowances just so I could pay for the trip and not worry about being penniless there. Early this year, we also went to Bohol and I used the same strategy.  Next year, my husband and I hope to celebrate our first wedding anniversary somewhere romantic (like Italy or Paris) so we now set aside 5% of monthly earnings to make that possible.

    The principle is, earn your leisure. You must be able to fund your travels. Never, ever borrow money just so you could have international selfies posted in Facebook and Instagram. Memories are good but if travel debts will haunt you after, forget it.

  2. Grab free travel opportunities.

In 2008, I was able to go to Singapore because my brother and his wife worked there. They asked me to bring their son there so they paid for everything. When I passed the bar in 2012, my aunt gifted  me with round trip tickets to the same country with my parents so we could celebrate there with my brother and his family. I went to Cebu last March because our office sponsored our attendance to the 15th National Convention of Lawyers there. My husband and I experienced Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte because two of my cousins generously paid for the trip as their wedding gift. More recently, I’ve seen Cappadocia, Konya, and Istanbul – thanks to my husband’s work.

Call it luck but really, there are free travel opportunities out there. Just open your eyes and let the blessings come. If you’re the intellectual type, try international scholarships. Maybe you’ve got what it takes to be a Flight Attendant, they sure get to travel a lot! If your office annually gives away travel rewards to top performers, then work hard to get it! Is an airline giving away free trips to lucky page followers? Go try! Join games or raffles that have  travelling as its price. The possibilities are endless for those who see it.

Pessimists will tell you that these could take forever and that you might as well say goodbye to travelling. But hey, if you allow these people to get to you, what else will you hold on to?

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