My first travel was in 2006. I was one of the delegates of the Philippines to Seoul, South Korea for the Asian Youth Congress. The second time I left the country was in 2010 to try my luck in finding a career overseas. I went to Dubai hoping to find a nursing job. However, an opportunity landed on my lap to travel the world. And I knew, that if I take that opportunity, my nursing career will be put on hold. I grabbed that opportunity and that’s how my love for traveling blossomed.
Now, I have been to more than 50 countries across 6 continents. I have fallen in love with the world and the different cultures. I learned to step out of my comfort zone and seek out new experiences to be a better person.
There are some key experiences in my traveling that made me realize who I am. I can summarize it in the letters comprising TRAVEL.
T – True Appreciation & Gratitude
For years, I always complained about what I didn’t have and what I wasn’t born with. When I started working, I surrounded myself with material things. I bought all the branded clothes, shoes and bags, and I always had the latest gadgets. When I started to travel, I realized I couldn’t bring all my branded stuff because I had to pack light and be practical.
I started to appreciate more the things that money couldn’t buy. Enjoying the sunrise or sunset on the beach in Maldives or Seychelles, seeing the snow for the first time in Frankfurt, and looking up at the Eiffel Tower outweigh any merchandise I could ever buy. Instead of buying designer bags and shoes, I save more money so I can see places I haven’t been to yet. Travel has become a way of life.
When I travel to countries suffering from poverty and see how some of the poorest people can lead the happiest lives, it makes me more appreciative and more grateful for my life. I always stressed about the silliest things in my life, without realizing that there are people who are contented with a fraction of what I have.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
R – Relationships
Being separated from my family for 7 years made me closer to them. When I feel scared and homesick, that’s the time everything sank in and wished they were with me. I can never replace family and home.
I have met a lot of people during my travels. I went to Universal Studios Singapore with a Romanian female traveler. I roamed around Budapest with a Thai. I walked around Hulhule Island in the Maldives with a Chinese friend. I never thought I could have a friend or connect with someone who is non-Filipino.
Universal Studios Singapore
A – Attitude
I wasn’t the most confident of people. I used to walk pretending I am texting someone, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I avoided eye contact and always answered a one-word response. I was shy and would never ask questions or even call a company to inquire. Living abroad while staying in an apartment changed all that.
I had lived with a Kenyan, Tunisian, Indian, Nigerian and South Korean. They helped me improve my social skills and build my confidence. I became that person who asks questions, initiate conversation, and tells travel stories without fear of being judged. I make eye contact with people and look straight ahead. Traveling has turned me into the confident person I’d always dreamed of being.
I used to hate waiting around for anything like late transportation, travel buddies or group tours taking their time, and forgotten orders in restaurants, which is a terrible quality to have when traveling. Instead of losing my temper, I accept my situation and I do what I can to resolve it. I’m much calmer now.
I get frustrated easily over delayed or canceled flights, being bumped off from a flight, and lost luggage. The sooner I learned to roll with whatever challenges come my way, the sooner I realized that I can handle most situations and that there really aren’t a lot of things worth getting upset or frustrated about.
V – View of the World
When I travel overseas, my view of everything takes on a new perspective. I learn how people view the Philippines as a whole and it challenges me to take a harder look at my personal stance.
I also realized that we aren’t so different from each other, and people are generally good. We all have families we love and jobs to go to during the day. Truly, negative stereotypes disappear when people are exposed to new cultures and places.
E – Education
As they say, experience is the best teacher. I have learned more about geography, history, culture, and nature through my travels than I ever did in school. Travel taught me about the world and opened my eyes to things I never knew existed.
L – Lifetime Commitment
Because of traveling, I found true love. I met my husband on my flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka and we had traveled together to more than 10 countries since then. Traveling is different when alone and when with another person. I learned to be accommodating and think about what he also wants to do and see.
We are also blessed with a beautiful son. Traveling with a kid taught me the true meaning of patience. Kids have minds of their own, and it was an experience in itself. I had learned all the tricks to pacify a crying baby, and appreciated mothers traveling with kids. From traveling alone to traveling as a couple and to traveling with a kid, my life will never be the same.
Traveling with my son
Against all odds, travel helped me find myself and be a better person. I actually like myself now. I know life will continue to change and I can’t wait to see more changes.
Here’s to the next seven years!
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