“How many work do you have? How did you make ends meet? How did you afford to travel for a longer period of time?”
I have friends who asked me this very question over and over again. At that time, I got furious every time I get to asked the same question but later, I figure, they are also curious about how I can afford to travel long term.
I left the Philippines with only Php 25,000 in my bank account and a spare $300 in my other bank account. I would say it is not much to cover the entire journey. But, when I left, my only intention is to travel for 2 weeks although I am open to make it up to 2 months. In fact, I have my return ticket 2 weeks after my departure date. It would all depend if the life on the road is for me or not.
So how did I made it?
I have been freelancing for over 5 years at that time. I got 2 jobs — 1 Full time and 1 part time. So I had to stop somewhere and stay in one place for a longer period to be able to work. So, everyday, I need to find somewhere quiet where I can work and complete my day to day tasks. After then, I can start sightseeing. Most often, I just stayed in the hostel or guest house all week long and go out during the weekends or if I want to. I figured:
“I was no longer traveling. But I was living my life on the road.”
Being a freelancer has given me opportunity to be location independent. Although many employers today will require a definite location as a basis that one can commit to the hours you agree with. This is where difficulty comes in. I have to be strict to my daily schedule. There were times I was in the hostel and I get to meet amazing backpackers who have plans the following day. I have to politely turn their invitation down. When I get lucky, I can go with them after my tasks are all finished.
“Perseverance, time management and hard work will take you places”
After 2 months on the road, I realized, I am not ready to go home yet. Home will always be my home. But I can see and feel that there is more for me than going back home and I am yet to see the best part of the adventure. On the first 3 months on the road was the toughest time. I lost one job. And it has been difficult for me to send money for my family back home. Yes, being a Filipino and a breadwinner, we are obliged to give back to parents after school or after you make your own money. This is not a responsibility but a norm in Filipino culture. I have met a British guy who was living in Thailand for the past 10 years and asked me if I am sending money for support and I said yes. It was difficult to be traveling, working and supporting your family all at the same time. I feel like I was a swan back then — graceful in the outside but struggling in the inside. Don’t get me wrong, my family was so supportive even if I have to stop supporting them until I can get back on my feet.
Few months after, I started volunteering — this is the best way to travel cheaply and you get to meet volunteers from around the world. In total, I have volunteered more than 3 months in Thailand and Malaysia. In return, I made good friends which until now, I still keep in contact with. I learn to be more patient and learn the business in hospitality. When I was the receptionist of a resort, I have attended to several guests in the middle of my meal. I have faced angry customers and believe me, I am not the best in attending the needs of others. So hats off to people who are doing great in their work in hospitality.
Whats my daily routine?
I used to work for a full time job (40 hrs) during the day and a part time job (20 hrs) on the other side. So, I have to work 60 hours per week to maintain and still keep my job for a longer period. When my contract ended in my full time job, I have to be creative and decided to volunteer to at least cut the cost of my expenses. I volunteered at least 5 hrs a day (average depends on the host) for 6 days a week. After I finish my shift, I will carry on with my part time job online. Freelancing and working double shifts is difficult to juggle. When I was on the road, I met equally dedicated individuals who will used every means to save and earn while on the road. I realized, the most industrious, dedicated and creative people are travelers. We will work on whatever job it takes to save and continue the life on the road. It is the total opposite of what the notion of other people out of traveling circle. We work hard to save and see the world even if it means, less relaxing time, more odd jobs, and less socialization.
For the entire 8 months of traveling, it was not a matter of how much you need to be ready and prepared in your backpacking journey. When the things get difficult, just believe that everything will be alright. Great things happen at the right time.
“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.”
Right now, I am already dreaming of my next destination to travel. I am thankful of the blessing that I got a great job here in Maldives. While exploring the nearby islands and island resorts, I couldn’t stop dreaming of my next long term adventure. The question is no longer how but when.