How Travel Changed My Life

Traveling, say mostly solo on a monthly basis, is not always as gratifying as it looks like on social media. The life from behind the scenes is tough, exhausting, and requires a lot of courage and strength.

I was 21 then—young, able, and free—when I started the life of travel. I braved the Philippines at my own pace. The universe even conspired and led me to the freelancing world. I had all the time and the world became my office, so I went to Bulacan, Batanes, Batangas, Banaue, Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Baguio, La Union, Zambales, Iloilo, Guimaras, Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Zamboanga, Ozamiz, and South Cotabato.

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Took a quick shower only to find out I’ll be catching all the dust. South Cotabato, August 2016

I went out of the comforts of my home, I laid off my fashion vices, I endured sunburns and pimple breakouts, I got scarred under the sea, I got helplessly sick, I walked through steep rice terraces to reach a waterfall, I stayed on a remote island in time for my monthly period, I encountered rude people, I fell and broke for every man I met on the road, I slept in bus rides and in the airport when I ran out of funds along the way, I experienced a 5.2-magnitude earthquake at 2 AM while everyone else was asleep, I mentally transported myself to the places I’ve been to because I can’t come back yet, I lost sleep over articles that I had to submit the next day even when I was tucked in the middle of a coastal town, and I battled word wars with my parents when they disagreed on the day hike I paid for two months ago.

But why do I still travel? What do I get from it?

Because though uneasy, traveling allows me to grow and learn. Who would ignore that chance? Definitely not me.

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A 400-peso trip to Bohol with my beautiful mother. Virgin Island, February 2017

I learned to let go of my fashion vices when I started traveling. I used to save up for new clothes and shoes when I was younger just so I could don what’s on my favorite fashion blogger’s new outfit post, but my lavishness eventually faded when I found out on AirAsia, Skyjet Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Traveloka that a 400-peso blouse could take two persons to Bohol, an 800-peso sandals could take me to Cebu, and a 1,300-peso skirt could take me to Zamboanga. Every money I wanted to spend led me to the thought, “This amount could take me to this place.” Traveling made me realize that I could live with wearing the same set of clothes in a month or a year, that it’s okay to not always look well-put together, and that needs should always win over wants. The next time you say you can’t afford to travel, count all the money you spent on the clothes, shoes, and gadgets that you don’t even need, and think of where it could have taken you instead.

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5-star hotel? I’d rather sleep to the whip of the wind in a hammock by the sea. Bolubadiang Island, September 2016

I learned to drench under the fiery sun. I won’t forget Tita Dita’s face when she saw how red I was after my high-noon swim on Sta. Cruz Island. I also won’t forget how happy I was when I swung the wrecking ball out of the hammock on Bolubadiang Island. So much awaits, and I won’t discover them if I stayed in the hostel just because I was afraid to get five times darker. Remember: tan lines don’t last forever, but memories do.

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Asking for photo ops just so I could rest and breathe. Batad, January 2017

I learned how petty my problems were through the mountains. Whenever I hike, I always ask, “Kuya, malapit na ba? [Kuya, are we there yet?]” and kuya would be quick to answer, “Five minutes nalang [Just five more minutes].” It happens to everyone who hikes. We catch our breaths, get impatient on the distance, get toasted under the sun, and even good-humoredly curse who initiated the climb. But come to think of it: the locals who live in the mountains hike every waking day just to bring and sell crops in town, children brave heights and depths just to attend classes, and here we are being impatient and petty on the tolerable challenges ahead of us.

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During our Baguio weekend getaway, the man I met in Ozamiz posted this spot on an Instagram story saying, “I could get used to this [view].” So I went back, recreated it, and laughed the longing away because I, too, could get used to this [life without you]. Baguio, December 2016
I learned that traveling won’t resolve my heartbreaks. In fact, it caused me more pain. When my dearest grandfather died in March 2016, I thought that running away from our home was the key to getting over his death. But I found more pain as I went around places. I fell for every man I met along the way. I met someone in Zambales, in Banaue, in Ozamiz, in La Union, and in Baguio, to name a few. Every place gave me fleeting moments in its full isolation of time, and leaving them meant moving on not only from the place but also from the person who caught my fragile heart. And the cycle won’t end, the baggage gets heavier, but I become stronger.

I learned that it doesn’t matter if I get to explore all the 81 provinces of the Philippines or not. The challenge for me now is to build a good relationship with the locals, to linger longer, to understand by immersing, to grow through the heartbreaks and breakthroughs, and to revisit all the places I’ve felt a connection with such as Batanes, Zamboanga, Baguio, and Cebu.

Above all, we must live in the world to know the world.

World in my words,

Mikee

#TravelokaPH #WhyITravel #TravelokaStories

22 thoughts on “How Travel Changed My Life

  1. Wow..that was quiet a read. I can relate to your experience in parts. Travel does change us a lot. And mostly in the good way. After traveling a lot in the last few years, experiencing different cultures and traditions, overall i feel I am a better person now

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  2. I can relate to this to some degree. I haven’t been as lucky as to have a freelancing job that will allow me to travel whenever wherever, but I do get the thirst for learning, that thrill to be out there, to be out of your comfort zone. Traveling is such a life-changing experience, one of the best there is and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. You sure have experienced a lot more than me, I admire you for having that courage to do what you love. Keep going at it honey.

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  3. “Traveling, say mostly solo on a monthly basis, is not always as gratifying as it looks like on social media.” Can’t agree with this opening sentence more. Certainly, I don’t think many people realise how exhausting it can be to be continually on the road, no matter how rewarding an experience it is. Anway great post and thoroughly enjoyed

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  4. This is so true! People don’t know what happens along the way, but either good or bad, what’s important is the learning experiences that we get from it, and I’m happy to know how you’ve gracefully grown through it! Keep writing your story! Xx

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  5. A wonderful story indeed. I traveled in the Philippines last year and fell in love with the country. Solo travel is always empowering in the end. I have been a solo traveler for 3 years now, and travel has changed me so much! Keep going. Happy travels!

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  6. I started travelling around 2014 and since then every time I leave a place, I always feel different. I can’t almost remember my life before travelling and I can’t imagine what my life would be if I can’t travel. It certainly does change a person’s life.

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  7. Is it normal to get teary-eyed in here? This was very inspiring. I am starting to travel and quitting my job to explore my limit. Though, I don’t have freelance job like you, I hope I’ll find one so that I can still travel without worrying about bills payment. But yeah, a lot of learnings will be there when you keep on travelling. A lot of experiences and realizations will come. The fun part is that, we both now put our money in travelling instead of buying clothes frequently. hahaha 🙂

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  8. Loved reading about your travel experiences and how it has changed you. Travel is truly transformational. It changes your perspective of life itself. You start seeing everything in a new light and you realize that the world is not what you thought it was.

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  9. This article made me realize that we need to live our life to the fullest. I do agree that you don’t always need to spoil yourself with the things that we don’t really need. Set your priorities and go travel. If you’re just willing to do it, you can do it. Traveling makes you stronger and better. It will push you to the limits that you don’t think you can do.

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  10. Hi Ms. Mikee. Thank you so much for this article. It is so often that we come across an article that speaks both to our heart and soul. And your article has successfully managed to achieve both. Back in the days, I always wanted to travel and live an adventurous life but fear always keep me on the sidelines. But knowing you and reading your articles keep me motivated to face my fears and get out of my comfort zone. The line from Sakaling Hindi Makarating perfectly encapsulates what you are and what you have been to me “Bata pa lang sya pero mas matapang na sya sa akin”.

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  11. Thanks for sharing you insights here. It really resonates with us. We have been talking a lot lately about how everything is so fragile and temporary – especially with travel. We’re always hearing about fantastic places that destroyed by global warming, earthquakes, or modernization. The world is so big we can’t see it all, but we can’t take it for granted either. We feel like travel is necessary because otherwise we’ll miss out on some magical places that will disappear for ever.

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  12. Hi mikee! 🙂 haha we have the same name.. 😛 Btw I can relate very much in this post. 🙂 People see that travelling is a luxury, but no! 🙂 It is a very big no. There are a lot of things that you do on the background in exchange of those happy moments and picturesque view that you take. It is not like you want to go to a place and then poof you are there. 😀 The trip alone is very challenging; your adventure to reach your destination has a lot of stories to tell. But it is all worth it. 😀 We have a very big world, let’s go and share its beauty! 🙂

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  13. I’ve just started to travel really, but I intend to continue and possibly do it for a living. Travelling is something that goes beyond tourism, being a free millenial, is a real and existential experience. It opens your mind and your heart to others. Your story is very inspiring, because I’d love to follow a similar path!

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  14. I agree with you for the most part of the post. I loved traveling to Khajuraho for Heritage Tourism conclave. I traveled to cover the event and even spoke on the significance of heritage tourism and how to promote it through social media. So, I guess, travel does change us a lot and that too for the better.
    (Ambuj Saxena)

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  15. Great read, I’m glad you have put aside fashion for travel because, in my opinion, travel is a much better option. I hope you make it to all 81 provinces of the Philippines.

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  16. I have just started travelling and I must say that it has also changed me. I don’t worry so much now about looking the part and appreciate more of the world. Great post 🙂

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  17. Beautiful.”400-peso blouse could take two persons to Bohol, an 800-peso sandals could take me to Cebu, and a 1,300-peso skirt could take me to Zamboanga. Every money I wanted to spend led me to the thought, “This amount could take me to this place.” I can so relate it but the way the emotions are unfurled through your words, makes me pause and think.

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