The Day I Broke Up With Long-Term Travel

*I wrote this a few years ago.  I want to keep it here to remind me of how I started and how I felt that time.  This  keeps me grounded and reminds me to stay focused on my long-term goals. 7 years ago, I started this travel blog, 2 years later, I quit my corporate job and left my comfort  zone to travel and focus on travel blogging.  The people that I care about did not believe my dreams, perhaps because I had no concrete plans that time.  I stayed silent and told myself, “Don’t tell them your dreams, show them”.  That was 5 years ago.  I don’t consider myself successful yet, but I am happy where life has taken me now, and  I want to keep on learning.

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Traveling long-term is not new, at least for people from the Western countries.  Everyday a new travel blog is born – whether it’s an RTW blog, a solo female travel blog, a regional travel blog or family travel blog.  Often times, the About Me page tells you something like this – I quit my job to travel indefinitely.

The key to LIFE is BALANCE. – anonymous-

But for a third world country like the Philippines, turning your back to a fixed salary and the comforts of the corporate world is considered a “big thing”, because we rarely meet someone like that. And if luckily we bumped into that someone, we will most likely gasp in awe and say something like “Oh, you must be so rich and lucky! I wish I’m living your life!”

I met travelers like that and they inspired me to break free from my comfort zone.

Finally, March 2012, I flew to Cebu with barely enough money to fund my dream of traveling long term. I was scared I’d fail.

“You worry a lot. Stop worrying, everything will fall into place if it’s meant to happen” a sound advice from my trusted friend Flipnomad.

Fortunately, his prediction was right.  I went fine. I backpacked around the Philippines for 7 months,  thanks to my friends in the blogosphere who helped me cut the cost of my trip by either adopting me or treating me to lunch or dinner.

I joined friends in some provinces, and I bumped into perfect strangers on the road who treated me like a family and welcomed me into their homes.

There were happy moments, but there were also difficult times. Some days I felt so low and it started to drain me…slowly.  I miss my close friends, I miss my family.  I miss building genuine relationships; it seems that saying goodbye to people became a routine.  It felt good to be able to live freely, and travel and travel and travel but I also ask myself, “ do I have to be in a hurry to tick off every province on my bucket list?”  Because that’s not my original travel plan.

I found myself in Malaysia last week of October.   Then I crossed to Thailand after.

Colmar Tropicale Resort

I looked up and my eyes caught the pinkish sky gracefully embracing the soaring buildings and the neon lights.  I walked further down the street flowing with immense liveliness – people bustle around, scrambling like ants while noise dominates the lively Khao San Road.

I went searching for my old haven – a forgotten guesthouse tucked in a small street behind the shopping stalls.  And as if the universe conspired – I was given the same room 2 years ago.

I decided to retrace my footstep in Bangkok. I entered a temple hemmed in by Buddha images.  And as I walked silently and read every Buddhist proverb on the wall of the second floor, I broke into tears.

“We cant ever go back to old things or try and get the “old kick” out of something or find things the way we remembered them.

We have them as we remember them. And they are fine and wonderful but we have to go on and have other things because the old things are nowhere except in our minds now”.

Hemingway to Bill Horne, Paris  1923

 

I believe in that. I do.

Eventually I hopped on an old cranky train to cross to Cambodia.  I laughed like crazy, remembering how stupid I was when I first crossed that border in 2010.

I tried to cycle again in Siem Reap town to meet a good friend that I haven’t seen for months since he bid goodbye to embark on his own long term journey.

We talked like how traveling changed us and how our dreams changed.

“You know, you need to do Southeast Asia, so it would look cool than just backpacking the Philippines”, my good friend added.

I know it’s not his intention to insult me or anything, but perhaps he’s simply making me realize the “fad” in the travel blogging world nowadays.  I have to prove myself before I will be worthy to be called a “traveler”.  If I don’t backpack long-term abroad, I will not be considered an “expert” and maybe, no one will ever read my blog.  

A couple more weeks I found myself enjoying Vietnam until I finally succumbed and realized I had to break from it all for a good reason.

I traveled long-term because it is one of my dreams, and NOT for the need to be included in the list of highly respected Filipino travelers who traveled long-term or who ticked off the provinces in the country first or who ticked off the countries in the world first.

Traveling is not a race and travel blogging is not a popularity contest.

I was holding my tears inside the plane. I felt that I abandoned my dream of backpacking Southeast Asia long-term.  It was hard to let go of a dream, but I had to break away for a while.

To travel for the sake of travel. To travel because it is my dream to travel. To travel because it soothes my soul. To travel to satisfy my insatiable desire to discover the unknown.

It’s okay to quit your full time job and travel long-term. But it is NOT okay to keep telling your friends that their life is boring because they’re not full time travelers like you.  Living a nomadic life is not for everyone, so I hope we respect differences.

I will still say you dream big, drop your fears, and live your dreams whatever it is- whether you want to work abroad, get married,  travel full time, start your business , work in the province or start your first travel!  Go for it!

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It’s been a while since my last travel but still, I haven’t had the desire to jump from one province to the next or book another flight abroad.  It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

Don’t get me wrong, I will always fall in love with traveling and maybe I’ll be back on the road again, who knows.  But for now, I prefer to do it slowly and find my balance.

Sometimes, I find it harder to  turn my back on a dream than fight for it.

 

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24264_351910964162_336201504162_3580676_6142279_nAbout the Blogger : Gael is a Filipina travel blogger. Her work has appeared in local and international publications.

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Comments

  1. Great post, Gael! I love what you said about travel not being a race & a popularity contest. For a while, I wanted to jump on the bandwagon of ticking off all provinces on my bucket list too, but I’ve found that I prefer quality (even short) trips with people I enjoy traveling with rather than rushing through as many places as possible for the sake of saying you’ve been there. Balance is really the key to enjoying life. Whatever you choose to do in the future, I wish you the best 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this Gael. Like you, I have this dream of traveling long term but i am stuck working at the corporate world. There are times that i wanted to quit just to succumb to this dream but whenever i think of what lied ahead, it scares me. Reading this now made me think that everything can be done in balance. I know i can still achieve that dream and i hope it will be in the not so far fututre. Thanks Gael and looking forward to seeing u again.

  3. i feel you gael! although what you realized during your long term travel may not be similar to what i realized, i understand where you are coming from. i also had to put on hold my dream to backpack across SEA because i fell in love with the sea. and also because i know i don’t need to really hurry. more wiser this time (i hope), i want to make sure that i won’t have to rely on others for help on how to get money for food or shelter. anyway, i know you’ll get your groove back. it may not be now but am sure it will happen soon and i bet you can’t stand the thought of not grabbing your backpacking and heading out for that next epic adventure. 😀

    take care gael! miss you! 🙂

  4. I also feel strong ambivalent emotions whenever I re-visit a place, especially when the first time was personally significant.

    It makes you think back about how you were before, makes you reflect about what you’ve gone through since then, and where you’re planning on going. Then comes the inevitable urge to make changes in your decisions.

    Even long term travelers have to rest. Just my assumption, since being constantly be on the move for too long is physically and emotionally exhausting. I think taking long breathers is important because it builds up the excitement for your next trip (whenever or wherever it will be).

  5. A very good honest to goodness read Gael! I somehow know what you feel. With so many travelers and travel blogs now trying to outdo each other by going to so many places and traveling long term until forever, I find myself wanting to go to the opposite direction. Lately I just want to stick to one place for a long time either one province or at home but make sure I do my responsibilities as well. If I do find time to travel I realize that I enjoy it more whether its just nearby or some far flung place, I get excited again. Maybe because I no longer care if I’m popular or “cool”, I just do what I do. Maybe it’s maturity (or getting old LOL) but I find trying to fit it to the norms of the travel blogging world or what seems to be a trend seems petty lately. It’s a good thing just to go back to the basics and to your roots find what you genuinely enjoy doing.

  6. Awww. Seriously, I almost cried while reading this piece. You nailed it Jill, you nailed it big time. I guess we have to go back to the basic, to the very reason why we travel, forget about blogging and all and focus on our dreams. We all have reason, yes we do, stick to it.

    See you again on the road Jill. Hopefully soon.

  7. Well written Gael. And I felt this one too. Good luck to you sister, I miss you 🙂

  8. Hi, thank you for sharing your thoughts in this blog. It’s my first time to read your blog, and one way or the other, I can say, I totally can relate. In the past, travel has sort of become a competition for me and my friends (who visited x cities, who visited more countries/ cities, etc.) I recently went on a one month travel to Europe (Italy, Amsterdam and Prague), and for the first time in a long time, I felt that I was traveling for travel sake. I think that is the most important thing: traveling for travel’s sake. To explore, to get to know a different culture, way of life, etc. I will never understand the culture of “competition”, “superiority complex” that comes with travel. You don’t know how many times I’ve had the following experiences:

    1. Friends/ acquaintances asking me where I have gone, and then they will proceed to “magbuhat ng bangko” by emphasizing on what you have missed on that city you’ve been to, OR what you have missed by skipping that city

    2. Going online and asking for opinions about travel only to be confronted by other posters who claim to be travel experts that “I have too much money” OR “You have too much money; the tips are just for people who have little money to travel.” Whatever happened to helping other people out because they want to travel and see the world, right?

    There is this pre-conceived notion that you are not a “real traveler” if you don’t: 1. Backpack, travel on a shoestring/ budget , or 2. You don’t get to see the must-see sights/ list that everyone is saying in the internet. IMO, traveling is a very personal experience. I don’t think a backpacker is a better traveler than a person who is “middle of the road” or a “luxury traveler”. What sets the travelers apart is the preference in terms of what they want to experience and get out of travel. If you are in just to see the sights, it is OK. If you travel for the vicarious experience, even better. To each his/ her own. When I was younger the mentality was, “Hey, I’m in this city, why not cover more ground, go to more cities?” But over the years I have learned that my travel style is to sit back, enjoy the place, the culture, and be in groove/ vibe and get to know new people.

    I wish you all the best, sorry for such a long post. I hope that soon, you will gain back your raison d’etre for travel, and do not let anyone say otherwise. After all, as the quote says, “To travel is to live.” 🙂

  9. The roads, the seas, the mountains, the sun and the trees will call out again, someday and you’ll know it’s time to put back on your backpack again. Thanks for these thoughts!

  10. Such an honest and moving post Gael…

    You’re definitely right, travel is not a race nor a contest.

    Like you I do travel coz I love doing it although recently I’ve realized that the constant movement is wearing me down (I’m getting really old perhaps). So I opted to travel slower instead.

    Stay safe and goodluck on your new online projects 🙂

  11. Well written Gael. I always dream of doing long term travel but I have to balance it with family and work obligations. After reading this I realized that there’s really no need to hurry. Thanks Gael!

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about travel blogging. I am an aspiring travel blogger myself and My experiences are different from yours. I have not traveled SouthEast Asian countries like you did. But I like how you make me understand that this is not a race. And though nobody will ever read my travel blog, I don’t care as long as it makes me happy.

  13. Very well said ate! Teary eyed. 😀 Travel blogging indeed should not be a contest, that’s really the thing I hate in this industry. You travel because you love it, period. I know someday you’ll get back on the road feeling anew and refresh. Hugs* ate gael, miss u mwah! :*

  14. This is an honest-to-goodness article Gael and I know a part of you for the weeks you stayed with me and I can say you are one carefree spirit though practical at most. I can still remember it lucidly how you holed up in your room in the house while I go to work, we see each other at night, talk and talk and then I can trust you have far greater opportunity ahead and so letting the wind blew the leaf in you, I saw you now from the distance.

    Of the travel bloggers I hosted in my humble home, it was you who made an impact on me. I sees you and I felt you. This article reminds me of the moments I would love to be on the road and may be retrace back my moments in Siem Reap in the future, I will do that too.

    I wish to thank you for inspiring me to do what I am doing now. Your travels and your travails made me see the world beyond my door and gladly, it was you whom I spent a simple birthday lunch and it was one of the best I had.

  15. A good read.. really inspiring po! 🙂
    I’ve given up thinking of quiting my corporate job just because someone or a travel blogger does or can do it.
    I have people relying on me to always be there, around whenever possible.
    My cent is that we all have our way around, whatever works.. As you say, Respect our differences. I feel so unworthy, even while writing this comment, because I haven’t done any long term travel.. its a dream, probably same way that you have for SEA.

    Whatever works, I know that you’ll find your way back on the road..
    Thanks for this honest read! 🙂

  16. Hi Gael. A super duper from the heart text and words. A very honest and sincere article.

    Honetly Gael, just last week lang, I asked myself, What If I will stop seeing other places and stop blogging and get focus on what life’s ahead. Focus on my family and continue my passion in photography. Will I miss blogging and travelling? For now, since I don’t have much resources to book a flight and visit a place, I realized that I will just make it slow. My kids are now growing into critical age (high school), and the expenses for their tuition also increasing. I have a hard time to find a budget to travel for now since my priority is to invest something in preparation for my retirement career. I am getting old. How I wish that I started my lust in travelling and blog it at the same time, at a younger age.

    Slowly and one by one, for now, I planned to travel with my family so that they will also see other places other than the place we decided to get old.

    I really moved with every words of your article (this article) and all I can say that I am really proud that I’ve met a friend behind this blog site, the Pinay Solo Backpacker and even kept some of your photos in my archive when we had our breakfast in one foggy morning, here in Malaybalay. Keep it up my friend. Take care always.:-).

  17. I learned a lot from you when we traveled and get to talk a lot during our Puerto Princesa trip last month. Nakaka-miss ang mga posts mo na ganito. Matagal din na wala kang post na ganito. 🙂 I totally agree that “Traveling is not a race, and Travel Blogging is not a popularity contest”. Sometimes, we get to a point na we need to rest… Nakakapagod din minsan mag travel ng mag travel, especially long term travels… 🙂 See you again soon Gael! 🙂

  18. Read every word and looks like reality in life caught up with you,
    my sis too went for her solo world tour,which was supposed to last for 2 years after saving for the trip for a few years but she quit after travelling for 9 months and she is now back with another job.

  19. I always love reading your posts Gael. You always connect with your readers. Very well said. It’s not a popularity contest nor a race. Travel is not just about getting there but connecting with the people that you meet.

    Just do what you love to do 🙂 don’t be pressured with your environment. Hope to travel with you.

  20. Slow it down, baby. Slow it down! Teehee

    I miss posts like this one 🙂 Alam mo yan hehe. Constant moving can be tiring. Less one month lang ako nag-straight travel, but thru that I realized that there’s no point rushing things much. I also realized that this year, slow travel peg ko, but spent with friends I love and the family. I know the pressure you feel (financially and emotionally) and I just want to give you a big power virtual hug right now. Love u! 😀

  21. You wrote it in a way a sign for us to look at ourselves, do we really travel just bec, we want it? Or to catch up and overtake fellow travelers Within our circle. I felt every ones trips picked up when We got to know each other. It was A good Thing, until a few alienated those with day jobs. Long term traveling was preached. Im glad, you had the honesty to tell its not for everyone. That said, i was proud to have gone on a trip Wid you to some parts of Mindanao. Go home, have a well deserve rest and lets hang out within the city. We miss you.

  22. Follow your heart, Gael, not the road. 🙂 I have nothing against people who see travel blogging as a career, but it’s not something that appeals to me at all.

  23. slow clap!

    hands down ako sa article na ito!

    nasapul mo idol!

  24. Hi Gael, I agree with your statement and really made me realized that traveling is not a race. It should fulfill one’s personal growth and dreams and not to satisfy the norms definition of a traveler. Take your own sweet time in fulfilling your dreams and compete only with your personal best.

  25. Nice blogpost. Truthful and straightforward. You go girl!

    Another point though, whoever you friend is, who said that going SEAsia makes you cooler than backpacking in PH alone? In a way, I agree since it’ll add up to your experience and learning. However, I disagree if that would be a “true marker” of being a traveler or backpacker.

    Life itself is already travelling. We are all travelers in our own pace and ways. Iba ka, iba sya, iba ako, magkakaiba tayong lahat. Iba’t iba ang diskarte natin. The minute we start comparing ourselves with each other, that’s the minute we sink in to nega-vibes, depression, envy, and even hatred. We are here, whether travelling or not, to spread some cheers.

    And yes, I agree. Nomadic life is not for all. What more pa kung nomadic ka pero nagtatrabaho ka pa. I’ve experienced that last April and May here in Cebu. Slept with relatives, slept in hotels and dormitels for some several days, ang hirap ng wala kang matitirhan na masasabi mong iyo. You are restless, physically, mentally and emotionally. Then when I moved in to my new pad, finally I felt stable and calm. Iba pa rin kung makapagpahinga ka once in a while. Even the best of travelers still need some time to rest. Di ako naniniwala na “on the go is rest for me.” That’s my two cents worth Gael.

  26. It takes more courage to step away from your dreams. Think of this as a way for you to understand what you really want to do. It may not have yielded the result you wanted, but at least you’re still not wondering about the what if’s, if you didn’t go on that trip.

    Traveling is about having fun and doing what you love! Don’t let other people dictate how you should do it 🙂

    Love the post Gael!

  27. Very eloquently expressed Gael. Personally, I used to have the same thoughts but I think what makes traveling even more priceless is that we find time to do it, find reources to experience it even though we strive to balance the time between earning a living and frim time to time, indulging the dream. Not everyone can be so well-off and/or bereft of personal reponsibilities so as to embark on traveling every week or ten months out of twelve. I agree with you that traveling is not a contest as is the fad nowadays ( what I term as the “Amazing Race” syndrome) where the blogworld and social media are filled with people trying to outtraveling each other. I guess what’s more important is the personal satisfaction you get from each and every trip, each and every person you meet along the way. May your feet find their way up some familiar and unfamiliar path one day soon.

  28. I admire your honesty. Long term travel has crossed my mind for the reason that I wanted to tick off provinces and countries off my bucket list. It is the family and friends that I will leave behind that made me rethink my plan. I settled for taking it slow while building my relationships and building my future. Traveling is not a race. We have a lifetime ahead of us.

  29. Hi Gael!

    I just got back from a 5 week holiday in Asia and I realized one thing, I am SO NOT made for long term travel! It was fun and amazing, true but after the 3rd week, all I was really yearning for was to spend time with my family and with my bed. Even though it was my first time, say in Malaysia, I wasn’t excited anymore. I was getting irritable too!

    Anyways, just kick back and take a break from travels for a while. Everything’s gonna be alright again! 😀

  30. I totally agree with you, Gael. Travel is not a race, it is a personal journey. Some find what they are looking for in traveling long-term, while others are fulfilled by just going on trip occasionally. It doesn’t make one a better person than the other.

    We all have our dreams, and sometimes, dreams change. It is very okay to do this. It doesn’t mean you gave up, it just means your priorities, your lifestyle, or even the way your view life may have changed. And change has always been the one constant thing in this world. Who knows, the wind of change might knock on your door again and invite you to travel long-term again? For now, relax, enjoy life, and know that you are doing the right thing for you.

  31. Wonderfully said. For a while I had a lot of trouble reconciling my double life of corporate sellout (hehe) and free spirited traveler (you can find a rant or two about that from my SG-KL-Bali trip), until my trip to Luang Prabang, where I found a bit of clarity, a truce of sorts between my 2 worlds. Nowadays I’m happy looking at my trips as love affairs, fast and fleeting in the real world and bound to end in one way or another, but forever etched in memory. I don’t know how long I’ll be happy to be this way, but for now I’m at peace with my life’s setup. Glad you’ve found balance in yours too! 🙂

  32. This is full of heart. Yes, travel blogging is not a race. I admire your travel bloggers for having more time to experience more things than I do since I have a job to go back to. How I’d love to forget about my responsibilities and just hop on a plane. 🙂

  33. This is an inspiring post! Your words are right. As travelers, we should never discriminate other people who have not traveled because of their work. Yet, in traveling, we discover genuine happiness and unforgettable experiences that last a lifetime. 🙂

  34. Although I have done a lot of traveling in the past two decades (from Asia to Middle East, to America and to Europe), at one point, quitting my job and do long-term travel crossed my mind. But thank God I did not do that. Otherwise, I would not be able to pay my mortgage, support my aging father in the Philippines and save a little bit for my retirement. Plus I have a job that allows me to take off one month a year so I can continue my quest to explore the world, one country at a time. I totally agree with you – we should have to find balance in life.

  35. You are one of my inspirations when it comes to travel blogging and you serve as my motivation to do my own solo backpacking. You may or may not know how you influence others with all your writings but you do, especially female travelers who aspire to be like you. So i hope that this is just temporary and eventually you will come back recharge coz like them, i also wish to travel with you.

  36. Hello Ms. Gael!Such inspiring words and I believe that you inspire a lot of people because of the admission that sometimes dreams have limitations but it should not let you stop dreaming. you can always chase the dream back again and recharge for a bit. Hoping to see you travel again soon! You always tell great stories.

    Good luck!

  37. Galing! I got more inspiration and courage to take a risk and live life I want. I am an avid follower of this blog and this post is one of the best- kagat na kagat! thanks Gael Happy travels!

  38. Another fantastic post from one of my few favorites (in the travel blogging world)! We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We all travel for our own reasons. Like you, it is one of my dreams. It doesn’t matter what we get out of it, what’s important is we had the courage to realize our dreams. I hope you find your balance soon and I always wish you well. 🙂

  39. Hello po. ..
    I admire you more Gael after reading this, i really do.

  40. What a beautiful piece coming straight from the heart Gael! You’re so right – this is not a big contest after all. There should be no pressure to go any further than you have to. This is your life and you alone can dictate where you want it to lead you. All the best!

  41. And thats why i travel so slow. At least one month for one country,and usually one week for one place. Avoid all the “must see” places and have a rest in random small town anywhere. Then someone ask me what have i seen in the country,and if i dont say any well known place they ask me again why i went there. Funny,most of travellers go to some place just because its recommended by Lonely Planet,they are rush to tick on their bucket list then they are find themselves exhausted on the middle of the road.

    I travel because i dont like to stay(live) in one place for long time. If i work somewhere for half year i feel that its too much. I need to change the place,and i want to experience something new.

  42. I really admired this article.

  43. gael.. this is so inspiring.. i also want to do backpacking myself but too afraid to try it for unknown reason… i just wanted to be free.. i hope i could find a travel buddy soon.. thanks gael for all these tips.. you helped a lot of travellers and future travelers 🙂

    more girl power!

  44. Thanks so much for this Gael! As I said, I was really inspired when I met you and the other travel bloggers some weeks ago. To me, you were living the life I wanted – the freedom from the stress of corporate world – but now I realize there is really a time and a balance for everything. 🙂

    I have moved on to a new job. Which promises a lot for me. And I hope that one of the promises it holds, is the opportunity to travel – as you said – not so I can join the bandwagon and race to tick of each province or country off my bucket list – but to have quality memories in each place I visit. Whether I blog them or not (I hope I get the time), the memories I forge will be worth the trip.

    Hope to encounter you again in one of your or my (hopefully) travels!

    More power!

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