|My 2013 travel schedules written on my bedroom wall|
Happy New Year everyone! Wow, it feels great to finally resume blogging after 5 months of rest. I also had quite a long rest from traveling and I miss it badly! I will definitely make a comeback this year (owws? Haha) and I must say I am already geared up (well, almost) for a brand new year of exploring God’s wonders.
I am expecting to struggle a bit in terms of finances this year and this has caused me to ask myself, “will it be all worth it to spend on travel despite the slight financial difficulty I’ll be experiencing?” Well, even during the times when I was still highly capable to finance my travels, some friends and colleagues think that what I do is exciting but wasteful of resources – time, money, effort. But I must say I have no regrets at the moment and am expecting not to regret a single travel-related decision in the future. Traveling gives me a certain excitement as shoes give to ladies, toys give to kids, and exaggerated as it may sound, a newborn gives to a married couple. Yes, my love for travel is that intense. I love exploring the world around me, meeting new people, taking photographs, and experiencing challenges I know I would never get into in my usual day-to-day life. As the saying goes, “Kung gusto, may paraan…,” I am positive that God will bless me financially and all my travel plans for 2013 will push through.
Since I am just about to start traveling again and 2013 has just started, I think it would be nice to share to you my travel essentials, preparations, and of course, resolutions. I hope you can pick up something from them. The comment box is free for you to share yours, too!
WHERE TO NEXT?
My primary goal is to be able to visit at least 75 out of 80 provinces in the Philippines before I turn 30. I am 27 now and I’ve visited 47 to date, so I think it’s still a realistic goal. This also serves as a guide on where I would head to in the coming months so that my budget will be spent on a trip in a province I’ve never been to yet. On the other hand, seat sales also dictate my future destinations. I book flights where there is cheap fare. On some occasions when my friends travel with me, I choose destinations based on my friends’ preferences.
TIP: Keep an eye on seat sales by subscribing on airline companies’ email alerts. Most of the time, they hold seat sales when there are local holidays or national events so keep yourself updated about these important dates. Normally, these are super advanced bookings. But hey, book yourself and just forget about it for the meantime. Time flies so fast you would just be surprised it’s already time to travel. At least you have more time to save money and plan your trip carefully.
Packing stuff used to be a stressful task for me until I found myself packing more frequently and came to the point where preparing travel stuff took just about 15 minutes of my time. It’s like I’ve created a mental checklist on my head already, though sometimes, I still forget an item or two. You know, sign of aging. Haha. I only bring one bag for convenience and also to cut costs on checked-in baggage. Here are some of the travel essentials that are mainstays inside my bag:
Laptop/tablet/phone. These gadgets may add bulkiness to my bag but they serve tons of purposes. Besides, technology is there for us to take advantage of. With these stuff, I can stay connected to my family, friends, and sometimes, even work. I can also used wifi-enabled devices to do emergency research or to view maps. If I would like to kill time while on the road, I can just listen to music or play games.
Notebook. Technology has its limits, too, and sometimes we have to go back to the basics. A notebook becomes an indispensable item when all of my gadgets have run out of battery. I can take down important information and even write insights and reflections about my trip.
Camera/tripod/other accessories. You cannot brag about getting to a far-off place when you can’t present a single evidence. And who travels without a camera these days? Haha. This year, I resolve to take more pictures that include me. I love taking pictures of landscapes, friends, and other interesting stuff but I am not really used to having my picture taken. Does that mean you’ll see more of me in my blog posts? We’ll have to see that. Haha.
|My 2 year-old Nyco, a D5000 and a few accessories|
Light clothes. I prefer bringing a few extra clothes whenever I travel so I make it a point to bring clothes made of light fabric. Not only will they keep your bag lighter, they will also make you feel comfortable when you wear them. For trips with longer duration, you may consider bringing just enough and just wash them whenever there is some time for laundry and drying.
Scarf/versatile seamless band. They have a variety of uses. The scarf can keep me warm and can be used to cover my skin while walking during hot, sunny days. The thicker ones double as a towel. I use the seamless band to wipe sweat or simply as a fashion accessory.
Debit/credit cards. It’s quite risky to bring lots of cash when traveling. I practice bringing money just enough for my expenses for a day or two. I withdraw money for the succeeding days.
TIP: Make sure you conduct research to check whether the place you are visiting has banks, ATM’s where you can withdraw money from. Also, check for places that accept credit cards. You can also pre-book accommodations online if you intend to stay in mid to high-end hotels. Usually, transient houses and backpackers’ lodges do not have internet reservation facilities.
Personal hygiene paraphernalia. Since we live in a generation where everybody else travels, mini-me’s of our favorite personal hygiene brands are very much available, so bringing them won’t be much of a hassle. From soaps to hair care products to sunscreen to mouthwash, everything you could imagine now comes in small packages. I usually bring a complete set of personal hygiene stuff just to make sure I have everything on hand should there be no such items in the hotel or inn I’ll be staying in.
TIP: If you are flying and do not have a checked-in baggage, avoid bringing 100 ml (or more) bottles and containers as most airports do not allow these inside your hand-carry bags. If you are lucky enough, they will let you pass. If not, just feel sorry for yourself for giving the lady inspector your 500-peso sunblock or whitening lotion. J
Passport! I will be visiting four countries this year and my passport had just expired a week ago. I had the ‘privilege’ of renewing my passport in two DFA Centers: Marquee Mall and Macapagal. You may ask, why renew twice? I actually encountered a problem with the Marquee Regional Office while my renewal application was in process as my name still appeared on the lookout list because of my DOST Scholarship. So I had to go the main office where I had been told that all scholars’ names no longer appear on the lookout list. It was a bit of a hassle because Marquee was actually very near my hometown but I still had to go to Manila. But I have proven one thing in this experience—DFA has really done a wonderful job in making passport applications very fast and convenient. Thanks also to the courtesy lane for government employees in DFA Macapagal, the renewal process was made even faster.
TIP: When traveling abroad, do not forget the 6-month validity rule for your passport. You can only travel outside the country when your passport’s validity is at least 6 months from the date of your travel. I know people who have overlooked this and weren’t able to travel.
I’ve reflected on my travels in the past year and I thought about improving some things this year. I’ve listed here some of my travel resolutions for 2013 and I hope I’d be able to live up to them.
1. I will try to be friendlier. I know for myself that I am quite reserved and I don’t really talk that much when I don’t really know a person. But I’ve realized that one of the best ways to learn new things is by learning from other people. And so, I resolve to be friendlier and start talking.
2. I will not hesitate to ask questions when in doubt. I am used to figuring things out by myself. Maybe because I am afraid of getting corrected? I don’t know. I must be blessed because most of the time, I get things correctly. But I just thought, what if next time my life is put in danger because I didn’t bother to ask? That’s really scary.
3. I will try to travel with style. Haha. I mean, be more fashionable perhaps and be just a little more conscious about the way I look because I checked some of my travel photos and I realized I looked haggard in most of them! Bear with me; I just want some presentable profile pictures for my Facebook account! lol
4. I will be more adventurous in terms of trying out local dishes. I must admit I am really picky with the food I eat, but I will try to sample new and unique delicacies just for the experience.
5. I will take more pictures that include me. For every travel album that I have, I am in about just 10% of the total number of photos. That makes it a little hard to select a photo that I can have printed out or posted on my Facebook profile page…and probably just to have more evidence that I’ve visited a certain place. Haha
6. I will be more budget conscious and try out more affordable alternatives (especially accommodations coz I am quite choosy). As I’ve mentioned early on, 2013 is not a financially stable year for me, so I will try my best to come up with the cheapest yet equally enjoyable trips. Not only can I save a good amount, I will also be able to help other people plan budget trips.
7. I will try to convince myself more that it is still good to trust other people, especially those in the places that I will visit. In this world full of negative things, there are still good souls around. Although I will still be as vigilant as possible.
8. Blog, blog, blog! And blog on time.
9. I will try to explore more of my province, Tarlac, so that I would really be deserving of being called the TARLAQUENO TRAVELER!