Looking Back: How Traveling Changed My Life

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In many ways, traveling gave me back my life.

About 5 or so years ago, I took a long, hard look at my life, carefully assessed it and realized that I’ve been wasting a good deal of it in a small cubicle. Since I started working, my world became limited to a restrictive cube farm. I strived to conquer the corporate jungle with much gusto and actually convinced myself that a thriving office career was the sole definition of success.

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Fisherman’s boat, Bantayan Island

Not long after though, I got close to burning out because of the tiring routine – the long, daily commute to the office, politics in the workplace, lack of appreciation and all other whatnots that make good employees leave. I wanted to escape; I had to find freedom. It was then that I began to read travel stories over the internet and realized that it could be a way out. Back then, I just wanted to quit, pack my bags and vanish.

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Lighthouse, Corregidor Island

But I had nothing and I had to support my family while trying to get my life back together. That was when I met someone who was to become my travel buddy for life. She was like me, putting family first, because it’s the most important thing in this world after all.

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Tunnel tour, Corregidor Island

And just like me, she also had dreams of traveling and seeing the world. After carefully assessing things, we soon realized that we could do a life of traveling without having to quit our jobs. Together, we made plans on how to skillfully use our weekends, holidays and vacation leaves.

Soon, I realized that I had a lot of time to do the things that I love, unlike before when time seems to always run out. Suddenly, I have weekends to look forward to. And gradually, I was putting balance in my life that previously seemed so elusive.

 

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Ruined soldiers’ quarters, Corregidor Island

More than therapy, traveling broadened my perspective. I did not have much money to spare when I was just starting out. So I adapted the philosophy that travel does not have to be in a far off place. It can be right across the street, to a nearby building or the next neighborhood. It need not be by plane, bus or ship. In fact, the best way to travel is by foot because it allows you to observe and appreciate the world at your own pace.

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A quiet corner in Intramuros

Traveling allowed me to see the world with curious eyes and boundless imagination. It has also taught me to uncover the social, cultural and historical significance of the places that we visit, be it a small church, a park or a busy road. That way, traveling becomes more meaningful, profound and interesting.

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An unexpected walk back in history in Tutuban
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The old Pagsanjan Gate

And with the desire to find meaning, I found myself wanting to see spots that are seemingly plain and unexciting. Take the road less traveled, that is. A public market, for example, may be dreary and grimy in the eyes of other people but it’s always a destination that excites me. Being the heart and soul of trading, it’s in the public market where you’ll encounter folks from many walks of life and where you’ll learn about culture and values just by observing other people. It’s where you’ll find local produce that are unique to that place. In essence, a public market is the microcosm of a community.

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Scene in a local Painitan at Dumaguete Public Market
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Mounds of dried seafood in Taboan Market, Cebu

Traveling also taught me that everything will still be alright even if we lose control of the situation. No matter how well we plan things out, there will always be random uncertainties along the way. So we have to adapt. Resilience, like patience, is also a virtue.

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Campanario de Dumaguete
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Sts. Peter & Paul Church in Bantayan Island

In the places that I have visited, I realized that there are still many people out there who are innately kind. These people would go out of their way, language barrier and all, to help those who are in need. These people radiate energy and vivacity, and just being with them is also invigorating. The people that I have met in my journeys taught me that human kindness still exists. They are far richer than those who are materially-blessed but live a life of emptiness. I may never see them again but they are already part of what I have become and how I am to other people.

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Daily scene at Divisoria

Over the years, traveling has taught me contentment. I love spending a quiet night by the beach, under the stars, not caring about the world, not minding if my phone had signal or internet connection. Little by little, I lost the desire for material things and began to invest only on things that are essential for my trips. I stopped collecting souvenirs because I believe that the greatest mementos and keepsakes are happy memories created with the people who are important to me.

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Mouth of Puerto Princesa Underground River

I also learned to take things slow; to live by the credo that traveling shouldn’t be about the number of places I get to visit. Traveling is about being immersed in the experience by taking time to learn culture, traditions and even folklore.

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Virgin Island, Bantayan, Cebu

Best of all, traveling gave me my wife. With her, I learned that traveling is not always romantic and picture-perfect. There are misunderstandings along the way; there are quarrels and lost tempers. But these are things that make our relationship stronger and allow us to get to know each other better. After all, we only have each other to hold on to while navigating a strange and unfamiliar place.

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Mangrove forest tour in Puerto Princesa
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A panoramic view of Diguisit Bay in Baler

Looking back, I can only be thankful for the trials that pushed me to travel. I wandered, got lost and found myself again.

I have never been happier.

Now, I ask you, how has travel changed your life? Inspire other people by sharing your stories with Traveloka.

#TravelokaPH #WhyITravel #TravelokaStories

Comment

46 Replies to “Looking Back: How Traveling Changed My Life”

  1. Beautifully written. Yes, travel is not all about far off places, exotic locations, the mountains and oceans it’s about awakening the person in you who is interested in lives and things around you. Even a small piece of sky peeping through ventilator could provide that sense of freedom if we look at it with horizons beyond in our hearts. Traveling is enriching.

  2. Ah! this is a lovely inspirational blog post. I am at a stage in my life now that I feel a thirst to see the world but still have commitments here at home. You are so right travel doesn’t have to be in a plane or a train it can be the neighbourhood close by that you haven’t yet seen. Thanks very inspiring x

    1. Yup, just go ahead. You can still keep your commitments at home while seeing the world. Thank you for your kind words!

  3. I couldn`t agree more with what you are saying. The only thing that I find it hard when it comes to traveling is that I always meet people that I would like to spend more time with but then we have to say goodbye.

  4. These looks like amazing voyages! I envy you for seeing so many different and interesting places, getting to know different cultures and meeting extraordinary people! My favourite part of travelling is trying local cuisines, who doesn’t love a good meal afterall!

  5. It’s amazing how one day you just wake up from your “normal” And realize how much of the world you haven’t seen yet. I feel like everyone has that matrix moment where they realize that. There is so much more to life than what we’re presented, but it’s up to us to go and grab it.

  6. You guys are great together! My husband and me are also using vacations and weekends for travel, and with the time it gives you an opportunity to travel the world.

  7. Great post about your travels! I love the pictures! It is awesome that traveling taught you so much. I have friends who love to travel and they say the same things about it teaches them to slow down and teaches them contentment. The part I would love about traveling is seeing places I don’t see every day.

  8. What a wonderful post. It reminds me of our neighbors. They’re both retired now and I asked them once if they were ready to travel. They said it would be nice .. but there are so may wonderful places around the state that they’re going to check some of those out first. Just goes to prove one doesn’t have to go far to have an adventure!

    1. That is correct. The ability to see adventures in nearby places brings immense happiness.

  9. Well said. I, like you, wouldn’t have the wife I have without the bond of travel. I also like the idea of self discovery through travel, a theme you explored very well in this post. This really struck a chord with me.

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words! Wow, good for us, we found our lifelong partners through traveling.

  10. I have been wanting to travel but I’m afraid of the expenses and I wanted to travel with my other half but unfortunately he’s working abroad. Now that we already have a daughter, maybe in the near future we can find time to travel as a family. Traveling is a fun way to have memories with love ones. Trying new foods and seeing beautiful places

    1. You can always start by traveling to nearby places with your child. It need not be in an expensive or popular destination. Focus on enjoying the moment and the experience.

  11. I really love this post! As a big traveller myself I can feel what you are feeling! I love that you are positve making a simple things in life enjoyable!
    I have been traveling with my husband 6 month in SEA, then 15 round the world and next year we are leaving with our little daughter for another great trip. This is us, this is what we are happy about. Some love to have a new car and some would love to buy a new pair of expensiv shoes. Dont judge them, they have found their happiness and we ours thats what matter!

    1. Well said. Yes, we should focus on things that make us happy. I’d love to experience traveling with my child, too.

  12. What a great blog post. I love your attitude towards traveling and it has made me think about my attitude towards traveling. Time for me to look at where I live to see what I can find

    1. Thank you! I’m happy that you appreciated this post.

  13. I started travelling because I had a burning desire to see the world.I wish I did it more and more, but life gets in the way, but seeing your post it reminded me that tourism doesn’t have to be far! Thank you for your advice! Great post!

    1. Thank you! We can all find time to pursue our passions.

  14. I’m also trying to maximize my weekends to not only run necessary errands, but to also travel to places within a few hours drive from my hometown. One day I’ll retire and travel the world, until then, it’s one new place each year and min-trips galore!

  15. This is exactly how I feel about travelling as well and I am so thankful that you wrote this post. I loved that you found your travel buddy and someone who is as passionate about travelling as you are. Beautiful photos and I cannot wait to hear more about your travel journey x

  16. This summer, I really wanted to commit to taking smaller trips because I felt like it would be easier to plan, hold myself accountable. I ended up going to AC and Philly multiple times and still managed to experience both places differently every single time! My next goal is to visit France and Ireland one day but baby steps haha 😀

    1. Agree with you, let’s take baby steps in the meantime. over time, it will add up to loads of great experiences. Thanks for dropping by!

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