I Dream to Travel

Dream on . . .

It takes two to make a dream come
true. One, you must have a dream to
start with. Two, you must have the means
to achieve it. The collision of an ambitious dream and an equally passionate
drive to pursue it can cause a spark that will ignite a lifelong adventure and
moment after moment of bliss.

When I was in pre-school, while
my classmates announced they wanted to become doctors or astronauts or beauty
queens, I confidently proclaimed, “When I grow up, I will travel around the
world.” My teacher asked my five-year-old self how I was going to do that. “How will you earn money to circle the globe?”
With the bravado of a five-year-old who was already showing signs of rebellion,
I raised my voice for the whole world to hear, “I am going to travel around the
world whether you like it or not!” I can’t remember what happened after the
outburst. Maybe I cried, or maybe the teacher let me stand in one corner during
recess, or maybe she called my parents for a heart-to-heart talk. I can’t
remember. But what I do recall is that even at an early age, I knew what I
wanted and I was determined to have it.

It did not take me long to figure
out how I was going to live my semi-nomadic dream. I understood too well that
if I was going to get to places, I have to work for it. Half of my childhood summers was spent helping Grandma make and sell pancakes—a price I was more than willing to pay for a few weeks of frolicking in the white-sand beaches of Siquijor. High school was an extra-curricular overload. I joined environmental and
youth empowerment clubs that went on trips to places like Apo Island to snorkel
and Zamboangita, Negros Oriental to see a gorilla.  In college, I took up physical therapy—in
the hopes of travelling to the US or Europe—and was lucky enough to travel
all over the Philippines for 10 months during my internship.
Post-graduation forced me to fend
for myself and accept 9-5 routine jobs that barely catered for my basic needs,
much so my penchant for travel. But the urge to travel was too much that I
volunteered for Gawad Kalinga  to win
free rides to off-the-beaten destinations in exchange for hard labor—sifting
sand, mixing cement, piling bricks, and painting roofs—building houses for
the homeless. 

Work and play with Gawad Kalinga (Cebu, Negros Occidental, Baguio)

While most of my physio pals were
busy scoring for jobs in the US, I applied for VSO (Voluntary Service
Overseas), an international organization that sends volunteers to developing
countries abroad to contribute to capacity building and sustainable
development. I found myself in Ethiopia, in East Africa. Despite my meager
volunteer allowance, I did not pass up the chance to see this beautiful and
enigmatic country of ancient kings and queens, of stone churches, of black
lions, of friendly hyenas. In a bid to do as much travelling as I can despite
my lean pockets, I travelled in cramped buses for as long as 12 hours and
shared flea-infested hotel rooms with adventure-seeking strangers. I ate local
food they call injera, a kind of sour spongy pancake that, as my fellow
travelers called it, look like a dirty towel. I boiled water and took one-liter
bottles with me on trips so I don’t have to shell out for costly mineral water.

Ethiopia escapades courtesy of VSO.

 

After twenty-two months of doing
what I love most—travelling and development work—I went back to the
Philippines, and used my resettlement grant to fund a 21-day backpacking
journey around Southeast Asia with my sister, Pinky. While on the road, I
accepted freelance writing and editing jobs to sustain my trips, while I
searched online for jobs that would allow me to see the world.
Luck must have been on my side
for after the SE Asia trip, I landed a post as a humanitarian aid worker in
South Sudan that allowed me to travel around East Africa (Kenya and Uganda)
every two and a half months, and paid enough money for me to travel to other
countries like Nepal, every once in a while. Sometime during my mission, I will
set foot in France. Hopefully, next year, I will find myself in another exotic
land. Or crashing into the homes of friends I met during my jaunts. To date, I boast
of 25 invitations in 15 different countries. I pay the fare, they take care of food and
accommodation. 

The perks of aid work (South Sudan, Uganda, Nepal)

 

So the moral of the story is this: when God hands you lemons, make
lemonade. Or better yet, get some salt and a shot of tequila! There’s no fixed
formula for funding your wanderlust. But once you have the drive, you will do everything
you can to achieve it. Make the best use of what you have. Grab every
opportunity to see the world—especially if it’s for free.
If I’m given the chance to face
my pre-school teacher once again and she asks me how I’ll earn money to travel
around the world, I know what to tell her:


I
will travel for work, and I will work so I can travel. It’s not negotiable.


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This is my entry to the PTB Blog Carnival with the theme: How to Fund Your Wanderlust, hosted by Journeying James.
For more PTB Blog Carnival themes, please click on the logo.
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