We got it all wrong – our concept of travel being a far-fetched luxury. Travel is not exclusive to going to foreign countries or far-flung places. It does not belong to our man-made ideas of what is exotic. It does not respect these imaginary borders we humans have built and continue to build. No wonder we all seem to be having trouble finding time to travel. Welcome to this time-poor world.
First, change your definition of travel.
Travel is about moving, exploring, learning, understanding, and getting deeper. It’s about seeing things with fresh eyes. It doesn’t matter where it is, but it’s best to start from places that are closest to us. I speak of our neighborhoods, our own cities, the nooks and crannies we tend to overlook because they look too familiar. I say “look”, because they really are not familiar. We just think so because we haven’t paid them enough attention. We’re convinced the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. This arrogance keeps us from traveling more than we allow ourselves to.
Travel demands sincerity, simplicity, curiosity, and a delicious sense of adventure. Unless you express genuine curiosity about the places that are already close to you, travel will remain as a lofty ideology you’ll be unable to grasp. As someone who has walked all the streets of our barangay (the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines akin to a village), I honestly believe that travel is a lifestyle we nurture by taking small steps. We reap what we sow. Walk around your city so you can walk around other cities. Climb mountains near you so you can climb Kilimanjaro or Everest.
Why bother going to the other side of the world to do the same things you can very well do at home? Start where you are, and the rest will follow.
– what I said in one of the Tripzilla articles I was featured in
It’s 5 PM. Leave the office now, for crying out loud.
What you do with your free time should be up to you. Leave the office when it’s time to go. Be intentional with your time by scheduling adventure trips in advance, even if it’s just a quick walk around a park after work, or trying new latte flavors with a colleague, or attending a music concert. These things may be small, but they’ll expand your sense of adventure and purpose, and they’ll motivate you to stop saying “yes” to every request to stay longer in the office. I was a master of this art of travel before I took the leap to travel long-term.
In my previous job, I asserted myself by discussing timeliness and efficiency with my boss. I postponed tasks that could be done the following day, and I seldom had to render overtime work even on days when there seemed to be an endless stream of things to do.
Work efficiently and avoid mindless interruptions as much a possible so you can finish all your deliverables on time. Occasional overtime work may be necessary, but turning it into a weekly affair means that you, your colleagues, or your boss is inefficient. Work fiercely well and demand from your employer the same level of respect that you give them by assertively protecting your personal time.
Negotiate remote work with your boss.
I’m Filipino, and I did this when I was working a conventional office-based job. So, yes, it IS possible. In my first project, I managed to work from home once a week. In my last, I worked remotely for three straight months. Sometimes, I would settle in a coffee shop until I finished my most important tasks. Other times, I’d be relaxing in a mountainside hostel in Sagada while working with my colleagues in Manila.
This may not be applicable to everyone, but there’s no harm in proposing your ideas to your boss. Who knows he might suggest a workaround that can give you more freedom at work. If you’re like me who’s more efficient when you can choose your own workplace, when you don’t have to navigate through the intense urban traffic, and when you can produce better output when you’re in your element, you should consider talking to your boss now.
Leave the books on the table.
Perhaps you’re a book nerd who brings his latest Game of Thrones to his daily commute but, if you constantly find yourself wishing you could travel, it’s time to put those books down. You just might see a new world through the train windows. I used to want to be super productive in my early 20s that I’d squeeze in a reading exercise every time I’d take the train to go to work/home. But I realized I was missing out on an hour’s worth of sights and colors by reading books and constantly looking down. Not to mention that doing so was unproductive anyway because the train was cramped, noisy, and hot. Letting my mind wander aimlessly while scanning the changing cityscapes had been a travel trick that fed my curiosity and imagination.
Pay attention to everything you see when you’re on the bus or train. If you’re not in a hurry to go home, get off somewhere unfamiliar and let your eyes guide you. We’re always looking down at our phones or books even while walking, and we keep on hoping to travel the world while failing to notice the beautiful world that’s already in front of us.
More is not always merrier.
It happens. You plan a weekend getaway with your friends. Twelve weekends have already passed (that’s three months!) and you still haven’t gone together. Life always seem to get in the way. You know what? If travel isn’t your friends’ priority, how do you think this plan of yours will pan out? It probably will, but you will have wasted many life’s chances by the time your friends are ready to grab their bags.
If you value something so much, you have to be willing to go to the battlefield alone. Allies are great, but their presence is not necessary for you to start a fight. They can always follow when they see you leading your own battles.
Plan your own trip. Do it alone. Yup, you read it right. Alone. Go to a different destination than you originally planned with your friends, unless you want them to think you’re a traitorous egotist. Solo travel is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll agree with me that it’s perhaps the best way to know yourself more deeply.
I’ve done this more times than I can remember. Back in the Philippines, I had hiking and travel buddies and we planned day hikes around weekends and holidays. However, our schedules didn’t always coincide because of work, so I always had personal plans penciled in my calendar such as museums, night markets, beaches, tiny towns, and cafés.
Make your weekend count.
Avoid the trap of overtime work on weekdays so you can look forward to the weekend unexhausted. Sure, you can clock in an hour or two of extra sleep on Saturday or Sunday, but don’t spend the rest of the day sleeping, indulging in social media, watching Korean dramas for hours on end, and other mindless activities. Unless you’re intentional with your activities and are totally at peace with your weekend choices, realize that the weekend consists of two days. You have the choice to use it to travel, to learn, and to fully connect with your family. Or you can let two days pass you by as you wonder where your free time has gone. Up to you!
In two days, you can hike nearby mountains, go on a quick beach getaway with friends, visit museums and art galleries, try new restaurants, or even jump on the bandwagon that your city has to offer. There’s no point in waiting for large swathes of time if you can’t even manage to spend a single day being truly alive.
Vicarious is not always a beautiful word.
We can’t always be in full control of our lives, but experiencing travel solely through the lives of travel bloggers can be a time drain, especially if we ourselves are fully capable of traveling. I’ve met friends who told me they were living vicariously through me. As a traveler and a travel blogger, I expected to take it as a compliment. For people to say such things must mean that you’re probably living a life that they find inspiring, right? However, I thought something was amiss. These people weren’t rich, but they did have the means to travel.
Something else was controlling them. Perhaps it was fear or laziness or even the idea of excitement that they feel they don’t deserve. It’s our own individual responsibility to find ways to grow – including satisfying our sense of curiosity and our primal need to explore. Why live through others if you can design your own life?
If you read until the end of this post, it means you have time. For most of us, there indeed is time. Don’t find it. Make it. Use it well and be fully alive.