I spent most of my time this 2013 in just two countries, Cambodia and Thailand (and just a month in Laos). It really pales in comparison when it come to my travels last 2012 where I spent the previous year going from places to places in Southeast Asia and in India. What did I do instead in 2013?
As I have written in the past, my main goal (when I left a couple of years back) is to really travel as much as I can and spend my waking hours staring at beautiful sunsets and sunrises in various places, learning new cultures, eating delicious foods and visiting various sights. But the reality is… I could not travel all the time and not think about earning. Travel cost money and to be able to sustain my nomadic lifestyle (for the time being) then I have to figure out a way to earn as well.
When you travel for a long time, you’ll realize that regardless of the amount of savings that you have, it will eventually run out. You have to pay for airfare, bus fare, train fare, tuktuk fare, food, hostel, hotel, tours, toiletries, wifi and so on and so forth… you get the drift. And money doesn’t grow on trees. When you travel for a long time you have to earn money while doing so to keep this kind of lifestyle sustainable.
Since I know that I want to travel more, I have to continuously figure out on how to sustain this kind of lifestyle. So I’ve decided that this year, I’ll spend more time developing my skills
So by moving less, I was able to spend a lot of time learning new things that can help me extend this lifestyle for a couple more years (I hope).
Here are some of the things that I learned this year:
Slow Travel Saves Money
So while I spent this year in only two countries, visiting nearby cities and towns and maintaining a ‘home based’ at the same time. I was able to cut my transpo expenses since I didn’t spend any on airfare and minimize my spending on land transpo as well. Apartment rental is also cheap in comparison to living in hostels. It’s also more comfortable and it helps me save money on food without compromising the quality of what I eat. I rented an apartment with a kitchen so I could prepare and cook my own meals.
Slow Travel Helps Build Relationships with Locals
I stayed with a local in Cambodia and developed a good relationship with the family. Sometimes they will bring me food that they cooked themselves and teach me how to prepare a certain dish. They’ve shared with me their family’s stories both their successes and failures. I get to pet their dogs as well. The downside though is, it made leaving that place so damn hard and so sad. They drove me to the bus station on my departure day and after a few minutes of saying goodbyes and exchanging hugs, I saw them teared up which made me cry too when I was already sitting inside the bus. As the bus moves farther and farther away from the town I couldn’t help but remember all the memories I had in that place. But I know I’ll see them again in the near future.
Slow Travel Helps Me Develop New Projects
Since I have so much time in my hands, I used it to improve my existing websites and to build new ones. I have already figured out how to maintain one blog during the first couple of years so gradually I kept on adding new websites and this year I just developed a few more. The newest ones were just created this month so I’m quite swamped with so many deliverables that I set for myself.
Slow Travel Helps Me Help My Family While I Pursue My Passion
Even though I’m traveling, I still help out my family for as much as I can. Maybe it’s embedded in our culture as Filipinos to help our parents and siblings in any way we can regardless of what we do in life. My parents and I were able to help send my brother to college a couple of years back and now he’s done with his education. In the coming year, my youngest sibling will also soon be in college and just like before, my parents and I are working together to save some money for it. Luckily, college education in the Philippines is not that expensive especially when you enroll in a public institution.
Slow Travel Helps Me Spend More Time Keeping in Touch with my Family and Closest Friends
Since internet access is more stable and predictable for me this year, I was able to chat with my friends and family more in comparison to last year. It also didn’t cost me anything since smartphones now have voip apps which will let you make calls over wifi.
Slow Travel Helps Me Lower My Cost of Living for This Year
Since I rented an apartment, cooked my own meals or eat in cheap local restaurants, I was able to lower my cost of living this year. My cost of living on a monthly basis is even way lower than my cost of living when I was still living and working in Makati City (Philippines).
Slow Travel Helps Me Spend More Time Learning New Things
Whenever I get bored or tired doing my usual online stuff, I always resort to reading. As I have written in my previous article, travel helped me realized that even though I don’t have much money in my pocket in comparison to when I was working in a corporate environment a couple of years back, I have so much more time that I can spend on anything I want. So I have decided, to spend my time in learning new things that could help me get closer to my other dreams in life (aside from travel). PinoyMoneyTalk and Bloomberg and other personal finance blogs have become now my new favorite websites and hopefully in the coming year, I could start practicing the things that I have been gradually learning in the past few months.
Slow Travel Gives Me Ample Time to Reflect
Since I didn’t spend much time moving from one place to another and planning what to do, where to stay or what to eat on a weekly basis, it gave me time to reflect and assess the things that I have been doing in the past few years. It gives me time to correct my mistakes and to apply better ways of doing things.
It’s always surreal to look back on a year that passed and a bit scary to think of the year ahead of us. I think more than achieving what we all want in life, it’s of utmost importance to enjoy the entire journey.
Thank you for joining me in my life’s adventures this year. May you all have a happy Christmas with your friends and family wherever you are and I’m wishing you a fun-filled, less regret and of course a prosperous 2014.