“There is freedom in exploring especially when I encounter unfamiliarity. There is bliss when I see mountains and seas. There is sense of fulfillment when I reach new destination. There is sense of belongingness when I feel accepted by locals in an unknown community. Every new place I conquer, though it has already been discovered by many, is a new life because it is unique, and for me it is my discovery.”
We may have different stories and beginnings when we heeded the call of wanderlust, but the moment we responded to the call, even if we have different reasons for choosing to be nomads, we already establish a common ground—we travel to heal.
Why did I say so?
I heard a lot of interesting narrations from travelers why they have chosen such to be part of their lives. Even ordinary people share their longing to travel and explore the Philippines and the world someday. Heartache is one of the many reasons though not the dominant one. In order to forget an unrequited love and pacify the pain, people go far away. They prefer to be alone and enjoy their solitude while traversing the seemingly unknown road, or sipping a cup of coffee or reading a book by the beach to mend what is broken and to find peace in their hearts and minds again. Some climb mountains and scream their hearts out at the summit to be relieved from the pain even just for a moment. Eventually, they healed and found new love in traveling.
For workaholics, they travel to unwind, get rid of their workload, and sometimes arrogant bosses for a number of days. So by the time they are ready to work again, they feel revitalized. Whenever workaholics feel burdened by work, they look forward to travel once more in order to heal their weak physiques. Little did they know that traveling is their weekly or monthly dose of medicine. Same goes for the sick— sunsets, blue skies, flying birds, mountains and seas cure them. Nature heals them.
A few people close to me look forward to traveling when they retire. And some want to file an early retirement for them to explore the world before the beauty of nature wanes. There are some in their 50’s and 60’s but still travel. Despite aging they travel, because traveling heals aging.
How about young professionals and students? How does travel heal them?
Everything went unexpected.
2010 was one of my most memorable years in terms of personal growth. I experienced to work for 25 hours when I dynamically participated in the much-touted national elections. I was supposed to pursue a graduate course in writing but chose to study law (my second choice). Two months after I enrolled, I got a job promotion. When I was both fulltime student and employee, I read at least 6-8 hours a day and only managed to sleep for 2-4 hours every day. Eventually, I got exhausted and left law school. I was very frustrated for I thought I abandoned one of my dreams. My friends, mentors, and two law professors convinced me to go back but I said I needed to rest. Then I spent one night writing a long feature story, specifying my reasons of leaving so people would end their harangues on why I ditched my dream.
I bought my first DSLR which I named Lala a week after the tempest about law school raided me. Then I contacted my friends to join me on my first travel that year. Amid all the frustrations and stresses I had, I unearthed peace on Puting Buhangin in Quezon in October. It was my first healing. The next thing I knew I was planning my next trip, reading travel blogs, starting my own blog and making pledge to myself that I would travel at least once a month and share my stories with people. Everything was like a breeze, I returned to my first love—writing—and discovered new life and passion in traveling and photography.
Then it suddenly felt like I was in a race.
After my first Quezon trip, I began mapping out travel plans. November was full. I visited La Mesa Eco Park, Bataan, Nuvali and Enchanted Kingdom of Laguna, Tagaytay’s People Park, and had my first climbed on Mt. Batulao in Batangas with new found friends.
I just woke up one day that it was already December—my birthday month. Getting accustomed to celebrating it, I invited my friends to join me in Subic and Bataan. I started with short and budgeted trips before I embark on long journeys which of course entail bigger funds.
I explored Quiapo, Intramuros, and Luneta Park when January 2011 came.
In February, I went to Zambales to experience Pundaquit beach during the less humid season. I also visited Pampanga to witness how giant hot air balloons float in the air. On its last week, I found myself sitting comfortably on a Deluxe bus going to Baguio for Panagbenga Festival and to be reunited with my two high school buddies.
From Baguio, we went straight to Sagada in March. It was a fulfillment of my dream. Eversince I was a college student, Sagada has always been my dream destination. It was when traveling felt surreal for the first time. But March didn’t end there. A week after my one week vacation, I tagged my brother and cousins to join me in exploring Anawangin Cove, Camara Island, and Capones Island in Zambales. Before the month expires, I discovered Puerto Galera’s abundant nature.
I realized that it was already April when I saw our neighbor’s yard filled with golden yellow petals fell from Golden Shower Tree (April showers). Summertime was exciting! On Semana Santa, I toured all 14 towns of Zambales and visited the church of each town as part of my Visita Iglesia. I also conquered 2 islands and 3 beach resorts. Magalawa Island was my new discovery. It was in April when I failed to attend my home province’s Dinamulag Festival, so instead of getting upset, I rode a cab to Manila Ocean Park. Same month, I met my fellow travelers in Corregidor Island and drew inspiration from them.
May didn’t come as a surprise. I knew I would have to spend it in Metro Manila as I need to save up for bigger trips in the coming months. But it was hard for me to keep work as my daily routine. I broke the cycle thrice when I headed to Antipolo, Marikina, and Batangas during the three weekends of May.
Rainy season started to beleaguer my plans when June arrived. Though most of my planned trips did not push through, I have had the best trekking experience when I vanquished the arduous 3-hr trek to Mt. Pinatubo together with a group of travelers on June 4, 2011. After, I treated myself to a very relaxing volcanic ash spa.
July and August were my coldest travel months. I only visited Malabon Zoo and didn’t go out of town. But the good thing about it was I was able to spend most of my weekends with my family.
September didn’t start good. I cancelled my trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan due to work-related concerns. I think it’s already part of a traveler’s life—to plan and eventually cancel it to give way to other pressing matters. But it was pacified by a food trip in Binondo and an outline of my autobiography which I long to write in the future.
I was counting the days before Christmas when October barged in. It was fast. Since all of my major travels were in Luzon, that time, I’d given in to my desire to conquer Visayas. I toured Bohol for 3 days. Finally, I can call myself a traveler because I had already boarded an aircraft.
I was back in Luzon in November. I got mesmerized and petrified at the same time with the story of Mapanuepe Lake in Zambales. I also entered the ancestral house of our late President Ramon Magsaysay.
December was very unprecedented and kinda expensive. I made it special. Aside from indulging into the buffet dinner at Shangri-la and dining in at various classy restaurants in Metro Manila, I also flew outside the country for 6 days for the first time. Macau and HongKong were my destinations. After my vacation and holidays, I noticed that my pockets were empty but I’m full inside.
Yours might be diverse, but that’s how I discovered my passion in traveling.
Students and young professionals have various reasons why we love to travel compared to those who got settled, had built their own families, and managed to have stable jobs but still travel. We, in a very broad perspective, are still finding ourselves and our niches unlike them who have already mapped out vivid paths to take. Rooms for growth are ahead of us because to say it bluntly and in most likeliness, we are still nobody or we are still carefree. So traveling helps to heal our cluttered minds for us to clearly realize our goals in the future. In times we travel—be it with our friends, partners, or we are alone—we are in our peaceful state. The more we travel, the more we allow ourselves to be in that state, the more we attract positive thoughts, and the more we gather strength—physically and mentally. Disparate from people who never really go out and wander, our dreams in life are more lucid.
I know that everybody wants to travel, but only few are brave to see the world beyond utopia. If money is what hurdles you, I always say that traveling is not about budget, it is about passion. You can always find ways to save and start traveling.
Let’s travel while we are young. To those beyond the boundaries of youth, it is never too late. Products of science are there to help you relieve that aching bones and muscles. Remember what I had written earlier that traveling heals aging. On the contrary, traveling heals the crispness of youth. It develops us to be mature individuals with a lighter and younger hearts, and tougher minds.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and explore!