Thursday, May 2, 2013

Filipinos On Long-Term Backpacking: The Great Depression (Part 2)

"Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was." - Jodi Picoult

In case you missed the traveler memorandum, this is to remind you that the journey ain't all party buckets and postcard-worthy photos.

Homesickness, being broke, and excruciating land transfers. Inflictions all too familiar to us long-term backpackers. Four Filipino travel bloggers will let you in past heartaches today just like Paul, Bino and Flip did in Part 1 of this post.

Here are their stories.

The lowdown (edited photo from

Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer
Diagnosis: "I usually travel alone, anytime from a week to 3 months at a time. One thing I noticed about my extended solo travels is that there will be times when I will feel lonely and homesick, when I crave for something dear and familiar that would remind me of home. I experienced this a few times when I did my longest trip—my solo backpacking trip to Europe for almost 3 months."

"Whenever I felt like that, I did what I usually do: I connect with others."

Treatment: "Whenever I felt like that, I did what I usually do: I connect with others. I find people to meet up with, or I go to places where I’m sure I will see some Filipinos. I don’t even have to talk to them; just hearing them talk in our language is already enough to assuage my loneliness."

Lois Yasay of Sole Sisters

Diagnosis: "India was my trial by fire as a starting point for a 6 month backpacking trip across Asia. My partner and I had decided to go around India from North in New Delhi to South in Tiruchirappalli- by overland travel in 30 days! Halfway through the trip, we had to cross from Jodhpur to Goa in an excruciating 3 day nonstop overland journey by bus and trains. I was not prepared for the fatigue and over exertion that followed. Imagine traveling for 3 days straight without stopping for a hotel or a decent shower. We had to take naps on the floors of bus stations or inside cramped sleeper trains. And I don't need to discuss personal hygiene at this point."
 "I can hack through this. I've been through India after all."

Treatment: Seawater. "After that, I was never happier to reach the beaches of Goa to take a dip. Whenever I encounter challenges while traveling, I always tell myself: 'I can hack through this. I've been through India after all.'..."

Edcel Suyo of Solo Flight Ed

Diagnosis: Lowest point was "... When I wondered where I was going to get money in the next couple of months. In my long-term travel adventure, I relied on freelance work online to fund my expenses. But I went short on budget."

" Everything just came to place..."

Treatment: "When I found short-term work as a waiter in a resort in Terengganu, Malaysia (blog article here: Everything just came to place since I didn't have any itinerary during my stay in that country and I also wanted physical work in exchange for food and accommodation to sustain the travelling lifestyle. I realized that I didn't have to focus solely on online gigs as I had other avenues to earn extra income and extend the backpacking."

Doi Damasian of The Travelling Feet

Diagnosis: "When I decided to go backpacking last February 2012, I was confident that I could do it because I was travelling with friends. I travel on a budget you see. Having a travel buddy whom I can split most of my travel expenses with gave me the reassurance that I could afford to travel away from home on a shoestring budget for a longer period of time. However, unforeseen events almost ruined my backpacking plans.

My travel buddy and I decided to move up north to Laos after living in Siem Reap for almost 2 months. But because of some personal issues, my companion had to fly to Singapore leaving me behind. I did not know what I was supposed to do nor where I'm supposed to go. I was running out of funds and having no one to share the travel expenses with spelled disaster to my depleting money. Homesickness crept in. I got depressed but I knew I had to snap out of it."

"I know I should not rely on other people forever in chasing my dream to see the world."

Treatment: "I know I should not rely on other people forever in chasing my dream to see the world. So instead of packing by bags and booking a flight back home, I decided to book a bus ticket to Chiang Mai. I found it more practical and economical than heading up to Laos. That decision opened my eyes to meaningful realizations. It dawned on me that my passion for travelling is strong enough to stop anyone or anything from interfering with my dream to travel. Even though I ended up travelling solo, which I was never prepared for, I will never regret making that rewarding decision."

Wrapping this series with a moving story of healing. Stay tuned for Part 3.


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AJ Poliquit said...
May 4, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Kudos to these travelers (and you and Luna too). I could never imagine roughing it out for days without the benefits of indoor plumbing! There's a reason I'm a tourist. :)

Aleah | said...
May 4, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Thanks for sharing my story, Gay. I can't relate with Doi as I oftentimes travel by myself, but I know how Ed feels. There are certainly a lot of langaw moments when you're a freelancer, and during those times, I only want to be home. I can relate with Lois too. Yes, if you've been to India (in my case as a solo traveler), traveling anywhere else would seem so much easier!

Kat O said...
May 5, 2013 at 9:26 AM

hi gay :) as for my case, when i did my first long travel, mindanao 321 (it was then dulang-kitanglad, apo, now there's talomo), someone stole my hiking shoes and half of my budget going to apo in a hostel where we stayed in at bukidnon. i realized that i can't be complacent when traveling, i cannot trust all my travel buddies when it comes to security, and most especially, being a cheapskate would make you lose more money than you can ever think of. at that time, my great depression crept in when i missed my old dog, tanya, a 14 year old german shepherd, who have always protected me when i jog or bike around our village. and i believe, she also saved my life when i fell and had a bad sprain during my kanlaon dayhike. she died 4 hours after i arrived home from the trip. :'( when my mom, wasn't all too happy about my traveling, she was the only one who has happily greeted and welcomed me whenever i come home.

Gay Emami said...
May 5, 2013 at 4:04 PM

I got tourist traits too :) And I think that's healthy. Haha.

Gay Emami said...
May 5, 2013 at 4:06 PM

HEAPS of "langaw moments". And I'd spend such time watching reality TV shows on Youtube. LOL.

Gay Emami said...
May 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Oh no. Sorry to hear 'bout Tanya. Thanks for sharing your story, Kat.

Sky Summer said...
May 5, 2013 at 8:13 PM

We can't relate yet, since we haven't into long term backpacking but we admired Aleah, Lois, Eds, Doi for overcoming the dips in ltbp. And pretty sure You, Hubby and Luna had overcome it all.

Francis Balgos said...
May 5, 2013 at 9:54 PM

I'm content with just a few comforts when traveling..
Though I havent really done long term traveling, I feel its just around the corner, waiting for me to take the bend.
Langaw moments are certainly what I am afraid off, but like Ed, I'd take a menial job happily if it serves my purpose. :)

Doi | said...
May 6, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Thanks for this Gay! :) For an introvert like me, I really find it difficult to travel solo and with a very tight budget, long-term backpacking is very challenging. I'm happy I conquered my fears and went on chasing my dream to backpack even for a short while.

Kat O said...
May 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM

thanks gay :) 14 years of doggie love is hard to replace. she was the constant companion i had when all friends come and go.

darwin said...
May 6, 2013 at 6:57 PM

ang hirap. I do not know kung kakayanin ko rin yan, in the past few trips i had, parang nagsasawa na ako at nabobore paglipas ng ilang araw. tapos pag solo pa, nakakalungkot. I guess I need to change my style

m&b said...
May 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM

the longest i was away from home was 6 days... whew... how i wish i can afford to leave work and family that long.

Gay Emami said...
May 21, 2013 at 9:25 PM

I guess it suits some people? Tsaka magsasawa rin kami, nararamdaman ko malapit na... LOL.

jaysondg said...
September 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

i'll be going on a solo backpacking trip for about 2 months around six different Southeast Asian countries. My worries is that I may be offloaded by the immigration because my returning flight is quite far - October 5 to December 2. Do you have any tips in what I need to do or prepare when I face our Bureau of Immigration?

jaysondg said...
September 12, 2013 at 4:05 AM

Additional pa pala.. This is going to be my first trip outside the country and I'm hoping this thing with immigration will come like a breeze because I don't see this as my last backpacking trip. said...
September 12, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Prepare a printed itinerary of the countries you'll visit and the things you intend to do. Doesn't have to be exact. Just for the officer to graphically see what you're going to be up to :)

Janine Vale said...
March 4, 2014 at 10:07 PM

I'm gonna graduate next year(hopefully). And I'm planning on a not really that long backpacking trip maybe for 2-3 months before I head into the real world and start finding jobs and make money. I really want to go to Europe but since I don't have the budget. I'm thinking of seeing south east Asia first. Do you have any recommendations on where I should go and a must-see places around asia. And roughly how much should I save up for this trip? Thanks :D said...
March 5, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Every country in Southeast Asia has amazing sights. So it really depends on what you are into. Also, your expenses depend on your activities per day. The ladies at did a 6-month backpacking trip and spent about P100,000. So If you'll only do 2-3 months then expect to spend about P50k :)

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