Monday, June 18, 2012

Funding The Wanderlust

Funding The Wanderlust
How I Prepare For My Travels

Walking and People watching in Baguio Botanical Garden

Getting hit by a travel bug has brought a profound change in me. Though my current goal is to explore the prime locations in the Philippines and eventually every province in it, to discover off beaten paths, promote tourism, and photograph all of them, it can burn holes on my pocket big time. I'm a call center agent, I have little time left for my weekend rest days, and limited work leaves. My closest friends and even my family are actually surprised that I still manage to do them, and more so without neglecting my responsibilities with paying bills, and contributing allowances of my younger siblings. I don't have any nit pick short answer for it, but in this post, I would hope to enlighten a few curious questions, and inspire people to be explorers of their own land eventually answering the big question, How Do I Fund My Wanderlust?

I could say that I travel in equilibrium nowadays, learning from expensive tour guided travels to budget Do-It-Yourself one's. Two years ago, I would visit Puerto Galera for a weekend escape and come back to Manila emptied of cash wads I brought along. I just can't stop ordering Frozen Margarita's and Kamikazee's from the beach bars, and even buying loads of souvenir items and shirts that I don't really need, I know right? I was gullible then, with the need to brag to my friends that I just came from Puerto Galera. Nowadays, I don't tell where to go and when, so it's a surprise when I get back and too late for any key chain "Pasalubong" for them to hang in their cubicles. If you've given too many key chains, you'd understand the nagging feeling that they do not see the aesthetic value of the item, aside from yourself, simply because they weren't there, most are too visual to see intangible merits. I'd rather drag my friends with me, and experience the wanderlust for themselves.

Key Chains from Bukidnon, jump off point for White Water Rafting. I never bought a piece of it, more so they look good and tempting.
Talking about Key Chain, souvenirs. I like photographing them while on display. This one is from Caramoan Municipality.
Going to places needs planning, it has to work for me as I just can't drop anything at anytime and be on the road. Being a call center agent, it's literally a calendar blocking time for me and more so of time management, we are after all experts with handling time or otherwise we won't stay on this job for long. So I would answer this systematically, going through the utmost questions of the moment.

Just landed at Cagayan De Oro Airport. On my Birthday trip, I explored Northern Mindanao a month prior to Sendong Deluge.

Where To Go?
Now this is not easy, after all we have 7,107 Islands in this archipelago. I sometimes start by seat sale announcements, that is if I feel like going somewhere that requires traveling by air. Booking ahead of time makes it easy and cheap, I even book as far as 6 months from booking date that sometimes I don't even need a seal sale for it, these trips require that I go on work leave 2 or 3 days and should be before or after a weekend. On land travels, the simplest is easy enough, commute, not hire. Roro buses are all over the far flung provinces, over night trips going to Northern Luzon are also everywhere with bus stations scattered along the length and breadth of EDSA and all over the Metro. The choice is yours which one to hop into.

Just landed, Busuanga Island, Coron Palawan. One of my most memorable D-I-Y trips this year.

Where To Stay?
This is tricky and yet this is where I really began to appreciate travel blogging. Back when I don't have this blog, I tend to ask people around. And I get varied answers but not enough description, so for the most part, I end up staying at expensive hotels and resorts suggested by a friend, I didn't do my assignment, too lazy to do research. Doing my own research is good, Google is always there, you just have to type in the search box. I started following travel blogs then, reading lot's of adventures from members of Pinoy Travel Bloggers which had fueled my thirst for traveling. I don't follow a detailed itinerary posted in a blog but rather just take what I need which is accommodations and tips on how to get there. I would have my own adventure, this is where I found good deals backpacking style. Never had I bought Online Deals and only once had I signed up for package tour in EL Nido and Puerto Princesa with Hadefe Tours, it was a nice trip and a well documented one but I realized I missed out on a lot things as I had everything laid for me by someone else. El Nido is seen by many as an expensive location to travel when in fact it is perfect for backpacking. If you want to have more fun on every trip, you'll only need a room to keep your belongings and a fan to keep you cool. When you really want to explore and have some fun, then accommodations would just become a place to sleep.

Traveling with friends and sharing expenses is a good way to travel too. More so that you are sure to have fun.

How Do I Fund My Trips?
Some of the trips that I take are planned two or three months ahead of time especially when I have to travel by plane. What of my need to secure work leaves. It's fun to experience side trips or some unplanned mishaps, take it as part of the adventure so you also take it into consideration in your itinerary. I've develop this attitude to wander during weekends where I could just go unplanned especially after payday. Group trips are wallet friendly. I like joining in team buildings in the office, even with teams that I don't really know. Everyone provides a share for the accommodations, and even food, and I'll only think about my bus tickets. I spend only about 25% on these fun activities as compared to when I go solo, and it's a good time to meet new friends. For the long hauls, I usually go with my travel buddy and so we have each other for back up when one is low on funds. I also like joining the so called "Paluwagan" in the office. It's really just a group of friends who agreed to shell out a certain amount every payday and give it to a member on their agreed scheduled payout. It's a nice way to save up, I think of it as pooling my funds somewhere that I can use on an opportune time.

I'm weak in terms of keeping my own money, that once its in my pocket, I can't stop thinking of things to buy that I don't really need. It doesn't help too that I get paid through direct deposits in my bank account, my biggest enemy is my ATM which I'm sure everyone else too. There's just too many ATM machines everywhere, it's too tempting to punch my PIN and see that monster machine spit some cash. I don't trust banks, but I need them. I was once a phone teller for a bank or financial account, I know how ruthless they can be and in this corporate environment, every penny is accounted for, every favor you get from your bank is paid back sometimes twice its value. I regularly empty my payroll account, except for a few thousand pesos that I use for my daily expenditures, I keep my wads somewhere like the pockets of my journal or that extra coin purse that I bought as souvenirs from my trips. I would then tuck them in my bags that I don't use everyday. After a day or two, I'm then used to the idea that I have just enough to keep me going.

I chose to walk around Cagayan De Oro City instead of hailing taxi's or motorela's. What better way to discover more of the place with a little exercise.

I don't live frugally, just have enough for creature comforts. I've outgrown my teenage party attitude where I'd spent my entire weeks allowances for a night of partying. I don't have credit cards, so I walk alight knowing I don't have any bank debts. My photography gadgets, I got because I saved up for them, the "Paluwagan" played a big part on it, I'm also very careful with them. I have an inexpensive cellphone, they normally serve me from three to five years, knowing that I only have one mobile phone, who needs more when I only text on the same group of people everyday. I'm no Northface fan, who needs an expensive trekking bag when you're cautious on having them muddied and exposed to elements. No, I'm better with cheaper alternative of the same material. There are a lot of alternatives, and you don't always have to go to the mall. With shopping, I only buy when I need to, and I stay clear of malls when they're on sale, its stressful anyway having to mingle with many people scrounging for sales. I'm not rich, but I work hard. I save money in banks too, because I need it, but I have to make sure not to bring my ATM everyday. Nowadays, banks provide ATM Cards on almost all liquid accounts, sure they look posh in your wallets card slot, they'd make your wallet bulkier too, just to visualize things. I keep many supportive friends whom I know I can ask for help when I need to, and I'd always return the favor when I can.

Meeting new friends has their perks, like these three Young CPA's from Makati that we (with travel buddy) met on the road. We shared a good hearty Steak from Del Monte Clubhouse in Bukidnon in what would've been a meal we can't afford on our own. Having an accountant around was a plus since we already knew how much are we to shell out even before making an order. Being with brilliant and practical minds are amazing.

Sure as I spend money on my travels. What of my many memory cards, my DSLR and Underwater Camera. I'm not rich, but I don't strive to nourish my pockets. I'd rather be enlightened by my travels, be more pragmatic as a few of my friends would describe. I have this need to be at two places at the same time, be everywhere and nowhere. To feed my curiosity, to enhance my aesthetics and more so to be a part of the world. By working hard and taking just enough, by D-I-Y trips and backpacking, office Paluwagan's and keeping supportive friends along the way, this is how I fund my Wanderlust.

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers 20th Blog Carnival: How To Fund Your Wanderlust?
Hosted By Journeying James

For links on other Blog Carnivals

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. awesome tips, i'm finally getting rid of my credit cards (settled 3 out of 4).

  2. beautiful pictures. :)
    definitely if we want to save money for trips? we have to learn to prepare earlier. LOL. piso seat sale FTW! :)

  3. Your "tips" are very practical! Very apt for us, in the working class.

  4. Ang galing! sobrang inspiring ng post mo. I'm a working Mom who has been bitten by the travel bug. Tsk.

  5. thanks for the tips! sobrang nakatulong! :)

  6. I am so inspired to write something like this, Francis!! :) You've gone to so many places.. yet I applaud you for your kind of discipline. Kudos to us travel bloggers! Hope we can travel together sometime.. would love to journey off with new travelista friends. :)

  7. I can sympathize on the endless pasalubong request as I also do my share of travel and at first it seems cool to share something to people about the place you've visit but when you come to think about, pasalubong does cost so much. So I limit my pasalubong now to photos and blogs I've written. It's also nice that you work hard and earn your trips and gadgets and most of the time live a simple life. Travel now and tell a good story later than wait for a latter time where you'd look back and said, I should have done that earlier. Cheers.

  8. You may not be rich, but you look like a million dollars! ;) Oh yeah, you got me started about all those key chains. I wish for the day that people would stop giving them. Just how many keys can one have in their lifetime, right? Ugh. I'd rather not get any pasalubong, hehe.

    I don't shop when I travel, so that's my fail-safe plan in budgeting during my trips. And like you, I don't have a fancy phone. I still use Nokia. :)) But unlike you, I don't own any DSLR, underwater cam, and all those gadgets. I just use a point and shoot cuz I have no plans of going pro anyway. ;)

    Thanks for sharing these tips, Senyor Lagawan!

  9. This is one great find! I bet aside from your blog, the social media tools have also made significant inputs in your succeeding trips.

  10. Thank you very much for the tips you shared with us. We'll keep these tips in mind as we explore the Philippines. :)

  11. Gusto kong subukan ang surfing. Parang nakaka-enjoy. :)

  12. You surely know how to save...yes never get used of using credit cards unless it's necessary/emergency... :D Ingat

  13. type ko ung be everywhere and nowhere! kudos pala lagaw! you are really an inspiration <3

  14. I admire how you handle your finances! I've gotten good tips from this! I'm pretty sure you will be traveling far and wide and keep your goal! Kudos!

  15. Nice points from you. More often, we don't need to be extravagant to be happy and to execute what we wanted to do. Financing may be one of the constraints on achieving our goals but practicality, resourcefulness and persistency defeat such problem. Keep on going on!

  16. tipid tips! :)
    actually madali lang mag pondo pang larga nung nasa sykes pa rin ako, ngayon tipid mode talaga haha

  17. I don't think travel as an expense but an investment in my life, but make sure you do it for the right reason.

    I'm not bitten by a travel bug, but it's already flowing in my blood ever since I was born ;)

  18. Nice share! I really enjoyed reading your post, andaming practical tips. =)

  19. enjoyed reading this! Thanks Francis. :)


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