How I Travelled to 30 Countries in Less than 5 Years

In two days, I’ll be turning 23, and it made me realize how blessed I’ve been to have seen much of the world, so I thought I ought to share how I managed to lead a travel-filled life for the past five years and at the same time, build my corporate career for the last three. After turning 18 in 2010, I made plans for that summer. Given that I finally had the freedom to travel as I pleased without having to get parental consent, my Dad gave me a travel fund in the form of a check. Weeks worth of planning resulted in a trip with my cousin to a city I’ve been longing to visit: New York. And thus, began my adventure-filled life. At 18, I began to appreciate the beauty in travel. I saw the intricacies in architecture, the sophistication of art, the importance of making connections around the globe, gastronomy, and so on.

New York opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities of every traveller and the fact that the world has so much more to offer. The very moment I walked through the streets of the Upper East Side, I knew that though I’ve been blessed to have seen part of the world, I had to see more.

It’s been nearly five years since that fateful trip to the beaming city of the East Coast, and within that time, I’ve managed to visit a total of 30 countries. Many people have asked how I did it and to this day, I don’t have just one answer. I’ve come up with a compilation of some of the factors or events in the last few years that allowed me to achieve a goal I did not even dare dream about.

This will hopefully inspire you all to go out and see the world, which is honestly the best investment you’ll make. Before we start off, here are a few photos from my travels within the last five years to inspire you:

San Francisco (May 2010)
Ha Long Bay (September 2014)
Prague (May 2012)
Stockholm (November 2014)
Bangkok (March 2011)
Kuala Lumpur (December 2013)
Vienna (March 2014)

 

So, how did I get to where I am now?

1) Full-pledged support from family. In 2009, my Mom passed away from cancer, but it was her who instilled in me that travelling is the best education; this, she got from her father, my grandfather, who travelled around the world countless times. Though my Mom was the one who inspired me to see the world, it was my Dad who gave me the courage to go out on my own. Even if my Dad has always been scared of flying, he never let that hinder my chances to discover the world. He has continued to support me emotionally, financially, mentally, and even spiritually; and I am eternally grateful for that. I never would have had the mere opportunity to visit 30 countries in less than five years had it not been for him; and this actually pertains to all aspects of my life. Take note though, that since I started working, I’ve paid for all my travels.

2) Make a budget and save. A common question I’ve been asked is, “Is it expensive to travel?” For some, it is; for others, it’s more expensive to live in one place than to travel around. It all depends on your profession, of course, and what kind of traveller you are. I’m the type of traveller, however, who chooses to splurge on fancy hotels and the best restaurants. Given this, I make it a point to save on a daily basis. It helps when you have your travel plans for the next year set, which leads to my next point:

3) If possible, plan a trip after your upcoming one. Weeks, or even months before I leave for my next trip and have no succeeding travel plans, I start researching on where to go next and automatically switch to hyper-booking mode. This allows me to plan ahead of time. This system works for me, since all the places I’ve dreamt of visiting so far, I’ve visited.

4) Set up a travel fund account. This will help you keep track of how much you’ve set aside. What helps me, as well, is every month, I book a portion of my trip (may it be a hotel booking or a plane / train ticket) and pay for it. This way, I don’t really grasp how big of an amount I spend on travelling, which can be startling when paid in lump-some, and account for it one booking at a time. Having a credit card helps too, specially if you make bookings online, which is the cheapest option from my experience. Make sure you don’t spend money you don’t have though! Every time I charge something to my card, I make it a point to pay for it right after via my bank app.

5) Learn how to say no. This follows your budget. If it’s not in your budget to go out and drink on a Friday night or to buy this season’s Zara collection, then learn how to say no – both to others and yourself. If you have a little extra set aside, then by all means; but what makes it easier to do this is if you already have an upcoming trip planned out and your departure date is fast-approaching. It’s all about knowing your priorities.

6) Don’t make a bucket list. I know that this could possibly seem foreign to the travellers out there, but I never came up with a list of places I must visit in this lifetime; but rather, each time I’d see a photo of a place that looks rather irresistible to me, I research on it and work it out from there. If I made a bucket list of all the places I wanted to travel to, I don’t think one lifetime would be enough, so I made it a point to internally note which places are of high-priority meaning the must-visits, medium-priority which are the places that won’t be such a hassle to visit or could be within reasonable travelling distance from the high priority places, and those for future reference: the places I might be interested in later on, but aren’t a priority.

Though just because there is a hierarchy of places to visit for me, doesn’t mean I only visit the high-priorities; I’ve also visited those in the lower tiers, since not having a bucket list gives me the chance to jump on any trip I have the opportunity to go on and at the same time, financially, mentally, emotionally, etc. prepare for a trip to my next dream destination.

7) Keep an eye out for discounted hotel rates and airline promotions. I constantly check airline websites to keep track of whether or not they have ongoing promo offers. And once they do, I tend to jump on the opportunity to go on yet another adventure.

8) Stay in touch with people you meet while travelling. These are the people who share the same passion as you, so don’t cut ties with them as soon as you part ways. And I’m telling you, you will go a long way if you have this mindset. Who knows, it might turn into something special; may it be a relationship or a close-bonded friendship. A couple I met in Europe in May 2012 and eventually grew close to got engaged a few months later and invited me to their wedding in Indonesia. Though I hadn’t seen them since travelling on a one-month tour together, the bond we formed through the stories and messages we shared thanks to modern-day technology allowed us to keep close ties. During their wedding a year and a half since we parted ways in Paris, they asked me to be one of their three bridesmaids and to this day, it’s one of the many stories I continue to tell people I encourage to travel. All I had to do was book my ticket, and they prepared everything else from having a car and driver for us the whole time and paying for our hotel.

9) A trip to Europe is a gateway to visit many countries. This is one of the many beauties of the Schengen Visa agreement, which you can read about in Schengen Visa Application for Philippine Passport Holders. Originally, my secret goal was to match the countries I’ve been to with my age. And although this involved visiting the same countries countless times, which a part of me may have pondered if I should have spent the time, effort and money on a trip to a new country, I managed to surpass what used to be my secret travel goal. Within less than three years, I visited Europe thrice and maximized the value of landlocked countries. I travelled across borders by plane, by train, and by coach, but of course, making it a point to stay in each place for a reasonable amount of time. That is the beauty of Europe and the Schengen Agreement. You can hop on a train, travel for a few hours, and feel like you’re in a completely different place once your feet find its way to the platform, surrounded by different nationalities evident in culture and even in architecture. Needless to say, this was one of the biggest factors that attributed to my having reached several parts of the world.

10) I did not lose sight of what I knew I had to do in the other aspects of my life. I believe this was one of the biggest factors that allowed me to become the person I am today and reach my travel goals: I did not leave the corporate world. As impossible it is to grasp, I still have an 8 to 5 job despite my frequency of going abroad. Needless to say, this corporate life is what mainly funded my travels. I have an insurmountable list of travel goals, but at the same time, I have career goals that so far, I am progressively working up to. A wide array of blogs tell you to just quit your job and go and travel as you please. Though it makes sense to some, it doesn’t make sense to me right now. Ever since I started working, I knew I was built for the corporate world, so I’ve always known what I wanted to achieve in this aspect of my life, despite wanting to visit so many places. It’s important that you don’t lose sight of who you are and what your goals were before you fell in love with travelling, and at the same time, take days or weeks off from time to time visiting your dream destinations. You think it’s not possible? Well, that’s what I did; just scroll to the top and see the title of this post.

In conclusion, each time I’m asked how I get to travel rather frequently, I say: Knowing how to prioritize is key. If you want to travel, it should be easy for you to skimp on daily expenses, so you can use the savings for travel. That’s really all there is to it. If you know what you want and where you want to go and have a target date, you must put your mind to it like I did, work hard, and you’ll surely get to where you want to be; just like when I fulfilled my life-long dream to visit the Athens: Wishing everyone a great and wonderful life of travel! You can follow my travels on Instagram: @theworldbyfaith