Challenges of a Filipino Backpacker

It’s a bit difficult to travel freely if you’re a Filipino and a Philippine passport holder like me. There seems to be a lot of restrictions that are imposed to our nationality. But these things shouldn’t stop us from traveling and experiencing the backpacking lifestyle.

These are some Challenges of a Filipino Backpacker.

1. Low Wage: Most Filipinos are earning the minimum wage which is around $200-$250 a month. A huge portion of it will go to paying bills and supporting some family members. Some will go to personal allowance and whatever’s left will be used for recreation stuff such as traveling.

Suggestions:

a. Look for alternative sources of income

b. Watch your spending habits and cut unnecessary expense

c. Compromise some of your wants (example. Not drinking a $2 cup of Starbucks a day is an opportunity to save $60 a month)

2. Poor Peso Performance: You fly out and go to the nearest money exchange shop to change it to other currency just to find out that it’s just worth half of the other nation’s currency. Last April, when I was in Bangkok I was shocked to find out that the Peso equivalent to Baht is just around fifty cents. Sigh!!!

Suggestions:

a. Change some of your Peso to US Dollar (when the rate is good)

b. Change some of your Peso to your needed currency (example: If you know you’re going to Thailand in a few months time, watch out for the possibility of 1:1 exchange rates and take advantage of it)

c. If the rate in currency exchange shops is unacceptable, try withdrawing your money instead from your ATM. They usually give better rates. When the rate (in money exchange shops) was at fifty cents (sometime in April), I was able to get 0.70 rate from the ATM.

Challenges of a Filipino Backpacker

3. Visa Restrictions: If you’re a Philippine passport holder, chances are you’re only allowed to enter a limited number of countries without visa. According to Wikipedia, “It is estimated that 78 countries and territories grant visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Philippine passport holders, while 52 countries and territories are visa free accessible (visa on arrival for free counted). Click here for more info.” Compare it to Singaporean or Malaysian citizens who are allowed to travel to more than 100 countries without visa or with the visa upon arrival scheme. Sigh!!!

Suggestions:

a. This is something beyond our control. My suggestion is travel first to visa free countries.

b. You may opt to change your nationality or get dual citizenship (which is a tough and long process).

4. Trust Level of Immigration and Embassies: I was in Nepal last August 2009 and I had decided to get my Indian tourist visa there. To my horror, most of the travel agencies said that there’s a slim chance of getting it in Nepal because I’m a Filipino. I asked around for a reason because most nationalities are entitled to get a tourist visa to India. The owner of the hostel where I was staying said that it’s because a lot of Filipinos in Nepal have bad records that’s why they don’t like Filipinos. While planning my options, the owner asked me if he could see my passport. I showed it to him and he saw that I have never overstayed in any countries that I’ve been to and I have a visa for US and Schengen territory as well. He suggested that I try it again because I might get the visa because of the credibility of my passport. To cut it short, I got my Indian tourist visa.

Suggestions:

a. Build and maintain your good reputation as a traveler. Don’t overstay in any countries unless needed (e.g. emergency hospitalization etc).

b. Whenever we travel, let’s try to be a good example for our nation. I don’t want to sound preachy but it’s just a practical approach in building a good relationship with our foreign brothers and sisters.

If you have suggestions or additional information that could help our Filipino backpackers travel freely and easily, please feel free to post it here.

Photo Credits: The World Map is from Wikipedia

Comments

  1. The Nomadic Pinoy says:

    I only became an American citizen mid-2009 so you can just imagine the hurdle I had to take to apply for visas to certain countries while bearing a Filipino passport. Some countries had tedious requirements, even keeping the passport for two weeks while a visa is being processed.

  2. wow! two weeks?

    anyway, travelers regardless of race seem to be resilient to challenges 🙂

    congratulations to your new citizenship…

    now it'll be easier for you to travel…

    more travels to come… 🙂

  3. ron (fliptravels.com) says:

    sad but true!
    we're with you!

    hey just curious. do you have a fb account?
    are you currently in manila?

  4. it makes traveling more challenging though (although bothersome at times)

    no fb account here ron, but i'll make one for flip and yeah, im currently in manila

  5. I am From Nepal and have been planning to backpack for sometime now but the problem with us is that, we can only go to India without a Visa. For any other Country we need a VISA and with the credibility that our Nepali Migrant Workers have created in foreign Countries it has become almost impossible to get a Tourist Visa for any country.

    Everyone thinks that we are going to disappear in their country.

    You said it right, we need to create a positive image of our country where ever we go.

    May be one by one but ppl will understand that not everyone is willing to disappear in a foreign Land.

  6. @tajim: i agree…not everyone wants to disappear in a foreign land… that's why i want to change my nationality so i could travel freely…

  7. The SoleSisters says:

    ditto on the dream for a borderless world *sigh*

  8. hear ye!

  9. Pinoy Boy Journals says:

    just my opinion, I've made it a promise that if i apply for a visa to X country, and i am not granted one. i'll delete that country to my list. simple. if you don't like me traveling to your country, then fine by me. i'll use my money somewhere else!

  10. @jerik: nice idea… yeah, if they wouldnt let us in, might as well spend our money somewhere else…

  11. What an I opening post. I didn’t understand at first why filipinos have such a bad reputation and why its difficult to get a visa. I now see one of the reason why other countries have misconceptions of us. I can see why people overstay their visa, but at the same time it just makes it harder for other people because of that practice.

  12. Hi there. Just wondering on how were you able to get a visa in Nepal? Visa on arrival?

  13. Hey Flip!

    I liked what you said: “Flip is dreaming of a borderless world.”

    So am I. 🙂

    I’ll be bugging you about lots of travel tips soon and I really hope you won’t mind. I’m planning a trip to Coron in the next month or so and then also India some time November or December. Keeo your posts coming. Your positivity is contagious 🙂

  14. Hey Flip!

    I liked what you said: “Flip is dreaming of a borderless world.”

    So am I. 🙂

    I’ll be bugging you about lots of travel tips soon and I really hope you won’t mind. I’m planning a trip to Coron in the next month or so and then also India some time November or December. Keep your posts coming. Your positivity is contagious 🙂

  15. I want to visit India and Nepal soon too, so thanks for the information. Also, I want to share that for some reason there are a lot of Filipinos that leaves bad records in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, I met some nice Vietnamese locals and a local best friend too, she said she never liked Filipinos because they are mostly the scammers in their city! That is so sad to hear. I wish our reputation as Filipinos wherever it is in the world would improve, we are better than that.

    • hopefully we could all change that bad impression 🙂 thanks for showing her that there are good filipinos too…

      • Lyndsay says:

        And you know what? She’s visiting Philippines late June, succeeded to make an impression I think… 🙂

  16. Obtaining visas is the biggest headache. I just took a 1-year leave of absence from work to see the world. I managed to get only two visas (I was planning for 5) and in the last one, the embassy held my passport for almost a month. Anyway, I’ll be starting my travel very soon, starting off in Mongolia and ending it somewhere in South America. Im sure there will be challenges ahead, owing to the fact that I carry a Philippine passport, but I hope to change minds and hearts as I go and be a good ambassador for our country.

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