Three Years On the Road – It Still Feels Like a Dream

Three years ago, I left my job and packed my bags and flew to El Nido to stay there for a month. Afterwards I flew to Beijing hoping that I could hopefully continue backpacking from there down to mainland Southeast Asia for at least six months.

The six months became seven, became a year, two years and before I knew it… three years!

I left my career not because I loathe it that much, the fact is I used to love it back then, but all changed when I first traveled overseas with my friends and afterwards got ignited more when I first backpacked in Southeast Asia on my own for six months. It was the time when I met backpackers, heard stories that blew my mind away like doing an overland trip from Beijing to Southeast Asia – I didn’t know that time that it’s possible. I heard about the ruins of Angkor, the beautiful sunsets of various islands, mountains, hills and mountains, the colorful and mysterious Sadhus of India and Nepal, the wildlife of Africa, the interesting culture of various places like Ubud, Tibet and more. I honestly don’t even know where some of the places they’ve mentioned were.

Every time I listened to their stories and every time they shared what they’ve seen, smelled, heard, tasted, my wild imagination took me to those places as if I have also been there. I traveled through them via their stories and afterwards I promised myself that I will see those places for myself. I will eat this and that, I will also walk from here to there and climb this and that and swim in the clear waters of these places.

It was a dream that was like wild fire eating me up inside. Often times I get frustrated feeling stuck on where I was and just contented myself with watching National Geographic and Discovery and also buying back issues of travel magazines at Booksale.

Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I left with nothing but a backpack of what was left after I sold almost everything I had. I left with a few stuff and with a huge dream!

I told myself, “I’m going to see the world, or at least some parts of it!”

That was before I left. And three years later, I’m writing this in Kathmandu after walking five hours from Nagarkot to Changu Narayan. I’ve seen another beautiful sunset and sunrise that made the Himalayan mountain range so beautiful. I saw the majestic peaks of Dorje Lhakpa and Ganesh Himal from a distance and it made me dream again… “I want to do this for as long as I can!”

In the last three years, I’ve been seeing new places every now and then, meeting people from different walks of life and culture, eating a variety of delicious foods and learning more about myself and the world we live in.

How Did the Three Years Became Possible

Maybe some of you are asking, how did the three years of travelling became possible. Let me share some stuff that I did to make this happen.

1. I usually travel in affordable places. These are the only places that I could afford to go to as of the time being. In the last three years, I have not flown in US nor Europe since it will definitely break my budget. I just traveled within Southeast, South and East Asia. But hopefully in the next few years I could finally go to the Middle East, Africa and South America (wishful thinking).

2. I use my time effectively. I spend most of my time walking around towns and if I’m just sitting in one place, I spend a lot of my time reading about online entrepreneurship and other life hacks kind of stuff, so far it has worked well for me. I have written a more extensive post on how you can effectively use your time to help you achieve your goals, check it out here.

3. I travel slow. I don’t move to a new place every week. I did that on my first backpacking trip and find it really exhausting not to mention more expensive. I usually spend longer time in one place and use it as a hub in exploring nearby places. It’s less tiring and it helps me balance my time spent in managing my websites and my travels. It also gives me time to meet my closest friends as they sometimes fly to wherever I am.

4. I earn online. I don’t earn a lot but I earn enough to help me stay afloat on a daily basis. There are tons of ways on how to do this. You could build a blog and earn from Adsense and direct advertisers, you could also build websites and earn from affiliate marketing or offer your own products like ebooks etc. There are tons of information in the internet that could help you do this. I just learned on my own what I know now by Googling stuff.

5. I’m a budget traveler. If I stay in a five star hotel then it would probably eat every peso I have. I usually stay in hostels and backpacker lodges. I usually fly with budget carriers and as much as I can I don’t fly domestically in any countries I’ve been to but rather just do overland trips (unless of course there are cheap airfares that could beat the price of taking a train or a bus).

6. I changed my lifestyle. Slowly, I try to cut down unnecessary cost in my life. I was able to cut down on alcohol consumption which is sometimes more expensive than food. I don’t visit international coffee chains but rather go to local cafes and often times make my own coffee and tea.

7. I seldom buy new things and usually buy from second hand shops. In the last three years I learned that it’s ok to wear a shirt with some holes in it. Usually, people that I met were not interested in what I wear but rather interested to talk to me and learn a few bits about me and my travels. I also learned that the road doesn’t care if your shoes are branded nor if your bag is made by a world famous designer.

At the end of the day, when you travel, all bags are shoved inside the bus compartment and all shoes regardless of how cheap or expensive they are, walk on the same roads.

8. I never stopped learning. What I know yesterday about websites may or may not apply tomorrow. So to make sure that I future proof what I do, I try to keep myself updated and also change some stuff in my websites if needed be. Sometimes I change plugins not because they don’t work anymore but because a better one is currently available.

9. Surround yourself with positive people. I have mentioned this multiple times in my blog and I’ll mention this again, “Surround yourself with positive people.” Positive and happy people don’t need to talk negatively about others. Rather, they give you criticisms with the intent and with the act of helping you overcome your challenges. They help pick you up when you’re down and cheer you up to continue on. They also don’t belittle others just to feel better as they’re quite secured on who they are and are very happy on what they do.

If you can’t find a positive person in your circle, then be one. And if that happens, surely you’ll be a blessing to the people that you’ll meet in your journey in life.

10. Stay Motivated. This is probably the hardest yet the most crucial ingredient regardless of what we do in life. We got to stay motivated to keep the engine running.

Thankful to Everyone I know

Last week I went to Swayambunath to light a candle of gratitude. Gratitude to the universe for consipiring to make this happen. Gratitude to the universe for making me meet people that helped get to where I am right now.

I’m thankful to my fellow bloggers and digital nomads who never failed to cheer me up whenever I go through some bumps on the road. I’m thankful that they have the patience to answer my stupid questions about monetization, Adsense, HTML, domain and other technical stuff about blogging. Thank you to the pioneers of travel blogging both in my home country (the Philippines) and abroad, you paved the way for us newbies to learn the ropes and be successful in what we do. I am a fan of your works and until now I silently follow your blogs and I am still fascinated with your adventures and of course I still learn a lot from all of you.

I’m thankful to my friends and family who never fail to inspire me to be better and cheered me up when everyone else doubted what I intend to achieve for myself. I lost count on how many time you all picked me up when I was down and cheered me up to continue what I love to do.

Thankful to the Strangers I Met

And also, I’m thankful to all the strangers who extended their hands during some trying times. I’m thankful that despite the language barrier and being a stranger, they tried their best to help me find my way.

Thank you to the countless bloggers whom I PMed in Facebook, sent emails to asking tons of things about how to fix my broken site, how to improve it, how to do SEO, how to pitch to a travel mag and other tons of stuff. I didn’t know any of you personally but nevertheless all of you never hesitated to share what you know. I still remember when most of us were still starting and how stressed we all were about our broken html codes. Some of them are not strangers anymore but rather good friends that I’m grateful to have found.

I’m thankful to the old man in Kibber who gave me chai when I was literally shivering in cold and hunger (my entire fault because I went hiking unprepared) but the kindness of the universe made me cross path with this man and his grandchildren who called me and offered chai which was probably the only thing they have.

Thank you to the Chinese girl who have seen me inside the bus hopelessly explaining to the driver where I would go, held my hand and alighted with me, crossed the road, walked a few minutes and took me to the correct bus station. Despite of the language barrier, she instinctively knew that she could probably help me and did not hestitate to do so.

Thank you to the old Chinese lady who I sat with on my way from Beijing to Nanning and who constantly offered whatever food she had. You were making gestures when you saw me brought out my water bottle. I didn’t know what you want to do until you grabbed it from me, brought out your stitching stuff and fixed the broken nylon handle. I don’t know how to express my gratitude so I gave you a small rubber Philippine flag celphone tag which you immediately attached to your bag.

To the Cambodian family who treated me like part of their family after staying with them for six months. Thank you for bringing me food you cooked yourselves, thank you for trying to teach me French even if I could only go as far as Merci Beaucoup and Oui! Thank you for always inviting me during special events in your household and for treating me kindly. I really hope to see you all soon.

To the tricycle driver in Donsol in my home country the Philippines who allowed me and my friend to stay in his house because we could not afford to stay in any of the hostels that we checked out in town.

And to my fellow backpackers whom I met along the way. Thank you for laughng with me as if there’s no tomorrow, thank you for sharing your best kept secrets on the cheapest yet coolest hang out there is, thank you for writing my name in Thar Desert, took a picture and sent it to my email because when I met both of you, you knew I wanted to go but couldn’t since I had to fly back home then to attend my grandma’s funeral. Hey, thanks for the pic! I finally visited Jaisalmer when I went back to India! 🙂

Thank you for inviting me to go biking in Bagan at 4AM even if I just met you both in the hostel’s lobby and all of us don’t have any rooms yet (and have had no decent sleep yet coming from a long bus ride). Thank you for encouraging me to climb that stupa to see a gorgeous view of the sunrise.

And of course, thank you to everyone who have read and shared my blog. This blog will not be in existence without all of you. Thank you very much!

And to everyone else that have shown me kindness on the road and shared adventures with, the world is really a better place because of you all! Maraming salamat po!

Ganesh Himal

Travel is my dream, a personal dream and it might not be yours. It can’t be for everyone as we all have different interests in life. But regardless of what your passion is, I urge you to pursue it. Be a designer, a photographer, a singer, a great parent, a great friend, a CEO, an artists, a teacher, an entrepreneur… be whatever and whoever you want to be. Life is not a dry run nor a practice, we only live once so go for it!

 

Sending you all good vibes wherever in the world you may be. 🙂 May all your dreams come true!

Comments

  1. Dreams do come true if you choose to pursue it 🙂 Thanks for being an inspiration and congratulations!

  2. What an inspirational post! We’re nearing our 10 month anniversary of being on the road. I don’t think we’ll make it to 3 years but I would love to be able to make that happen. Here’s hoping! Happy travels!

  3. Three years seems so long, it’s such an accomplishment! Congrats!

  4. I have every faith you’ll make it many more years on the road Flip 🙂 xx

  5. All hail to thee. Long live you Flip! Hihi!

  6. Congrats on living the dream! Even I couldn’t imagine how far I’ve come since I first started traveling. Having a positive attitude really helps attract positive people, and both of these keep us motivated to overcome the challenges of a traveling lifestyle.

    Cheers!

  7. I love this post. I just quit my job after working there for 2 years cause my heart wants to explore the world and I just have to follow that dream. I also do not plan for how long I’ll be on the road and I hope I will be able to earn my money online too. I am ready and very excited to learn new things and grow during my travels. I wish you all the best for your future!

  8. Three years on the road? What an inspiration you are! We are about to set off (into Asia via the Trans Siberian) and trying to emulate what you’ve achieved. Very inspiring article.

  9. Such an inspiration. How I hope, I can find the same courage you have. 🙂

  10. This post is so inspiring. I hope my “year long” trip next year will turn into a three years!

  11. Congratulations on the Travelversary Flip! I’m sure you’re an inspiration to many. Keep it up:)

  12. Such an inspirational post and thank you for writing this! I highly enjoyed reading it and wow, congratulations on 3 years! That is certainly impressive. I can only hope to be able to stay on the road for as long as you one day.

  13. jeff brown says:

    Well done Flipnomad, you got real guts to do what you have done..

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