FROM A TRAVELER TO HOMEBODY: WHY I’M NOT TRAVELING IN 2021

Year 2021 is a brand new year and a new beginning. As we wave goodbye to 2020 A.K.A the worst year of our lives, a ray of hope welcomes us because of the creation of the new vaccine for Covid-19 virus. Although many people are skeptical about it  the others are looking forward to it because it can be the key for us to go back to our old lives. But, is it or is it just another extension of 2020? Whether 2021 is a good beginning, I already made up my mind not to travel this year and here’s why.

Things Are So Uncertain

The roll out of the vaccines should give us new hope for the light at the end of the tunnel but it seems the opposite of what we are expecting. With the mutation of new variants from late last year, the whole world starts to shut down again. From flight bans to border restrictions, it is just too risky to book a flight or to even step outside.

Traveling these days is just too much work.

Before, I used to be excited to plan my DIY travel. There’s just a thrill within me while working on my itinerary, booking my flights and searching for my accommodation online but now I get so frustrated going through all the requirements in order leave my small town and to be allowed to enter a certain destination. From securing travel authority and medical clearance, to taking swab test, it is just too much of a hassle for me and I’m not cool with that.

I’m not Up For Any Adventures

Being locked up at home with no travel for a year except in the grocery store made me a very lazy ass. I already have a routine that I am used of and I don’t think I’m quitting them in no time. Although I miss traveling so much especially when I look back at my old photos, I can’t see myself roaming around especially with a threat of being infected is everywhere. I will wait for the time when I can freely wander so for now I will stay home and watch Netflix.

I’m Too Cheap to Willingly Pay for the Requirements

I miss the old times when I used to spend a very little amount of money to have a weekend getaway. In the past I can work on the cheapest budget I have and have loads of fun exploring places. This time, it’s the opposite. Aside from the money you have to shell out for the anti-gen test, you also need to book in an accredited hotel with a private room which is not my jam. The prices of bus fare and other public transportation doubles too plus the humongous amount of cash you have to allocate for travel insurance. These actually made me realize how poor I am to be able to afford to travel these days.

I’m not ready for any “What ifs’.”

I associate what ifs’ with regrets. As I mentioned, everything is just so uncertain this time. The borders might be open now but probably might not be the next days. Flights may be available now but could be cancelled the last minute. Your accommodations might be booked already but you can be prohibited from entering your destination when you get there. The guidelines for traveling changes so often and I just don’t want to go through the hassle of last minute surprises. I’m not good at dealing with those kinds of situation.

Someone told me that this pandemic might stay until 2024. I came across another article mentioning we’ll go through this for 7 years and it might be impossible to go back to our old lives. These things sound pessimistic and alarming but I am hoping and praying for a better situation in the near future so we can go on adventures again.

My Struggles as a Traveler during the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown

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Hooh! Where or how should I start? So, we have this pandemic that unimaginably shuts down the world. I never imagined this coming. I must admit I am one of those who took this virus lightly at first. Although I have been reading and asking my friends from the medical field about 2019 Novel Corona Virus. I must admit that I am a bit bias. I relied on sources saying it is not as deadly as SARS or MERS or at least that’s what I want to believe as I still continue to travel days before the outbreak. I even find it absurd when people online suggested a city lockdown. I thought it is not going to happen until March 16, 2020 when the Philippine President announced the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. That is when the tables turned and my most unexpected event happened.

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I live in Benguet Province which is part of the Luzon Island so obviously I am affected by this lockdown. In our humble Municipality of La Trinidad, we are under 24-hour curfew. That means no one is allowed to be out wandering around the streets and public area with the exemption of frontliners and essential workforce. Each barangay (district) is only given ONE DAY in a week to go out to attend to their groceries, banking and medical needs from 8 am-5pm. In my district, our schedule is every Tuesdays. On Sudays it’s total lockdown. NO ONE is allowed to go out unless it’s an emergency or medical circumstance. Walking around is also not allowed as this will be considered as grounds for “Loitering” and you will be arrested when caught. When you are arrested you will pay a fine or you will be in jail for two weeks. Yes! That’s how strict it is in my hometown.

My initial reaction is quite fine. I didn’t panic and took it positively. “It’s just one month.” I thought. But that one month was extended to one and a half up to two months as of this writing and only God knows until when. There’s no assurance that we’ll all go back to normal even the lockdown is lifted. So as days and weeks pass by I noticed how I struggle a lot and raised some issues I never thought I would have when I still have the freedom to roam around.

Financial Lost

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I believe that most of us are experiencing this. In one snap, we are out of job or have our paychecks cut in order for our companies to survive. Although I am lucky to land on a project and work in-house for few weeks with a company during the quarantine period plus I have some savings aside for months of being unemployed, that didn’t give me any assurance at all. My livelihood depends on travel and the industry I am in is badly affected by this crisis. My plan to launch my business has to be put on the back burner and it is so heartbreaking since it is months of sleepless nights, hard work, and labor. I totally don’t have idea when will I get a job again and for the first time in seven years I felt financially unstable.

Being Unmotivated

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Travel is my number one source of motivation in life. I can go through months of hard labor and saving up thinking at the end of the season I’ll be packing my bags and exploring new places. But with the increase of positive cases everyday, it is uncertain when can I do this again. For almost two months of being lockdown with very strict implementation of quarantine policies I must say 70% of the time I was not productive. Before, whenever I feel unmotivated I usually go out for a walk to get some air and reward myself with milk tea but this simple joy of mine has been taken away. With that being said, I end up not doing much. My brain just shut down wasting my time looking at the ceiling for hours. I felt like I got too much time on my hand so the things I am working on can wait until I feel motivated again but that never happened. As a result I did not accomplished much.

Depression

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As a traveler, I am in my happiest when I step outside going on adventure but during the quarantine I felt caged. That’s the exact way to describe it. I have never been this sad since my mother and my sister’s passing way back years ago. It felt doomed for not having a breather. I sometimes find myself staring outside the window crying without any reason. My sleep pattern was badly affected too. I am wide awake at 2 or 3 a. m which gives me more chances to entertain my 2 a. m. thoughts. The worst part is my nightmares. I usually have nightmares about me and my loved ones caged in a hospital. It is so scary.

Communicating

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This time the best alternative to hanging out with our friends and our loved ones is through video call. I sometimes had Face Time with my friends overseas and my family for a bit catching up. However, I also find myself having difficulty talking to them. When I talk to my loved ones I just want to share positivity and good things. But, what can I share at this moment? There’s nothing going on with me compare to when I was traveling. The fact that the lockdown is such a toxic time from news, social media to people has added to my difficulty in reaching out. Some of the people that I adore are just so opinionated since we have so much time to be involved. And these ones are the main reason why I distant myself to them.  I don’t want to vent out my frustrations or rant to them. Some of them have different opinion from me and I don’t want to argue especially talking on the phone is quite different from face to face conversation. There are more chances of being misunderstood.

Dealing with Social Media

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Social media should be a good medium for information sharing, fun and inspiring others. At least that was how I see and use it during my traveling days. However, I noticed that few days before the lockdown it started to be toxic and became worse as quarantine approaches. It was full of negativity with a lot of bad news and overflowing fake news. I saw a post of a friend raising an argument regarding how deadly COVID19 is and yes, she’s up for a fight while another would always post the increased number of cases then followed by criticizing the government. I am not exempted when I made a six-word sentence comment on an article. Someone came for me throwing harsh words even criticizing my looks. I ended up deleting my comment and promised myself to NEVER give any of my two cents anymore. I also logged out but since social media is my only source of news I logged in again two days after and just unfollowed those undesirable people on my feed. Gladly, I am doing fine.

Boredom

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Admit it! Eight weeks of quarantine is too long. Even though you are the most productive person in the planet there are times that you get bored too with too much time and nothing to do. Although there are trends that went viral on the internet to ease boredom it wasn’t enough for me since I am living a complete different lifestyle before, waking up in different places doing various outdoor activities.   I am not used to following certain routine.

Fear of Missing Out

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Now this is pure selfishness you may say. I know this type of feeling should not be present during this time of crisis. The first weeks of lockdown were really bad for me. I hated it. I hated the situation and the atmosphere of it. It even added whenever I check my friends’ ig stories and posts from overseas. They say they are on quarantine but how come they can still go out and play golf, some of them would go hiking and cycling for the whole day and others don’t have lockdown in their cities at all. At that point, I started questioning how the government is handling the situation. How come other countries are not having a lockdown and their citizens are free to move around while we are locked up in our home. But then I realized we have different situations, facilities and approach from other parts of the world. I should just start trusting the process of this and do my part. To stay home! I stopped snooping at my friends’ posts and just focus on my well-being during this quarantine.

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Overall, it is not that bad at all. On the positive side, during the lockdown I learned to slow down, pause and appreciate things. I start noticing the beauty of my neighborhood which I just ignored the whole time. I made productive daily routine which includes allocating time to do household chores, watch travel movies (to keep me inspired), k-drama, read books, and work out. I turn off my phone data from time to time and only use it for a certain amount of hours per day to attend to my e-mails, updates regarding work and to check in with my friends and family. I learned to be kinder to myself. I start accepting that if I didn’t accomplish anything today so be it. There’s still tomorrow to do it. I constantly remind myself of my life mantra “If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

*Bonus part, I deep cleaned my room and collected more than a kilo of dust (not a joke) which will not happen if it were because of the quarantine. LOL!

HOW TRAVELING CAN’T MAKE ME KEEP A RELATIONSHIP: Confession of a Traveler

 “When are you getting yourself a partner?” asked by concern family members and friends of mine during get-together since I am away most of the time. They haven’t heard about me dating anyone nor see me post on social media being with someone so they are excited to know if I already brought home a man to be with and will soon settle down. To their dismay I always just smile at them as a respond whenever these types of questions would arrive at a lunch or dinner table during occasions. But these types of awkward situation make me entertain questions in my head “Bakit nga ba?”(Why?)

 

When I attended my childhood friend’s wedding she introduced her husband as her “travel buddy” in her speech.  It is interesting to see her post about their travels and vacations on social media. Then I thought “I have been traveling for almost six years and I haven’t found my travel buddy yet”. I laughed at that thought but some realizations also made me think why I am single and cannot keep a partner.

 

Traveling Can’t Make Me Stay

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I am a traveler and when you say traveler, it is not only going on a trip or a vacation. It is also constantly moving and seeking places. I travel for work, leisure, and experience. But the most important thing is that travel is part of my life. It is something non-negotiable that I can’t live without. I am so grateful and privileged to travel and keep my job at the same time. This gives me opportunity to be away and explore other places and try new things. However as I progress in places I visit it also signals the downfall of the relationship I have. Most of the guys I met wouldn’t want their girl to be away from them for quite long. That means it is either I have to let go of my travels to pursue a man (which is not going to happen) or find a man who will understand my lifestyle (which is not the case with a lot of guys). As a result, I am going solo.

 

I Can’t Afford To Date

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The cost of dating can be sometimes unbearable on my part.  Do you know how much would it cost to go out, go on vacations, buy gifts and celebrate anniversaries? Being raised as independent, I am a firm believer that women should also pay a fair share of financial responsibilities with their partners. My experience backpacking for years and being with the company of fellow travelers, I am used to picking up my own bills. The same is true with my dating, believe it or not every time I go out on a date even if it is the first one I always offer and insist on paying at least half of the bill. That way, when my date and I didn’t turn out to be compatible at least he won’t resent me because I paid my part. Dating and traveling could be both pricey to keep up but I would rather spend my money surfing or hiking than dining with someone.

 

Dating On the Road Usually Ends Up Going on Separate Ways

 

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Living overseas and being on the road enables me to find love and potential partners. However such situations will not make it permanent most of the time. The next thing you know, you are both bidding your goodbyes. I heard a lot of stories of finding their forever while traveling but not every traveler has similar fate as them. I know to myself that it takes a lot of time, effort and compromise for their relationship to work and that is something I am lacking. Not that I’m stubborn but I just don’t want any of us to give up our hard earned ambitions to follow the other. Especially if our goals and own growth are heading to different directions. This is just too much for me and I don’t want to be neither selfish nor selfless. Therefore, it is better to let go than being resentful to each other just in case the fire stops burning.

 

I am ONLY Interested in a Guy Who Travels

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Some of my friends call me picky or has high standards but that’s not the case. It’s better to say I have a specific standard. I am always attracted to guys who see travel as a way of learning the unknown, appreciate new culture, keep an open mind about the different beliefs, tradition and always up for a new adventure. Unfortunately, in the place where I am from most of the guys there sees travel as luxury, waste of money and couldn’t understand my traveling life. Although, I tried really hard to show them and prove their opinion wrong about traveling, it is not working. So I decided to give up because I don’t want to force myself to a man who is obviously very different from me.  We are two different people, having different mind-set, priorities and lifestyle. So, K! Bye!

 

I Haven’t Found My Travel Soulmate Yet

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Some of you might have thought while reading this article to find a man who has similar lifestyle and go on adventures together. I did millions of times and I did everything I can to keep him too. I tried my luck with guys who are in traveling industry, travel junkies and simply travel enthusiasts. But in this journey called life, we all have our own bucket lists not just of places we want to visit but also achievements we want to reach. It takes a lot of hard work to touch them down. As a traveller I also have my own big dreams of where I want to be and so they are. When your plans and goals don’t support each other then it is better to grow individually than being together. It is heartbreaking to cross path with someone with the right feelings but can’t stay at each other’s lives. Sadly, we have to go our separate ways in the end to fulfill our dreams and our travels.

 

Of course, I won’t blame travel for everything. There are also other factors why I can’t keep a relationship out of this context. But I know to myself whether I stay single or find my lifetime travel buddy, I will continue my journeys. Travel and I have a solid bond. For all those years traveling I learned one thing “Finding love could be easy but keeping it would be the most difficult part.”

That “Pinagtagpo Pero Hindi Tinadhana” Situations While Traveling

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You probably heard a lot of traveling couples on social media finding their love while on the road. Well, I also dreamed of that one point in my traveling life. Being on the road gives me a humongous amount of opportunities to meet new people and probably meet my Mr. Right A.K.A my-hopefully-Mr.-Travel-the-World- with Buddy. Those chances come in different plots and twists just like movies and drama. As an avid traveller but a little bit “marupok” (weak) when it comes to love and attraction, I encountered endless beautiful and unique connection while going on adventure by myself. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances they didn’t end up into fate. Here are some of my epic fail love (or maybe not) stories while on the road.

 

We Were Both Expats

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I was on a day trip in Vietnam when I met this guy on a day tour. I was currently working and living in Hanoi and he was having a 5-day lay over. He’s a Turkey based pilot who regularly flies in Hanoi and Saigon twice to thrice a month. We clicked so well since, we both love to travel and we love sharing our experiences to each other. During the tour we were inseparable probably because we are already attracted to each other. We are also no longer focus on what the tour guide was saying because our attention is both on our stories. For me, that time and place was magical. I thought to myself he could be the one. After the day trip, we decided to grab some draft beer in Old Quarter, Hanoi. After that night, he asked me if I want to see him again the next day before he leaves. I said “Yes.” He added he’ll be back after a week and it would be nice to meet again. Of course, I agreed again thinking it could be my destiny. The next thing, we regularly hanged out and go on trips whenever he is in town. Until the sixth month, my company back home called me telling me to pack my bags because the contract is over and it is time for me go home. Few hours later, I received a call from him saying he is being transferred to South Africa and we couldn’t see each other for a while. I stopped believing in romantic destiny after that time. LOL!

 

I’m Heading North, He’s Heading South

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Back when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia few years back. I met a guy in a border ride to Laos from Cambodia. We are both traveling alone and heading to similar place, Si Phan Don, Laos. As soon as our eyes met it started an infinite conversation about our travels, hometowns and more until we reach our own hostels. The next day, I accidentally bump into him again in Li Phi waterfalls. We had lunch together and continued to explore the tiny island by bike for the rest of the day. We discussed our routes and destinations too. After Laos we are heading to the opposite direction. He’ll be going to Vietnam and I will be continuing my journey in Thailand.  Despite that we still agreed to chill in the hammock and swim in the river the next day. We even caught the sunset together. I also encouraged him to go all the way until the North of Laos which I already pass through so he can see the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. On my last day in the island, he told me he can adjust his travel and come with me in Thailand. I refuse because he’s been there already and I know how much it would cost him to rebook his flights, cancel his hostels and how complicated the process of entering Laos again since his passport is not visa-free. Also, I felt burdened to ruin his plans and I don’t want to take any responsibilities if we suddenly realize we are not really into each other in the middle of the journey and end up arguing. So it is better to go our own route and let our memories be just a part of our beautiful history in our travels.

 

I Forgot to Get His Phone Number Though

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This one is unexpected. I was planning on sleeping the entire flight from Mandalay, Myanmar to Bangkok, Thailand when a cute and tall guy who is just my type seated next to me. It was the tail end of the plane and the whole row is only the two of us. My plan on sleeping didn’t happen when the stewardess asked us both who needs an arrival card. I said “Me.” He looked at me and asked if I was Thai. I said, “No!” That’s the start of almost 2-hour conversation, exchange of smiles and looking at each other’s eyes. We were talking about our home country. He is from Malaysia and I have been there a couple of times so we had a long chat about it. He also mentioned that he’s been traveling often in Manila because they have a branch company there. He’s an engineer and currently deployed in Myanmar so the flight we are taking is only his connecting flight going home to Kuala Lumpur. I was thinking of getting his phone number already before we say goodbye however fate must be picking on me. When we took the bus going to the arrival area of Don Muang airport it was full of passengers so we rode different buses. As soon as I reached the arrival platform I tried looking for him but he is nowhere to be found probably he is in his boarding gate already. I never saw him again. And I regret not getting his phone number earlier.