https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUq68svTwzc

Remember that kid who was awkward, silent, and always kept a pokerface, the kid that everybody would ask to fix their computer? Well, I was that kid.

I did not feel like a total outcast, not all the time, fortunately. I was your typical, but not so ordinary teenager, who loved a taste of freedom and went on out-of-town trips as often as my time, piggy bank, and parents would allow.

Most of the time, traveling did NOT feel like an escape. It felt like inching my way closer to the real world — a world that was beckoning to be explored.

I was at peace when on the road. I could listen to my thoughts and understand so much of things around me better.

Early on, what I wanted to do in life came to me naturally like a priest would his calling. Living a life of adventure appealed to me so much more than building a traditional career.

It was crazy!

A mere childhood fantasy indulged by a daydreamer.

“How to do it?” I asked myself repeatedly. The answer wasn’t clear until I finished school and started chasing my passions.

Becoming a nomad

Travel blogging only started as a hobby, but after reading stories of people who have made a living out of it, I couldn’t resist throwing my hat into the ring.

Could it finally be the answer I was looking for?

Many sleepless months passed before my earnings were enough to fuel my wanderlust. My dreams felt like they were within reach and life was taking a major turn.

I wasn’t laughing (and doing cartwheels) all way to the bank, if that’s what you’re thinking. Living a nomadic lifestyle was possible because I planned on traveling very cheaply.

Alone but not lonely

Having the means to travel was only the first step.

I suffered gravely from insecurities that stemmed from my social awkwardness. Conquering these inner demons was my biggest challenge.

I was scared of unfamiliar people, even more so, of those people rejecting me because I was different.

Yet there I was, about to sail my way into a world full of strangers.

A discovery put my anxieties to a short hibernation — being introverted had its advantages when traveling alone. My thoughts kept good company and I was easily fascinated with things around me, even the most mundane details.

Kindred spirits

I didn’t want to stay in my bubble forever. As they say, “no man is an island.” Meeting and learning from like-minded people was a major reason why I wanted to travel.

My first solo backpacking trip led me to El Nido, a small town in Palawan that was home to some of the most gorgeous islands I had ever seen. On an island hopping tour, I met Fritzie, a fellow travel enthusiast, who invited me on a trip she was planning to Calaguas.

That following trip, I joined more than twenty of her travelmates, who were all as travel crazed as us!

Traveling was an excellent way to practice my social skills. I quickly became comfortable getting close to new people because they were kindred spirits who shared many of my passions.

There was no stopping me after I started to learn how to pry my shell open. My travels took me on a life-changing journey around Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao for days, weeks, and even months at a time.

I met even more kindred spirits along the way. Not just fellow travelers but also locals who made my trips extra memorable. It was the genuine and innate hospitality of Filipinos that made it more fun in the Philippines!

Exploring places that were “off the beaten path” excited me the most and Mindanao was my go-to for off-beat adventures. To find these hidden gems, I befriended locals and talked them into guiding me. In the process, I had the chance to connect with them and learn from their stories.

Traveling wasn’t only a way of visiting different places and knowing more about myself. It became a journey into the lives of strangers.

Being human

When I came back home from my long adventures, I felt different. I saw things around me in a wider perspective and knew myself better than when I left.

Travel changed my life on each day that I kept opening myself to other people, discovered new things about the world, learned about different cultures, and dealt with situations that took me out of my comfort zone.

Now, I am less scared of unfamiliar people.

I understand my personal limits better.

I am less insecure and apologetic with my imperfections, which made an excellent base for self-improvement.

I learned to make my own decisions.

I value my relationships with friends and family more.

I appreciate everyday conveniences and simple pleasures more.

I love my hometown of Iloilo more. It was the place that first inspired me to travel, and by spending time away, I continually re-discover why I fell in love with it.

I realized that the first step to living a happy life is to know who we really are and then sticking true to one’s self.

We all have different paths. What defines us are the decisions that we make every waking moment of our lives.

In many ways, I am still the same awkward guy who wanted a life of adventure, but I became comfortable in my own skin and my bucketlist has even more places on it.

Inspired

Because I constantly need to be inspired to reach my goals, I collected these inspiring quotes that captured the spirit of why I travel. Photos featured below were taken from my adventures around the Philippines.

happiness-is-not-something-you-postpone
work-hard-be-nice
The-Man-Who-Goes-Alone
overthinking-it
Big-chances-when-you're-younger
what-ships-are-built-for
leave-a-trail
something-to-be-brave-of
into-the-world-within
new-eyes
we-travel-in-essence
I-have-been-everywhere
not-the-same-as-never-leaving
normal-is-an-illusion

Lastly, here are quotes from my own life-changing adventure:

closer-to-the-real-world
ability-to-connect
what-defines-us