Travel Like Belle: Three Days On A Budget in Coron, Palawan

Time and again I have professed my undying love for the seemingly immaculate islands of Palawan in the Philippines. I have been to the region numerous times, sometimes to splurge money but more often to travel on a budget. One of my favourites remains to be Coron Island, which happens to be a perfect budget-friendly and hassle-free option for a weekend getaway. Here is how I spent a mere PHP 7000 (around 140 USD as of writing) on a three-day trip to an otherwise world-renowned coral reef paradise.

It would serve you well (mostly just to avoid confusion) to know that Coron is a municipality in Palawan which comprises part of Busuanga Island and all of Coron Island. The airport in Coron is located in Busuanga.

Travel Like Belle: 3 Days/2 Nights Itinerary

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A view like no other from the lookout point in Maquinit Hot Spring

Here is a very rough breakdown of our Palawan itinerary (I went with my brother on a weekend in August). As with any trip, give ample allowance for flight changes, traffic jams, and basically anything that can throw a wrench in your plans. Three days in Coron, or anywhere else in Palawan for that matter, is an incredibly short period of time and so it is best to plan ahead and be smart about maximizing your stay. There are loads of activities available for tourists but due to time constraints, it would be best to choose just a couple so you can enjoy and take your time.

DAY 1

0625 Departure from NAIA Terminal 4 (Manila) via CebGo Flight DG 6041 to Busuanga (Coron)

0730 Arrival at Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga

0800 Shuttle pick up at the airport to hotel in the town of Coron

0900 Arrival and check-in at hotel in Coron town proper

0930 Nap time because we got up so early for the flight

1200 Lunch in Coron town proper

1500 Start of hike up Mt. Tapyas in Coron for the sunset

1745 En route to Maquinit Hot Springs after a long hike

1930 Back to Coron town for dinner

2100 Lights off and well deserved rest

DAY 2

0730 Up early for breakfast at the hotel

0800 Picked up by shuttle for the island tour

0900 – 1700 Coron Island Tour (including lunch on the beach)

1730 Got back to hotel

1900 Out again for dinner and avocado shakes

2100 Lights off and well deserved rest

DAY 3

0800 Up for breakfast and going around Coron town before leaving

1030 Picked up by shuttle at the hotel to go to the airport in Busuanga

1200 Arrived at the airport and checked in for flight

1340 Departure from Francisco B. Reyes Airport via CebGo Flight DG 6052

1450 Arrival at NAIA Terminal 4

Budget and Expenses

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Making friends with the local dogs on patrol in CYC Beach

The expenses here are per person; some smaller ones such as for food & shopping are only approximations and rounded up for good measure. Obviously your expenses will depend on your activities and preferences.

A tip: There are about four ATMs in total in Coron so it would be very wise to bring cash (in Philippine Peso).

Airfare PHP 3026/60.52 USD

All-in roundtrip from Manila via CebGo (When there is a promo or seat sale this can even go lower; also other carriers that fly to Busuanga are Skyjet and PAL Express)

Accommodation PHP 2650/52 USD

For an air-conditioned room in Haven 1916 Bed and Breakfast for 3Days/2Nights with WiFi (the price already includes breakfast, the Coron Island Tour, and van transfers to and from the airport)

Transportation PHP 150/3 USD

It’s actually PHP 300/6 USD for a tricycle ride to and from Mt. Tapyas to Maquinit Hot Spring so my brother and I halved it (our hotel was really close to the foot of the entrance to the mountain). Coron town proper is walkable.

Food & Shopping PHP 600/12 USD

For lunch on the first and third day and dinner on the first and second day only (Breakfast was included in the hotel as well as lunch on the Coron Island Tour). Food options in Coron town are cheap but good. Also, grab some avocado shakes whenever possible.

Other Fees PHP 400/8 USD

PHP 100 Terminal Fee in Francisco B. Reyes (Busuanga) airport

PHP 150 Entrance Fee to Maquinit Hot Spring

PHP 150 Rental of snorkeling equipment for one whole day

Total Expenses PHP 6826/ 136.52 USD

*1 USD = 50 PHP

Activities

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Exhausted but fulfilled after a long hike to the summit of Mt. Tapyas

Hiking up Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas is located in Coron town proper and is either a short tricycle ride or a longer walk from your accommodation (if you choose to stay anywhere in town). Hiking to the top is a rather taxing activity so be prepared (especially if you’re doing this in the afternoon; don’t forget to stock up on water and some snacks). There are roughly 700 steps until you reach the top and it took us around 40 minutes to complete the hike. We were properly entertained by Pokémon Go and the sheer number of Pikachus we each caught. Anyway, don’t worry: there are benches and places to sit on the way up if you ever get tired (which I did, one too many times). I would say the view from the top is absolutely worth the trouble.

Dipping in the Maquinit Hot Spring

The perfect way to refresh after a long hike up the mountain is to submerge yourself in Maquinit, a privately owned salt water hot spring just one tricycle ride away from the town proper. It is a very therapeutic dip made even more wonderful by the sunset. Don’t forget to go to the lookout point for some of the most amazing views of Coron.

Coron Island Tour

There are lots of island tours to choose from once you get to town but our hotel booking had already included the Coron Island Tour (also known as Tour A) which makes stops at Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks Reef, Hidden Lagoons, Bulungan Beach, CYC Island, and Coral Eden
. I would say that this is the best introduction to Coron Island as it includes the highlights (such as Kayangan Lake) and does not try to cram in too many stops. A hearty seafood lunch shared with new friends from this joiners tour is set up by the guides on Sunset Beach.

The whole-day tour allowed us to sample Coron’s clear waters, pristine sands, and rich corals. Kayangan Lake might have been the last stop but it definitely tops my list. Snorkeling in some of its secret caves is easily one of my favourite travel memories ever.

Other Options

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Dozing off after lunch in Sunset Beach

If you intend to extend your trip in and around Coron Island, you will definitely not run out of things to do. Here are just some of the other [equally popular] options:

Safari Park in Calauit

This is something I want to do on a repeat visit. I’ve always wanted to feed the giraffe! Most of the animals here (offspring of those imported from Kenya back in the day) are able to run free, while there is a handful in captivity. Nevertheless, touring the place should make for an interesting history lesson. Calauit Safari Park is located in Busuanga and can be reached via shuttle either by a tour group or privately.

Other Island Tours

As I mentioned, we only had enough time for one tour (Tour A). But the alternate name itself suggests that there are other options. Here you can find a comprehensive list of offerings and packages to suit your own preferences.

How to Get to Coron

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The iconic and breath-taking view from Kayangan Lake

From Manila

In my experience, it takes only 40 minutes flying to get from the capital city to Busuanga airport; short enough for a long nap, long enough for a short episode of your favourite TV show. Return flights are very cheap (see Airfare expense above) and plenty of seat sales take place all year. From the airport, you can take a van to Coron town. This was already factored in by our hotel for us but a one-way ticket would set you back only PHP 150/3 USD.

Bitten by The Trabelle Bug: A Beginner’s Guide to the Banana Pancake Trail

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Not minding the heat in Bayon temple, Angkor Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Living in the culturally diverse region of Southeast Asia has always been a point of pride for me. However, it wasn’t until recently that I have actually gotten the chance to travel more extensively outside the Philippines and on to neighbouring countries. This island girl was used to summer vacations spent in either Boracay or Palawan. Nevertheless, I had always heard of colorful floating markets and ancient temple complexes only a couple of hours flying from my hometown. Thanks to the prevalence of budget airlines these days, visiting these unique sights has been easier than ever.

While [infamously] considered to be a rite of passage for most Westerners, the Banana Pancake Trail, so named for the sweet banana pancakes commonly served for breakfast in backpacker hostels in the region, is important in a myriad of [more substantial] ways. For me, it has been a truly interesting introduction to the rest of the region I have ironically always identified with.

Why The Banana Pancake Trail Is Worth It

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The iconic ship-on-top-of-building at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Singapore

Southeast Asia has been the prime choice for backpackers since time immemorial and for good reason. The Banana Pancake Trail is, in my honest opinion, the epitome of the type of shoestring budget travel that will give even budget travel as we know it, a run for its money. On top of that, the region’s cultural diversity has, at least in my experience, made checking off countries through whirlwind trips almost irrelevant. One can easily spend months in the Philippines trotting around its 80 or so provinces. In the same manner, volunteering as an English teacher in Vietnam has been turned into a common experience by the sheer number of opportunities available. For a budget traveler like me, the best part is that doing these types of fulfilling activities, and more, will not burn a hole through the pocket.

Things to Consider When Planning Your Trip

1. The Basics: Visa Application, Budget, and Itinerary

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Admiring the Petronas Towers from afar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

For Philippine passport holders like me, obtaining a visa is luckily a non-issue when traveling to neighboring countries due to our own’s membership to the ASEAN. Visa costs can add up when crossing countries for other nationalities. Do however be aware of the duration in which you are allowed a visa-free stay in each country and make sure you do not exceed it to avoid immigration problems.

The beautiful thing about the Banana Pancake Trail is that there is no one set route, which means you are free to construct your own itinerary based on your own budget and preferences. For instance, long-term travel in Indochina can be a lot cheaper than staying in major cities such as Singapore. I once spent around 500 USD on a two-week trip that started in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and ended in Bangkok in Thailand. I ate so well, did all the activities I wanted to do, and stayed in really nice Airbnbs. It didn’t feel like budget travel at times. I would, however, easily burn through that amount of money just touring a bigger, busier city for a few days.

Nevertheless, the length of your intended stay, above all else, should determine the stops you take on your route. Traveling around Asia (especially in the southeast) is incredibly cheap and so you should really take your time. While it is definitely possible to have a fulfilling couple of weeks of budget travel in the region, you would most probably be limited to bigger cities, which would most definitely increase the costs.

2. Language, Culture, Etiquette

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Tourist-friendly signs in both Thai and English in Taling Chan Floating Market in Bangkok, Thailand

Due in part to the number of foreign visitors to the countries on the Banana Pancake Trail, it would be difficult to find a major tourist destination therein where English is not spoken. In this regard, one should not, for the most part, have difficulty in communicating while traveling. I will point out though, based on experience, that such may not be the case for Thailand. I remember having difficulty hailing cabs and actually being able to ride because we couldn’t properly communicate our destinations to the drivers. In this case, it is very handy to have the locations written in Thai as well. This would apply to everything else for good measure.

As mentioned, Southeast Asia is a mixed bag of cultures, most of which are largely influenced by the dominant religion in the country. For instance, the Philippines is pre-dominantly Catholic (and the largest Catholic country in Asia) and was colonized by a number of different countries in the past. As a result, we speak English with adeptness and our native tongue is sprinkled with Spanish words all over. The church is at the center of towns and to an extent, of the lives of the people. In decolonized Indochina, various forms of Buddhism are prevalent in each country, while officially Vietnam is atheist. Some cultures are so deeply intertwined so much so that there are disputes over claims of the origin of certain things. Such is the case in Indonesia, Malaysia, and sometimes Singapore where the origins of shared foods and cultural icons are often debated.

As a result of this vast assortment of culture one can truly expect a dynamic trip while on the Banana Pancake Trail. There are different customs in different countries but as a general rule, Asia is more traditional and conservative than its Western counterparts. Therefore it is a good idea to act politely and dress modestly wherever you go, as a sign of respect to the locals and their customs. This is particularly important when visiting churches, mosques, and temples. Avoid wearing revealing clothes if you would like to enter these, although doing so may be hard at times due to the considerably warmer climate in this region.

3. When to Go, Where to Go, What to Eat, What to Do

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And it was all yellow in Saigon Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Southeast Asia is located in the tropics and so in terms of weather expectations, it would be a good place to visit year-round to enjoy its consistently warm climate. Perhaps February would be the coolest and it is best to avoid the summer months (usually around April and May) as the heat can get really intense. In turn, some countries, most especially in the Philippines and Vietnam, experience monsoon seasons around July and August and so traveling to the beaches and islands may not be ideal in these months. Flights tend to get cancelled a lot due to torrential rains which may put a damper on your holidays, no pun intended.

For the purposes of this post, I have decided to divide the Southeast Asian region based on the Banana Pancake Trails that I have personally taken in order to highlight some of my actual experiences. Keep in mind that there is an almost infinite number of ways to go about the region; these are perhaps best for new travelers on a budget who would like to get a basic introduction to the countries specified.

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Experiencing Eastern and Western influences in Malacca, Malaysia

Banana Pancake Trail through Malaysia and Singapore: I don’t know how many times I have been to Singapore but the most memorable of them all is when I crossed the border from Malaysia for a week-long vacation with my brother. We did a route that started from Kuala Lumpur, where we visited the Batu Caves and had a hearty dinner at the Petronas Towers, and then took a bus to Malacca, where we visited ancient sites and overdosed on its famous chicken rice balls, and finally took another bus to Singapore, where we got a Tourist Pass which we used to see all corners of the city-country including spending a day at the Palawan Beach in Sentosa. Singapore is significantly more expensive than Malaysia and so you should expect a spike in budget as soon as you cross over to the other side.

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Meeting Anthony Bourdain’s favourite Lunch Lady’s sister in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Banana Pancake Trail through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand: Perhaps one of my favourite trips of all time is one that I took right after college around neighbouring Indochina. I couldn’t believe how little money I spent in two weeks despite covering a lot of ground and eating so much food. It was really the kind of budget travel to remember. We started off in Ho Chi Minh where we had Vietnamese iced coffee whenever possible and ate phở and bánh mì on the streets. We traveled by bus to Cambodia thereafter, starting in Phnom Penh where we channeled our inner happy hippie elephants and drank sugarcane juice in between temples and then moved on to Siem Reap to explore the historical complex of Angkor. We then took a bus to Bangkok in Thailand where we got sak yants from Master Luang Pi Nunn in Wat Phra and pretty much overdosed on Thai iced tea and pad thai to go in Khao San Road, after a long day of temple hopping in the old capital city of Ayutthaya. All those memories and more while staying in centrally located Airbnbs and not being frugal at all about anything.

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Storm clouds fast approaching in El Nido in Palawan, Philippines

Banana Pancake Trail through the Philippines: Being born and raised in the Philippines has definitely had its travel perks. I can just book a flight for cheap to world renowned islands at any time, and I have. For example, I don’t know exactly how many times I have been to Boracay but I can assure you that I have never had a bad experience there. While known for its wild parties and crazy activities for tourists, Boracay can still be enjoyed by beach lovers to this day. Be sure to eat at the many local restaurants from stations 1 through 3, not just those in D’Mall, and the Dampa to eat fresh seafood and for a more local experience. However, my absolute favourite place in the Philippines (if not in the whole world) is Palawan. Just picture-perfect everywhere! Depending on which type of travel activities you enjoy, the islands of Coron and El Nido are the main tourist attractions to choose from. Coron is more for snorkeling, with its rich coral reef system, while El Nido is more for island hopping, with its beautiful beaches and lagoons. Luckily, travel around the Philippines is seriously cheap and there are plenty of other options for travelers who aren’t so into the water. Most budget travelers also take the Northern route up to Banaue and Sagada and to see famed tattoo artist Apo Whang-od in Kalinga for unforgettable experiences.

Like I said, there are so many other routes to take and I have only scratched the surface here. Indonesia is a good option for surfing; Laos and Myanmar are indispensable extensions to mainland travel. One thing is for sure: budget Travel on the Banana Pancake Trail is truly not for the faint of heart. Thus, the golden rule for fulfilling travel applies here: be open to experience and have no expectations whatsoever.

4. Tips & Tricks

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Pristine waters and green lagoons in Coron in Palawan, Philippines

Learn how to bargain. It is a well-known fact that Asians are really good at haggling. Especially at bazaars one should really learn the subtle art of bargaining. Most places, unfortunately, will try to rip you off with high prices, especially if you’re a Westerner. The best thing to do is to walk away and pretend like you know what you’re doing! Some of them will eventually give in and give you more reasonable prices. Hopefully.

Eat street food, stay healthy. The last thing you want to hinder you from enjoying yourself is an upset stomach, which is, thankfully, also usually the worst that could happen. But that doesn’t stop me from recommending street food in Asia. It is a god send – cheap, delicious, and as authentic as it can get. Just make sure to have medication ready especially if you are not used to that kind of thing, as per travel to any other destination, do all your pre-trip vaccinations, and have your health and travel insurance all covered.

Be one with the locals. I cannot express how differently your trip would go if you spend it with people whose native tongue you do not speak. This clearly does not only apply to Asia but in such a culturally diverse region it is most notable. Asian people are very hospitable and just great hosts in general. They will gladly show you around and accompany you to places that weren’t even on your itinerary to begin with. The key is to be flexible and open to these kinds of invitations, with adequate amount of precaution, of course.

Budget Travel 101: Tips From The Most Frugal Traveler Ever a.k.a. Me

Would you honestly believe me if I told you I spent a total of PHP 25000 (around 500 USD as of writing) during a two-week trip from Vietnam through Cambodia to Thailand? How about how I recently spent less than PHP 25000 during a week-long stay in Croatia (with Dubrovnik as my home base to be precise), during which I also got to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro? Would you believe me if I told you I slept, ate, and lived like a modern-day princess regardless? The last part probably not, but amazing times were definitely had without having to break the bank nor sell my soul to the devil. Fulfilling budget travel is so possible; and I am living proof.

The key to a successful attempt at this godsend millennials refer to as budget travel a.k.a. being able to go out there without sacrificing the little things we need to distract ourselves when we’re not out there (read: “I want to travel because it sets my soul on fire… but I also want to have money for things that dull the pains of daily life such as bottles of cheap wine and cute things I don’t need but keep popping up on my Instagram feed. I guess whatever little amount of money I have isn’t going to spend itself”) is striking a balance between having rigid boundaries and going a little crazy. When you master getting the right mix, you’re in for a good time, every time.

Here are some travel hacks and tips that I, as a self-proclaimed seasoned budget traveler, would like to share with you, another soul who should be convinced that broadening one’s horizon does not have to come at such a great price, literally. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how exactly you can earn the money to travel but I can help you spend it. Heh. I mean, teach you ways to spend it. Or in the case of the last one, NOT spend it.

1. Plan ahead

My brother and I smiling wide and enjoying Coron, Philippines knowing we paid less than 200 USD for everything

I know, I know. Where’s the spontaneity in that? Well, guess what: if you know when exactly to be spontaneous and when exactly to plan ahead, you’re basically doing yourself a huge favour. One should learn how to at least think about the basics of a trip. I know it’s so tempting to just “yolo” (putting those in quotation marks makes me feel old), book a flight at the last minute, and play everything by ear. But hey guess what 2.0, you’re on a budget! You literally cannot afford to do that because of a financial constraint. Boo reality, always getting in the way of things.

Always remember that in budget travel, one must be flexible with the journey but stubborn about the destination. You are certain you want to go to Boracay during the Labor Day weekend? Well, maybe the best thing you can do is book your ticket and accommodation as far in advance as possible, and then go walwal (read: funny Filipino word for crazy) when you’re there. This will save you a lot of money and non-hangover induced headaches in the process.

2. Know your needs

Thai Iced Tea is just really a necessity whether or not you’re in Bangkok, Thailand

We are all built differently. We are all built with different capacities with regards to tolerating different things. For instance, are you the type who prioritizes comfort over anything? Then maybe you should spend the bulk of your budget on accommodations that are not only conveniently and centrally-located but also don’t make you dread using the bathroom. Are you the type who places a lot of importance on privacy? Then maybe you should avoid hostels and shared spaces at all costs, especially if even just the thought of having any unnecessary interaction with other travelers is literally making you want to slit your own throat.

Or are you the type who doesn’t care about any of those mentioned above? Then great! Congratulations! You can literally stay anywhere which is very good news for your wallet because every penny counts. Let me rephrase that. Good news for your tummy because every extra penny saved should count towards your food and drink budget! The gist is this: know what you absolutely need out of and during a trip and don’t be cheap at all when it comes to that. In budget travel, everything else can suffer, relatively. Just don’t die. That’s not how millennials do it! Instead, just think about all the extra pints of Radlers you can have.

3. Go for free and authentic experiences

Making friends and hiking mountains make for great memories in Dubrovnik, Croatia

As a budget traveler, I know first-hand how tempting it is to go to those places you never thought actually existed outside of Instagram. I know first-hand how much you want your feed to look p e r f – gotta have that amazing photo with the torii in Fushimi-Inari or that display picture worthy snapshot with Nhyvan – but really, they’re hardly ever the best part about travel. The best part is food/alcohol. But we’re here to talk about budget travel a.k.a. not spending money so…

The best memories actually come in the form of being able to enter the Mezquita in Cordoba just to hear the afternoon mass (and cry in a corner), couchsurfing for the first time in a hip neighbourhood in Amsterdam to save a little cash (and spend it on some hash, okay just kidding, the joke was waiting to happen), getting randomly lost in a dark alley in Bangkok with your two best friends (this one was scary as hell but super funny), and spending one whole day around Dubrovnik with a friend you made at the hostel the night before (cue Taylor Swift’s Enchanted). These are the unforgettable experiences that don’t make it to your feed (or get linked to on your blog post) and that no amount of money can buy, figuratively because they are priceless and literally because they are free, which is especially important when you don’t necessarily have the money to spend in the first place.

How Travel Changed My Life

In the last quarter of 2014, I unwittingly found myself in the most decisive crossroad in my life yet: I was 21, in my third year in university, and eager to go on a term abroad in Spain while my dad was 52, still young and healthy, when he suddenly passed away due to a heart attack.

Anyone who has experienced this particular kind of loss knows there are no words to adequately express the intensity of what follows. I was enveloped in guilt, anger, sadness, and just about any negative feeling in the full spectrum of human emotion. Somehow I was expected to stay strong through it all; to fake it until I made it.

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Accepting and appreciating life’s own pace in Kyoto, Japan

But how could I even begin to feel excited about what I had dubbed “the trip of of a lifetime” when one of the few people I was eager to tell all about it was no longer? Not only had I lost one of the most important figures in my life, a person who loved me unconditionally and vice versa, but I had also lost myself in the process.

On the surface, moving to Europe for six months was the perfect excuse to heal and to find myself. How could grieving in winter and blossoming in spring be unattractive to anyone? Life, being the epitome of irony that it is, had granted me the opportunity to wallow in distractions and to run away from reality, so to speak. Nothing could have prepared me better for all that was to come than hopping on that plane to Barcelona.

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Lifting all up in Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain

What took place as I stepped foot on European soil was a kind of rebirth. I drowned in the darkness of my own sorrows and in the depths rediscovered the vitality of life. I was surrounded by scenery that was unlike anything I was used to back home. I was immersed in experiences I would have never in my life imagined finding myself in. I was even adding a fourth language to my arsenal. Every weekend I found myself in a different place. In half a year I had traveled to tens of countries around Europe and it didn’t matter one bit that I did most of it by myself.

For the first time, I was bitten by the travel bug. And I haven’t stopped traveling since.

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Going broke in pricey Copenhagen, Denmark

When I got back to the Philippines,  I was a completely different person. From going on familiar beach trips with friends from high school to backpacking through unfamiliar Indochina with friends from university: I seized every opportunity to pack my bags and just go. That burning desire to travel has also led me back here to Spain shortly after graduating: no longer as a student of Spanish, but this time as a teacher of English.

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Falling in love with breath-taking Prague, Czech Republic

Despite all the difficult challenges and tragic events that I have had to weather thus far, I have never looked to travel as a mere outlet to escape life but rather as an earnest way for life not to escape me. I travel to all these places, both old and new, to live in the triviality of my worries and in the profundity of my adventures.

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Tank top and short shorts in Singapore, Singapore

Instead of warranting me answers in life, travel has generated even more questions. At the time of writing, I find myself in yet another crossroad, perhaps a lot less rocky than the one I have just finished passing through but difficult to traverse just the same. Whether or not I stay in Spain for another year is up in the air. The past winter has shown me that home calls every three months or every time the temperature dropping below zero makes this island girl appreciate the humidity coupled with torrential rains back in the tropics, whichever comes sooner.

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Hiking up for majestic views in Dubrovnik, Croatia

While travel is essentially about being in the present, it is also about being in a constant state of departure. This type of travel has made me appreciate home, realizing that it is also possible to have one in a corner of the world that is the complete opposite of where you come from. I have learned the hard way that missing what you are used to does not equal being miserable where you currently are. It just means you are striking the right balance between staying true to yourself and welcoming any change that may arise for the sake of your growth as a person.

Home is where the heart is in El Nido, Philippines

Similarly, in spending the past couple of years living in and traveling between Europe and Asia I have accumulated memories to last a lifetime. From experiencing the joy of having the freshest fish in Tsukiji in both summer and winter to the bliss in enjoying chocolate con churros in Sol in fall and spring: these memories may be years and seasons apart but they are never the same experience. I may travel to the same places but I am a different person each time.

But more than giving me all these precious memories to look back on in the future and allowing me to meet all sorts of people along the way, travel has made me realize that my life in itself is a journey that continues to unfold with each delayed flight and each scenic train ride. Whether the story is set against the backdrop of the Basque mountain ranges or the busy streets of Manila, life continues to be an adventure.

And through it all, I never felt alone for I know my dad continues to keep a watchful eye on and is with me every step of the way.

This is an entry to the How Travel Changed My Life contest by Traveloka: www.traveloka.com/en-ph/how-travel-changed-my-life-blogger-contest