Wishlist: My Top 5 places to visit post Covid-19

This is the first time in years that I never been on a plane!!! It feels forever as if my brain suddenly short circuited by the thought of being stationed in one place doing routine and lax. The inner struggle with my alter ego is currently in limbo.

Covid-19 shook the tourism industry, and for someone like me whose always on the go, all I can do is to day dream for that moment to happen and hear the magic words “This is your Captain speaking…”.

I have no idea when can I travel, because honestly as much as I’m obsessed to wanderlust, I can’t compromise my health. Though, slowly several countries declared easing out travel restrictions (good news!), but still I’m 50/50 stage at this point.

Here are the Top 5 places I plan to visit as soon as Covid-19 vaccine is available in the market, I’m ready to go!

Machu Picchu, Peru

If pandemic didn’t happen, I was supposed to backpack South America last June 2020 for a month in time for my birthday. My backpacking journey won’t be complete without crossing my ultimate destination: Machu Picchu. Besides, I am completing my 7-Wonders of the World. I only need 2 to complete the entire journey. I’m sooo jealous that my closest friends were able to visit and I’m at the backseat waiting for my turn. Argh! So frustrating but I’m hopeful. I’m begging you 2021, be kinder to us! *wink

Rio de Jainero, Brazil

I am intrigue with Brazil in general. I mean aside from seeing gorgeous men (coughs*), I look forward to feast its local delicacy and food, oh salivating on smoked meat BBQ (hey! meat lovers), swim in the Copacabana beach and more. I was thinking to go by January in time for the colorful Carnival festival. Funny thing was, my ex-beau and were planning a trip there a few years ago, but now I had to do it solo (good riddance, LOL).

Hobbiton set in Matamata, New Zealand

My 5-day trip to Wellington, NZ in 2017 was cut off after my e-visa arrived late. The agenda is after my 2-week trip to Australia I will do a side trip to Wellington to see friends and Hobbiton Movie set since I’m an ardent fan of Lord of the Rings. New Zealand is fascinating by the lustful of images in pinterest. My Aunt is married to a Kiwi so we were also thinking for a reunion. Can’t wait for that moment to happen.

Mongolia

This has been part of my bucket list for ages, but finally my mind is set on it ASAP. Mongolia is just 5 hours away from Manila. I don’t need a visa for 60 days. I enjoy visiting places that are still under the category of ‘exotic’ and non-touristy. I grew up watching “Mongolian BBQ” TV show as a kid, so imagine the thrill on my face setting foot in this place. Pulling the days to come by. See you soon, Mongolia!

Pyramid of Giza – Cairo, Egypt

One of my regret is not visiting Egypt when I was working in the Gulf region which is just 4-hour flight from Abu Dhabi. By the time we sent our visa application to the Embassy, political unrest happened in 2016, so I had to “delay” my travel itinerary. But this time, no ifs, no buts, I am flying there by 2021 with my broken Arabic. Whoah.

Dear Universe – I AM SOOOO READY.

What about you which country are you looking to visit soon?

What to bring for long-term travel (Ladies Edition)

I’ve been traveling for more than a decade and to tell you honestly, I have never mastered the art of traveling light! Haha. I know, it’s always a girls nightmare prior hitting the road. It seems like everything is “essential” on our list. I had the same sentiments when I hit The Americas continent in 2018, I need to travel for 6 months, and I had swing moments and the delusionment continues with what I need to wear versus (practical) what looks good in Instagram. Double LOL.

It took me weeks to finally decide what to bring to this adventure. The travel stuff I am sharing are based on my personal travel style. But pretty much 85% of what I brought were able to save me for comfort and relaxed travel for long period of time.

This blog is meant for ladies only (okay, guys can get some ideas, hopefully!)

First stop: INVEST IN A GREAT BACKPACK

Clothes edition – it’s important to bring clothes that are appropriate for the weather of the country you are visiting but keeping it in mind to be stylish (read: clothing items you are willing to wear repeatedly) can mix and match too.

2 denim pants, 2-3 shorts (avoid too skimpy), 3-4 shirts, 1 dress for a night out, 1 jacket for cold weather nights and swimsuit

Footwear – it is non-negotiable for me especially for long walks, it needs to be comfy and reliable at the same time can be worn in different occasions.

– 1 slipper, 1 sandals, 2 rubber shoes (one can be for hike)

Personal essentials (hygiene kits, beauty kit), even when you travel it’s imperative to still look presentable. Don’t overload your bag with lots of hygiene products as most countries have them and ensure whatever you bring pass the allowable ml content especially in the airports.

Hygiene kit – toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, underarm roll ons, shampoo and conditioner (sachets is better), lotion, facial wash, femine pads/wash of your choice (some brands are not available in other countries), wipes or tissue (public toilets in 3rd world countries can be disgusting), perfume or cologne (you need to smell good, all the time).

Medicine kit – Vicks, meds for different sickness (diarrhea, cough, headache, fever, etc), off lotion (you’ll thank me for this), alcohol, band aid – just enough to survive you for the rest of your trip.

Make-up Kit – powder or light foundation, blush on, lipstick or gloss, mascara, 2 shade eye-shadow pallet, eye brow pencil, beauty blender, pocket mirror (the goal is to keep you presentable but don’t go hardcore)

Accessories

  • a hat or cap
  • shades, eye glasses or contact lens (I have astigmatism)
  • Belt bag or sling bag (when going around the city)
  • Passport holder (to keep everything organized)

Gadgets – technology is a must nowadays, traveling for long-term can be lonely at times (some travelers refused to admit this) so connecting with loved ones back home is a way to balance the act.

Laptop, international chargers, adaptors (weird but very useful), durable power bank, ipod, earplugs (dual purpose for music and to sleep in long travel),

Apps to download – there are places that doesn’t have stable wifi connection, if you want to kill the time and entertain, these apps are recommended by yours truly

– XE currency (works even offline – estimated amount), Lass Pass to save personal passwords, Google Maps or Maps.me that works offline, Spotify or Cloud music, Paypal in case ATM doesn’t work in remote places, translation app (that would work offline)

Other Must-Haves – over the years these are additional items that are useful, again that others travelers may forget

  • bring your own water tumbler and sets of cutlery (recommended for safety purposes),
  • Ziplocs will save space,
  • pillow cases – this is weird but I love bringing pillow cases with me (trust me on this, its for personal hygiene)
  • travel towel
  • socks about 3-4 to wash in between
  • your favorite book
  • small notebook and pen – just to write down important emergency contacts and for airports use (hello, immigration forms)
  • small umbrella or raincoat
  • external hard drive to save photos, etc
  • Locks – utterly valuable especially if you stay in hostels/dorms
  • Laundry bag
  • Shoe bag

Travel essentials are purely “subjective”, meaning what works for me, may not work for others. Travelers have different lifestyle, so choose the items that you feel best for your needs and style.

What are your favorite items to bring? Hope this article helps you to decide what items to pack on your next travel adventure.

Have a safe travels. x

Survival Guide: How to Travel Solo like a Pro

Traveling as a female can pose a danger, (ugly truth!) but armed with the right mindset and useful, practical tips can make your first solo travel journey a diary of self-discovery and incredible memories.

My first memory of solo backpacking trip happened in Kenya in 2012 for a week. At that time, I already traveled a good number of countries with friends and family before making a vital decision to level up my wanderlust adventure. Also, it was a strategic move before my month-long European trip in the same year. It was like “If I survived Africa, I can survive anywhere in the world”. LOL.

Solo traveling, especially for women can be daunting. None in my circle of female friends ever traveled alone so I was clueless where to start.

And after many years of solo traveling, here are proven and tested survival kit for any woman who wishes to travel alone – for the first time! Read on.

1. PREPARE YOURSELF MENTALLY

My second part of my World tour in 2018 to visit The Americas. Best decision I’ve ever made. Badass experience.

The moment you booked your first ever solo travel can be ecstatic. That Eat, Pray, Love journey sounds amazing, but the truth is, setting foot in a foreign land can be intimidating and overwhelming. The first 2 days you feel over the moon, then weeks passed you find yourself in the homesick arena and start questioning yourself why did you even do it!

To avoid this awkward scenario, I recommend you to do an experiment: Try eating alone in a restaurant or watch a movie so you can psyche yourself wether solo travel is for you or not. It takes mental preparation to be able to do it.

When I backpacked Europe for a month, in Stockholm, I decided to treat myself for a buffet! The moment I entered with my 12kg backpack, everyone’s eyes were on me (as if it was a crime to be alone, lol) A waiter came up to me and said “You alone?!” with face of amusement.

See, not everyone will welcome that idea, but it’s okay, it is “empowering” to be able to enjoy yourself, just because not everyone is capable to embrace their solo flight.

2. RESEARCH ABOUT THE PLACES YOU WILL VISIT

Each country has their own sets of rules and laws. You need to educate yourself before jumping on a plane. You don’t want to see yourself getting fined out of ignorance of cultural norms and basic etiquette.

In Singapore, chewing gums is considered illegal since 1992.

Public Display of Affection (PDA) in Middle Eastern countries is not allowed and can land you in jail.

– The use of Air B&B is now illegal in cities like New York and Paris.

3. WALK LIKE YOU OWN THE WORLD!

Yes, woman that’s confidence right there. As Beyoncé says “Who run the World?!” Girls. Strut as if you are really familiar with the place (even if you really don’t), don’t act too obvious, I mean. The moment you show you were clueless, the more people will take advantage of your vulnerable zone.

4. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS.

Street food in Myanmar

A smart traveler is highly aware of his or her own territory. Here are general rules to live by;

Keep your valuables in check. If you’re sharing a room (hello, hostels!) never ever leave your valuables even if you go to toilet. I know, it sounds very narcissistic but better be safe than sorry. Keep an eye on your belongings especially in public spaces. Always have a copy of your passport or emergency contact numbers for easy access.

Always walk in crowded areas, skip dark alleys even if you want to arrive at your destination early. If you’re unsure of the destination, Better take a grab or taxi.

On food. Local foods are great introductions to every country, but also you don’t want to get salmonella or any allergic reactions while traveling. I got food poisoned in Myanmar, and was on bed rest for 2 days, good thing I was not hospitalized. Such an eye-opening experience. Every places you go even in first-world countries, be careful what you put in your stomach. Getting sick in a foreign place as an expat is not only costly but also disengaging.

Keep your mental and physical health a priority. If I travel for long term, I make it to a point that I have a mandatory “day off” even for a day. Traveling can be fun but also can be utterly exhausting. Take care of yourself because no one can do it for you.

When you exit and enter international land borders. Be wary of hustlers. I was exhausted after traveling for 10 hours by bus and on my way to enter El Salvador land border when a group of locals tried to scam me but good thing, I was alert.

Men can flirt with you, they target solo women. Be careful. They will offer drinks, insist you for city tour and so on. Never trust anyone at any circumstances. Follow your instincts all the time. A friend of mine was nearly assaulted in a bar in Delhi, just because she thought they were just being friendly.

TRAVEL TIP: Every time I travel I bring a fake wedding ring, and have my ready Oscars speech of “I am married”, just so strangers won’t bother me anymore. It worked all the time.

5. YOU CAN JOIN A GROUP TOUR

Just because, you wanted to be firm with your decision to go solo, you will embrace being solo. Wrong! I encourage you to book a tour once in a while just to break the routine.

6. KNOW THE BASICS.

Whenever I travel, I see to it I have basic local phrases I kept on my phone for emergency purposes such as directions, price, etc. I download useful apps like XE currency, maps me or google maps to navigate places with no WiFi.

7. INITIATE A CONVERSATION AND MAKE FRIENDS

Celebrating Christmas alone in Azerbaijan, 2016

No man is an island. No matter how expert you are in traveling. Don’t detach yourself from reality. Strike a pep talk with someone at the airport, hostel, coffee shops or while on group tour. Nix the idea that just because it says “solo travel” you literally mean being alone all the time.

For long-term travel, you need a good company who can laugh with, enjoy a good dinner or drink, and to hangout for a half day tour. Of course, not all people you meet in your journey can be your friends! Select the ones that you have special connection with.

I am lucky to meet amazing human beings while traveling solo who turned to be my lifetime friends until now.

8. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME

From time to time, you need affection oxygen to survive solo travel.And when homesick hit you, don’t forget to stay in touch with people you love back home. Talk to them regularly.

My years of being a “soloist” gave me a profound sense of security, knowing myself (my patience has been tested many times), and a sense of fulfillment. It’s an experience I will never regret and forget.

If you’re reading this, and thinking about traveling alone, do not overthink, just bring your enthusiasm and a checklist and everything will be all right. Happy Travels!

The Australian Pelicans Are Making An Entrance at Gosford, NSW

I PELICAN YOU!

They are just so adorable to ignore, so I am dedicating this blog post for my new favorite bird, aside from the Philippine Eagle (well, I am bias, lol).

After being in Central Sydney for 3 days all by myself, I got tired being a lone wolf so I moved to Gosford, NSW to visit my distant Auntie Perla, with her husband David in their beautiful farm house. I went to visit on winter season so as an Asian woman I’m still inept to the weather, just because it made me lax.

They asked me where I want to roam around, but since I am not really familiar with the countryside so they suggested that I get to watch Aussie Pelicans or known as Pelecanus conspicillatus as scientific name.

With Auntie Perla who I love dearly.

Believe it or not, it was my first time to see pelicans in my life, only until I visited Australia! See, how travel can improve your geography, and even Ornithology in an instant.

We drove nearly 45 mins to get to the Pelican Feeding Program. The show started at 3:30 PM, daily. Entrance is free, donations are encouraged to buy new ration of fish.

Over the years, Pelicans show has become synonymous to Down Under and has attracted thousands of tourists each year.

Pelican troops are mostly seen in a coastline of Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Indonesia. They are carnivores and can consume up to 9 kg of food per day, the good news is they are not picky eaters. Their population is about half a million (stats may change as you read this, I am not an expert), and can live up to 25 years! Well, that’s honor roll in their breed.

The podium was slowly filled with thrilled spectators ready to flash their camera to capture their quirks and tricks — and an estimate of 60-80 pelicans obliged waiting to be photographed.

Pelicans in my eyes are like Miss Universe Title holder – elegant, award-winning, and knows how to strike a pose on camera! Here are the proofs.

The next time you visit Australia, I highly recommend this activity — and for a moment forget the tedium of everyday life.