Go forth and travel | Inquirer Opinion
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Go forth and travel

/ 05:12 AM November 03, 2022

Go forth and travel

If there’s any “investment” advice I can give to the youth, it is to go forth and travel. It doesn’t yield the kind of financial rewards that can be expected from the usual monetary investment advice peddled to the young generation, but the impact and influence that travel gives on one’s lifetime outlook and character are immeasurable.

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I just returned from a three-week overseas journey, and even if I had visited most of the places before, there are still so many learning experiences that I gained from this recent trip. Most young people refrain from attempting to plan for their dream overseas destinations because of the preconceived notion of the high cost involved. During the backpacking days of my youth, I went on shoestring budget trips abroad, and I gained travel nuggets that substantially made my trips affordable. Most young people dream of touring Europe, so I will frame my advice with that in mind.

The most expensive item on a European trip is the round-trip airfare. I found out that there are many airline trips from Europe that go to Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur. During tourist off-season months, there are many vacant seats on these plane routes, so there are promo seat sales. I had experienced booking two-legged trips to Europe that had total round-trip costs of less than $500. The first leg is a round-trip budget Asian airline trip from Manila to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. The second leg is a second round-trip ticket on a European budget airline from Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur to a European city. Be on the lookout for these seat sales.

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For intercountry travel in Europe, it’s sensible to get a Eurail pass that gives you unlimited riding access to the trains that go all over Europe for a fixed price, if you’re planning to visit multiple countries for several weeks. During one previous travel, I booked a Eurail pass that allowed me to sleep in cabin rooms on long overnight routes, and I saved on hotel expenses in the process.

For lodging, access to Airbnb accommodation now gives a wide range of options for low-budget homestays. But it also pays to tap your network of relatives and friends, who may have friends and relatives based in Europe with extra rooms for traveling “kababayans.” You may either get the room for free or for a minimal amount. During one previous trip, I couldn’t get a room in Florence, Italy, and when I casually approached a kababayan working in a bread shop to ask for referrals, he cheerfully invited me to stay with his family for free because they had an extra room for a visitor like me. Staying and connecting with a kababayan based in Europe has advantages because they can provide you with tips on cheap transportation, reasonably priced eateries, museum free-entrance days, and interesting places outside of the usual tourist routes.

For food, grocery stores now provide a wide selection of precooked meals that are reasonably priced. But there are days when you crave rice meals, and Chinese and Japanese restaurants, which have rice meals, can be sometimes pricey in certain cities. On Sundays, members of the Filipino community congregate in one particular church and bring Filipino dishes to share for potluck breakfast. You can join the potluck for free or for a minimal contribution, and it will satisfy your rice craving. Find out those churches in the cities you will visit on a weekend.

You will need to travel light, so bring clothes that you can wash and that can quickly dry overnight. Instead of shopping for clothes and apparel, splurge on visiting museums, parks, local markets, historical venues, and experiencing cultural events. Each country’s distinctive food fare is packed with unique heritage, so indulging in local food is culturally enriching. Take time to simply observe everyday life, and keenly take note of how things are done differently from ours.

The most important travel advice I can share with the youth, however, is to visit our country’s many regional places first and experience their distinctive cultural heritage, before aspiring to have a taste of foreign cultures. Your travels to distant lands will be far richer and more fulfilling if you have a full perspective of your homeland.

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